AVV Newsletter – March 2024

American Veterans Vote

Newsletter March 4, 2024

Our Strategic Goals

From the CEO

leading change


From VOTE, VOLUNTEER, RUN to VOTE, VOLUNTEER, LEAD!  Sharp eyes may have noticed a change to the key tasks AVV outlined for Veterans as they continue their Service to their communities.  Leading is something all Veterans understand from their own service.  It’s central to the progression of all service members, in rank and in responsibility, from entry to exiting their term of service. Running for office – not so much.  But a recent experience gave me new perspectives on the relationship between running and leading.

AVV was invited to participate in a recent forum for U. S. Senate Republican candidates in Fredericksburg.  Six candidates attended (two had surrogates) and AVV had the opportunity to offer questions addressing Veteran issues.  All the candidates showed clear concern for the needs of both Veterans and service members who call Virginia home.  Some had their own service or the service of family members to help frame their responses or highlight their understanding.  But even those without direct ties to military service offered full support to Veterans – from housing to medical to business and education support. All get full credit for this.

I found it difficult to differentiate or rank these candidates based on what they said on Veteran questions and other questions on the border, economy, schools, and personal freedoms.  I admired them all for their commitment and willingness to step into this difficult race.  They all were road weary but ready to explain their calling to serve.  They all could tell the audience why they were passionate about running.  Their qualifications and justifications were strong across the board.  And their policy positions were agreeable, if not, in some cases, too safe.  I realized that what set the strongest candidates apart were their comments on how they intended to lead change.  These comments translated ideas familiar to this audience into tangible actions that would unite voters, win elections, and improve lives.

Desire and empathy are good but not enough.  Personality or resume aren’t sufficient.  Even good policies too often just perpetuate tired or useless process.  It takes a leader and leadership to frame the vision, ignite energy and purpose, unite powerful teams, overcome inevitable obstacles, and persevere to make change happen.  Running is not adequate when leadership is what is needed most.  While we need to understand the values, commitments, public record, and political positions of candidates, it is vital that we also base our vote on who can best lead change.  The times and the way back to unity and national strength demand this.

Difficult times and tough choices are not new concerns.  As a leader, I have often looked back to a reference I’ve kept on my bookshelf for years – a book, not surprisingly called, “Leading Change” by John Kotter.  In this book, the author references his long study of successful and unsuccessful enterprises and offers some lessons learned.  Every enterprise is different, political enterprises certainly so. But let me offer a short framework of action steps to consider as we evaluate campaign rhetoric and choose our candidates and cast our votes.  Those who can make change happen:

  1. Establish a Sense of Urgency – Combat complacency
  2. Create a Guiding Coalition – Inspire the power of teamwork
  3. Develop a Vision and Strategy – Link task and purpose to outcomes
  4. Communicate the Change Vision – Over communicate; ensure the coalition models the expected behavior
  5. Empower Broad Based Action – Encourage risk taking and new ideas
  6. Generate Short Term Wins – Reward and recognize change as it happens
  7. Consolidate Gains and Produce More Action – Build and sustain momentum
  8. Anchor Change in the Culture of the Organization – Change will not self sustain

Think for a moment about the leaders you admire and the change they brought.  How did their actions align with this set of criteria.  As you evaluate choices ahead in critical elections, use your own criteria, of course.  But look at the outcomes, the changes you want to see, and the character as well as the leadership abilities of candidates to accomplish those changes.

In all cases, help AVV get Every Veteran, Every Vote to the ballot box where true change can happen.

Veterans Forward!

Bob Wood

LTG (R), US Army

CEO, American Veterans Vote

Inspiration Corner

COL (R) Michael B. “Yama” Hoyes

fighting for the american way

I’m old enough to remember loving the TV series, “Adventures of Superman.” It featured George Reeves, not to be confused with Christopher Reeve, who starred in the “Superman” movie series beginning in 1978. Those “adventures” opened with: “Look! Up in the sky!” “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!” “It’s Superman!” They concluded with “Yes, it’s Superman, [who] fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way!”

As I grew older, I wondered, what was meant by “the American Way.” Certainly, freedom and liberty come to mind, but also opportunity, mobility, equality, individualism, self-reliance, innovation, patriotism, and community. I find it so interesting that those attributes of the “American way” were summarized in our Declaration of Independence as being “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

As a Christian, I know we have a Lord who loves us so much, He gave His only Son, so that we might “have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10), as provided by our “Good Shepherd.”

I think about being a military member, one who was in a small way also a shepherd, perhaps even being a “superman,” battling for the “American way.” Now, as a Veteran, along with other Veterans and those who support Veterans, we have the same cause, we are fighting a battle, but our ordinance is not found in our muscular strength, ability to fly, having extreme speed, or x-ray vision, but rather is found in our prayer and the ballot box.

A Veteran’s Perspective


Allan Anderson, USA/USMC (Ret)


As the son of a WWII Army infantryman who served in the Pacific Campaign, as the father of a disabled Army Veteran who served as an infantryman in Afghanistan, and as a Marine Corps and Army Veteran myself, the American Veterans Vote (AVV) organization is near to my heart.

We are at a point in this country where our nation’s political leaders support open borders and benefits to the millions of immigrants who came into this country illegally. They are often provided with free cell phones, housing, healthcare, and legal services. But homeless Veterans languish, their behavioral and physical health problems are largely unresolved.  Even Veterans who are not homeless face obstacles. 

My dad and I, along with my son who was in the VA hospital system at that time, periodically discussed our frustration with the Veterans Administration and the poor support provided to Veterans. My dad passed away before we could get him into the VA hospital system for end-of-life treatment and hospice care. After months of waiting on a decision, the VA contacted me about two months after my dad passed away to say that he had been approved.

So, what can we do?

This website spells out actions we can and are taking to support Veterans and their families, in large part by getting out the Veteran vote. And we can be a voice for AVV and Veterans causes through our day-to-day involvement in our community. Word of mouth is always the best way to promote a product. One way I am doing so is by working as a substitute teacher in the Prince William County Schools system.

As a 68-year-old Veteran with a lot of miles under my belt (thank you light infantry and Army Rangers!), teaching math, science, and music classes four to five days a week isn’t easy (I’m also a retired engineer and amateur trumpet player). But when I introduce myself to students at the beginning of class, especially if I haven’t taught that class before, I let them know I am a Veteran who served in the Marine Corps and later as a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Officer. I let them know I proudly wore the Airborne Ranger patches on my uniform, and that I don’t tolerate a lack of discipline and respect in my classroom.

But then I also let them know I am a father of three, a grandfather of three, and that our classroom will be a place for helping one another develop both knowledge and wisdom – tools that will serve them well throughout life.  I provide tough love to my students, but through my substitute teacher “management by walking around” style, I get to know the students as best I can and assist them with their work.

While some teaching days are better than others, now that I have taught at almost all middle and high schools in Prince William County, hardly a day passes without students asking, “Mr. Anderson, are you teaching my class today?” Students routinely thank me for my service. And those whose parents or family members are active-duty members or Veterans, always let me know that right away – a small but powerful bonding moment.

Lastly, the students who challenge me with their bad behavior provide an opportunity to step into the hallway for some one-on-one counseling. Having grown up in a tough neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, arguably a war zone, I can appreciate the difficult situation many students have to deal with at home, in their neighborhood, and even at school. My personal talks with students seem to strike a chord in many of those acting out, and when I have break through moments with them, I can’t help but feel that it was worth getting up to teach that day.

While my substitute teaching may not be a direct activity of AVV per se, it is one way I foster the cause of current and future Veterans and perhaps make our community a better place for all of us. What can you do to help AVV and our local community today?

contacting your elected official

the Virginia assembly is in session

Are You Happy With the State of Things?

Elected officials are supposed to represent the interests and concerns of the people who elected them. Constituents can guide the legislative actions of elected officials through engagement – to encourage or discourage. Lacking any direction or feedback from the electorate, legislators could be swayed by outside interests to enact detrimental policies.

If you’ve never written your elected Virginia official before, start here at this link.

 Enter your address or zip code and your elected official is revealed, usually with a link to their website.  At the website, click on the contact link where you’ll fill out a contact form – name, address, phone number, etc. Then there’ll be a space for you to state your message, and to specify whether you want a response.  You’ll also find links nearby to subscribe to the officeholder’s newsletters and e-mail updates.

Some tips for contacting your lawmaker via their website:

  • Draft your message ahead of time and then copy and paste it into the space provided at the website
  • Always request a response; this ensures that someone in the office read your message
  • Subscribe to the newsletter/e-mail updates to keep apprised of the official’s priorities and activities

The telephone is another option and is especially useful when a vote is forthcoming. Call your legislator’s office, identify yourself as a constituent, and state to the aide or staff member that you want it registered that in your opinion, the legislator should do X or Y.  You can find the phone number to use at the legislator’s website.

In either case – website or telephone, legislator staff members are supposed to track the volume of messages they receive on various topics, and these can help sway the thinking of lawmakers.

American Veterans Vote, Inc. (AVV) is a volunteer team of Veterans and Veteran supporters. We are a 527 Political Action Committee with a nationally-focused mission to promote the political power of Veterans and Veteran supporters in support of our three strategic goals:

  • Support of Veterans and their Families
  • Defend our Constitution as Written and Amended
  • Protect the Nation at Home and Abroad

AVV’s goal is to help Veterans maximize their political voice by supporting Veterans’ ability to Vote, Volunteer and Lead.

“Every Veteran, Every Vote.”
We don’t speak FOR Veterans… we speak AS Veterans.


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