The Evolution of America’s Heroes Group

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By: Stephanie Kalota 
Founder, Veteran Legislative Voice & AHG Correspondent

n 2016, America’s Heroes Group (AHG) started as a modest weekly one-hour radio show on AM 1690 WVON in Chicago, Illinois; founded by Clifford P. Kelley and Glenda R. Smith on October 30, 2015. Then it was known as America’s Fireside Chat Radio Talk Show. Since then, AHG has become a game changer that allows voices to be heard, celebrated, and honored.

As a 501(c)3 non-profit, AHG leverages radio and digital media and delivers vital information on benefits, resources, and referrals to military service members, veterans, and their families. The show’s host, Clifford P. Kelley, a Vietnam veteran and former city council member, lends his decades-long expertise. Co-host, COL Dr. Damon Arnold provides his medical and military knowledge to the show. Co-host, Debra Denhart shares her unique perspective as a military spouse and a community leader. Co-host, Sean Claiborne, also a former Army National Guardsman, brings his background in communications and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by the military and veteran community.

The show’s notable guests include the Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker, Illinois Lieutenant Governor, Juliana Stratton, Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, former Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, and the Department of Veterans Affairs Press Secretary, Terrence Hayes. The following organizations participated in this show: Partner National Nurses United (NNU), Military Women’s Memorial, Repatriate Our Patriots, National Women Veterans United, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Military Families Matter, Military & Veteran Women’s Coalition, Combat Sexual Assault, Minority Veterans of America, Veteran Legislative Voice, League of United Latin American Citizens, the Pink Berets, and the Red Cross.
In 2020, AHG began distributing its material as a podcast, and since then has accumulated more than 5.7 million downloads. Almost 1 million of them have been downloaded in the last 90 days! The majority of the downloads are within the United States, with top downloads in San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Austin, Chicago, Miami, and Jacksonville.

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