The American Legion
American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad expressed his condolences to the people of France in a statement issued today following the recent fire at Notre Dame cathedral.
“On behalf of the entire American Legion Family, I offer condolences to the people of France for the tragic fire that engulfed Notre Dame cathedral,” Reistad said. “The American Legion was founded in Paris. We still maintain an American Legion presence there. We will always have a strong connection to the nation that aided us during our revolution and has been a strong ally ever since.
"For eight centuries Notre Dame has been France’s gift to humanity. We are grateful for the brave firefighters who prevented this precious landmark from becoming a total loss. In June, I will visit France to participate in D-Day observances. I plan to personally convey my condolences to the many French officials and citizens that I will meet during my visit to that great country. Let there be no doubt that this nation that has seen so much destruction over two world wars will rebuild this magnificent structure.”
DAVID MACANALLY - WTHR Channel 13
INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – Walter Murphy survived the Battle of the Bulge and other bloody engagements of World War II. And, as an Army medic he helped other soldiers survive too.
He didn’t do it for the medals. He never bragged.
Saturday morning Walter Murphy told Eyewitness News, “you don’t talk much about anything like that, you know what I mean.”
But a grandson, school teacher William Anders, did get his 93-year-old grandfather to open up about World War II experiences he hadn’t shared before.
Anders said, being an Army medic under fire meant “retrieving wounded men from the battlefield.“
He says his grandfather told him about the time “there were Germans in boats or ships and they were shooting grenades at the men including my granddad. That was I’m sure a very tense time.“
“He talked about how he would drive an ambulance and the groans from the men who were wounded. How they were shot. Or they were stabbed," Anders said.
Anders says his grandfather was made a medic when a commanding officer noticed how he provided first aid to other soldiers with non-combat injuries. He had a knack for it.
But his wartime humanity extended to civilians on the other side of the conflict. His grandson says, after the war, with the U.S. occupation force in Japan, his grandfather shared his own rations with starving Japanese citizens.
Later, as Anders looked for a Christmas gift for his granddad he noticed that he didn’t have a World War II hat.
He searched online for the right hat, looking for one with his grandfather’s Army unit insignia.
That’s when he discovered something. Walter Murphy, who held the Combat Medical Badge, should have also received the Bronze Star. But never did.
“Well it means a lot because I wasn’t looking for anything like this you know," said Murphy.
The star is one of the military’s highest honors for heroism in a combat zone.
Congresswoman Susan Brooks took up the cause and at the Indiana American Legion conference Saturday morning, Walter Murphy made history.
Brooks pinned the Bronze Star to the retired soldier’s lapel.
“It is my high honor to present to Mr. Walter Murphy the bronze star,” Brooks told the packed auditorium.
The veterans and their family members jumped to their feet and applauded. They knew they were seeing something special - recognition 75 years late.
Standing straight and tall, the father of eight, part of that greatest generation was also reissued all of his service medals that were lost over the years.
Walter Murphy told the crowd there were “hard times back then but it all come out.”
He thanked his family for helping him through everything.
“I’m going to give it back to my son over there,” he said, passing the shadow box frame displaying seven medals and numerous other military ribbons.
His grandson, Hamilton Southeastern elementary school teacher William Anders, said this is the time for young people to ask their grandparents for their stories before that resource slips away.
A Saturday for remembering a duty not forgotten.
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By Dusty Simmons, Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame
The Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame (IMVHOF) is calling for nominations for its sixth class of veteran honorees. The not-for-profit organization honors Hoosier veterans for service during and after active duty. To date, the IMVHOF has recognized 83 men and women for their outstanding military and civilian service.
Up to fifteen veterans will be honored for military service achievements and/or community contributions. To be eligible, a nominee must meet any one of these criteria:
Additionally, each nominee must have been honorably discharged and must be free of felony conviction.
All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, all ages, living or deceased, and males and females will be considered equally.
The complete nomination packet and criteria can be found at imvhof.com/nominate/. Nominations will be accepted through end of day, August 1, 2019.
Nominees will be honored at the annual induction ceremony and dinner to be held on Friday, November 8, 2019 at the Garrison on Old Fort Harrison at 6002 North Post Road in Lawrence, IN. Tickets will be available for purchase for this public event at imvhof.com.
Inductees in the IMVHOF are honored at the organization’s memorial building at 5360 Herbert Lord Road in Lawrence, Indiana. The free-standing building is the only known memorial of its kind in the nation and is open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.
If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to the IMVHOF, you can do so by mailing a check or money order made payable to IMVHOF to P.O. Box 269098, Indianapolis, IN 46226. Online donations can also be made at www.imvhof.com.
About the IMVHOF: The Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame is a 501(c)3 organization that was founded in 2013. Formed by representatives from government, business, and retired military. The organization strives to publically emphasize the honor brought to the state of Indiana and the nation by the sacrifice of Indiana military veterans and their families. Indiana follows a few other states who have established similar organizations. To learn more visit, www.imvhof.com.
Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star
Jim Robinson knows he'll never repair the damage, never heal the pain he caused 18 years ago in the parking lot of a Frankfort apartment complex.
But the U.S. Army veteran also believes a man is more than his worst deed.
That's one reason he joined American Legion Post 608.
"(The American Legion has) actually helped me be a better person," Robinson said. "It's allowed me to know that I am the person that I’ve always been."
Robinson is a proud member of the post in Pendleton, which meets in a legion hall decorated with hand-painted patriotic murals of flags and combat scenes.
You won't find beer or mixed drinks in 608's Legion Hall, but there are bars — the black steel kind — on this campus compound guarded by towers and razor wire fences.
Post 608 is inside the maximum-security Pendleton Correctional Center.
This is one of seven posts operating inside Indiana prisons, said John Raughter, a spokesman for the American Legion's national headquarters. The organization knows of nine other states with posts in a prison.
There could be more. The Legion treats these like any other post, Raughter said, noting there may be others operating inside prisons that they just don't know about.
The Legion, members say, offers offenders another way to find in themselves the men they once were.
Robinson, 56, served in the U.S. Army. He spent time in Iraq. He was home in April 2001 when he threatened his wife with a gun. Days later, he found her in an apartment parking lot and fatally shot her with a .22-caliber handgun.
A Clinton County judge handed Robinson a 60-year sentence. He's projected to be released in about 8 1/2 years.
A family suffering such carnage doesn't heal.
Robinson said he's watched from afar as his sons have grown. He's rebuilt his relationship with them as best he could through prison visits. But he said they pulled away after they had children of their own.
"It got to a point it was hard to explain to (his grandchildren) why they don’t have a grandma and why grandpa's in here by himself," Robinson said. "I understood it, so I let them have their distance."
The Legion, he said, helps him keep his mind right. It reminds him he's still worth something.
The American Legion
As American Legion department conferences and the national Spring NEC Meetings get closer, now is the time to start thinking about how you can make your voice heard.
Any Legionnaire, or group of Legionnaires, can impact the priorities and positions of The American Legion at any level, because the organization’s focus is largely driven by resolutions – position-driven initiatives written by members and put to a vote. They can be passed at a local post meeting on a local matter, or at a National Executive Committee meeting on a topic that could end up shaping overall Legion policy. Although departments can originate their own resolutions, even post-level resolutions can lead to permanent policies and programs; Boys State began as a local initiative in Illinois. The optimal time to write resolutions meant for a national vote is in late winter and spring, ahead of department conventions in late spring and summer.
A dedicated page on the national website can help Legionnaires craft expert resolutions.
The page gives an overview of a resolution’s structure; provides a link to the Legion’s Digital Archive, where current resolutions dating back to 1969 are now stored; and houses the Resolutions and Reports booklet, which explains what resolutions do and how to write them in much greater detail. One tip: to allay ambiguity, when asking the Legion to "support" an organization, program or other endeavor, spell out as best as possible the limits to the Legion's obligation in this regard - whether to simply commend a good job, or to enter into a relationship.
Click here to contact National Library staff with any questions.
The American Legion
The American Legion Legacy Scholarship application for 2019 is online for new and returning applicants to fill out. The Legacy Scholarship is available for children whose parents lost their lives while honorably serving on active duty on or after 9/11, as well as for children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined 50 percent or higher VA disability rating.
The application deadline is April 15.
Apply online at www.legion.org/scholarships/legacy.
The renewable scholarship will award up to $20,000 for the expense of graduate or post-graduate tuition, books, room and board, meal plans, transportation and other supplies needed to achieve a higher education.
The American Legion Legacy Scholarship is a needs-based one. The grant amount each scholarship recipient will receive will be based on his or her financial need after all federal and state aid is exhausted. Recipients will have a year to use the grant and may reapply to the scholarship up to six times. And the number of scholarships awarded and the amount of financial aid granted to each awardee (this includes returning applicants) will be determined on donations to the scholarship fund and one's financial needs.
Scholarship recipients are selected by The American Legion’s Committee on Youth Education during the organization’s annual Spring Meetings in May; all applicants, whether recipients of the Legacy Scholarship or not, will be notified immediately thereafter.
American Legion Past National Commander Jake Comer knew fellow Past National Commander William Detweiler for decades – “probably 40, 45 years,” Comer recalls.
It allowed Comer many interactions with his Louisiana counterpart, a practicing attorney in New Orleans. And to Comer, Detweiler was both a special person and incredible asset to The American Legion.
“He was a gentleman personified,” Comer said. “You could always stop and talk to Bill and get any legal question answered without a problem. He was on the (National) Commander’s Advisory Committee and always had the right things to say. We depended on his expertise. He was knowledgeable about just about everything, and was just a great guy. We’re going to miss him.”
A 53-year member of American Legion Post 307 in New Orleans and The American Legion national commander from 1994 to 1995, Detweiler passed away March 27 at age 79. Those who knew him are left with fond memories.
Past National Commander Dan Dellinger knew Detweiler for nearly 25 years and will attend his funeral. When the two first met, Dellinger said that Detweiler “through his accomplishments, was at a higher level than I was. The one thing that really stands out to me is that he was compassionate to all. One of the first times I had a chance to talk to him was at a reception during the Washington Conference. He came to me and wanted to talk to me when he could be talking to other past national commanders and higher-ups. And he spoke with me for 15 minutes. It meant something to me.”
Dellinger said that Detweiler was able to adapt to take on challenges as they came up, from those facing veterans 25 years ago to issues happening today. “It goes to his character,” he said. “He was a one-of-a-kind person. He took everything on straight forward. He saw a problem and he knew that we needed to deal with it because it affected the veterans of this country. No matter what someone asked him to do, he not only did it, but he did it with extraordinary finesse and courage. He would take that ball and run with it every time.”
Detweiler served as a captain in the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, performing the role of Operations Officer at the U.S. Army Air Defense Center in Fort Bliss, Texas. He then joined the U.S. Army Reserve while returning to New Orleans for a career in law.
Despite a busy law practice, Detweiler found time to serve on various national, state and local veterans and military commissions and committees, including being appointed by President Richard Nixon to serve on the Veterans Administration National Rehabilitation and Education Advisory Committee, which he chaired two years later.
On The American Legion side, he served as Department of Louisiana judge advocate from 1970 to 1985 and took on leadership positions on national commissions and committees, including the Public Relations Commission and the Foreign Relations Commission chairman before being appointment as national vice commander from 1986 to 1987.
Seven years later Detweiler was elected American Legion national commander during the national convention in Minneapolis. As national commander, Detweiler called for research into what was causing Persian Gulf veterans do develop health issues after returning home. “How can we prevent the Persian Gulf illnesses from becoming another Agent Orange-type disaster?” he asked. “The government must treat Gulf War GIs who are sick. The government must find out why they are ill. The American Legion is keeping an eye on how the government deals with this problem. We don't want to see a delayed and flawed series of studies on these illnesses reminiscent of Agent Orange. We need serious unbiased studies and we need them now.”
WTHR Channel 13
LAWRENCE, Ind. (WTHR) - A police K-9 was honored by the American Legion in Lawrence for his lifetime of service.
Lawrence Police K-9 Axel served two tours in Afghanistan and now spends his time sniffing out trouble around Lawrence Township schools, while lending a paw to the police department.
American Legion Post 510 welcomed Axel as an honorary lifetime member Tuesday. He was also presented the Legion Medal of Valor for his service.
Axel came to the district through a grant after being retired from military service.
"For him to come back and serve his local community here in Lawrence and to be able to work in the school system with the students every day, it just puts a lot of meaning in his life. That's what he lives for, really," said Lawrence Police Ofc. Matt Hickey.
When not in schools or helping out Lawrence Police, you can find Axel mingling with veterans at his American Legion post.
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By: Leo Shane III
Veterans Affairs leaders will not recommend appealing a federal court ruling to award disability benefits to thousands of Vietnam veterans who claim exposure to cancer-causing chemical defoliants during ship deployments off that country’s coastline, officials confirmed Tuesday.
During an appearance before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said he will not ask the Department of Justice to continue to fight the legal issue. Federal officials have until late April to appeal the decision, issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in January.
Wilkie emphasized that other federal officials could still offer arguments in favor of filing an appeal. But his recommendation is likely to be an oversized factor in any decision, given the potential impact on his department.
Letting the decision stand would give advocates for so-called "blue water” Navy veterans the victory they have been pursuing for more than a decade, arguing that thousands of ailing and aging Vietnam veterans have been unfairly blocked from collecting disability benefits for their on-duty injuries.
Under current department rules, the blue water veterans — an estimated 90,000 individuals — can receive medical care for their illnesses through VA. But to receive disability benefits worth up to several thousand dollars a month, they must prove that their ailments are directly connected to toxic exposure while on duty.
That’s not the case for other Vietnam veterans, who are presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange and other defoliants known to cause serious and rare cancers.
So while a veteran who served on the shoreline can receive disability payouts after contracting Parkinson’s disease or prostate cancer, a veteran who served on a ship a few miles away would have to provide evidence of direct contact with hazardous chemicals.
The federal court ruling sided with advocates who said that proof is nearly impossible to obtain now, decades after the toxic exposures occurred.
VA officials had said that adopting new “non-scientific” standards for disability benefits could open a floodgate of new claims. But lawmakers for the past two years have worked on legislation narrowly tailored to the “blue water” Navy veterans issue, and are urging VA to drop it’s opposition.
Wilkie’s announcement received immediate praise from several members of the committee. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called the recommendation not to appeal “a chance to bring fairness and justice to our veterans.”
If the court decision stands, VA will be faced with a sizable bill in coming years to cover the new disability benefits claims. Congressional Budget Office officials had estimated the new awards could total about $1.1 billion over 10 years, but VA officials said the figure could rise to more than $5 billion.
Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said lawmakers will have to work closely with VA officials in coming months to address those costs. John Wells, retired Navy commander and the executive director of Military-Veterans Advocacy — which helped file the lawsuit prompting the January court ruling — echoed that plan.
“(Wilkie’s) decision is consistent with what he has told (our group) privately,” he said. “We thank him for bringing this tragic episode to a close, and look forward to working with him on issues dealing with implementation.”
Mike Little, executive director for the Sea Service Family Foundation and a longtime advocate on the issue, called the announcement a “great day” for Vietnam veterans.
“VA owes all these vets and apology for the years they spent denying them benefits,” he said. “Not appealing this court decision is the first step. I hope this decision brings peace of mind to those widows left behind.”
The full decision — Procopio vs. Wilkie — is available at the appeals court’s website.
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Story and Photos By Tim Sproles
Speaking with Legionnaires around the Department of Indiana’s 10th District, it seems like everyone knows Harold “Robbie” Robinson.
“Robbie is everywhere,” said Joe Brown, past commander of Post 65. “Everybody loves him. He really goes out of his way to help others and stay involved.”
In Robbie’s case, staying involved is almost an understatement. Robbie is a proud 30-year member of Legion Post 65 in Richmond, Indiana, holds duel status in the Sons of the American Legion and is an American Legion Rider.
Laurie Bowman, commander of the 10th District, said that Robbie’s positive impact is widely known outside of the district as well. “He will show up at different districts’ events just to volunteer. Everyone knows he’s one of those Legionnaires who is always ready to roll up the sleeves and work to assist our veterans whether they are a Legionnaire or not.”
As well known as Robbie is, a photo he often displays is just as popular.
It’s a simple family photo that features Robbie standing with his brothers Rodney and Ronald, his son Harold III, his daughter Tara and his grandson Chad, but the story behind this photo spans 100 years.
Robbie has traced the continued service of his family in the United States Army all the way back to September 1918. For any history buffs, this happens to be just under seven months before the creation of the American Legion. Robbie’s family has more than 100 years of service, and this photo represents 60 of them.
“My grandson Chad orchestrated it,” said Robbie. “I just thought we were taking a picture together, but after the fact, he told us that he had enlisted, and he wanted a picture together with all of the soldiers.”
Every story has a beginning, so Robbie and his family did a little research to find theirs.
“Once we made that connection, we wanted to see how far back it went,” Robbie said. “I knew that my father was in the army, but it all started with my grandfather, Monroe Robinson.”
Information on Monroe was limited, but Robbie located Veterans Affairs paperwork that stated he was a private in the 4th Development Battalion of the 158th Depot Brigade at Camp Sherman in Chillicothe, Ohio.
During World War I, these development battalions acted as the equivalent of today’s Warrior Transition Units, designed for the rehabilitation of injured soldiers and the support of disabled soldiers.
Robbie said, “We know that he didn’t serve long, but he earned an honorable discharge with the army and is buried at the National Military Home in Montgomery County, Ohio.”
Robbie’s father Harold followed suit by enlisting in the army in 1942, where he took part in the creation of the Alaska Highway, arguably one of the top construction achievements of the 20th century.
“My father was one of close to 4,000 segregated black soldiers who worked on that project. He specifically worked on the Alcan Highway.”
These soldiers battled harsh conditions and winter weather to complete the 1,500-mile road during World War II. Robbie said his father always told him that he felt this project helped spark the discussion to end segregation in the military.
“It was dangerous work, and I think that danger created a bond in all of the men working on that highway. They depended on each other to make it through the day alive. It proved that black men and white men can do it together,” said Robbie.
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