In this March 25, 2015, file photo, U.S. Army soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division's 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team and South Korean soldiers take their position during the annual joint military exercise Foal Eagle at the Rodriquez Multi-Purpose Range Complex in Pocheon, north of Seoul, South Korea. The Pentagon says the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises that had been postponed for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will begin April 1. (ALee Jin-man/AP)
WASHINGTON — At a potentially pivotal moment of diplomacy with North Korea, the Pentagon said Monday that annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises that had been postponed for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will begin April 1.
In a brief statement, the Pentagon said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his South Korean counterpart, Song Young-moo, agreed to go forward with the maneuvers, known as Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, “at a scale similar to” that of previous years.
North Korea has been notified of the schedule “as well as the defensive nature” of the exercises, the Pentagon said.
The timing and size of the annual maneuvers are especially sensitive this year because of heightened tension over the North’s accelerated work last year on a nuclear-armed missile potentially capable of reaching the United States ― followed, unexpectedly, by prospects for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis.
North Korea typically objects to U.S.-South Korean military exercises, calling them dress rehearsals for an invasion. Washington and Seoul insist they are defensive and are needed to keep allied forces combat-ready.
After recent high-level talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, South Korean officials said Kim indicated his acceptance of the maneuvers. Kim also offered to meet personally with President Donald Trump to discuss giving up his nuclear weapons on unspecified terms, and Trump quickly agreed. The time and place of the unprecedented talks have not been set, but the White House indicated the summit would happen by May.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to set the stage for that summit by meeting with Kim in April in the Demilitarized Zone, which separates the two Koreas.
It had been widely expected that the U.S.-South Korean military exercises would go ahead, even with the new prospects for diplomacy. Some have speculated that the maneuvers would be scaled back, but the Pentagon said they would be conducted at “the same scale, scope and duration” as in previous years.
The larger of the two exercises, Foal Eagle, is a field training exercise with about 11,500 U.S. troops and about 290,000 South Korean troops, according to a Pentagon spokesman, Marine Lt. Col. Christopher Logan. The other, known as Key Resolve, will involve about 12,200 U.S. troops and about 10,000 from South Korea.
“To avoid compromising exercise objectives, specifics regarding the exercise scenarios will not be discussed,” Logan said, adding that the purpose is to “enhance” the ability of the U.S.-South Korean alliance to defend South Korean territory.
The U.S. has about 28,500 troops permanently stationed in South Korea and is obligated by treaty to defend the South in the event it is attacked by the North. The two Koreas are still technically at war because their 1950-53 war ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
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The American Legion Department of Indiana held the 2018 Jr. Shooting Sports Program (JSSP) Championship on March 17th at Post 89, Seymour, IN.
The American Legion Junior Shooting Sports Program is a gun safety education and marksmanship program that encompasses the basic elements of safety, education, enjoyment and competition. Shooters use the .177 caliber air rifle.
This unique program gives students across Indiana, ages 12 – 18, the opportunity to learn marksmanship from National Rifle Association trained coaches.
Both males and females can participate, through Legion sponsorship; disabled youth are encouraged to join, as competitive shooting is a sport that creates an equal playing field for all competitors.
Results for the Department of Indiana 2018 Jr. Shooting Sports Program (JSSP) Championship:
Individual Overall Champion
Click Here for the complete results for all 70 shooters and teams.
Students and parents interested in participating in next year’s program are encouraged to contact their local American Legion post. Learn more about JSSP at: www.indianalegion.org/junior-shooting-sports.
By: Kevin Lilley - Military Times
A banking-reform bill that dials back regulations put in place after the 2008 financial crisis includes language that targets predatory lenders offering VA-backed home loan refinancing.
The Senate voted 67-31 on Wednesday to pass the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. The House has passed a separate bank-reform bill; per The Associated Press, the next likely step is a compromise bill that would be voted on by both chambers.
Should the VA-related language in the Senate bill survive, it would prohibit lenders from offering VA-backed refinance loans within six months of a veterans’ initial loan. Lenders also would need to provide borrowers with a “net tangible benefits test” that outlines the full financial scope of the refinanced loan, so borrowers have a complete picture of what they’re saving over time.
All fees associated with refinanced VA loans would need to be recouped within 36 months, and loans that weren’t at least 50 basis points lower than the initial loan’s fixed rate wouldn’t be eligible for VA backing.
The language comes from a bipartisan lending bill co-authored by Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and introduced in mid-January ― in part, at least, to combat “churn” issues that have caused concern among loan officials regarding rapid VA-backed refinancing. The Senate hasn’t acted on the measure since its initial committee assignment.
Despite sponsoring the VA-related bill, Warren was one of the 31 “nay” votes, all Democrats, on the overall bank-reform legislation.
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Vietnam veteran, Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sammy L. Davis honored with Indiana’s highest award
BY FOX59 WEB
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Gov. Eric Holcomb awarded Indiana’s highest honor Monday to a Vietnam veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.
Sammy L. Davis of Freedom received the 2018 Sachem Award during a ceremony at the Indiana War Memorial.
Davis was near the South Vietnamese city of Cai Lay in 1967 when his unit came under fire. He was wounded, but took over a burning artillery piece and fired off several rounds at the Viet Cong. He then used an air mattress to cross a river and rescue wounded before joining another unit with a howitzer to continue fighting.
Davis broke his back, but continued serving in the Army until 1984. His actions inspired those of the lead character in Forrest Gump.
“You hear what he did on that day in 1967, how with a body full of shrapnel, he ignored the risk to his own life to slow the enemy advance and save three comrades,” Holcomb said during the ceremony.
Holcomb said Davis dedicated his life after Vietnam to raise alarms about the dangers of Agent Orange and the problems veterans exposed to the chemical faced.
Davis said it was an “honor” to receive the award. During his speech Monday, he said we must “pass on our dreams of a greater America to our children.”
“All of us must take responsibility for our actions and the actions of our government. Citizenship in the United States of America is a privilege that can only be safeguarded by each of us taking an active role in our nation,” Davis said.
The 71-year-old joins a distinguished group of Sachem winners, including Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor and late Notre Dame President Theodore Hesburgh.
Davis has also been awarded a Silver Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. He was among veterans who appeared at the coin toss at Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
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By: Leo Shane III - Military Times
WASHINGTON — Service members could use their military tuition assistance for training programs outside of traditional colleges and universities under legislation being introduced Monday in the House and Senate.
The plan, offered by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in each chamber, would allow eligible troops to use the money for licensing, credentialing and certification programs offered outside of institutions of higher education.
Backers said the change is needed to help better prepare service members for post-military life, and recognizes that not all civilian jobs require a traditional four-year degree.
“We have an obligation to ensure service members have access to the resources they need as they transition to civilian life,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who is co-sponsoring the Senate proposal with the chamber’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman, Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and ranking member Jon Tester, D-Mont.
“Service members possess unique skill sets that make them great candidates for many in-demand jobs, but the current system makes it difficult for service members to obtain the licensing or credentialing needed for those jobs. As many skills based jobs do not require four-year degrees, [this bill] would allow service members to receive the [assistance] they need in a more expedient manner.”
Veterans can already use their post-military education benefits for a host of non-college certification programs, particularly for specialties such as truck driving and emergency medical training.
But tuition assistance provided to currently serving troops has a separate set of rules and restrictions. Nearly all of the funding supplied under current initiatives is based on how many credit hours service members complete as part of degree programs.
Amanda Hayman, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University adjunct instructor, reviews the course syllabus with students on the second floor of the training building, Oct. 21. A new bill would allow military students to use tuition assistance for non-college certification and licensing programs. (Defense Department photo)
Tester called it a “commonsense measure” that provides more flexibility in preparation for a modern civilian workforce.
“The jobs of the 21st century evolve quickly, and today’s workers never stop learning,” he said in a statement. “We’re committed to helping our service members succeed at every stage: on active-duty, in the reserves or as a veteran.”
Transition assistance for troops has been a major focus for lawmakers in recent years, with a focus on allowing service members to more easily transfer their military skills to civilian-sector jobs.
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By: Tim Sproles, The American Legion Dept. of Indiana
Members of The American Legion Family traveled to Washington D.c. to take part in the 2018 National Washington Conference. While in D.C. the group was able to visit Indiana Legislators to discuss The American Legion's Legislative Priorities to assist our Nation's veterans (Which you can view by clicking the button below).
Below are some of the photo highlights from The American Legion's 2018 Washington D.C. Conference.
Candidates Reception at Greenbelt Post 136
Tour of Arlington National Cemetery
Tour of Washington D.C. Memorials
Hoosier Legion Family #LegionStormsHill
By John Raughter
In a powerful opening statement, American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan told a joint session of the House and Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs the why behind The American Legion’s century of service.
“The American Legion was built to strengthen America,” said Rohan, during her testimony Wednesday in Washington, D.C. “That is the way of The American Legion. I believe that is also the way of Congress – and the common denominator that we share.”
Introducing Rohan to the committee was fellow Wisconsinite and Speaker of the U.S. House Paul Ryan.
“We in southern Wisconsin are just so proud to have one of our own as the first woman in history to lead the Legion. Commander Rohan represents the best that we have to offer in Wisconsin,” Ryan said. “She’s selfless, she’s inclusive, she’s beyond tireless, and she’s a rabid Green Bay Packer fan as every Wisconsinite is. This month alone she traveled everywhere from Minnesota to Missouri to Mississippi to talk at Legion posts. She made ‘Family First’ her motto. (She's) expanding the Legion’s focus on helping military families, and she’s encouraging more young people to get involved which is absolutely critical. Just last week she said, ‘When I look at everything we do, it’s all about taking care of one another.' That just speaks as to who she is.”
Ryan also emphasized the role The American Legion plays on local communities, as well as the national dialog. “People know the Legion as a fixture in their communities. It is truly a national force for good," Ryan said. "And the GI Bill is a perfect example. What became one of the most consequential laws of the 20th century started with a Legion commander putting some of his ideas down on a notepad. Fittingly, when it came time to pass the Forever GI Bill last year, the Legion was indispensable to getting this done along with the other veterans service organizations.”
Legionnaire and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., touted recent legislative accomplishments of Congress, which were supported by The American Legion.
“2017 was a tremendous and monumental legislative year for American veterans, both present and future,” he said. “From appeals modernization to the Harry W. Colmery Forever GI Bill, The American Legion has been at the forefront of our fight for our veterans, their dependents and caregivers.”
Rohan fulfilled a promise that she made to American Legion Family members in Puerto Rico by delivering to Congress a message about the needs of those still recovering from last year’s massive hurricanes. “I saw firsthand what that looks like last month when I toured Puerto Rico and the hurricane-torn islands of the Caribbean where U.S. veterans and American Legion members were standing strong with amazing resolve, putting the needs of others above their own – as their VA facilities and communities remained far from restored,” she said.
Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, R.-P.R., thanked her colleagues for passing supplemental funding to help the region recover. “You saw what’s happening in Arecibo, with our clinics still working in a parking lot,” she said to Rohan. “In tents. In mobile units. Vieques (clinic) is still closed. It was a savage hurricane. We understand that.”
Another key message point delivered by Rohan is The American Legion’s strong opposition to any attempt to privatize VA health care. It is a stance shared by Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., who said, “Right now the war we are waging is whether or not we are going to strengthen VA.” He warned that there are many organizations and individuals in Congress that are attempting to privatize a host of government programs to include Social Security, Medicare and veterans health care.
“All of us veterans, we did not fight for Blue Cross and Blue Shield. We fought for the USA – the red, white and blue,” Rohan said. “The American Legion is 100 percent for funding the VA system, making sure that our veterans are taken care of, where they need it (and) when they need it. Sometimes that means choice. They need to go to a non-VA provider, but that system we have – that is where veterans need to get their care.”
Several lawmakers commended Rohan’s "Family First" theme and The American Legion’s commitment to expanding benefits for caregivers of veterans from all generations. “We have so many moms and dads who are taking care of their heroes, who came home injured. We have husbands and wives, who devoted their lives. And our veterans did not just serve after 9/11,” Rohan said.
Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., underscored his support for a strong VA health system. “I stand with you in fighting those forces that want to privatize VA,” he said. Takano also called for more federal funding for medical schools to fill shortages of physicians. These shortages have hit VA particularly hard.
“What we do in this country and how we spend the money is a moral statement. It is morally correct to take care of our veterans,” Takano said.
Roe complimented the Legion on its commitment to transition assistance, particularly in the area of employment certifications.
“In Tennessee if you can drive a semi across my state with an M1-A1 Abrams tank on the back, you can drive a Fed-Ex truck,” Roe said, while mentioning his intention to add a military liaison to improve the process.
In closing, Rohan signaled out Roe’s expertise to lead the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “Mr. Chairman,” she said, “I think we’re very lucky that we have a doctor as chairman.”
By: Tim Sproles, The American Legion Dept. of Indiana
It was a three-day trip that covered close to 1,000 miles across the Hoosier state and collected hundreds of membership cards.
The membership drive-around called, “Operation Snowball Express” was put together by The American Legion Department of Indiana Commander, Marty Dzieglowicz, and Membership Chairman Ron Byrley to not only collect membership cards but to also give Legionnaires across the state an opportunity to meet with their department leadership.
“There are a lot of Legionnaires around the state who possibly haven't met any of their Department officers,” said Byrley. “With this drive around, we have an opportunity to tell them face-to-face that we appreciate what they are doing to keep the American Legion strong.”
The Express traveled to each of Indiana’s 11 districts and stopped at 16 posts along the way.
The Department officers didn’t travel alone. Cmdr. Dzieglowicz said, “A road trip just isn't fun without your family, so that’s what we did. We are traveling in a convoy with leaders from the Sons of The American Legion, the Women's Auxillary, and the Legion Riders”.
President of the Auxillary Department of Indiana, Judy Morris, Said, “This has been a wonderful experience. Working for our nation’s veterans will always be a family affair, and that’s what people along the route saw. Their Legion family is working together in a united front.”
As the Express traveled along the state, there appeared to be more and more community involvement in the post visits.
“We had the opportunity to meet with the leadership of local fire and police departments and also state and local lawmakers,” said Cmdr. Dzieglowicz. “We were able to speak with these leaders about veterans issues and what the Legion is doing in Indiana.”
“It was great to see these lawmakers come out to greet us,” said Mike Brady, Assistant Director of the Indiana Legion Riders. “We seem to be on the same page with a lot of them. It was great to hear about what they are doing to not only back up the Legion Family’s efforts but to fight for veterans issues.”
Operation Snowball Express also saw the addition of hundreds of new members for The American Legion Family.
The American Legion Department of Indiana collected 723 membership cards during the drive. The Sons of The American Legion Detachment received 350 cards, and the Women’s Auxiliary collected 533 cards.
Jenny Gump, Membership Chairperson for the Auxillary also made a few presentations of the “One More Stitch” award to some of the posts. What makes this award unique is that the awardee is presented a hand-made quilt to display.
Gump said, “For each stitch added to a quilt, the quilt gets stronger. That’s how we came up with the “One More Stitch” award. We have challenged our units to get one more member than what they had last year. The one member makes the Auxillary stronger.”
Although the trip was long, there were no regrets about boarding the Snowball Express.
“I think we need to do more of these,” said Jeff Coulter, Southern Vice Commander of the Sons of The American Legion Detachment of Indiana. “Whether it’s a drive-around or just an event to get together, the Legion Family learns from each other. The more we learn and work together, the more efficient we will be able to help Hoosier veterans.”
With all of the miles traveled and all of the hands shook, Cmdr Dzieglowicz hopes that the message of the Snowball Express is clear.
“We covered a lot of ground, but we didn’t get to every post. I hope each Legion Family member, especially at the posts we didn’t visit, know that we appreciate what they do for our nation’s veterans. Because you are there for our vets, the Legion Family will always be there for you. ”
The third and final day of Operation Snowball Express began at Sellersburg Post 204. Just because it was the last day of a three day trip, the Hoosier Legion Family was not going to take it easy on themselves. They had five post to visit today before they traveled back to Department Headquarters.
After the group spent over an hour at the Sellersburg Post, it was time to load up and head to our second destination of the day, Evansville Post 8. Many people came out to greet the Express at the Funkhouser Post, along with some Indiana Lawmakers. U.S. Congressman, Larry Bucshon and Representative Wendy McNamara were both in attendance to both talk about what they are doing for Hoosier veterans..
After lunch at the Funkhouser Post, the group made the long-haul to Terre Haute Post 346. They were greeted by a big crowd at the Terre Haute Post. From here, the group traveled to Mooresville Post 103.
Another big turn out from the Mooresville Legion Family. From here, we head to our last stop of Operation Snowball Express, Indianapolis Post 64.
With close to 1,000 miles covered and over 700 membership cards collected, Operation Snowball Express was a huge success.
Members of the State American Legion usually travel to many different parts of the country, but today Evansville was the destination. State officials also kept our veterans in mind as they talked about various national issues. Many veterans grouped together at the Funkhouser Post to discuss if their needs are being met as well as increasing sponsorship for the veteran focused organization.
The State American Legion promote programs such as Legion Baseball, Hoosiers Boys and Girls State Organizations and fund scholarships for young children. The state commander for the American Legion says, “It is a chance to meet our community, our legion people, our staff and it’s the first time they get a chance to meet and greet throughout the state.”
U.S. Congressman, Larry Bucshon also attended the American Legion Tour event. He says he has been working to make sure veterans are getting the healthcare benefits they deserve. Bucshon says, “It’s so shocking around the country, how we have people who have served our country who are homeless. Those are some of the issues the American Legion works on as well as other veteran organizations.”
Wendy McNamara was also in attendance. She says there is still legislation for veterans that she is attempting to promote at the State House.
She has co-authored House Bill 1214 which deals with CBD oil and industrial hemp. McNamara says, “That would be a pretty important bill coming through for veterans or for anybody that is experiencing pain in their life and could find comfort through the use of CBD oil.”
The State American Legion will also host a spring conference on April 6th and 8th.
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