The American Legion Department of Indiana
The American Legion, Department of Indiana is extremely disappointed and concerned about the quality of care and treatment administered by the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs, specifically in reference to the recently released 2017 Indiana Family and Social Services Administration audit of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF program.
This on the heels of the administration’s mishandling of the Indiana Military Family Relief Fund makes apparent the immediate need for reform to meet the standards and expectations of our Hoosier State in dealing with veterans and veterans issues.
“Our veterans deserve better,” said Indiana Legion Commander Rodney Strong of Crawfordsville, Ind. “To say our leadership is ‘disappointed’ with the findings and delay of action would be an understatement.”
“The American Legion, from the National organization all the way down to your community’s local post, believes that our Nation’s Veterans are entitled to the highest quality care and benefits,” continued Strong. “These are not hand-outs. These are benefits earned by the selfless service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans.”
Strong added that any veterans that have been refused aid from TANF or IMFRF seek relief from the many Legion programs available to veterans and their families by reaching out to their local American Legion posts. A list of these programs are also available at www.indianalegion.org/services.
Among the laundry list of demerits found in this audit are findings that not only were eligible participants not provided services, but others who were ineligible received services.
The audit also identified that certain services within TANF operated outside of their specific purpose and parameters. This type of misuse is extremely alarming and diminishes beneficial opportunities from qualifying participants who need them.
Hoosier Legionnaires agree that changes will need to be made to correct the current course of IDVA to ensure these types of abuses end and never happen again.
Veterans are familiar with the term, “never leave a fallen comrade behind.” This statement rings true now for both denied eligible veterans, but also the IDVA itself. The American Legion believes the IDVA is a “system worth saving.”
Course correction at IDVA won't be easy, but we believe it is necessary and eminently possible. Not because it can, but because it needs to. Too many Hoosier veterans rely on these programs to keep themselves and their families safe.
We encourage Governor Eric Holcomb and the Commission to IDVA to take the necessary steps to ensure the proposed action plan laid out in the April 6, 2017 audit which called for increased oversight into IDVA, or one like it is laid out and enacted.
If you or someone you know were denied services at IDVA, please visit the services page of our website at https://www.indianalegion.org/services.html to see if you qualify for any of the American Legion benefit programs.
The Indiana Legion provides representation to 63,000 of the 87,500 service-connected disabled veterans in Indiana for entitled Veterans Affairs benefits, making up 71 percent of the claims work in the state, bringing back more than 385 million a year to the Hoosier economy, free of charge, regardless of membership.
The American Legion Department of Indiana, which represents over 77,000 military service veterans who have served honorably during times of conflict in defense of their nation. The Indiana Legion provides veterans’ benefits and representation to more than 63,000 of the 87,500 service-connected disabled veterans in the State of Indiana free of charge, regardless of membership. To learn more about The American Legion, Department of Indiana visit www.indianalegion.org.
By Henry Howard
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. J. Stewart Goodwin offered perspective to the shivering crowd during his welcome at the Indianapolis Veterans Day service Nov. 10 at the Indiana War Memorial.
“I want you to think about those who were at Valley Forge, where it was 6 degrees and they did not have the equipment we have today,” said Goodwin, executive director of the Indiana War Memorial. “I want you to think about those who were at the Battle of the Bulge where records show that they had to start equipment — trucks and tanks — once an hour to keep them from freezing up. And, last but not least, remember those who served in the Korean War, especially the Chosin Reservoir, where it was recorded at minus 22 degrees and the equipment they had was less than beneficial.”
The ceremony highlighted veterans from throughout American history, but focused on the armistice that ended World War I, 100 years ago on Sunday, Nov. 11.
“Today, we take that sacrifice and we carry it on, from the standpoint they fought in this weather and we will celebrate in this weather,” Goodwin said.
Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Navy veteran, said Veterans Day represents a time to honor all veterans while paying a special tribute this year to those who served during World War I.
“There are no surviving links to that war,” Holcomb said. “And that is why it is up to us — now more than ever — to remember the men and women that served over there, because that is where all this started. Armistice Day evolved into Veterans Day. It is an opportunity for all of us to honor veterans, all who served in war and in peace, at home and abroad.”
Holcomb recalled his recent participation in the last Honor Flight out of Lafayette, 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis. World War II, Vietnam and Korean War veterans from around Indiana visited memorial sites in Washington, D.C.
“At times it’s hard for us to recognize these heroes because they take off those uniforms, those cloths,” the governor said. “They camouflage themselves right back into society. But they are here among us everywhere you look. They are neighbors. They are teachers. They are business owners, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, moms and dads. We are grateful for their sacrifice.”
U.S. Rep. Todd Young, a Marine Corps veteran, greeted his fellow Marines in the audience, “I wish you a comfortably cool Marine Corps birthday.”
Young focused his keynote speech on comparing moments in civilians’ lives to those experienced by military families.
“Veterans and their families have a unique perspective on life and death that is more finely tuned,” Young said. “Elected leaders, community leaders and other Americans deal with important decisions every day. Some are issues that can be considered life and death. Most are not.”
Young showed a bracelet that he says gives him perspective when he considers difficult decisions as a lawmaker. The bracelet was presented to Young by the mother of Lance Cpl. Alec Terwiske, a Marine from DuBois, Ind., who was killed Sept. 3, 2012, in Afghanistan.
“She asked me to wear the bracelet. I do so proudly every day,” Young said. “This bracelet helps me keep the right perspective on things that matter most. Like honoring our commitment to honor the men and women who serve this country. It takes a special person to take up arms in defense of this country. It requires a true belief, a true conviction. In the words of my fallen comrade, John McCain, ‘a cause greater than oneself.’ A desire to put your life on the line for Americans you will never meet.
“We honor all of those who have served. Today, we say thank you to Americans of all faiths.”
To honor veterans, the ceremony included a laying of a victory wreath and the tolling of the USS Indianapolis’ bell — one time for each of America’s 12 wars from the Revolution to the ongoing War on Terrorism.
American Legion Department of Indiana Commander Rodney Strong noted the importance of the centennial anniversary of the end of the Great War, which coincides with the birth of The American Legion.
“Veterans Day is very special for all of us who are veterans,” Strong said. “We recognize all of those who have passed and all of our veterans. It’s very special, especially this year — being 100 years after the armistice.”
Strong received an award from the Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis for outstanding service to The American Legion. “It’s nice to be recognized for what we have done. It’s a big honor.”
He was among dozens of American Legion Family members who participated in the parade after the ceremony.
Strong, a member of American Legion Post 72 in Crawfordsville, is proud of the support the Legion, veterans and the military community receive in Indianapolis — the city with the second-most memorials dedicated to veterans, behind only Washington, D.C.
“Indianapolis has supported Veterans Day, The American Legion and others really well,” he said. “They come out and support us.”
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Photos by Tim Sproles
The 2018 Indianapolis Veterans Day Parade was held on Saturday, November 10th. Hoosiers braved the frigid weather and biting colds to come out and honor our Nation's Veterans.
The Veterans Day Council of Indianapolis, who sponsored the Veterans Day Parade, honored the Commander of The American Legion Department of Indiana, Rodney Strong, with a special award, presented by Senator Todd Young, to recognize his contributions to make this event a success.
The annual Veterans Day Service was held on the steps of the Indiana War Memorial and included greetings from Governor Eric Holcomb and Mayor Joe Hogsett.
Immediately following the service, the parade began. More than 80 units march in the parade which began at Michigan and Pennsylvania Streets, moved south on Pennsylvania to New York Street, west to Meridian Street and finished at North Street.
The Hoosier Legion was honored to have Mayor Joe Hogsett mark along side with us.
Special thanks to everyone who came out to support this great event. We will see you Next Year!!!
Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
The American Legion Department of Indiana held its Fall Conference from Friday, October 5 through Sunday, October 7 at the Marriott East Hotel in Indianapolis.
The Fall Conference is held annually for Legionnaires from across the state to discuss and vote on Legion business, recognize Legionnaires and local heroes for their service and deliver valuable information to the membership.
The Conference hosted multiple committee meetings with one General Session for Legionnaires to conduct Legion business.
This year, the Department was honored to have our newly elected National Commander of The American Legion, Brett P. Reistad in attendance during the weekend. He also addressed the Hoosier Legion as an honored speaker at the general session, saying, “I’m honored to represent you as your centennial National Commander. These are historic times for The American Legion. Coming off our 100th National Convention in Minneapolis, and preparing for our 100th Birthday in March. It’s a time to celebrate our legacy.”
One of the ways Cmdr. Reistad plans to help celebrate our legacy is with the formation of “Team 100.”
Reistad said, “Team 100 is a group of like-minded Legion Family members dedicated to increasing membership and practicing our four pillars. We plan to remind the public why The American Legion has been such an important force in our communities for over 100 years.”
Distinguished visitors also included the Auxiliary Department of Indiana’s President, Betty Slagle and the Sons of The American Legion Detachment of Indiana Commander, Doug Heiser, whom both brought greetings to the session.
The Department also had awards to present, including a National level award given to a Hoosier first responder.
First up, the Department recognized cadets from the first annual Indiana Youth Cadet Law Enforcement program. Dominick Kimbrough and Nathan May were the recipients of the Spirit Award, given to both a male and female cadet for having an outstanding attitude and motivation that seems to be contagious to the cadets around them. Henry Massing took home the Integrity Award, given to a cadet who displays strong moral principles throughout the week. Veronica Matthews earned the Mental Attitude Award, presented to a cadet who held a great attitude throughout the week. Logan Stirn earned the Most Improved Cadet, and Leah Rusk was named the Most Athletic Cadet.
The final IYCLEA award was the Top Cadet of 2018 award, presented to Dawson Patrick.
Department Children and Youth Commission Chairman, who is also Chairman of the Indiana Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Program, Mark Gullion, said, “A lot goes into the selection of the recipient of this award. Physical fitness and mental toughness play a part, but we also look for leaders in the group. This cadet not only pushed himself to perform at the highest level but also pushed others to do the same. He exemplifies everything we hope to see in our future cadets.”
Next, the Department honored a Hoosier Legionnaire with The American Legion Square Knot Award. Michael Macku, sponsored by Post 59 in the 9th District. Macku was honored for his continuous service of over 20 years as an adult leader for the Boys Scouts organization.
National Commander Reistad also presented Corporal Clifford Hibbs of LaGrange, Indiana with the Central Region Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.
The session ended with monetary donations from Legionnaires and posts around the state. Altogether, over $27,000 was donated to assist funding various National and Department programs.
The Department will meet again for the annual Mid-Winter Conference from January 11 – 13, 2019. A variety of training will be offered to include blocks of instruction on how to use Mylegion.org and the National organization’s new E-Check Transmittal process, as well as updates from Gaming and Excise.
Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
Official party for Operation: Race to 100 poses for a picture with the Legion Family at Lafayette Post 492. The mission of Operation Race to 100, is to conduct a four-day, statewide tour featuring National and Department level leadership and showcasing American Legion Posts within each of the 11 Districts of the Department of Indiana. Photo by Tim Sproles
It was a four-day trip that covered close to 1,000 miles across the Hoosier state.
The membership drive-around, called Operation: Race to 100, was put together by The American Legion Department of Indiana Commander, Rodney Strong, and Membership Chairman Ron Hoaks to not only collect membership cards but to also give Legionnaires across the state an opportunity to meet with both Department and National leadership.
Ron Hoaks said, “The name of this drive around says it all. During Operation: Race to 100, we want to continue our work of chasing 100% membership in our Department, while also celebrating 100 years of service of The American Legion”.
Operation: Race to 100 traveled to each of Indiana’s 11 districts and stopped at 15 posts along the way.
Cmdr. Strong said, “I think bringing our Legion Family leadership face to face with our volunteers is extremely important. Our Legion Family is what keeps us moving forward everyday. This is a chance for us to say thank you in person”.
The Department officers didn’t travel alone. The Department had the honor of hosting The American Legion National Commander, Brett Reistad and Auxiliary National President Kathy Dungan during the drive around.
On day one, the traveling party loaded up in four vans and headed out from the Department Headquarters to visit three posts. The day started with Beech Grove Post 276 and from there headed to Atkins Saw Post 355.
While on ground at post 355, a Hoosier Legionnaire earned special recognition from Cmdr. Reistad.
During a stop at Atkins Saw Post 335, the Department of Indiana’s 10th District Commander, Laurie Bowman is presented with a special “Commander’s Commendation” pin by The American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad for her hard work and dedication to recruit members to the Legion. The mission of Operation Race to 100, is to conduct a four-day, statewide tour featuring National and Department level leadership and showcasing American Legion Posts within each of the 11 Districts of the Department of Indiana. Photo by Tim Sproles
Laurie Bowman, 10th District Cmdr., the Commander’s Commendation pin for her hard work recruiting members to The American Legion.
“I was extremely humbled by this recognition”, said Bowman. “Cmdr. Reistad told me that he had heard so many great things about me that he felt compelled to present me his commendation pin and his challenge coin’.
The group finished day one with a stop at Crawfordsville Post 72, the home post of our Department Commander, Rodney Strong. The Post 72 Legion Family came out in full force.
Cmdr. Strong said, “It is always great to come home to post 72 and they never dissapoint. We had local first responders, media and the Mayor of Crawfordsville, Todd Barton also came and present a proclomation stating that October 7th will now be hailed as National Commander – Brett P. Reistad Day in the City of Crawfordsville. I can’t express how proud I am of this post, our Legion Family and the entire city”.
Day two of the drive-around was extremely busy. The traveling party stopped at five posts and traveled close to 300 miles. First stop was West Lafayette Post 492 then it was off to Morocco Post 146, where the group heard a brief from the founder of Operation Combat Bikesaver, Jason Zaideman.
“At OCB, we aim to connect veterans suffering from the mental effects that can be caused by their service with tarnished motorcycles that need to be rebuilt. We believe that breathing new life into these motorcycles by honing in on learned skill sets can help to relinquish the deafening grasp Post Tramitic Stress, Tramatic Brain Injury and Depression can have on these Veterans”, said Zaideman.
The group also visited Griffith Post 66, Nappanee Post 154 and finished up day two at North Webster Post 253 where the Kosciusko County Sheriffs Office and the North Webster Police escourted that traveling party through town and right up to the front doors of the post.
Day 3 kicked off early in the morning with a stop at La Grange Post 215. From there it was off to Auburn Post 97, then to Fairmount Post 313, where members of the Legion riders and a team from the Fairmount Fire Department provided an escourt to the post. The group finished up day 3 with dinner at Shelbyville Post 70, but were faced with a long trip to the hotel in Bedford, Indiana.
Cmdr. Strong said, “We really appreciate out Legion Riders. The drive from Shelbyville to Bedford is a bit long, so Riders from Bedford Post 33 and Mitchell Post 250 didn’t want us to make the trip alone. With these Legion Riders leading the way, our traveling team arrived safe and sound.”
First stop of the fourth and final day brought the traveling party to Mitchell Post 250, where the Mitchell Legion family rolled out the red carpet for the National Commander.
“I have to tell you, this is the first place I have visited where an actual red carpet was rolled out for me. That was absolutely wonderful”, said Cmdr Reistad.
From there, it was off to Newburgh Post 44 and then the trip finished up at Worthington Post 106.
Cmdr. Strong said, “It was a long four days and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Being able to see each post’s relations with their surrounding community really gives you the full impact of what The American Legion is doing in our state and across the nation. That is why our organization has been around for 100 years and building on these relationships and recruiting new members will secure The American Legion for another 100 years”.
American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad delivers opening remarks during the 2018 Fall National Executive Committee Meeting in Indianapolis.
The Indiana Commission for Women recognized 12 honorees with Torchbearer Awards on Wednesday, September 26, 2018.
The annual honors are for women "who have broken down barriers, overcome obstacles to women’s full participation, and have made Indiana a better place to live, work and raise a family." Winners represent eight communities throughout the state.
Hoosier Legionnaire Judy Brown was selected as one of this year’s recipients.
Judy started work young and is a two-time Army Veteran. Judy served in the 1990’s and again after 9/11 and was designated a female combat veteran. Although her service was cut short by injury, Judy continues to serve in her local community, serving veterans and at the Indiana State House and advocating to Congress on behalf of her brothers and sisters who serve.
ICW Board of Commissioners Chair Melissa Cotterill calls this year's recipients impressive and says "they have all made significant contributions to the state and to their communities; and we are excited to be recognizing them."
The 2018 Torchbearer Award winners are:
• Kristina Box, Indiana State Health Commissioner
• Judy Brown, American Legion
• Tammy Butler Robinson, Engaging Solutions
• Melinda Clark, St. Vincent Medical Group
• Sarah Demmon, Eli Lilly and Co.
• Brenda Gerber Vincent, Lifeline, Crosswinds, Lasting Change
• Nila Miller-Cronk, Indiana State Police
• Jennifer Pope Baker, Women's Fund of Central Indiana
• Rupal Thanawala, Trident Systems Inc.
• Kendra Vanzo, Old National Bank
• Tina Walters, Fort Wayne Smallest Winner
• Donna Zimmerman, Ivy Tech Community College
The Indiana Commission for Women is committed to the full participation of women in all aspects of society in order to live, work and raise a family. ICW works to move Indiana women forward by understanding the needs of Indiana women and their families and by working strategically both within government and in our communities to help bring about positive solutions. We act as the voice of women, communicating their needs and concerns as well as their successes and contributions, so that they can become better connected to their communities and to the tools, resources and opportunities needed to find their own voice. For more information, go to: www.in.gov/icw.
Photos and Commentary by Tim Sproles
Brett P. Reistad, National Commander of The American Legion addresses the Legion Family at Atkins Saw Post 355 on day 1 of Operation: Race to 100. The mission of Operation Race to 100, is to conduct a four-day, statewide tour featuring National and Department level leadership and showcasing American Legion Posts within each of the 11 Districts of the Department of Indiana.
Operation: Race to 100 was A four-day, statewide tour featuring National and Department level leadership and showcasing American Legion Posts within each of the 11 Districts of the Department of Indiana.
The purpose of the drive-around was three fold.
To associate ourselves together at the National, Department, District and Post level by making our Legion, Auxiliary, SAL & Riders top Indiana leadership available to interface with our volunteers and local Legion leaders in communities across Indiana; to transmit to posterity our Legion’s Veterans Service Advocacy mission from the Post to the local community by inviting local media and local leaders to learn more about us and how we can further develop mutually beneficial relationships for our veterans, their families and our communities; to provide the opportunity for local leaders, officials, politicians, police, firefighters, ems, educators and more to visit with their local American Legion Posts and meet with National and State level leadership.
Day 1 (Sunday, October 7th)
#1. Beech Grove Post 276
The official party was greeted by the wonderful Beech Grove Legion Family as well as Mayor of Beech Grove, Dennis Buckley and Heather Harvey from US Representative André Carson's office. Great Post with Great people. Our National Commander was also recruited to cut the cake.
Check out the live stream from Post 276 where Brett P. Reistad, National Cmdr. of The American Legion and Rodney Strong, Department of Indiana Commander address the Post 276 Legion Family.
#2. Atkins Saw Post 355
The second stop on the drive around, led us to Atkins Saw Post 335. The traveling part received a warm welcome from the Post 335 Legion Family. The post went out of their way to make the traveling party feel right at home.
Check out the live stream from Post 276 where Brett P. Reistad, National Cmdr. of The American Legion and Rodney Strong, Department of Indiana Commander address the Post 355 Legion Family.
#3. Crawfordsville Post 72
Crawfordsville Post 72 was a special stop for Department Commander Rodney Strong. Post 72 just happens to be his home post. And the Post pulled out all of the stops. The traveling party was greeted by an honor guard at the entrance of the Post. After a program featuring local and state leadership as well as local first responders, the group was treated to a fantastic dinner to close out the evening.
Check out the live stream from Post 72 where Brett P. Reistad, National Cmdr. of The American Legion, Rodney Strong, Department of Indiana Commander, Betty Slagle, Department Auxiliary President, Doug Heiser SAL Detachment Commander and Micheal Brady Legion Riders Director address the Post 72 Legion Family.
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