By: Tara Copp - Military Times
The Pentagon has released its list of military construction projects that could be cut to fund President Donald Trump’s requested border wall. The bottom line: basically every state has a project that could be delayed in order to get construction underway, but only a very specific set could actually be cut.
To tally up $6.8 billion for wall construction, the Pentagon has proposed culling unobligated spending from approved construction projects. From the list, only funds from projects that had a projected award date after Oct. 1, 2019, are eligible to be used, and it can not include military barracks.
The list released by the Pentagon includes all unobligated projects — not all of which would be eligible to be used, based on their criteria.
For example, under the rules the Pentagon has established, $5.2 million for Anniston Army Depot in Alabama to build a weapons maintenance shop that was due to be awarded in March 2020 could be cut. On the other hand, $77 million for a vehicle maintenance shop at Fort Carson that was due to be awarded in June 2019 could not be cut.
The list laid out to members what their constituents had to lose, which some Democrats suggested could fuel enough opposition to be able to override President Trump’s veto last week of the National Emergency Declaration. The president’s declaration of a national emergency was what had loosened up the potential to use this military construction funding in the first place; last week both chambers voted to recall that emergency — which Trump then vetoed.
It becomes a much clearer fight though, said Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., when members see the lost spending in their districts.
“A bipartisan majority of Congress went on record in voting to rebuke this ill-conceived idea. Now that members of Congress can see the potential impact this proposal could have on projects in their home states, I hope they will take that into consideration before the vote to override the president’s veto," Reed said.
Some of the projects on the list that are at risk:
To view this article on the original source, Click Here.
Story by Joel Schipper - WDRB
SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) -- A big celebration was held Sunday for a southern Indiana World War II veteran as he turned 100 years old.
There was a receiving line of hundreds of people for Bethel Killman as he celebrated his 100th birthday at Hardy’s Café in Scottsburg, Indiana.
Two weeks ago, his family posted a photo of him on Facebook asking for 100 birthday cards to mark the occasion.
The World War II veteran, who fought in Germany at Battle of the Bulge, got his wish after more than 16,000 cards came in from all over the world.
“It’s not every day that someone turns 100, so we get to honor that and we get to honor he’s a WWII vet,” Killman’s stepdaughter Lori Smith said.
One by one, other Vets lined up to say hello and thank Killman for his service.
“There is nothing better than recognizing these veterans, especially our World War II Veterans. They’re the greatest generation there was,” said Judy Brown, who served in Iraq.
At one point, those in the restaurant starting singing Lee Greenwood's song “God Bless the USA” and continued to stand for the National Anthem.
Hundreds of the 16,000 cards lined the walls of the restaurant for the party – a reflection of the love his family says has been overwhelming.
“We, from the bottom of our hearts, want to thank everyone that has sent cards, phone calls, came to visit and showed up here today. Truly amazing,” Smith said.
Killman’s family said he received cards from all 50 states and 15 countries.
To view this article on the original source, Click Here.
Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
When you approached the Post 830 booth, temporarily displayed at the Indiana War Memorial in downtown Indianapolis, you could hear people rave about the attention to detail and craftsmanship of the model ships on display. The cell phones came out, pictures were taken and questions asked — and that is when the story of these detailed models becomes really interesting.
You can hear the visitors’ shock when they learn that each one of these models was made by hand using only craft sticks. The reactions vary when people find out that these models were created by incarcerated Legionnaires.
American Legion Post 830 in New Castle, Indiana, functions just like any other Legion post around the Hoosier State. They hold regular meetings, take part in community service projects and help their fellow veterans through various Legion programs. The only difference is that Post 830 operates out of a prison, the New Castle Correctional Facility.
In 2013, the correctional facility started offering a special program called H-Unit Military Veterans, or HUMV, to eligible incarcerated veterans.
The HUMV program offers assistance and rehabilitation opportunities specifically designed to not only help individual veterans but also support them in helping each other.
Steve Wilson, a graduate of the HUMV program and former resident of the New Castle Correctional Facility, said, “We had educational opportunities and specific training on how to deal with PTSD. All of it centered around re-entry into society.”
Wilson said that the project to construct these ships began in the HUMV program.
“There are multiple craft projects within the program, but members of our post wanted to do something to honor each of our military branches. We wanted to let fellow veterans outside of these walls know that we still think about them and want to honor their service.”
The first model the group created was of the USS Indianapolis, CA-35. Using only nail clippers, sandpaper, glue, paint, craft sticks and an extremely large amount of patience, they were able to build the ship. If the use of limited tools isn’t impressive enough, take into account that available documentation on the real vessel was very limited.
Wilson said, “We really had to take what we could get. We had a few black-and-white photos to go off, and a listing of the specs and design features for the Portland-Class Heavy Cruiser. It’s almost like putting together a puzzle.”
A “puzzle” that took over 950 craft sticks and over 1,000 hours to complete.
Ron Patterson, who acts as the Legion liaison to Post 830, says that he has enjoyed seeing the team come together.
He said, “I have been working with these guys for about a year now. A lot of them have nobody, but the bond that these Legionnaires have has enabled them to become a family.”
They are also a part of our Legion family.
“I think it is important to support our veterans everywhere, and that includes our prisons,” said Patterson. “Yes, these men went down the wrong path, and they are working to correct the course that they are on, but we can’t forget that they are still veterans and Legionnaires.”
Even though Steve Wilson has been released from the New Castle Correctional Facility, he is still a member of Post 830 and continues to assist with the HUMV program. He is currently working to promote the work of the post through exhibitions and events and by soliciting special donations.
If you would like to view the work of Legion Post 830 and the HUMV program, their model of the USS Indiana BB-1 has recently been accepted by the Indiana War Memorial as a permanent display at the museum.
If you would like to support Post 380, please contact your local post. They are accepting donations of both money and approved craft supplies.
American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad addressed a joint session of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs Feb. 27, to conclude the Legion’s annual Washington Conference in the nation's capital.
Reistad's address to the committee highlighted The American Legion’s efforts and success in aiding members of the Coast Guard during the recent government shutdown and called upon Congress and the administration to adhere to their constitutionally-mandated responsibility to support the military.
“Mission is a word that we take very seriously – something that has been forged into us since our first day of military basic training,” Reistad said. “It is an inner fortitude that tells us that no matter what it takes, we will accomplish the task at hand.
“It is synonymous with being a veteran. We have seen this clearly demonstrated by the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard, who despite a stoppage of pay, continued to deploy more than 2,000 members a day, at sea and ashore.”
During the shutdown, the American Legion provided financial assistance totaling more than $1 million to Coast Guard families.
“Pay uncertainty is difficult for everyone impacted, but especially those, who – by contract – are required to continue working and risking their lives in an occupation that provides, at best, modest pay,” he said.
Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Mark Takano, D-Calif., touted the importance of The American Legion, saying Congress relies on the organization to hold legislators accountable and as a check to ensure Congress acts in the best interests of our nation’s veterans.
“We rely on The American Legion in our districts and states back home, and here in Washington, D.C., to be the voice for millions of veterans,” he said. “For 100 years, members of your organization have been on the front lines as a strong voice on Capitol Hill ensuring Congress fulfills its promise to veterans."
Reistad also brought attention to the plight of suicide in the veteran community and the increasing rates of suicide in post-9/11 veterans.
“PTSD, TBI and feelings of a loss of purpose or belonging are frequently found among those who attempt such tragic and permanent endings,” he said. “These feelings and conditions are either preventable or treatable. It must be the mission of every Legionnaire, every veteran, every employee of the DoD and VA – and, I might add, every member of Congress – to stop such national tragedies.”
Another key message delivered by Reistad focused on concerns of privatization of VA as well as implementation of the VA Mission Act, noting the Mission Act must live up to its mission to serve veterans rather than serving private-sector health-care providers.
“The American Legion does not oppose Choice,” he said, "but, we adamantly oppose any plan that would gut the best health-care system in the country.
“The central fact remains that nobody understands the unique health care needs of the veteran population better than the professionals at the VA.”
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., called the next 24 months critical when it comes to the future of VA health care.
“Nothing we’ve done is going to work unless you help us make it work,” he said of the implementation of the Mission Act. “We need all these efforts to become reality and not just promises.
“A few years from now, we will look back and view this as one of the great times for VA and for America’s veterans.”
Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., brought attention the struggles women veterans often face when it comes to VA care, noting that women now comprise about 10 percent of the veteran population and the number is growing rapidly.
American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad has designated the week leading up to the organization’s 100th birthday, March 11-16, as “Buddy Check National Week of Calling.” He’s asking departments, districts and posts to put together teams to call expired members and those who have yet to renew, and to check in with current members and let them know that “we are a better American Legion with their involvement,” Reistad said during The American Legion’s National Membership and Post Activities Committee meeting in Indianapolis, Jan. 11-12.
American Legion posts also can choose another week around the Legion's centennial birthday to conduct the week of calling if March 11-16 doesn't work due to other arrangements.
“A phone script could be something I close meetings with … ‘Thank you for your service to our country and thank you for your continued service to our communities, our veterans and youth through your membership in the American Legion Family.’”
A “Buddy Check National Week of Calling” toolkit was talked through during the meeting with committee members and members of the Legion’s 21st Century Ad Hoc Committee. The Buddy Check toolkit has been released that includes scripts for Legionnaires to use when making personal contact.
“This is coming from our commander. When he says he wants a week of calling, we’re going to do that. This is very important,” said Membership & Post Activities Committee Chairman Rev. Daniel J. Seehafer of Wisconsin. “I really, truly believe that this will be the basis for our retention. It has to start somewhere.”
Past National Commander David Rehbein stressed that “this is important enough that we need to stop everything else (during March 11-16) and concentrate on contacting our members.”
When Paul Dillard of Texas, the national commander’s representative on the National Legislative Commission, called on former Legionnaires who had let their membership expire he had an 85 percent success rate. “Call on those expires, and they will rejoin,” he said.
A message Seehafer said that can be shared with expired members is, “Thank you for your service. Help us celebrate The American Legion’s 100th birthday and lead us into our second century strong by becoming a part of our family.”
In addition to the call for members to make personal contact in their communities, Reistad reiterated his new Team 100 recruitment and retention awards. A post that signs up a former Legionnaire whose membership expired in 2014, 2015 or 2016 can receive $5 each for every one of those members who rejoins in the 2019 membership year. American Legion departments worldwide can receive $2,500 in reward bonuses by hitting their 100 percent membership goals by May 8, 2019. Those departments who hit 105 percent by June 30, 2019, will receive an additional $5,000 each.
Seehafer shared that a department who has been reaching out by phone to expired members said a response they are hearing is, “'Now you call?’ It says something doesn’t it? The intention is for this to be an annual thing. And so when we talk about a national week of calling, it’s not just those who are expired. We want to call every single member of the American Legion Family. Every single member … ‘How’s it going? Just want to thank you for being a member.’
“We want to take this message … the why. Why we belong and take that to the next level.”
To view this article on the original source, Click Here.
Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
The American Legion Department of Indiana held the 82nd Annual Department Oratorical Contest at the National Headquarters in Indianapolis on March 3, in National Executive Committee room.
The Oratorical program is designed to teach important leadership qualities while promoting effective communication skills.
This year’s competition saw four competitors from across the Hoosier State. First up was Tim Carnahan, from West Lafayette. Tim is a Junior at West Lafayette High School and was sponsored by George W. Dinwiddie Post 38 in the 2nd District.
The second contestant was Isaac Bock from Indianapolis. Isaac is a Senior at Eagle Creek Academy and was sponsored by Broad Ripple Post 3 in the 11th District.
The third contestant was Erin Kramer from Jeffersonville. She is a Sophomore at Jefferson High School and was sponsored by Lawrence Capehart Post 35 in the 8th District.
The final contestant was Zachary King from Churubusco. He is a Senior at Churubusco High School and was sponsored by Columbia City Post 98.
In the first round of competition, each competitor is required to delivery an 8-10-minute prepared oration on some phase of the United States Constitution.
The second round featured a topic drawn from a member of the audience.
Mark Gullion, Department of Indiana Children and Youth Commission Chairman explained that this is more than just an Oratorical Competition.
Mark Said, “Each of our state finalists have already received an $800 scholarship. The runner-up will receive an additional $1,000 scholarship and the winner will receive $4,200 in scholarships with a chance to compete at the National competition where they could earn up to $21,000 in scholarships. This contest can become a life-changing experience for some of these students.”
Once the judges scores were tallied, Department Oratorical Chairman, James Grauvogal announced Isaac Bock as the 2019 Department High School Oratorical Contest Champion.
Isaac will go on to represent the Department of Indiana at the 2019 National Finals, April 5-7 in Indianapolis at the Wyndham Indianapolis West Hotel in Indianapolis. Quarterfinal and semifinal contests are scheduled for Saturday, April 6, with the finals scheduled for Sunday, April 7.
Together, we change lives for Veterans, their families and their communities.
Tell us Your Story