Article by: Mark Gourley, 2nd District Commander
I am honored that the members of the Second District have chosen to stand beside me as we step fully into our second century of service.
Just as our Democracy remains strong through the regular change in government leadership, so too does the start of each new membership year strengthen The American Legion by bringing new members into the fold and providing them with opportunities to lead. The Legion, at every level, must reach out to new veterans and offer them a place to develop practices built on the leadership skills instilled in them by their military service.
Our members are the lifeblood of our organization, and our Posts are the beating heart through which our membership flows. The strength of our Posts is dependent on fostering the balance between their independence and maintaining the standards necessary to be a part of The American Legion.
A century ago, the veterans who came before us saw a need among themselves. They organized most of the Post we have in the Department today. We now have an organization larger than any other of its kind. We provide more services and programs to both our fellow veterans and our communities. The challenge before us this year is to ensure every Post is fully engaged, executing as many of our programs as possible in their communities. If we run our programs to their fullest, membership will follow.
While the demographics of our nation’s veteran population has changed tremendously in the hundred years since the Legion was founded, the need for proper care, treatment, and respect remains the same. I look forward to working with the greatest service organization in the country to make sure the need of our fellow veterans and the entire Legion Family are met.
BY KAYLA SULLIVAN - FOX 59, Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The American Legion’s National Convention in Indianapolis continues through the weekend, though Wednesday was the main event.
Vice President Mike Pence addressed more than a thousand members in downtown Indy.
Pence brought greetings from President Donald Trump and said their administration supports the American Legion.
Allen Connelly, the department commander of the American Legion of Indiana, said Pence told them what they wanted to hear.
Commander Chuck Aggliaro with the Beech Grove post said he thought Pence gave an excellent speech.
“I’m very happy with all the results with the VA, especially the hospital,” said Aggliaro. “I go there myself and now have daily appointments, which we never had before.”
Pence said trust in the VA among veterans is 88% and rising.
“We’ve fired more than 7,000 VA employees for negligent behavior. The era of abuse at the VA is over!” said Pence.
John Crosby, department adjutant for the American Legion Department of Indiana, said that part of Pence’s speech hit home.
“And something that he said was that the benefits that we receive are compensation not entitlement,” said Crosby.
Vice President Pence added, “Wait times have dropped more than 33%. In fact, the AMA says that wait times are now shorter for the VA than they are for private doctors.”
“I would absolutely agree,” said Crosby. “In fact, I just got released from Roudebush VA last Tuesday. I had become ill.”
Pence said unemployment among veterans has dropped to its lowest level in nearly 20 years. He also pointed out budget increases for the military.
“President Trump has actually signed into law the largest increase in our national defense since the days of Ronald Reagan, and this month, we signed a budget deal that secured $738 billion for our military,” said Pence.
VP Pence said he and the president will continue fighting for the rights that these military men and women fought to defend.
“I think that anybody that listened to the speech will realize that this administration does support the veterans and the veterans community and military,” said Connelly.
We reached out to Indiana Democrat’s for response on Pence’s speech.
Democratic Party Chair John Zody said, “Hoosier Democrats are working to ensure every veteran and their families have access to quality care and can get ahead.”
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Article by: Dan Mills, 1st District Commander
Greetings from the 1st District and welcome to the dog days of Summer.
Before I get too far into this article, I would like to Honor one of our Riders from Post 17 who lost his life while returning home from the last Rolling Thunder ride to Washington DC. Greg Paz was an exceptional legion member. He will be missed.
There is a lot of good news coming down the pipeline. The inclusion of the blue water Navy for the treatment from exposure of agent orange and the elimination of date requirements for legion membership.
The 1st District had 25 Delegates who attended the American Legion Hoosier Boys State program at Trine University in Angola, Indiana. A week-long program to help shape young men to become future leaders, and the understanding of how our government works. This year the 1st District had two young men who stood out amongst the rest. George Dimopolous and Kathir Venkat, both were Juniors from Munster High school. Kathir was elected as Lieutenant Governor of Boys State, and George was voted as the Outstanding Citizen of Hoosier Boys State. George went on to Boys Nation held in Washington DC. Congratulations to both of these young men for their outstanding achievements. Thanks go to John Sarnecki Sr. the committee chairman for his hard work in making this program such a success.
This year American Legion Eagle Scout of the year was awarded to Kenny Stone from the 1st District sponsored by Post 369. Congratulation to Kenny for his hard work. Achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is no small task.
From Post 100 the teacher of the year was awarded to James Wiltshire a Notre Dame graduate and a retired Navy Captain. Good work Post 100 for getting out there and finding a teacher such as Mr. Wiltshire, not only is he a well respected teacher. But he’s a veteran.
I’m looking forward to working with Commander Connelly and his staff in the upcoming year.
We will be headed out to Indianapolis in a few days to attend the National membership workshop. Aug 8th, 9th and 10. Then comes the National Convention Aug 24th thru the 29th. It looks like it’s going to be a busy month.
I hope I can keep up the good works of our past District Commanders and make this a great year.
Thank you for your support. God Bless you, and God Bless the American Legion!
The American Legion
The 101st National Convention of The American Legion in Indianapolis gets underway Friday, Aug. 23, with community activities, meetings, workshops, training sessions, distinguished guests, speakers and more, and concludes Aug. 29 with the election of a new national commander.
For a schedule of events, tour opportunities and more visit:
A few activities held during convention include:
•American Legion community service project – Friday, Aug. 23
• Color Guard contests – Friday, Aug. 23
• Band contests – Saturday, Aug. 24
• Legion Family Night with the Colts – Saturday, Aug. 24
• Legion Family Night at Victory Field where Indianapolis Indians take on the Louisville Bats – Saturday, Aug. 24 (National Commander Brett Reistad will throw out the first pitch)
• National convention parade – Sunday, Aug. 25
• Centennial Film Festival – Monday, Aug. 26
• Legion Family Night with WNBA Fever Basketball at Bankers Life Fieldhouse – Tuesday, Aug. 27
The following workshops and conferences will be held in conjunction with the convention:
•Indianapolis Military Hiring Fair – Thursday, Aug. 22
•Subject Matter Expert Training – Saturday, Aug. 24, and Monday, Aug. 26
•Digital Media Training Workshop – Monday, Aug. 26
•National Credentialing Summit – Wednesday, Aug. 28 and Thursday, Aug. 29
Other convention news:
• The U.S. Mint will be selling American Legion centennial coins in the Exhibit Hall at the Indiana Convention Center.
• The American Legion’s traveling GI Bill exhibit is on display in the rotunda at the Indiana State Capitol, 200 W. Washington Street.
• A naturalization ceremony and voter registration will be conducted with 100 new citizens – Tuesday, Aug. 27
• Several national convention events, including all three days on the convention floor, will be streamed live. Click here to see the complete schedule and how to watch.
Stay updated with what’s happening at The American Legion’s biggest annual gathering by following online at www.legion.org, on Facebook and on Twitter.
The Legion’s National Convention mobile app is also available for download, free of charge, from the Apple Store or Google Play. Click here to access it. The app includes maps, information from meeting times to registration and shuttle hours, social media links, a guide to Indianapolis and more. It will continue to be updated with information, headlines and alerts throughout the convention. If you still have last year’s app on your phone, you can simply update it for 2019.
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Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
In the quiet town of Dana, Indiana, a white two-story house with an amazing story sits on the corner of North Maple Street and Briarwood Avenue.
The house itself has seen better days. It was built over a century ago, and this time-damaged house is starting to show its age. The wood siding has even reached a point where it is too old to hold a new coat of paint.
Integral repairs are needed and people around the state are getting involved because this isn’t just any “old” house. This is the birthplace and family home of Pulitzer Prize–winning Hoosier journalist and World War II correspondent, Ernie Pyle.
The house and surrounding grounds make up the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum, which is facilitated by the Friends of Ernie Pyle, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and advancing the legacy of Ernie Pyle.
Steve Key, President of the Friends of Ernie Pyle, said, “we priced out how much it will take to make these repairs and it came out to just over $90 thousand. It’s a large amount, but we had to do something.”
Members of the board knew that they would need help raising the money to make this project happen, luckily, they didn’t have to go far for assistance.
Key said, “We are honored to have Past Department of Indiana Commander, Rodney Strong as a member of our board. Back in 2017, he brought it to the board’s attention that his command year was approaching and he needed a commander’s project.”
There is a time-honored tradition that each Commander of The American Legion Department of Indiana name a special fundraising project to collect donations throughout the year and PDC Strong had just found his.
Strong said that it was easy to put the two together, because The American Legion has history with this museum.
He said, “In the 1970s The Department of Indiana helped raise funds to salvage this home and turn it into a museum and in 2016, a resolution was passed by our Department Executive Committee in support of the Ernie Pyle World War II museum.”
But the correlation between Ernie Pyle and our Hoosier veterans goes even deeper.
Strong said, “During Ernie Pyle’s time as a war correspondent, he was known as a serviceman’s friend. His dispatches fully illustrated the horrors of war and highlighted the brave Americans who fought it. For many, support for this museum not only preserves the Legacy of Ernie Pyle, but the servicemembers he wrote about.”
Key said, “When you read his work, you can feel the heat of the north African desert, you can feel the blistering cold of the winter in the mountains of Italy, or you can see the tired soldiers marching to their next battle. His writing endeared him to those veterans and their families, and that respect continues today.”
Throughout the 2018-2019 command year, PDC Strong campaigned for donations, and they rolled in from every corner of the state. On Saturday, Aug. 3, PDC Strong presented the Friends of Ernie Pyle with a check for $39 thousand to go toward the preservation project.
When handed the check, Steve Key immediately showed his appreciation by hugging PDC Strong.
He said, “I didn’t think a handshake fully covered it. We are so appreciative of the hard work of Rodney and the outpouring of support from The American Legion, I couldn’t contain it. This brought us within a third of our goal. That kind of donation deserves a hug.”
Steve Key and other members of the Friends of Ernie Pyle will bring greeting during the Department Fall Conference General Session Saturday Oct. 5.
For more information on the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum, and how you can help secure the legacy of Ernie Pyle, Click Here.
Story and Photos by Tim Sproles
ANGOLA, Indiana– Politics are everywhere. On any given day, the headlines in your favorite news outlets have a political tie-in, but the entire political process is much more than just headlines or individual issues.
Young men taking part in Hoosier Boys State found this out first hand by breaking down the entire process to gain a complete understanding of the political process and why it is important.
Hoosier Boys State is an annual American Legion Department of Indiana program for Junior-aged high school students to actively work together to win elections, propose laws, negotiate bills and enforce the legislation and procedures established from the local, county and state levels. By week’s end, graduates know more about Indiana’s state government than 90 percent of their fellow Hoosiers.
The Department of Indiana celebrated the 82nd Anniversary of Hoosier Boys State as 304 students graduated the 2019 class Friday, June 19, at Trine University in Angola, Indiana.
“We simulate the entire process of running a campaign to the election. From there, we investigate all aspects of the Government and how it works.” said Scott Weyler, the Director of Hoosier Boys State. “We have two political parties, the Federalists and the Nationalists, which we split the group into. It is always great to see the boys work together and identify the benefits as well as the frustrations of democracy.”
Since Hoosier Boys State started in 1937, the program has reached more than 60,000 Hoosier youths including some notable Hoosier Boys State graduates such as former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, former U.S. Senator Dick Luger and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.
The First Hoosier Boys State in 1937
Anthony Fleming, who was attending Hoosier Boys State from McCordsville, Indiana, said that Hoosier Boys State isn’t just a week of instruction, it’s a deep-dive into Indiana’s Government.
He said, “It really helped me understand how our state Government works. What we learned here; you can’t really learn that at school.”
With a program that simulates a complete government, students work closely together, build alliances, campaign for their parties, and lobby for bills to be passed.
“To be completely honest with you I was a bit confused when we started,” said Anthony Fleming of McCordsville, Indiana. “I’ve seen bits and pieces of this process on the news. Without an understanding of the process, a lot of times, I just thought some of these politicians were crazy. It’s more than just learning a bunch of stuff. We are walking away with an understanding.”
The weeklong program also provides scholarship opportunities and leadership guidance to help put these young men on the “fast-track” to success in life. Hoosier Boys State handed out over $10 thousand this year alone.
Even though only a select few walked away with scholarships, Ethan Roos, who was elected as 2019 Hoosier Boys State Governor, told the audience at the closing ceremony that every single delegate of Hoosier Boys State comes away from the experience with something just as valuable.
He said, “Hoosier Boys State gave every single one of us a mold for our future. A mold that could lead us toward political change. What you do with this mold is completely up to you. Whether you fill your mold to the top, only partially, or you step outside the mold to create your own thing, Hoosier Boys State has given us a strong foundation to build on. Now it’s up to us.”
To learn how you can get involved, or to take advantage of this unique, time-tested opportunity, visit www.hoosierboysstate.org. Follow Hoosier Boys State on Facebook and Twitter.
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