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.
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:
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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.
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