“Sometimes the battle begins after the service member returns home”
Indianapolis – The American Legion, Department of Indiana Post 341 in Cicero is hosting the 2nd Annual Battle Ride, on Saturday, June 10 to raise funds for Operation Comfort Warriors.
The ride was originally scheduled for Saturday, May 20 but was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
Proceeds will benefit veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, the signature wounds of the Global War on Terrorism, through The American Legion’s program Operation Comfort Warriors. A Check will be presented to Past National Commander of The American Legion, Indiana’s own Jim Koutz. Koutz helped develop this national program during his command year and continues to advocate for it in Indiana.
See the attached flyer. To pre-register, or for additional information, visit www.battleride.org
Registration can be done online by visiting www.battleride.org or in person the day of the ride from 8 – 10 a.m. at the ride’s start point, Renegade Classics, 9546 Allisonville Road, Indianapolis, Ind., 46250. Registration costs $20 per rider and $10 per passenger. Kickstands up at 10:15 a.m.
The ride is expected to last approximately five hours, covering more than 100 miles starting at Renegade Classics in Indianapolis. Riders will travel through Indianapolis, Carmel, Lebanon, Sheridan, Cicero, and Westfield, ending at the Northside Indianapolis Harley Davidson for an after-ride celebration and fundraiser.
Celebration at Northside Indy Harley Davidson
A post ride celebration will be held at the final destination, Northside Harley Davidson from 3 – 6 p.m. at 4146 E. 96th Street, Indianapolis, Ind., 46240. Raffles, a silent auction, a bike show and live music will help to raise more funds for OCW.
Media is welcome and encouraged to participate in the ride and celebration. Contact Ride Captain David Baughman at 317-517-4161 for more information.
Operation Comfort Warriors
Operation Comfort Warriors is dedicated to meeting the needs of wounded, injured or ill military personnel by providing them with comfort items not usually supplied by the government.
All of OCW’s administrative and marketing costs are paid from Legion membership dues so that 100 percent of all donations go directly to purchasing comfort items for troops. Items include specially designed exercise equipment for the wounded, camaraderie building outdoor excursions and loose fitting garments for veterans recovering from wounds.
This national program was developed by Indiana’s own James Koutz during his term as national commander of the 2.2 million member American Legion in 2012-2013. Koutz received a $3,000 donation from the Battle Ride last year at the Tipton County Courthouse.
"I want to thank you Legion Riders for everything you do, getting out there and raising money for our American Legion programs, especially Operation Comfort Warriors," said Koutz. "It's a program that is dear to me and over the years the Legion Riders have proved that they raise more money out there than anyone."
Ride Captain David Baughman said he expects to double that number this year as the ride continues to gain momentum. Contact Ride Captain David Baughman at 317-517-4161 for more information.
If you have any questions, please contact the Indiana Legion Communications Director John Crosby at 317-416-5956 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Indiana Military Veterans Hall of Fame (IMVHOF) is calling for nominations for its fourth class of veteran honorees. The not-for-profit organization honors Hoosier veterans for service during and after active duty. To date, the IMVHOF has recognized 46 men and women for their outstanding military and civilian service.
Up to fifteen veterans will be honored for military service achievements and/or community contributions. To be eligible, a nominee must meet any one of these criteria:
All branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, all ages, living or deceased, and males and females will be considered equally. The induction ceremony will take place on November 3, 2017 at the Garrison at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Lawrence, Indiana.
Donovan Slack , USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – The head of the Department of Veterans Affairs in a rare White House briefing Wednesday laid bare the array of problems still plaguing the agency charged with providing health care to nearly 9 million of the nation’s veterans.
VA Secretary David Shulkin provided a candid assessment of the challenges that he and other leaders face in overhauling the department, including providing appointments more quickly. Veterans are waiting 60 days or longer at more than 30 VA facilities across the country, he said, and one in 10 time-sensitive appointments were not booked within time frames recommended by health care providers.
"I'm a doctor and I like to diagnose things, assess them and treat them," Shulkin said. "Many of these challenges...have been decades in building, and they span multiple administrations, and this is the time for us to really address these chronic problems that have affected veterans and in many ways have harmed veterans and their families."
"I'm going to tackle these issue heads on," he said.
In his first “state of the VA” address at the White House on May 31, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin highlighted his department’s focus on wait times, accountability, quality of care, and veteran suicides. But it may have been one brief answer to a question after his speech that really signaled Shulkin’s openness to radical reforms for veteran health care.
Asked whether his emphasis on improving veteran mental health and preventing suicides meant he was considering an American Legion proposal to decriminalize marijuana and study the drug as a medicine, Shulkin responded: “I hope the people take a look at that.”
“Right now, federal law does not prevent us at VA to look at that as an option for veterans,” he told the assembled crowd of journalists, but he emphasized that any policy change would have to come from lawmakers. Pressed by a reporter on his opinion toward pot as a trained physician, Shulkin praised several states’ careful decriminalization and regulation of medical marijuana.
“There may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful, and we’re interested in looking at that,” he said.
Leo Shane III, June 1, 2017 (Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP)
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s long-promised hotline for veteran complaints officially launches on Thursday, but questions remain about the long-term plans for the new resource.
The phone line — live now at 855-948-2311 — is designed to “collect, process and respond to the complaints of individual veterans in a responsive, timely and accountable manner,” according to Department of Veterans Affairs officials.
VA Secretary David Shulkin on Wednesday described the initial rollout of the line as a soft launch, with “live-answer agents” receiving and processing some of the calls. He promised that by Aug. 15, the hotline will have continuous coverage from a live operator 24 hours a day, every day of the week.
Columbus – Columbus Indiana American Legion member and USMC Veteran, Kyle Killinger will run 300+ plus miles from Ohio to Indiana to highlight the growing problem of veteran suicides. The full story here.
Data released from the VA, shows that roughly 20 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide. Many of these tragic incidents are related to personal battles with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kyle says, “By raising awareness and talking about PTSD, we have the opportunity to show Veterans our support and let them know that they are NEVER alone. Bringing about conversations on what we can do for these veterans today can help to ensure they will be here tomorrow”.
Donations in the form of sponsorships for Kyle’s journey will benefit 22-2-NONE and SAVE22VETERANS, which are both nonprofit organizations that work to help raise awareness and provide support to eliminate veteran suicide.
Kyle will begin his journey on July 1st, leaving from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio and finishing at Mill Race Park in Columbus, Indiana on July 8th.
A planned 5k run and car show fundraiser will be held on that Saturday (July 8th) to collect addition donations for the cause.
If you have any questions, please contact William Tapscott at 812-447-5767 or Kyle Kilinger at 812-447-2514. Follow Kyle on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/300milesbrother.
A letter from Kyle
In order to battle and change the statistic of 22 veterans committing suicide EVERYDAY and to raise awareness for ALL who suffer from PTSD, I will be running 300 miles starting in Canton, Ohio and ending at Mill Race Park in Columbus, Ind.
During my run, I will be updating my followers with pictures, videos, and interviews via Facebook and other social media platforms. I will be speaking with veterans and their families to share their stories of hope and strength, digging deeper into what it is to learn and live with PTSD.
By raising awareness and talking about PTSD, we have the opportunity to show veterans our support and let them know they are never alone and to bring about conversations on what we can do today to make sure they are here tomorrow.
I need your help in saving the lives of our military heroes both locally and nationally. Together we can get that number from 22 to ZERO.
Any and all donations help. Donations acquired will partially fund accommodations incurred throughout my run.
Also, please remember, donations do not have to be in monetary form.
I, Kyle Killinger, pledge to donate all remaining funds to 22-2-NONE and SAVE22VETERANS.
All item donations must be in by June 29, 2017. With respect, we do ask that all monetary donations are split 50/50 between the two nonprofit organizations.
Thank you so much for your time, your donations and for sharing!
Want to help Kyle with his run?
Please call before ordering to check for availability of items Kyle Killinger: Kyle Killinger – 812-447-2514 or William Tapscott – 812-799-0711. (Also call Kyle or William for item drop-off location)
“My name is Kyle and I am a warrior. I am a proud United States Marine Corps Veteran hailing from the beautiful city of Columbus, Ind. I come from a long line of great men who were in the military. My grandfather was in the Air Force and I have uncles who fought in WWII and Vietnam.
My best friend, whom I greatly respect, chose to join the Marines. I very willingly followed in his footsteps shortly after. Through my short travels and experiences I have seen many things; PTSD being one of the most tragic.
I myself do not suffer from PTSD, but I am aware of how it attributes to everyday struggles in the lives of once strong souls. It is very possible that we all know someone within our lives who is suffering right at this very minute. Each beautiful soul that battles with PTSD has their own story and their own demons. The most crucial point, and what I am trying to tackle, is the fact that some see no other alternative other than ending the pain by taking their own life.
Most of society is still unaware that there are 22 American veterans committing suicide EVERY SINGLE DAY.
This is staggering, and completely unacceptable. These men and women are real American heroes. They have fought, bled, cried, missed their own families, and all for the sake of the rest of us, so we could all live... free. The ones who have fulfilled their duties and thankfully returned home need our help. They need your help!
You can’t patch a wounded soul with a Band-Aid. As a result of these prolific and horrifying statistics, I am choosing to do something about it.
I am choosing to fight for those that have so selflessly done so for me, you, and everyone else in this beautiful country.
22-2-NONE is a non-profit organization lead by a board of fellow veterans to help raise awareness and provide support in hopes to combat veteran suicide.
The numbers of veteran suicides are steadily increasing. When on active duty and working side-by-side, everyone had each other’s backs, with the mentality of never leaving a man behind.
Re-entering civilian life is a large adjustment for most, but some struggling more than others. This organization has been created to rally together in hope s of keeping our brothers and sisters in arms safe and to lend a hand, an ear, or even a shoulder when needed without judgement.
Learn more at www.222none.weebly.com
Save22Veterans is a group of veteran friends working to raise awareness and help prevent veterans and active duty suicides.
SAVE22 is a grassroots movement started by Marine veteran Tom Indorf in the small farming community of Carrollton, Ohio. Something formed a spark inside Tom after speaking with other concerned veterans and he decided he wanted to start raising awareness for the 22 veterans from all branches of the service who are reported to commit suicide every day in this country.
Many arguments have been made about the validity of the exact number; however, at the end of the day, even on veteran is too many.
Learn more at www.save22.vet
Every four minutes, an American is diagnosed with blood cancer.
To combat this problem here at home, the Indiana Blood Center along with Hero Family Outreach, partnered with the Kenneth N. Dowden-Wayne Post 64 in Indianapolis for a Blood and Bone Marrow Drive on May 25th.
Scott Vander Veen, a representative from Hero Family Outreach, said that this drive wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of post 64.
He said, “It was an absolute pleasure working with the American Legion. The assistance we received not only during the drive, but in the days leading up to it set this event up for success.”
The Blood and Bone Marrow Drive registered 33 new blood donors, collected 25 units of blood and signed 6 people into the bone marrow registry, but the fight against blood cancer is far from over.
A quick and painless swab of the mouth could result in saving a life and making a difference.
For more information on how your post can host a blood & bone marrow drive Indiana Blood Center Website.
Veterans associations, such as the Student Veterans of America (SVA), American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), are working to amend Title 38 of the U.S. Code, specifically regarding the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
The associations want to revise the Post-9/11 GI Bill so that it benefits a wider range of veterans who are transitioning into higher education or future careers.
Some draft bills for the GI Bill were introduced to Congress in late April, including measures such as the Veterans Education Equity Act, which eliminates the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) so veterans can make their education decisions based on factors other than housing benefits, such as where they attend their classes. Those proposed bills passed the House of Representatives, but stalled in the Senate. Some were not even brought to the House floor for a vote.
The SVA and American Legion held a Post-9/11 GI Bill Roundtable Discussion on May 18 to discuss improving the GI Bill, inviting more than 60 veterans and military service organizations, stakeholders and media to the American Legion office in Washington, D.C.
“The top four [proposals] that the group came up with, I think, represent a collective interest of a broad audience of student veterans between Purple Heart recipients, survivors and those who experience school closures,” said Will Hubbard, vice president of Government Affairs for the SVA. “Student veterans are not just one type of individual, they’re highly diverse and they come from different walks of life. I think the full proposal that we’re pushing forward … is a stronger representation of that.”
Hubbard said the SVA will be hosting a follow-up discussion on June 6 in hopes of figuring out how to get to the next step in the amendment process.
Two weeks ago, the American Legion released a report along with the Department of Defense, Veterans Association and other stakeholders, called The State of Credentialing of Service Members and Veterans, which lays out blueprints as to what’s currently successful for vets and what they want to see improved.
The consensus from the report stated that they would like to “amend the legislation pertaining to the Post 9/11 GI Bill payment of licensure and certification exam fees so that rather than charging an entire month’s worth of a beneficiary’s entitlement for the cost of a credential exam (which typically is about $250), the amount of benefit charged would be pro-rated to the cost of the exam.”
The SVA has also recently published findings from its long-term research project, NVEST, or National Veterans Education Success Tracker, which was completed in partnership with the National Student Clearinghouse and VA. They studied the modern student veteran’s academic progress and completion rate to help distinguish how well the GI Bill’s Return on Investment (ROI) benefits all types of veterans.
The SVA, American Legion, and other veteran’s associations and stakeholders are continually lobbying Congress to empower the VA to conduct its own research on the GI Bill. “As a result, VA is now nine years into its 20-year longitudinal study on vocational rehabilitation benefits, which we lobbied Congress in 2008,” said John Kamin, assistant director for the American Legion.
By: Leo Shane III, Military Times
WASHINGTON | Military Times — Officials from the American Legion on Friday slammed the White House’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal as “a stealth privatization attempt” of veterans services and an “unacceptable” attack on veterans benefits.
“The administration’s budget for (Veterans Affairs) would effectively lower the earnings of our most vulnerable veterans by reducing or eliminating disability payments from veterans who are the most in need,” Legion National Commander Charles Schmidt said in a statement.
“This plan breaks faith with veterans.”
The comments are the latest shot from veterans groups at what President Trump has billed as a veteran-friendly budget, one that includes a nearly 6 percent increase in discretionary spending and a $54 billion boost in defense funding above congressionally mandated budget caps.
But outside advocates have been critical of the details, saying many provisions in the budget could undermine the promised goals of fixing VA and Defense Department operations.
Earlier in the week, officials from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Vietnam Veterans of America all voiced opposition to plans to “round down” cost-of-living increases for veterans benefits and end Individual Unemployability payments for retirement-age beneficiaries.
The two proposals combined are designed to save more than $3 billion, money that administration officials have said will be used to offset the cost of an expansion of the VA’s Choice Card program, which allows veterans to seek medical appointments with private-sector physicians at taxpayers’ expense.
But officials from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America questioned that plan, saying VA officials have focused too much attention and funding on the embattled Choice program.
Legion officials took their criticism even further.
“We are alarmed by the cannibalization of services needed for the Choice program,” Schmidt said in his statement. “It is a ‘stealth’ privatization attempt which The American Legion fully opposes.
“Choice should not be advanced to the detriment of cost-of-living increases for veterans.”
VA officials have been wary of the “privatization” term since Trump’s election. During his campaign, candidate Trump repeatedly promised to make it easier for veterans to seek outside care if they so choose. Critics called that a step toward dismantling VA, a charge Trump supporters denied.
VA Secretary David Shulkin has repeatedly promised not to privatize VA services, but also said the department must find a balance between providing specialized care to veterans and using community resources for routine medical needs.
Earlier in the week, he defended the benefits trims as tough but necessary moves for his department to provide fiscally responsible services to a growing number of veterans.
“There are always hard decisions that have to be made,” he said following a House Veterans’ Affairs Committee budget hearing. “Sometimes that means you have to adjust current programs to support the growth of other benefits. That’s what we’re seeing here.”
Legion officials — along with other veterans groups — are promising a fight.
“We hope all veterans, families and supporters of veterans call their elected officials and demand a well-functioning, properly-funded, transparent, and accountable Department of Veterans Affairs, and a presidential budget that fully supports veterans’ needs,” Schmidt said.
Lawmakers have already distanced themselves from many parts of the $1.1 trillion White House budget proposal, calling it at best a guideline for spending and policy priorities. They’ll spend the next several months offering their own suggestions for fiscal 2018 spending, likely including multiple changes to the VA budget plan.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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