A proud year of American Legion successes

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Dear American Legion Family and Friends,

Nearly one year ago in my acceptance speech, I talked about how this centennial year would be more than just a celebration. It would also be about “charting the course for our future and remaining strong and relevant. Strength, my friends, is paramount,” I said when I was elected national commander in the year of our 100th anniversary as an organization.

Without a doubt, The American Legion is strong, relevant and poised for another influential century of service to communities, states and nation.

The influence of The American Legion was felt on Capitol Hill where lawmakers approved the LEGION Act. This legislation means that more than 1,600 servicemembers who were killed or wounded in previously undeclared war eras now truly get the recognition they deserve. It also opens up all benefits of American Legion membership to an additional 4.2 million veterans.

Also notable is that American Legion-supported legislation won the long fight for Blue Water Navy veterans to receive VA disability benefits for illnesses linked to exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The law, signed by President Trump in June, will extend disability benefits covering medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure to those who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam.

The American Legion also came to the aid of active-duty Coast Guard members when their pay was held up amid the government shutdown in January. We provided more than $1 million in expedited Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) grants that assisted 3,120 children of 1,173 Coast Guard servicemembers.

Of course, American Legion Family members raised millions of dollars for our many programs that support veterans, servicemembers, their families and youths of our nation throughout the year. I found the kindness shown on Giving Tuesday last November to be especially heart-warming. On that single day, nearly 400 individuals donated a total of $22,620 for American Legion programs.

True to our core mission, The American Legion also fought to preserve the memories of our comrades from past wars.

  • On June 20, in a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of The American Legion, allowing the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial to remain where it has stood since 1925. The cross-shaped memorial honors 49 World War I veterans who never returned home to their community in Prince George’s County, Md.

There have been many reasons to celebrate our achievements of the past year — and the past 100 years. One way to do so is to purchase a special keepsake American Legion centennial coin. Only two organizations a year are selected by the U.S. Mint to strike a special commemorative coin. The selection of The American Legion as one of those two this year shows how well-respected our organization is throughout the nation.

The coin sales will terminate at the end of this year so be sure to get your collectibles before it’s too late.

The coins are just one way to celebrate our first century of service to America. Departments and posts held their own special events. And, of course, our national convention this month will be another way to celebrate.

Perhaps the most-watched centennial event was when The American Legion was featured near the start of the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif. An estimated 4.7 million people viewed the parade in person or on television. “People were very supportive as we passed,” I said at the time. “A lot of ‘God bless the USA’ and ‘thank you for your service.’ And they never stopped. The crowds just went on and on and on.”

And that is what The American Legion will do. We will go on and on and on. Our organization has a bright future and so do our fellow veterans, today’s servicemembers and America’s children. And that is thanks to you and your dedication to The American Legion.

For God and Country,


Brett Reistad
National Commander
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Bike Tour for the Wounded

Bike Tours for the Wounded is looking for qualified passengers to
participate in one of our 4 U.S. tours and our Normandy D-Day tour for
2020.

We are primarily looking for medically discharged service members from
all branches and all ranks.

Please pass this along to any/all organizations you work with and
contact me for any questions you may have.

Chuck Hackney
Bike Tours for the Wounded
480-593-2600
bt4tw.org

20 August, 2019 07:43

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Tuesday, August 20, 2019 which is National Lemonade Day, National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day, National Radio Day and National Bacon Lover’s Day*.
REMINDER: In the American Legion World Series, Idaho Falls Post 56 will face North Dakota, represented by Fargo Post 2, in Tuesday’s final, which airs live on ESPNews at 6:30 p.m.
This Day in Legion History:
Aug. 20, 1950: A new American Legion National Headquarters building is dedicated in Indianapolis. The 100,000-square-foot $2.5 million structure greatly expands capacity for the nation’s largest veterans organization, on State of Indiana property known as “American Legion Mall.”
*As a long-time devotee of the Baconic Arts myself, I’d like to share a poem with you in lieu of this Day in History:
JOHNNY BACONSEED: A POEM FOR THE HOPELESS ROMANTICS
by Joel Chmara

When strips of pork Godliness dance-crackle-curl on the pan,
I will be there,
puffing my chest
accepting pops of grease on my shirt
like a Deputy Ditka badge.

Garments perfumed with slight bacon splatter is no call for stain-lifter.
Nay, it simply ensures that one will carry the greatest foodstuff essence
for the rest of the day.
Take heed dear readers,
to love bacon is to carry the smokey scent with you
as an am-bad-ass-ador of the fine piggy belly brine.

I am that breed of bacon lover
spreading its virtues
as Johnny Baconseed.
Baconology mentored to friends
of how to incorporate it into every dish.
Caramelized, Hickory Smoked, Peppered, Mapeled
Sweet or Savory
Lardon or in Bits
I can baconate any menu
for the better of humankind.

When the final bite of a bacon treat
crunches in my mouth
leaving the perfect salty smoke sensation
I whisper to no one in particular,
“That’ll do pig. That’ll do.”

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

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Military.com: Afghanistan Vows to Crush Islamic State Havens After Attack

19 Aug 2019
The Associated Press | By Rahim Faiez
KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan’s president on Monday vowed to "eliminate" all safe havens of the Islamic State group as the country marked a subdued 100th Independence Day after a horrific wedding attack claimed by the local ISIS affiliate.
President Ashraf Ghani’s comments came as Afghanistan mourns at least 63 people, including children, killed in the Kabul bombing at a wedding hall late Saturday night. Close to 200 others were wounded.
Many outraged Afghans ask whether an approaching deal between the United States and the Taliban to end nearly 18 years of fighting — America’s longest war — will bring peace to long-suffering civilians. The bomber detonated his explosives in the middle of a dancing crowd, and the IS affiliate later said he had targeted a gathering of minority Shiites, whom it views as apostates deserving of death.
Both the bride and groom survived, and in an emotional interview with local broadcaster TOLOnews the distraught groom, Mirwais Alani, said their lives were devastated within seconds. Even as victims’ loved ones mourned, there were fears that funerals and memorials could be targeted, too.
A sharply worded Taliban statement questioned why the U.S. failed to identify Saturday’s attacker in advance. Another Taliban statement marking the independence day said to "leave Afghanistan to the Afghans."
More than anything in their nearly year-long negotiations with the U.S., the Taliban want some 20,000 U.S. and allied forces to withdraw from the country. The U.S. for its part wants Taliban assurances that Afghanistan — which hosted al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden before 9/11 — will not be a launching pad for global terror attacks.
The U.S. envoy in talks with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Sunday said the peace process should be accelerated to help Afghanistan defeat the ISIS affiliate. That would include intra-Afghan talks on the country’s future, a fraught process that could take years.
But Ghani on Monday asserted that the Taliban, whom the U.S. now hopes will help to curb the ISIS affiliate’s rise, are just as much to blame for the wedding attack. His government is openly frustrated at being sidelined from the U.S. talks with the insurgent group, which regards the Afghan government as a U.S. puppet.
The Taliban "have created the platform for terrorists" with their own brutal assaults on schools, mosques and other public places over the years, the president said.
More than 32,000 civilians in Afghanistan have been killed in the past decade, the United Nations said earlier this year. More children were killed last year — 927 — than in any other over the past decade by all actors, the U.N. said, including in operations against insurgent hideouts carried out by international forces.
"We will take revenge for every civilian drop of blood," Ghani declared. "Our struggle will continue against (ISIS), we will take revenge and will root them out." He urged the international community to join those efforts.
He asserted that safe havens for militants are across the border in Pakistan, whose intelligence service has long been accused of supporting the Taliban. The ISIS affiliate’s claim of the wedding attack said it was carried out by a Pakistani fighter seeking martyrdom.
Ghani called on people in Pakistan "who very much want peace" to help identify militant safe havens there.
Last month after meeting with President Donald Trump, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan insisted he will do his best to persuade the Taliban to open negotiations with the Afghan government to resolve the war.
Trump on Sunday told reporters he doesn’t want Afghanistan to be a "laboratory for terror" and he described discussions with the Taliban as "good." He was briefed on Friday on the progress of the U.S.-Taliban talks, of which few details have emerged.
Some analysts have warned that Trump’s eagerness to bring at least some troops home ahead of next year’s election could be weakening the U.S. stance in the negotiations as the Taliban might see little need to make significant concessions.
In a message marking Afghanistan’s independence and "century of resilience," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the weekend wedding bombing "an attack against humanity." It was one of many international expressions of condemnation pouring in following the attack.

Stripes: Barksdale dedicates facility to slain airman, addresses safety after string of off-base murders

By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 19, 2019
A building at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., now bears the name of a former Spangdahlem airman who was murdered last year outside his Louisiana home, one of five Barksdale airmen and civilians to be killed in the last 14 months.

Tech Sgt. Joshua Kidd’s family, including his wife and young son, unveiled the new name — “TSgt Joshua L. Kidd Weapons Load Training Facility” — at a dedication ceremony last week, the Air Force said in a statement.

Kidd was killed by a gunshot to the chest on the morning of Sept. 25, 2018, after he interrupted two youths who prosecutors say were trying to steal items from his car outside his Bossier City home.

Two Louisiana teenagers have been charged as adults in connection with his death.
“I would wish more than anything that Josh could see this,” the Air Force statement quoted his wife, Alyssa Kidd, as saying at the ceremony Friday. “There are no words to describe what it’s like to see all of you come out and support Joshua. It’s a true testament to how he impacted each and every one of us.”

Final approval for dedicating the building in Kidd’s name came from Gen. Timothy Ray, head of Air Force Global Strike Command, the service said.

Kidd was recognized during the ceremony for his “unwavering leadership and influential legacy,” the Air Force said.

A GoFundMe campaign created last year, which raised nearly $44,000 for Alyssa Kidd and the couple’s young son, Beckham, said Kidd went out of his way to assist deployed airmen and their families and often mentored younger airmen.

Kidd enlisted in the Air Force in March 2008. Before his assignment to Barksdale, he was assigned to Osan Air Base, South Korea, and Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, where, from 2009 to 2012, he was a weapons load crew chief.

Kidd was one of five members of the Barksdale community to be murdered since June 2018, according to the Air Force.

The spate of murders prompted 2nd Bomb Wing commander Col. Michael A. Miller to issue a statement last month expressing concern about the safety of airmen and civilians assigned to the wing, home to three squadrons of B-52H Stratofortress bombers.

“I’ve been stationed at eight installations in my 25-year Air Force career and I have never experienced as many murders involving” airmen and their families, Miller wrote in the statement, published by local news outlet BossierNow.

Besides Kidd, Tech. Sgt. Kelly Jose, a reservist and civilian employee for the 307th Logistics Readiness Squadron, and his wife, Heather Jose, were killed in November after giving a man a ride while shopping at Mall St. Vincent, in neighboring Shreveport.

Their bodies were found in a parked car, burned beyond recognition. A suspect was arrested after a six-hour standoff with law enforcement, according to the Shreveport Times.

In June, postal worker Antonio Williams, the spouse of a civilian employee at Barksdale, was gunned down while delivering mail in Shreveport.

Also in June, Tech. Sgt. Perry Bailey, the noncommissioned officer in charge of education and training for the 2nd Medical Group, was slain in an apparent murder-suicide in a Shreveport residence, according to the Shreveport Times.

“I am deeply concerned for the safety of the military members and their families assigned to Barksdale Air Force Base,” Miller said in the statement. “Not only am I concerned about their personal well-being, but also our ability to recruit and retain the necessary talent to complete our mission to defend our nation.”

Local news radio station KEEL reported Miller sent an email to Shreveport provisional police chief Ben Raymond, saying that the “overwhelming consensus” of most airmen assigned to Barksdale was that Shreveport and Bossier City “are not safe places to live.”

Star Tribune: Veteran salutes veterans by cleaning their gravestones

By CHRISTINE SPANGLER Associated Press

FORT ATKINSON, Wis. — Dale Reich frequents cemeteries. But the graves he visits are those of people he’s never met, and in lieu of flowers, he brings a bucket, scrub brush and bottle of Dawn.
The 72-year-old Vietnam veteran has made it his mission in retirement to clean the headstones of veterans across Jefferson County and beyond. He’s surpassed the 1,150 mark and recently completed nearly 200 at Fort Atkinson’s Evergreen Cemetery.
"I love these guys, the veterans here, and the wives who suffered along with them when they got back home again or maybe suffered because they didn’t get back home again," Reich said as he washed the inscription of "Edward G. Hausen," a veteran of the Spanish-American War. "They deserve a clean headstone as much as as the guy that served. Mrs. Jones gets one just like Captain Jones gets one."
It all started a few years ago when the Watertown resident went to Oconomowoc to pay his respects to his grandfather, Reinhold, who was blinded by mustard gas during World War I. Placing flowers on his grave at Summit Cemetery, he noticed how dirty the headstone had become, so Reich called Archie Monuments in Watertown to ask the best way to clean it.
"And the nice lady said, ‘just get some Dawn detergent and a soft, sturdy brush and get to work and that’ll do it.’
"And she was right," he said. "So I did my grandfather’s grave and my grandmother’s grave. Then I looked around and saw other veterans’ gravestones that were dirty and I thought, ‘you know, they deserve the same respect Grandpa and Grandma get. So I’m going to get to work.’"
And get to work he did. After finishing at Summit, he moved on to Oconomowoc’s La Belle and St. Jerome cemeteries.
His efforts caught the attention of then-Assembly Rep. Joel Kleefisch, who invited Reich to the state Capitol and presented him with a legislative citation.
"Well, I thought ‘that’s cool. But I’ve got to quit there because I have done my thing,’" Reich recalled thinking. "Then I thought ‘gotcha.’ I was hooked on cleaning gravestones.
"I just couldn’t sleep knowing that there are dirty gravestones of veterans in this area."
So he moved on to Watertown’s Oak Hill and Lutheran cemeteries. Living right across from Oak Hill, Reich cleaned 300 headstones there.
"I walked across the street every night with my 5-gallon bucket ’til I got done," he recalled.
After Watertown, Reich washed 25 markers at Greenwood Cemetery in Jefferson, and this past July, he logged 150 at Evergreen Cemetery in Fort Atkinson . . . despite soaring temperatures and a beating sun.
"I can do about 10 graves an hour if I hustle," he said. "It depends on the status of the grave. Some are very, very bad and some are not too bad. They just need to be scraped, cleaned and kind of polished a little. Some of them have been cleaned before, but it’s been years, while some were power-washed but have fallen back into disarray."
Bird droppings, black walnuts, grass clippings, pine sap and dirt all create what Reich calls "a little terrarium." And then there are the green lichens that take up residence in the hollows of the engraved letters and numbers.
Yet, they are no match for Reich. A squirt of Dawn, bucket of water and a lot of elbow grease removes the grime.
"The ones I clean are usually World War I and II; often they lay flat and are especially susceptible to becoming dirty," Reich explained.
Even though Evergreen Cemetery covers 25 acres, cleaning headstones there was easier than at some graveyards because it has water spigots throughout the grounds. Reich’s 5-gallon bucket of water goes dry after only two graves, so he gets a workout toting it from spigot to grave and back.
"There’s a cemetery in Watertown that just gets a little bit limited," Reich said of spigots. "So I’ve had to put water in my car and drive it down the road in the cemetery to get to where I had to go. But here, I don’t have to do that. Yet, it’s just a lot to haul in water, no matter how you put it."
Reich noted that he only cleans the gravestones that are dirty, and periodically will miss one because it is not marked with a flag-holder or service inscription. And cemeteries such as Evergreen are not small.
"I go randomly. I do a walk to get the lay of the land and then start in," Reich said. "I kind of survey the property while I clean graves. And then I go back and I say, ‘OK, I’ve got more here, I’ve got more there.’ It’s not systematic, but eventually, I get them all."
Reich estimates that the oldest headstone he has cleaned was that of a veteran of the War of 1812. And the newest: those of servicepersons killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Daily Jefferson County Union reported.
"Sometimes I do extra ones, too, because I’ll see they have a child: ‘There lies little Susie and she lived five days.’ Or maybe it’ll be the mother or father of a veteran and they’re next door. I am trying to be respectful with them, as well.
And if this is about anything, it is about respect.
Upon cleaning each headstone, Reich walks to the foot of the grave, turns, stands at attention and offers a funeral salute, his right hand rising and then lowering ever so slowly.
"We forget how much of a sacrifice military people make for us, and it isn’t just those who die or are wounded . . . Nobody comes back from Vietnam, for example, the same as when they went."
He continued: "The reason why I do this is respect. Many of these guys made greater sacrifices than me and I recognize that and I appreciate it. Every community should show their respect for these veterans and their allies by restoring their markers to a reasonable level of cleanliness."
The reason why I do this is respect. Man of these guys made greater sacrifices than me and I recognize that and I appreciate that.
He said there is nothing more satisfying that this task.
"You’re cleaning a gravestone and you realize, ‘Oh my God, this guy died in 1943 and he didn’t die of natural causes. He was killed and he was young. He may have been only 23. Oh, how heartbreaking. It’s just awful.
"So you don’t do this for fun, but it is very satisfying."
He wears a T-shirt he designed honoring his father, Fred R. Reich, who spent three years in the South Pacific in the Navy during World War II. The back reads, "Thank you, veterans."
Reich said that by washing away the grime on the gravestones, he is uncovering the past.
"I’m a history teacher, right? So this is a historical museum. And it provides historical information about real life. People who may have lived next door to your family who went off to war and did extraordinary things.
"Out here is a hell of a book. And so I help to uncover information that is hidden, just like a teacher would teach her students how to understand history."
And that "book" does end up in a card catalogue of sorts.
"I have all 1,014 men and women on my computer back home as proof of what I’ve done," Reich said, adding quickly, "not for anybody else because nobody knows what I did. This isn’t going to be in the Guinness Book of Records."
Reich will be moving to Adams-Friendship in September, but he plans to finish Evergreen and then wash veterans’ gravestones across town at Lakeview and St. Joseph’s cemeteries before he leaves.
And perhaps, after getting settled in, he will tend to some graves around Adams-Frienship, as well.
"It depends," he said. "This takes time and energy, but it’s not expensive. It’s practically nothing but a little detergent and a little bit of gas.
"Do you want to hear the irony?" Reich asked. "I’m going to be cremated. "I will not have a marker. Nobody can ever clean up my marker because there won’t be one for me."
But that’s OK, he said, because there are countless more veterans in need of care.
The reason why I do this is respect. Man of these guys made greater sacrifices than me and I recognize that and I appreciate that.
"I would like to encourage others to do exactly what I’m doing in their own cemeteries all over the country. It’s a hard sell, for some reason. People say ‘it’s a great idea, but I don’t want to do it right now.’ It’s just not something people are interested in."
Reich said that when he does die, he does not want his last words to echo those of the late David Cassidy, the lead singer of the Partridge Family: "So much wasted time."
"I don’t want to be David," he said.
"I’m a service guy. And I think when God gave me the strength and the time and the interest to do what I’m doing, I just have to keep going," he said. "Yeah, I love golf, but you can’t play golf every day. And I don’t think God intended for me to play golf every day as long as I am capable of doing stuff like this.
"Anybody could do what I’m doing," he added. "It’s just that I chose to do it. Yeah, there’s nothing special about me. I’m just the guy that thinks you ought to do something for others while you can."
An AP Member Exchange shared by the Daily Jefferson County Union.
Military Times: Millions more will be soon be allowed to shop on military bases. But some veterans wonder how they’ll get access.
By: Karen Jowers   20 hours ago
3.7K
As defense officials get ready for 3 million more people who will be able to shop at military stores on base, some veterans are wondering whether they’ll be able to use their new benefits.
Some veterans have contacted Military Times to say that they are eligible for the new benefit that takes effect Jan. 1, but are concerned they won’t have access to the stores. That’s because they don’t havethe specific credential required ― the Veteran Health Identification Card, or VHIC, issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Based on responses to Military Times queries, there are no answers yet for these veterans. Information was not immediately available about how many veterans could be affected.
Under a 2018 law, Purple Heart recipients; former prisoners of war; veterans with a service-connected disability from 0 to 90 percent as documented by the Department of Veterans Affairs; and certain primary veteran caregivers will be newly eligible to shop at commissaries and exchanges. It applies to all military bases, including Coast Guard.
Medal of Honor recipients and veterans with a VA-documented service-connected disability rating of 100 percent and their authorized family members have long been authorized these privileges, under DoD policy.
Commissaries sell discounted groceries. Military exchanges sell a variety of items ranging from clothing and shoes to toys, furniture, home appliances and electronics. They have on-base gas stations and stores that sell alcoholic beverages.
This newly eligible population will also be able to use certain morale, welfare and recreational, or MWR, facilities such as golf courses, movie theaters, clubs and certain other programs and facilities that are self-sufficient, generating enough revenue through fees and/or sales to pay their operating costs.
The departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense and Homeland Security have been working together for months on plans for how the program will be implemented. A crucial part of that is the credential required to get onto the base and to shop at the stores, because most veterans who aren’t retired don’t have access to installations.
Defense officials are working to enable technology at the front gate to scan those veteran cards so veterans can get in to use those benefits. Commissary officials are working on adjusting their technology to enable systems to read the cards.
Some veterans have said they are eligible for the new benefits because of their disability rating, but don’t qualify for the VHIC, for various reasons. One veteran said she has tried to get answers from VA about what she can do to be able to shop, but has been unsuccessful. “I hope the VA and DoD will work together to ensure that no veterans with a service-connected disability are overlooked on this benefit,” said the veteran, who asked to remain anonymous.
“The VHIC is the only credential that DoD resale and MWR facilities will accept from veterans authorized privileges solely under the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018,” said DoD spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell. “Specific questions about who can and how to obtain a VHIC should be directed to the Department of Veterans Affairs.”
For their part, VA officials say DoD is in charge of this benefit expansion. "We are working with DoD to accommodate all eligible veterans,” said VA spokesman Randy Noller.
For veteran caregivers who are newly eligible, the process will be different, initially, since caregivers aren’t directly affiliated with DoD or VA, other than through the annual appointment to be a caregiver. The benefit applies to the primary caregiver of wounded/injured veterans who are registered in the VA caregiver program. The VA will post a memo to VA.gov for caregivers, to be used for access at the front gate, along with driver’s license or other authorized form of ID. The VA process will later transition to a caregiver-type ID card, which will have scanning swipe capability.
Some other questions from readers:
Q. How do I apply for the VHIC credential?
A. The VHIC is issued only to veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system, according to the VA website. You can complete an application by telephone by calling 877-222-8387, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern. You can also apply for VA health care benefits online at www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll, or in person at your local VA medical facility.
Q. Are spouses and other family members of the newly eligible veterans and caregivers able to shop and use the MWR facilities?
A. No. Family members of these eligible veterans and caregivers who aren’t eligible for privileges in their own right are not authorized to shop, according to DoD, and the law.
Here’s how 3 million more people will get military shopping benefits
Officials are working to make sure these veterans can get access to base.
By: Karen Jowers
Q. What if I don’t live near a military base, with its commissaries, exchanges and MWR facilities?
A. One option is that all honorably discharged veterans can shop online at military exchanges.
Second, there may be some extra opportunities in certain areas for commissary shopping where there isn’t a nearby commissary. DoD spokeswoman Maxwell confirms that the newly eligible veterans and caregivers of veterans will be authorized to shop at the Defense Commissary Agency’s on-site Guard and Reserve sales.
The commissary agency periodically holds these on-site sales at Guard and Reserve units around the country. This program allows Guard and Reserve members and other authorized customers who aren’t close to a commissary to order items and have them delivered to that location during the specific scheduled sale date.
Q. Where do I get information on locations of commissaries?
A. Click here.
Q. Where do I get information on locations of exchanges?
Those are the Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores, www.shopmyexchange.com and click “Find a store”; Coast Guard Exchange stores, ; Marine Corps Exchange stores, and Navy Exchange stores, https://www.mynavyexchange.com/storelocator/storesearch.jsp.
Authorized shoppers can shop at any of these stores — or will be able to Jan. 1 — regardless of which branch of service they are or were affiliated with.

TAL: ALWS Game 14: Idaho walks off in extras to secure title game berth
By Jeremy Field
AUG 20, 2019
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We are guaranteed a first-time national champion at the American Legion World Series as Idaho, represented by Idaho Falls Post 56, walked off as 4-3 winners in the ninth inning, besting Danville, Ill., Post 210.
Idaho will face North Dakota, represented by Fargo Post 2, in Tuesday’s final, which airs live on ESPNews at 6:30 p.m., and reairs on ESPNU following the conclusion of the game on ESPNews.
Idaho scored three runs on just one hit in regulation play and got their only other hit in the ninth inning to eventually walk off as winners.
It was Danville that had the upper hand early as Ernest Plummer walked and went to third on an error before coming around to score on a Kotah Broeker single in the first.
Danville got two runners on in both the second and third, but Austin Charboneau got a big strikeout to get out of trouble in the second and Caden Christensen came on in relief to end the third with a groundout.
Idaho loaded the bases with two out in strange fashion in the third. A dropped third strike, a steal on a pickoff attempt, a walk and a hit by pitch filled the bags for Randon Hostert. The first baseman fell behind in the count 1-2, but a wild pitch tied the game and two pitches later Hostert drilled a double to left field, scoring two for the team’s first hit of the game.
Danville nearly got a run back in the top of the fourth when Lucas Hofer pulled a ball down the right field line and hit the top of the wall but just foul. Hofer struck out two pitches later but a wild pitch allowed him to reach after a walk put two on with just one out, Christensen got a strikeout and groundout to hold the lead.
In the fifth, just at the stroke of midnight, Tavyn Lords made a key diving catch down the left field line for Idaho, sending his hat, sunglasses and hair flying in the process.
Down to the last out in the seventh, Danville rallied to get two crucial runs. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases and Logan Spicer fell behind 0-2 in the count but battled before lining a single into left-center, bringing home two and tying the game.
In the bottom of the frame, Mason Ecker battled and got a huge strikeout with his 105th and final pitch, finishing the game with just one hit allowed in 6.2 innings pitched, striking out eight. Dalton Dalbey came on in relief and closed out the inning, sending the game to extra innings.
In the eighth, Danville got a one-out single from Jake Stipp into right center and moved Stipp into scoring position with a bunt. Bruer Webster made a tough play sticking with a hard grounder just in time to second to finish the inning.
In the bottom of the ninth Idaho got its second hit of the game and it was a key one. Andrew Gregersen singled and stole second, then advanced to third on a fielders choice.ALWS Game 14: Idaho walks off in extras to secure title game berth
“It’s surreal,” Gregerson said. “We have a great group of guys I have been playing with since I was eight and I’m just soaking up our last games together.”
Charboneau and Christensen combined for 9.0 innings, seven hits allowed and just two earned runs.
“[Christensen] has been pitching great all year and [Charboneau] started us off and gave us a chance to win and that is all you can ask of your pitchers,” Gregerson added.
Idaho Falls joins Lewiston and Pocatello as the only teams from Idaho to reach the American Legion World Series title game.
“This whole year this team has been checking boxes,” manager Ryan Alexander said. “It is the winningest team in Idaho Falls Bandits history, the first team to win a regional and now we have a chance to be the first to win a World Series.”
Idaho Falls will hope to fare better than their other Idaho counterparts. Pocatello lost, 23-6, in the first-ever World Series in 1926 against Yonkers, N.Y., in Philadelphia. Lewiston Post 13 dropped a 5-2 decision to Brooklawn, N.J., in 2001 in Yakima, Wash.
“We want to go down in the record books with our group of guys,” Gregerson said.
“These kids have worked hard,” Alexander said. “We have played a lot of baseball and these kids have had to grind and grind. We have gone from Denver to Arizona to San Diego to Shelby. We have traveled over 14,000 miles this summer and they have worked hard and they deserve the right to compete for the national title. But we are going to have to play good baseball to get it done.”

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Arizona Legion College Application UPDATED September 6-8, 2019 Class in Cottonwood

Please find here, the new application with class information and application instruction.

Area C Classes to be held

September 6 – 8, 2019

Verde Valley Post #25

480 S. Calvary Way, Cottonwood, AZ

http://azlegion.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Arizona_Legion_College_information_and_Application_FY2020.pdf

The Lux Verde Motel, 1-928-634-4207, is next door. They offer Legion Discounts

Thanks,

Angel

Angel Juarez

State Adjutant

Arizona American Legion

(602) 264-7706 Fax (602) 264-0029

"Ora et labora et lege; Deus adest sine mora”. (Pray and work and read, God is there without delay)

How can you be connected? Call | Match | Learn

24/7 Support Line: 1-866-4AZ-VETS

16 August, 2019 07:49

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Friday, August 16, 2019 and I’m resetting my counter to “1 day without screwing up the clips.” Today we celebrate National Bratwurst Day, National Men’s Grooming Day, National Rum Day and National Airborne Day.
Today/This Weekend in Legion History:

  • Aug. 16, 2017: The Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 – also known as the “Forever GI Bill” because it removes time limits for veterans who wish to use it for college – is signed into law by President Donald J. Trump. The legislation is named for The American Legion past national commander who in the winter of 1943-44 drafted the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act that changed the nation after World War II.
  • Aug. 16, 2016: By a score of 8-6, Texarkana, Ark., Post 58 defeats Rowan County, N.C., Post 342 in 12 innings to win The American Legion Baseball World Series in Shelby, N.C. The eight-team tournament, aired live on television by ESPN, is attended by an all-time record crowd of 120,000.
  • Aug. 17, 1969: Hurricane Camille devastates the Gulf Coast, killing 259, destroying communities and causing nearly $1.5 billion in damages. Many American Legion posts are obliterated and veterans are left homeless after a 24-foot storm surge and flooding that extends as far north as Virginia. Restoration is expected to take several months, if not years. The disaster leads The American Legion to establish a reserve fund for relief, offering up to $1,500 for displaced veterans and up to $5,000 for posts that are damaged or destroyed. The reserve account is the genesis of what will become the National Emergency Fund, which is formally established 20 years later. Camille’s destructive force is illustrated by the fact that the flagstaff from Joe Graham American Legion Post 119 in Gulfport, Ala., is later found about 80 miles away, buried in mud near Hammond, La. American Legion Posts 5 and 111 in Tampa, Fla., which narrowly missed the hurricane’s path, fly more than 4,000 pounds of emergency supplies to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss., for the recovery effort. Legionnaires, gathered for the national convention in Atlanta, raise $61,000 on the spot for the relief fund.
  • Aug. 18, 1921: A delegation of 200 American Legion members – who had traveled from the United States to France to dedicate a war memorial at Flirey, place a flag at the tomb of France’s unknown soldier and to meet with Marshal Ferdinand Foch – unveil a marble and bronze plaque in the town of St. Die-des-Vosges to commemorate the location where the name “America” was first published on a map, in 1507. The town, which called itself the godmother of America, took great pride in its place in history.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

If you wish to be removed from this email list, kindly email me at mseavey with “Remove from Daily Clips” in the subject line. If you have received this from someone who forwarded it and would like to be added, email me at mseavey and I will promptly add you to the list, that you might get the daily American Legion News.

Military Times: Why women veterans are 250% more likely than civilian women to commit suicide
By: Kate Henricks Thomas and Kyleanne Hunter   1 day ago
After four years on active duty, Amy left the Army and moved back to her hometown.
However, she struggled to find her tribe. At work, she was told her handshake was a bit too firm and lectured about how her direct communication style made her coworkers uncomfortable. At her local VFW bar, the men stopped talking to stare at her, and her attempts to connect were met with awkward silences. A few other attempts to connect with the veteran communities she saw advertised at the VAand Facebook left her feeling similarly displaced.
“In both civilian settings and veteran settings, I was ‘weird,’” she recalls.
She explored some of the newer veteran service organizations (VSOs), but most failed to include child care or weren’t kid-friendly. Amy was a single parent, so she mentally crossed those options off her list too. She stayed lonely, and slowly sank into a deep depression.
The very word “veteran” calls to mind the image of a man — particularly a male combat veteran. However, there are more than 2 million women veterans in the United States today, and women veterans are the nation’s fastest-growing veteran population. Unfortunately, this unique population, many of whom have deployed during the past 18 years, rarely benefit from the traditional trappings of the hero returned home.
“Invisible Veterans,” an anthology released this summer by Praeger Publishing, outlines what happens — for better and worse — when women veterans like Amy return home and begin the long reintegration process. My co-editor and I assembled the latest research alongside powerful personal stories to paint a comprehensive picture of the return of these largely invisible veterans, and in doing so discovered that in many ways challenges and health risks for women veterans are significantly greater than those facing their male counterparts.
A lonely and dangerous civilian reality
Stories like Amy’s are common. Young veterans in general, and women specifically, often report they feel unwelcome in the very places created to support service members.
While on active duty, many women veterans work to hide their differences out of fear of visibility. They work to blend in with their male counterparts, and try to mask issues like traumatic stress, domestic violence and substance use. Many male veterans also experience these issues, but are more likely to seek help and to find resources on the other side.
As women move into the civilian world, existing challenges are compounded by the limited services and care systems, both non-profit and government, available to women. Women veterans also report that they leave the military with less of a very important factor: social support. Social support provides astonishing protective health benefits, to include lowered stress hormones, lowered risk of suicide and better overall physical health.
Social alienation, on the other hand, is even more dangerous to your health than smoking.
It leads to increased levels of stress hormones, and when they’re elevated too long, you may begin to have difficulty communicating, displaying empathy or engaging in high-level thinking.
All of these things make connecting with others even more challenging, and your isolation can easily become self-perpetuating.
Particularly for women veterans, that the combination of invisibility and isolation combine to create deadly consequences post-service.
For instance, women veterans are 250 percent more likely than civilian women to commit suicide. And women who do not use VA services have seen a 98 percent increase in suicide rates. To us, the numbers are more than just statistics. Behind them lie heart-wrenching story after heart-wrenching story. As editors of “Invisible Veterans,” and as Marines turned academic researchers, we know these stories well. In fact, both of us were almost part of these grim suicide statistics.
Once a Marine, always a Marine
My co-editor and I have a personal investment in the stories and health outcomes of women veterans, because these stories and data points are also our own. We are Marines.
Although no longer in uniform, we continue our service as academic researchers and accidental activists.
Kyleanne Hunter was a Cobra pilot and is a decorated combat veteran. I served as military police. We spent our 20s in the Corps, and it quickly became both our family and identity. We each deployed overseas and generally loved our time in service. However, transitioning to civilian life was another matter entirely. We were high performing, but — despite appearing “successful” and “normal” on the outside — we each felt a nagging sense of displacement and not belonging.
We missed the sense of unit cohesion and good-natured support we’d so often enjoyed on active duty, and struggled to find that same sense of community in our civilian lives. Further, we had a hard time carving out new identities. We were young, with intense personalities. We knew how to push the gas, but rarely the brake. We more masks of invulnerability and strength, but felt lonely and often isolated.
Even today, years after leaving the military, we find ourselves still searching for our place in a society that simultaneously praises veterans while unconsciously ignoring women.
What does it mean to go from being the most visible Marines to the most invisible veterans?
How does a woman make that transition successfully? These are the questions we sought to answer through “Invisible Veterans.”
Reaching women veterans
The research and stories we compiled illustrate the fact that women veterans share many of the exact same concerns of our male colleagues. However, transition is made more difficult by the lack of services and social support we find as we depart the service.
The good news is that resilience can be taught, and our work illuminated many success stories. We learned of women leveraging a unique formula of social support, spirituality and self-care to overcome their sense of isolation, and to form new identities post-service. These women often go on to become leaders in business, government and local communities, and to thrive through challenging times.
We also discovered that those hoping to reach women veterans must acknowledge that many women veterans do not feel like current efforts are effective. For example, unavailability of childcare is often an insurmountable barrier to participation in a program or service, particularly since women are more likely to be the primary caregivers to dependent children.
Women veterans who have experienced trauma may be less likely to participate in a mixed-sex setting. Instead, an offering that includes a single-sex environment is more likely to see participation.
Making services and programming as effective for female veterans as it is for male veterans is a leadership challenge. However, the effort can succeed if prioritized. Government agencies, non-profits, communities of faith, academic institutions and companies all have a role to play.
So, too, do male veterans. Whether part of a traditional or newer VSO, or simply a member of the broader veteran community, be on the lookout for female veterans. Make an effort to welcome them into your professional networks, clubs and communities. Help these invisible veterans feel seen once more.
Kate Hendricks Thomas and Kyleanne Hunter are the editors of a new volume on the experiences of service women titled “Invisible Veterans: What Happens When Military Women Become Civilians Again,” available wherever books are sold.

Next Gov: New App from VA Streamlines Veterans’ Resources to Enhance Their Care
By Brandi Vincent
| August 15, 2019 05:33 PM ET
The ultimate goal is to eliminate the barriers vets face in retrieving the information they need most.

The Veterans Affairs Department released a new mobile application this week—VA Launchpad—that is implicitly designed to help veterans spend less time navigating the web to access VA’s resources and ultimately aims to improve the incorporation of the agency’s services into their lives.
“Our vision is that access and the veteran experience will be enhanced through information and communication technologies that are effectively integrated into the daily lives of veterans and VA staff,” Veterans Health Administration Director of Web and Mobile Solutions Shawn Hardenbrook told Nextgov. “Veterans are seeking more ways to manage their care and we want them to have the right tools, specifically tailored to their unique needs.”
According to the user manual, the app is a one-stop-shop that houses ”more than 20” of VA’s apps in one streamlined place. Hardenbrook added that there are more than 40 apps available to veterans, each with different a function such as managing stress or accessing records.
“However, until VA Launchpad, the services haven’t all been available through one app,” he said. “Consider VA Launchpad as an ‘app bucket’ to access a variety of services using one simple login.”
Veterans and those who care for them can log in to the interactive app to identify and access other apps that help them manage their care, see and share VA electronic health records and other information with specific providers, book appointments, fill prescriptions and communicate directly with those that serve them, among other features.
VA Launchpad offers a search option for users who have trouble finding a specific app or service they need and it organizes the apps into five categories:
Manage My Health.
Communicating with My Care Team.
Share My Vital Health Information with My Care Team.
Improve My Mental Health.
Improve My Life.
The app also allows users to send information and feedback directly back to the agency, either by email or they can leave a note to be reached directly by phone.
And as new apps become available, they will automatically pop up into the Launchpad.
“There are many new apps being piloted across the country right now. Our goal is to continue to find and develop the best solutions for veterans,” Hardenbrook said.
In order to access the secure apps within VA Launchpad, users must be a VA patient and must have either a Premium My HealtheVet, DS Logon Level 2 (Premium), or ID.me account. The app is available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
For those without mobile devices, there is a web-based app store with similar capability is available.
Hardenbrook also noted that customer experience was baked in throughout the development of the app. Early in the process, VA’s Office of Human Factors Engineering worked to produce an initial design that was based on industry best practices. Hardenbrook said, for that initial design, the team worked directly with a small group of veterans to gain their insights and feedback. Once an interactive prototype was developed, HFE tested it with a diverse set of veterans—“ranging from the Vietnam Era to the War on Terror”—to gain even more feedback.
Those recommendations were implemented in the final version of the app. And for those who developed it, VA Launchpad is meant to be a critical entry point for the resources they need most.
“This Launchpad app could overcome geographical challenges for a veteran that lives hours away from the closest VA medical center, or for a transitioning veteran that is experiencing PTSD and is unable to leave the house for mental health treatment,” Hardenbrook said. “We ultimately hope to eliminate as many barriers as possible for veterans, so it’s easier for them to receive the care they have earned.”

Army Times: Soldier receives ARCOM for his actions during the El Paso shooting
By: Kyle Rempfer   15 hours ago
38.9K
A soldier with the 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade was awarded the Army Commendation Medal during an award ceremony held at Fort Bliss on Wednesday for his act of heroism during the El Paso shooting.
Pfc. Glendon Oakley, an automated logistical supply specialist from Killeen, Texas, was at the Cielo Vista Mall, roughly 800 feet from the Walmart where the shooting took place on Aug. 3, according to a 1st Armored Division photo release.
The mall was separated from the Walmart by a parking lot, which prompted first responders to evacuate both buildings as the shooter attempted to flee.
At least 22 people died and 26 others were wounded by the shooter.
The shooting suspect, Patrick Crusius, 21, is in police custody. He is accused of targeting the border community because of its large Latino population.
In an interview with MSNBC, Oakley told the media that he was shopping at a Foot Locker when a child ran into the store and reported the mass shooting.
That was followed by sounds of gunfire. Oakley, who has a gun permit, drew his weapon and ran out of the store.
“I saw a whole bunch of kids running around without their parents … I tried to pick up as many as I could and bring them with me,” he told the news outlet.
Oakley took several panicked children at the mall and escorted them to police officers in the area.
“You could hear all of the chaos going around, and that’s when I did what I was trained to do,” Oakley said in an Army news story. “I quickly reacted and I thought to myself if my child were there how I would want someone else to react. I just took action and tried to get as many kids as possible.”
“I just thought about keeping them as close as I could, a couple of them were jumping out of my hands, but the ones I could keep with me, I made sure that they made it to where they needed to be,” Oakley added. “They were just scared, so I just did what I could do.”

Stripes: DOD processed almost a billion dollars in improper travel payments in three years
By CAITLIN M. KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 15, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s travel system processed more than $965 million in improper payments in fiscal years 2016 through 2018, according to a government report released Thursday.

Improper payments, or payments that should not have been made or were made with an incorrect amount, has long been a significant problem in the federal government, according to the Government Accountability Office report.

Examples cited in the report of improper payments include a legitimate payment that lacks enough supporting documents, approvals and payments to an ineligible recipient, and duplicate payments.

“Since 2012, the DOD [Inspector General] has consistently found the DOD travel program to be non-compliant with statutory requirements to mitigate improper payments,” the report states.

The DOD’s Defense Travel Program’s total payments for fiscal years 2016 through 2018 was $18.3 billion, of which $965.5 million was paid out for improper travel, according to the report. During that time, the department was averaging $6.1 billion in travel payments and $322 million in improper payments each year.

It was not until fiscal year 2017 that the Defense Department began estimating the monetary loss attributed to improper travel payments, according to the report. For fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the department estimated a total monetary loss of $205 million out of $549 million in improper travel payments.

The report stated the Defense Department established a remediation plan in 2016 to reduce improper travel payments and chose 10 military and defense agencies within the DOD. However, the report called out the Defense Department for choosing those agencies because they made up the majority of travel payments in fiscal year 2016 and not necessarily because they had the higher rates of improper travel payments.

“Thus, DOD lacks assurance that the components it selected for greater scrutiny were the ones most at risk for improper travel payments,” the report states.

Also, only four of the nine military and defense agencies that responded to a GAO survey stated they had completed all of the remediation plan’s requirements. This was due to the lack of goals for completing the requirements and monitoring of required actions, according to the report. Those components who completed the requirements were the Army, the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Information Systems Agency, and the Missile Defense Agency.

The report also found while the Defense Department has ways to identify errors that lead to improper travel payments, they must do more to understand and address the root causes of errors.

The GAO report made five recommendations, including the comptroller revise how the Defense Department selects the military and defense agencies that implement the remediation plan and the comptroller pressure the remaining offices to complete their remediation plan requirements.

LA Times: WWII and Korean War vets help celebrate American Legion centennial at Newport post

By Hillary Davis
Aug. 15, 2019
The population of living World War II veterans fades daily. Fewer than 500,000 of the 16 million Americans who served remained in 2018, according to Department of Veterans Affairs statistics.
Cruz De Leon, 94, is the only one he knows of at the Buena Park Senior Center, where he goes daily for lunch and fellowship.
But at American Legion Post 291 in Newport Beach on Thursday, he was among peers from the Greatest Generation.
The American Legion hosts an annual luncheon and dance for the most senior veterans — those from World War II and the Korean War, all now at least in their mid-80s. Thursday’s party also celebrated the legion’s centennial.
About 40 veterans of both wars turned out, with dozens of their guests. An Army nurse danced to the live music in her uniform skirt suit. De Leon reminisced on the waterfront patio.
He told how he volunteered for the service as soon as he was 18. He’d been itching to for months. In 1938, at 13, he hitched a ride out of Texas on a freight train with friends and landed in Los Angeles, where his sister lived. He had a sovereign spirit and by 17 was living in a $3-a-week room at Temple Street and Grand Avenue at the edge of downtown. He split the rent with a buddy and worked in a restaurant.
“Everywhere I go, I see a guy pointing his finger at me, saying ‘I want you,’ ” he said. “That guy’s telling me something.”
He heeded the call of the Uncle Sam posters and did his Army basic training near Santa Barbara in 1943 and sailed to Liverpool, England, around Christmas to begin his time in World War II’s European theater.
For a few months after V-E Day, De Leon enforced curfew outside Frankfurt in Allied-occupied Germany. In November 1945, he returned to the United States and headed to California by train to be discharged at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro.
He married, raised five children and worked for 40 years painting and electroplating aircraft components before retiring in 1993. Now a widower, he lives independently and only recently gave up driving; a friend from the senior center offered to take him to Newport.
On Thursday, De Leon put on his Army dress uniform jacket, medals and ribbons affixed at the left breast. His European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal showed five service stars. One, he said, is for the invasion of Normandy.

World War II and Korean War veterans reminisce during a luncheon and dance at American Legion Post 291 in Newport Beach on Thursday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
Post Commander Jon Reynolds said the luncheon is so popular that the post has to open its lawn for parking.
Reynolds, 81, a 26-year Air Force veteran, knows aging vets like to meet up with people who share their culture.
“Just getting together with people while we’re still alive is a joy,” he said.
Military.com: Virginia: Company Falsely Claimed To Be Military Charity

16 Aug 2019
The Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. — A for-profit company operating in Virginia has been shut down after falsely claiming to be a charity that sent care packages to U.S. service members overseas.
In a statement Wednesday, Attorney General Mark Herring’s office identified the company as Hearts 2 Heroes of Bunker Hill, West Virginia. It did business as Active Duty Support Services and sold care packages door-to-door.
The state filed suit against the company alleging that staff skimmed donations for themselves. The AG’s office says the care packages went undelivered or to stateside military bases.
Herring’s office said the company closed as part of a legal settlement. The state hopes to recover $287,000 in restitution, mostly for Virginia residents who bought care packages. But some money would also go to residents in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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