WASHINGTON (June 16, 2022) – The head of the nation’s largest veterans organization praised the Senate for its passage of legislation that will provide comprehensive benefits to veterans suffering from conditions linked to toxic exposure during their time in the U.S. Armed Forces.
“Today, the U.S. Senate has saved lives and truly delivered for veterans,” American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard said. “By passing the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act, the 117th Congress has put substance behind the phrase, ‘Thank you for your service.’ The American Legion is grateful for the service of millions of veterans who were exposed to burn pits, atomic radiation, Agent Orange and other environmental poisons. Thanks to the U.S. Congress, these men and women will be able to receive the care and benefits they have earned. The PACT Act is an historic bipartisan achievement. The American Legion thanks not only those who voted for this legislation but the thousands of Legionnaires and advocates who worked to make this happen. We look forward to President Biden signing the Honoring Our PACT Act into law.”
The Honoring Our PACT Act, which had already passed in the House of Representatives, will provide health care for millions of veterans who were exposed to contaminants emanating from open-air burn pits. It establishes presumptions of service connection for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers linked to burn pits and other hazards. It will also provide additional resources and staff to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
WASHINGTON (May 18, 2022) – The head of the nation’s largest veterans organization is calling the bipartisan agreement by Senate leaders to assist veterans who have been exposed to environmental toxins “historically impactful.”
“The work is still not yet complete, but the agreement between Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester, D-Mont., and ranking member Jerry Moran, R-Kan., is proof that Democrats and Republicans can achieve great things for veterans when they work to put country ahead of partisanship,” American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard said.
“The Honoring Our PACT Act would deliver needed benefits for up to 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to the poisons of war due to the prevalence of burn pits, radiation, contaminated water, Agent Orange and other toxicants during deployments and military assignments. The House of Representatives deserves great credit for passing this legislation, and I am confident that with the continued support of The American Legion, the Senate will now follow suit. This is an historic opportunity for the 117th Congress to pass the most meaningful veterans legislation in a generation. I am asking all Americans to tell their senators to vote for the Honoring Our PACT Act.”
INDIANAPOLIS (April 24, 2022) – A junior from Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham capped a busy weekend of competition in Indianapolis by earning a $25,000 college scholarship and first place in The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program – “A Constitutional Speech Contest.” Emma Noble’s winning prepared oration was titled “The Power of the Executive Order: Because I said so.”
Noble, who lives in Birmingham, started the weekend as one of 50 state or department champions in the 83rd annual contest. She advanced to the championship through three rounds of intense competition. Noble was sponsored by American Legion Post 555 in Pelham, Ala.
Ashley Tuell, a senior from Johnson City, Tenn., earned a $22,500 college scholarship with a second-place finish, while Jackson Boone, a 12th grade student from Calvert City, Ky., earned $20,000 and third place in the competition. The scholarships account for a small portion of post-secondary scholarships that The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, awards annually.
In her prepared oration, Noble compared the use of presidential executive orders to the common parental admonishment of authority “because I said so.” She pointed out positive examples of its use, such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the desegregation of the military but also mentioned that it was used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to establish Japanese American internment camps during World War II.
Noble encouraged people to consider the use of executive orders when they vote. “Executive orders are an extremely valuable tool because they are much faster than passing a law through the legislative branch; however, they are not trivial to undo so you must have confidence in the person making them. It is a citizen’s responsibility to vote. Not only that, but to vote for someone you trust with the power of executive orders. Because I said so.”
In each round of the weekend competition, orators delivered a rehearsed 8- to 10-minute address and a randomly assigned 3- to 5-minute oration on a constitutional topic, each without the benefit of notes and in front of a live audience, including the judges. The nearly 2-million-member American Legion developed the contest to encourage young people to improve their communications skills and to study the U.S. Constitution. More than $3 million in scholarships have been awarded over the history of the contest.
(INDIANAPOLIS—April 24, 2022) – American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard issued the following statement today concerning the passing of former Sen. Orrin Hatch:
“The American Legion is saddened about the passing of Sen. Hatch. He was a true champion for veterans and an ardent supporter of a constitutional amendment to protect our American flag. His willingness to put patriotism ahead of partisan politics earned him friends across the political aisle. In 2000, The American Legion proudly presented him with our organization’s Distinguished Service Medal, our highest honor. His voice is already missed.”
As a presidential candidate during the primaries of 2000, the longtime Utah senator expressed dismay at those who disrespected the American flag. “I really believe that if we don’t protect the values that we have, if we can’t stand up for the flag of the United States, our national symbol, what can we stand up for?” Hatch told The American Legion Magazine.
INDIANAPOLIS (April 23, 2022) – Out of an original 50 contestants, only three remain as finalists in The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program, “A Constitutional Speech Contest.” The three survived two intense rounds of competition today and will vie for the championship during tomorrow’s finals which will be webcast live at 10 am Eastern Time on www.legion.organd on Facebook live at The American Legion National Headquarters page.
The top prize, a $25,000 scholarship, will be awarded to Emma Noble of Birmingham, Ala.; Jackson Boone of Calvert City, Ky; or Ashley Tuell of Johnson City, Tenn. The second and third place winners after tomorrow’s competition will receive $22,500 and $20,000 scholarships respectively. Each of the 50 competitors are department (state or regional) champions.
The other 15 semi-finalists who competed in this afternoon’s competition are Mattingly Watson (Ark.), Caleb Rasor (Ariz.), Anna Lichtenberg (Conn.), Eden Wood (Ind.), Olivia Scott (Iowa), Jha Diya (Md.), Megan Blonigen (Minn.), Valerie McDonnell (N.H.), Ian Chung (N.Y.), Ian Holdman (Okla.), Anwen Hefner (Pa.), William Sander (S.C.), Thomas Haar (S.D.), Aya Kasim (Texas) and Erin Mitchell (Wash.).
The contest, now in its 83rd year, encourages young Americans to improve their communications skills and study the U.S. Constitution. Approximately 6,000 high school students begin competition annually at The American Legion post-community level. More than $3 million in scholarships have been awarded since the inception of the program. The national contestants all competed in Indianapolis, the headquarters city for The American Legion. Previous champions include former presidential candidate Alan Keyes, the late Sen. Frank Church and writer Brent Bozell.Jr. Former Vice President Mike Pence and commentator Lou Dobbs are past state champions.
The United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program is conducting a Career Summit at Eglin Air Force Base on July 19 from 8:00 – 16:00.
The American Legion and Hiring Our Heroes signed a memorandum of understanding, permitting The American Legion to partake in Hiring Our Heroes career fairs. The American Legion is provided a booth, free of charge, where it can market free veteran resources and services.
If you are interested in participating, please contact:
Adam B. Treece
Veterans Employment and Education Analyst
The American Legion, National Veterans Employment & Education Division
1608 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
On this day in 1919 the first American Legion caucus was held by members of the American Expeditionary Force, convening in Paris. War-weary members of the American Expeditionary Forces gathered for a “morale conference” that led to the creation of what would become The American Legion.
Happy 103rd birthday to … us. Thank you to all former and current members for keeping us going strong in our mission to serve the nation’s veterans, our military and their families, and our communities.
As a member of The American Legion Family, The American Legion asks that you share The American Legion’s 2022 Legislative Priorities with your members of Congress. The American Legion continues to serve as a powerful voice for veterans in our nation’s capital, but the power of our voice is amplified by the voices of our membership! The American Legion’s Legionnaires, Auxiliary members, and Sons of The American Legion are the heart and soul of our grassroots organization.
Today, we need your help in contacting your members of the Senate and House of Representatives. Please reach out to your Senators and Representative to share The American Legion’s 117th Congress Legislative Priorities. Also please share that our National Commander will be testifying in front of Congress on Tuesday, March 8th!
Contact your Senators and Representative today to tell them to review our Legislative Priorities and let them know that The American Legion National Commander is testifying virtually in front a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committees.