During an anticipated government shutdown, due to start Oct. 1 unless Congress acts, critical federal government functions would continue but some important services would be paused.
Of critical importance to the nation and The American Legion is that all members of the military would continue their duties, though they would not receive paychecks. (Earlier this week American Legion National Commander Dan Seehafer demanded Congress find a solution to ensure that servicemembers would be paid during a shutdown.)
Additionally, hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Department of Defense (DoD) would be furloughed, affecting how the department manages its affairs globally. That includes recruiting new members, which has already been problematic for the service branches.
Here is an overview of how Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) services, as well as other DoD operations, would be affected — if at all — if the government shuts down.
VA services and operations
“We at VA are preparing for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse in funding could occur. A lapse would mean that certain Government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding, and that designated pre-notified employees of this agency would be temporarily furloughed. We’ve prepared a contingency plan to execute an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by such a lapse. After the lapse ends, furloughed and excepted employees will receive retroactive pay for the furlough period as soon as possible,” according to a statement from the Deputy Secretary.
Specifically, services that will continue:
• Veteran medical care and critical services within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) will continue, as they are financed with other-than-annual appropriations.
• The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) will continue various benefit functions, such as Education Benefit Claims processing and payments, insurance processing, loan guaranty programs, Veteran Readiness and Employment payment processing, VBA National Call Centers (except for Education), Compensation and Pension Claims processing and payments, Decision Review Operations Centers and management.
• The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) will continue to inter veterans and eligible family members, schedule burials and determine eligibility, process applications for headstones and markers, and update electronic files to ensure timely termination of benefits and next of kin notification of possible entitlement to survivor benefits.
• The Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) will continue to render appellate decisions on veterans’ benefits cases and hold hearings to consider arguments and evidence related to those cases.
• VA compensation and pension benefits and education benefits are funded with other-than-annual appropriations, and the processing of appeals related to the timely and accurate payment of these entitlement benefits to or on behalf of veterans and their dependents is necessary by implication.
• The Veterans Experience Office (VEO) will maintain call center operations for MyVA411 and the PACT Act Contact Center as necessary to prevent disruption to mandatory VA benefit programs and to protect the health and safety of veterans relying on accessible health care through VHA.
Specifically, services that will be paused:
• Certain VBA functions, including the Education Call Center (the GI Bill Hotline: 888-GIBILL-1 or 888-442-4551); The Native American Veterans Direct Loan program (NADL) and the Vendee loan program which offers direct loans will cease. Veteran outreach to include Veteran Readiness and Employment (also known as Chapter 31 or VR&E) and Personalized Career Planning and Guidance (PCPG), or VA Chapter 36 will be suspended.
• Permanent headstone or marker installation by NCA employees; grounds maintenance (mowing, trimming, mulching or other landscape management); processing of new Presidential Memorial Certificates (PMC) or pre-need applications; and awarding of new grants as part of the Veterans Cemetery Grant Program.
• VA will close its public-facing regional offices.
The troops will continue to serve our nation but will not receive their pay unless Congress passes last-minute legislation to ensure they continue to receive a paycheck, something that has been introduced in both the House and the Senate but not yet voted on.
Essential DoD civilian employees would also have to continue working without pay. About half of the Pentagon’s civilian workforce that handle areas such as recruiting and global affairs would be furloughed.
The military is automatically guaranteed pay — and would receive any backpay once a shutdown ends — but money cannot be dispersed until there is an agreed upon spending bill. If the government shuts down Oct. 1, the first payday that would be missed would be Oct. 13. Federal contractors would not receive backpay.
DoD military families
Servicemembers, especially those with young families, will face challenges if there is a shutdown.
“A shutdown would be detrimental for the department,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said earlier this week. “Troops would go without pay. Military families would be impacted, of course. For folks that are not getting paychecks, that impacts how and when [they] can buy groceries, child care, all of these things. We’re hoping that Congress can reach a deal to avert a shutdown. But we are planning for that or taking steps to plan for that, should a shutdown occur.”
Commissaries will be closed on most bases in the continental U.S. Others overseas and in certain remote U.S. locations where no other sources of food are reasonably available for military personnel would remain open.
While servicemembers will continue safeguarding our nation and overseas interests, military training is expected to be compromised. The Pentagon will still be able to make purchases and fund new technology to maintain defense, however, a shutdown would create a lag time in doing so.
Saturday, December 16, 2023 – The American Legion “U.S.S. Tampa” Post 5 invites the community to its holiday memorial event, Wreaths Across America. This is a family-friendly event to show support for our military’s sacrifices.
The ceremony begins at 12:00 p.m. (arrive early for parking and seating) at the American Legion, “U.S.S. Tampa” Post 5 located at 3810 W. Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, Florida 33609. Terry Doan (American Legion member) will be presiding over the ceremony under the coordination of Post Commander Chris Man-Son-Hing and Cemetery President Alyse Duffy. All branches of the military will be represented, as well as the remembrance wreaths announcement. Designated wreaths for the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Space Force, Merchant Marine and POW/MIA will be placed during the ceremony that will be coordinated simultaneously at over 4,000 participating locations across the Country (including Arlington) and abroad.
We hope to be included in your holiday event schedules to make the community aware of this event, which provides a venue for all ages to give thanks for our military’s sacrifices. The significance of the cost our soldiers have come to bear to preserve our freedoms granted will never be forgotten.
Wreaths Across America is a non-profit organization whose mission: Remember, Honor, Teach, is carried out in part by coordinating wreath laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and abroad. Their mission is to spread the important message of remembering our fallen heroes, honoring those who serve, and teaching our children about the sacrifices made by veterans and their families to preserve our freedoms. This event is made possible by thousands of volunteers who organize local ceremonies, raise funds to sponsor wreaths, and participate in the events. We receive no government funding for the project.
For directions or to sponsor a wreath please call (813) 870-0505 or visit www.post5tampa.org
The American Legion
SEP 20, 2023 ~ Three years ago, Florida’s American Legion Riders started their Seven Bridges POW/MIA Remembrance Day Ride & Ceremony. Around 160 riders and 40 passengers took part in the ride, which starts at Adamec Harley-Davidson in Jacksonville, traverses the Seven Bridges of Jacksonville that cross the St. John’s River and finishes at the National POW/MIA Memorial & Museum for a ceremony.
A similar ride took place in 2022 on the Saturday after National POW/MIA Recognition Day, with more than 200 motorcycles taking part. And this year’s ride, which took place Sept. 16, blew those numbers out of the water: 248 motorcycles and a total of 361 participants.
But as happy as he is to see participation continue to grow, Department of Florida POW-MIA Chairman Denny Luke – a Legion Rider and member of Dewitt B. Tilden Memorial American Legion Post 316 in Atlantic Beach – it’s the impact of the ride’s mission that really hit home for Luke.
He shared a message he received following this year’s ride from one of its participants:
This is our first time to participate in this ride of remembrance for our POW and MIA servicemembers. My husband is a Vietnam veteran, and I am a Gold Star Daughter (of a Vietnam War KIA). He was MIA for a short time, and it seemed like an eternity of living hell, of not knowing and hoping. Thank you so much for honoring the POW/MIA daddies, and especially the dad of mine and my siblings.”
“It makes you very emotional,” Luke said. “There were a lot of people on the ride or at the ceremony who were POWs or are relatives of POWs/MIAs. Any of us who have worn the uniform … we’ve sat down and had a meal with a (fellow servicemember, watched them walk out the door, and the next time we’d see them would be in a flag-draped coffin.
“I can’t imagine the heartache of watching your buddy walk through the door and never return. I cannot imagine the strife that family members have when they get the message that their loved one is MIA. To me, that’s unimaginable, and I’m honored to honor their sacrifice.”
Department of Florida Commander Michael Raymond, American Legion Auxiliary Department President Dee Bell and Sons of The American Legion Detachment Commander Gerard Sambets were among the Florida Legion Family leadership who attended the event, with Raymond and Bell riding on the back of motorcycles.
During the ceremony that took place at the National POW/MIA Memorial & Museum, attendees heard from Meghan Wagoner, the daughter of former U.S. Navy pilot Scott Speicher. Shot down on the first day of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Speicher was missing in action until his remains were found by U.S. Marines in Iraq in 2009.
“She gave a very emotional and moving rendition of everything they went through,” Luke said of Wagoner’s address. “They had about 18 years of not knowing.”
Luke said the purpose of the ride and ceremony isn’t just to honor U.S. POWs and MIAs and show support for their families. It’s about educating the general public that more than 80,000 servicemembers remain unaccounted for since World War II.
“We put out that the (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency) needs DNA samples from any relatives of servicemembers who are MIA,” Luke said. “If we can get the word out, quite possibly the remains that have been found but not identified can be identified and brought home. We put this ride on to inform the public the hunt is not over, and they can help by either volunteering, or if they’re a relative of an MIA they can submit a DNA sample, and hopefully we can repatriate some of these souls.”
The American Legion has long supported immigrants seeking citizenship through service. We have advocated on behalf of those who seek a legal path toward naturalization through honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States.
Today, we are asking you to reach out to your representatives in Washington, D.C., and ask them to support the Veterans Service Recognition Act.
As background, the Veterans Service Recognition Act would support more than 24,000 active duty men and women of other nations serving honorably in America. In addition, there are tens of thousands more veterans who have completed their service, yet have not been awarded the citizenship they were promised.
The Veteran Service Recognition Act would allow noncitizen service members to apply for naturalization during basic training, establish a review process for those who are in removal proceedings, and provide an opportunity for noncitizen veterans who have been removed or ordered removed and who have not been convicted of serious crimes to obtain legal permanent resident status.
Please ask Congress to stand with Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) and The American Legion on this important legislation!
The American Legion ~ Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou needed to only finish third or higher in Sunday’s BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland to clinch his second NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship in three years. But that wasn’t enough for the 26-year-old driver.
“He likes to win,” Ganassi said in a post-race interview. “I told him, ‘Hey, let’s wrap this up today.’ He said, ‘I’m going to wrap it up with a win.’ He called his shot.”
That Palou did, and again in dominant fashion, taking the lead on lap 22 and leading 69 of the final 88 laps, winning by 5.4353 seconds over runner-up Felix Rosenqvist. Driving the No. 10 American Legion Honda featuring the Be the One message, he wrapped up the series championship with one race remaining – the first driver to do so since 2007. CGR teammate Scott Dixon finished third and clinched second in the points race.
“That’s what we wanted,” Palou said. “It was an amazing weekend overall. We had really fast cars. We knew we had to go for it, and we just raced how we’ve been doing all season. Super proud to be here in victory lane and super proud of the second championship.
“And it’s extra special for The American Legion’s Be the One. It’s (Suicide Prevention Awareness Month), so hopefully that helps a lot of people now.”
Palou’s championship was Ganassi’s third in the past four seasons and 15th overall. Palou became just the fifth driver in the history of the sport to win multiple championships at 26 or younger. In addition to his title, Palou and CGR also earned $10,000 for his victory as part of the PeopleReady Force For Good Challenge; $5,000 goes to The American Legion as Palou’s chosen charity.
With one race to go, Palou has an average finish of 3.75 this season and has finished in the top 10 in every race. He is the first Chip Ganassi Racing driver to win five races in a season since 2009.
“I never thought that I would be an INDYCAR champion, and to be a two-time INDYCAR champion feels amazing, like a dream,” Palou said. “Thank you to The American Legion and Parkland for all your support this year. It’s been an amazing year, and we still have one to go.”
Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson, who also featured American Legion branding on his No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz, moved up three spots from his starting position to finish the race seventh. Ericsson has 14 top-10 finishes in the season’s 16 races.
“First of all, massive congratulations to all of Chip Ganassi Racing on the championship and then, of course, Alex on his win and his championship,” Ericsson said via CGR media. “He’s been the class of the field all year, and it’s hard to get a more deserving champion than that. I’m really happy for him and the whole team.
“For me, it was a tough race. A lot of pushing and shoving and getting pushed off, pushing people off. But in the end, we fought all the way through and ended up at a P7 finish. I think we did well to get there after a tough race. We wanted more, but a good day for the team and I’m happy for everyone.”
In the INDY NXT by Firestone GP of Portland, CGR developmental driver Kyffin Simpson started the race in the second row, but contact between two cars right behind him caused what would be a nine-car accident. Simpson would end up 13th in the race.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will wrap up the 2023 season with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Sept. 8-10.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 31, 2023)– Daniel J. Seehafer was elected national commander of the nation’s largest veterans organization today in Charlotte, N.C., during The American Legion’s 104th National Convention. Seehafer likes to say, “It’s personal,” when it comes to The American Legion’s mission of serving veterans and their families. He is continuing the theme of “Be the One,” The American Legion’s initiative to prevent veteran suicide.
An ordained minister from Wisconsin, he earned his American Legion eligibility through service in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve, where he served as a military chaplain. A member of American Legion Post 157 in Horicon, Wis., Seehafer served in a number of American Legion offices at every level, including national chaplain and commander of the Department of Wisconsin.
Born and raised in Merrill, Wis., he lettered in cross-country while in high school and later received a bachelor’s degree in pastoral ministry from Concordia University and a Master of Divinity at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Seehafer was installed as assistant pastor of St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Horicon in 1997 and continues to serve as administrative pastor of the church and its school. His American Legion post was recognized for “100 percent” and “All-Time High” in membership during his terms as commander and adjutant. Other honors include district commander’s new post achievement award, Silver Brigade, and Post 157 Legionnaire of the Year.
In 2023, Seehafer earned an Outstanding Heroism Award for administering the Heimlich Maneuver to a choking victim at an American Legion dinner.
Seehafer and his wife, Stacey, who is a member of American Legion Auxiliary Unit 157, live in Beaver Dam, Wis. Dan’s son, Jacob, and daughter, Emma, are also members of the Post 157 family.
During The American Legion Department of Florida convention in June, Legionnaire Tim Morris remembers a couple coming up to him and asking him if he was OK. Morris had been physically active and had lost some weight, so he didn’t think much of it.
But then jaundice started to kick in. “I saw it in my eyes, and I started seeing it show up in my palms and in my feet,” said Morris, a member of American Legion Post 117 in Palm Bay, and the Department of Florida’s ALR sergeant-at-arms. “So as soon as I got back from convention … I went to the doctor and did labs at the VA.”
After getting results, Morris said the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare provider called him right away and told him to go straight to the hospital. That’s when Morris got the news: he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his liver. After his condition slightly improved, he was able to do his first chemotherapy treatment in August. And he’ll do the next one, though it will have to be the first week of September, after the Legacy Run veteran completes this year’s ride.
Morris had participated in six previous Legacy Runs and had registered for this year’s ride. Though he knew he couldn’t ride it, both for himself and the safety of others around him, he still wanted to be a part of it. That’s when Department of Florida Commander Michael “Gambler” Raymond offered his commander’s vehicle to Morris to drive with the ride.
“It’s just life itself. It’s just me,” Morris said. “This is my family. Everyone here, I look forward to seeing just as much as I look forward to seeing my kids. I miss them the whole time we’re gone. When we get back together and see each other, it’s the most awesome feeling.
“(Before the ride) I was really questioning myself if this was a great idea. Michael Raymond … offered me to drive his car … which made it all possible. Without that, I’d have been stuck. But that gave me motivation, when he told me the news that I could do that. That picked up my spirits. Then I was, ‘Oh yeah, let’s go for it.’”
Morris wasn’t sure how he’d fit in with the ride while driving an SUV. But Legacy Run Chief Road Captain Mark Clark made arrangements for Morris to travel with the ride’s advance team. But that wasn’t enough for Morris.
“I decided if I was going to travel with the advance team, I was going to work with the advance team,” said Morris, who has assisted with directing the motorcycles when they park or pull in for a gas stop. “And I feel better every single day because I’m doing it.”
Morris said working with the advance team has given him “a whole new perspective and respect for the guys and gals that are the advance team. People don’t realize that when we ride up, they’re standing at the pumps … setting all that up takes a lot of work. (Advance team leader Devin Bright) does a fantastic job getting there and scoping the project out.
“That team is fantastic. They all work together. Everybody covers each other’s back.”
Morris said it’s always difficult to say goodbye to his fellow Riders at the conclusion of the ride. This year it may be a little tougher. “It’s going to suck. It’s going to suck,” he said. “It’s going to be a hard day, because I also know I may never see them again. I don’t feel that’s going to happen, but I know that’s the perception in my mind that this may be the last time I get to see everybody. So, I’m making every day the best that I can. Every day’s a blessing.”
Leaving Ohio on a Generous Note. At the stop at American Legion Post 371 in Wellston, Ohio, more than $6,000 was donated to The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, bringing the total to the half-million-dollar mark. Of that, $4,760 came from the hosts — $2,000 in a donation, and another $2,760 when the post donated back to the ride the check it had received to provide lunch.
“It’s just giving back, paying it forward,” Post 377 Commander Bruce Conley said. “This is what we’re about here in Wellston.”
Conley said being asked to host a stop on the ride was “at first a bit overwhelming. And then they came rolling in this morning, and it was overwhelming. But it is an honor and a privilege. We couldn’t be happier. As long as we can do for our fellow veterans, we’re happy to do it. That’s what our thing is here.”
During the stop, Clark also relayed a story one of the Riders had shared with him. One of the workers at a hotel hosting the ride had presented the Rider with a donation. The reason: that worker’s child was a Legacy Scholarship recipient and had earned a degree in engineering.
“It’s a small world,” Clark said. “We don’t know the lives that we are touching or dreams that we are helping make come true.”
Welcome to West Virginia. The Riders made a grand entrance into the Mountain State in grand fashion, crossing the Ohio River on the 2,800-feet Silver Memorial Bridge into the state. Construction of the bridge started in 1968 downstream from the former Silver Bridge, which collapsed in 1967 under the weight of rush-hour traffic and took the lives of 46 people.
The Riders then made multiple elevation changes in route to American Legion Post 177, where pizza, wings and swag bags were waiting for them. A letter from Sen. Joe Manchin was read, while Department of West Virginia Commander Matt Sampson was on hand to greet the ride.
“We arranged for the most pleasant riding weather possible,” Sampson told the Riders. “Thank you all for making this trip in support of The American Legion Legacy Scholarship (Fund). This means a lot to all those students out there.”
During the stop at Post 177, nearly $10,000 was donated, bringing the total into Day 4 to $510,139 – what Chief Road Captain Mark Clark said was a three-day Legacy Run record. A donation of $6,000 was made by Fairfax, Va., American Legion Post 177, Chapter 177 and an individual donor.
Gabriel Bostwick, a 12-year-old who is in home hospice care while battling terminal cancer, wanted a chance to see Santa Claus and feel the holiday spirit one more time. His community, including multiple American Legion Riders, were more than happy to accommodate his wish.
On July 21, more than 70 motorcyclists joined with more than 200 other area residents to bring Christmas to Gabriel and his parents at their home in Navarre, Fla. Legion Family members from American Legion Post 382 in Navarre and Post 378 in Gulf Breeze were among the contingent, which sang Christmas carols, delivered presents, and provided a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well as some other North Pole inhabitants.
Ashley Correa, who works at the Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart and is a member of the American Legion Family at Post 378, learned about Gabriel’s wish and that an event had been planned. She contacted Post 382 Commander Jason Skobel, the past ALR director at the post, to share what was planned.
“He knows we do the ‘Ride for the Claus’ during Christmas, and she said this family was wanting to do a Christmas in July for (Gabriel),” said Skobel, who also serves as District 1 first vice commander and Department of Florida Western Area ALR chairman. “I put the word out there in our district with our Riders, and … we had overwhelming support for this kid.”
Skobel said there were around seven different motorcycle organizations involved, including at least four American Legion Riders chapters. “When we arrived there, there already were some members of the community and neighbors lined up along the street,” he said. “But when they saw 75, 100 motorcycles pull up in front of their house, just seeing the look on the parents’ faces and that kids face, just goosebumps, hair standing up all over. It was just, there were really no words to describe it.
“Just seeing that little kid smile and his dad pushing his wheelchair just to take a look at all the bikes lined up on the street – I just kind of stood in the back for awhile and was watching all the riders. It’s funny to see all these older, big gentlemen – the burly riders – flipping their sunglasses down so you can’t see the tears coming out of their eyes.”
The 2023 precision and sporter winners of The American Legion Junior 3-Position Air Rifle Championships were named Saturday, July 22, in Colorado Springs, Colo.
First, the top eight sporter shooters lined up shoulder-to-shoulder on the firing line in the basement of the USA Shooting Range at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Each competitor fired 10 shots, aiming for a perfect 10.9 score for each one with a 50-second time limit. Even with the cheering from American Legion Family members, coaches and family members, Charles Bratton of Clover, S.C., held on to his first-place position to win the sporter championship.
“Finals are always fun but also really intense. It’s a lot of relief (that it’s done) but also bittersweet because this is the last time I’ll shoot this kind of match,” said Bratton, who will be attending Harvard University this fall with hopes to become a brain surgeon. “It was a good ending. And my local (American Legion) Post 54 is awesome. I have family members that are veterans and members of The American Legion. I just think it’s a really great organization, and I love what they’re doing for the youth.”
When Gracie Dinh and Jacob Wisman walked to the firing line to compete in their first and second-place positions, Dinh had only a one-point lead over Wisman. Their scores remained close until the final shot – Wisman shot a 10.7 over Dinh’s 10.2 to take the lead and win the precision championship.
“I went in to today with some doubts since I was a point behind, but I’m happy I was able to keep calm and do what I could do,” said Wisman, 17 years old and a rising senior who hopes to shoot air rifle in college. “I want say thank you to The American Legion. This was a great opportunity, and I’m very grateful.”
Dinh is happy with her second-place finish and the growth she has experienced in air rifle since placing 15th during the 2021 American Legion Junior 3-Position Air Rifle Championship.
There was a lot of growing in the two years in-between. “(This time around) I tapered my training, I shot less and I got more ready mentally,” Dinh said. “Thank you, American Legion, for holding this. It’s always a fun match; it’s a great experience.”
As the precision and sporter champions, Wisman and Bratton will each receive a $5,000 scholarship provided by The American Legion and Sons of The American Legion. They too will receive a trip to The American Legion’s 104th National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in August to be honored alongside other American Legion youth program champions. Bratton said he lives 45 minutes from Charlotte and is looking forward to attending the national convention and hopes to purchase a computer with the scholarship.
For their second-place finish, Dinh and sporter competitor Nathan Krokstrom of Cape Coral, Fla., will receive a $1,000 scholarship provided by The American Legion Auxiliary.
The top eight precision shooters aggregate scores:
Photo credit: US Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. Kelsey Dornfeld
By Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola, National Commander
JUL 12, 2023
Dear American Legion Family members and friends,
When I visited Pearl Harbor last December, I had the honor of speaking with survivors of the infamous attack. The lesson that most Pearl Harbor veterans expressed to me over the years is that America must always be prepared.
Unfortunately, America’s readiness to defend its citizens is unnecessarily harmed due to the actions that are occurring in the U.S. Senate. Really inaction is a better word.
Since Monday, the U.S. Marine Corps has been without a confirmed commandant. It is the first time that the Marines have not had an authorized commandant in 164 years. In fact, 16 general officers in the U.S. Marine Corps have had their promotions put on hold due to a legislative maneuver by a single U.S. senator. The holds are not because they are unqualified but because the senator objects to totally unrelated policies that these officers had nothing to do with.
Other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will retire in the next two months, leaving vacancies in the highest military positions. The people aspiring to these billets will be in good company, as more than 260 general and flag officers so far in all our military branches have had their promotions put on hold because of this. The U.S. Air Force alone has 99 general officer promotions on hold.
This isn’t just impacting the top brass. It impacts the critical staff that generals and admirals will rely on to ensure operational readiness. Some families have sold homes as they await orders that have yet to be finalized. As any military parent with school-aged children will attest, summer is the optimum time to make a permanent change of station.
Quality of life issues are vital to the success of an all-volunteer force. The American Legion has always believed a strong U.S. military is what allows us “to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy.” It is why a strong national defense is one of our organization’s founding pillars.
I mentioned my visit to Pearl Harbor. Last month, I visited another hallowed place, Normandy, France. As I saw the final resting place of thousands of freedom’s heroes, I couldn’t help but be grateful for not just their sacrifice but their success in saving the world. Our victory in World War II might not have been assured without the steady and confident leadership of general and flag officers like Eisenhower, MacArthur, Patton, Bradley, Nimitz, Puller, Roosevelt and countless others. They were the right leaders at the right time. Thank God that no politician deprived us of their leadership when America needed these officers most.
Photo by Edward Lewis, American Legion Department of Florida
The American Legion May 23, 2023 – The American Legion Media Alliance (TALMA) is proud to announce the winners of its 2023 contest. There were a record 103 contest entries submitted for the seven categories. The winners were selected by a panel of judges and approved by the Media & Communications Commission.
A special awards luncheon will be held during the 104th National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday, Aug. 28, to recognize the contest winners. The luncheon will be free to all TALMA award recipients. For other members and guests, there will be a fee per ticket. Registration information and other details are forthcoming.
The following are the 2023 TALMA contest winners and their entries:
INDIANAPOLIS (April 23, 2023) – A home-schooled senior from Indianapolis capped a busy weekend of competition in her home city by earning a $25,000 college scholarship and first place in The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program – “A Constitutional Speech Contest.” Haley Bock’s winning prepared oration was titled “The Black Hole of American Democracy: American Territories are Where Voting Rights Vanish.”
Bock started the weekend as one of 49 state or department champions in the 84th annual contest. She advanced to the championship through three rounds of intense competition. She was sponsored by American Legion Post 3 in Indianapolis.
Ian Chung, a senior from Vestal, N.Y., earned a $22,500 college scholarship with a second-place finish, while Emma Johnson, an 11th grade student from Powell, Wyo., 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, Bock opened her remarks about Luis Segovia, a U.S. citizen and Guam resident who served tour tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Illinois National Guard.
“Luis Segovia was willing to give his life for his country,” she said. “He protected Iraqi citizens’ right to vote. But back home in America, Luis, along with four million residents of the American territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands were denied their right to vote.”
“They’re calling out but they’ve yet to be heard,” she concluded. “So, who will give them their voice? When will we all speak out, rise together, and grant those the rights they too have fought for and deserve?”
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 1.7-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 22, 2023) – Out of an original 49 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.org and on Facebook live at The American Legion National Headquarters page.
The top prize, a $25,000 scholarship, will be awarded to Haley Bock of Indianapolis, Ian Chung of Vestal, N.Y. or Emma Johnson of Powell, Wyo. The second and third place winners after tomorrow’s competition will receive $22,500 and $20,000 scholarships respectively. Each of the 49 competitors are department (state or regional) champions.
The other 15 semi-finalists who competed in this afternoon’s competition are Mahee Haswani (Calif.), Mae Webster (Colo.), Nurfat Ishaque (Fla.), Andrew Fleming (Ga.), Bridger Benson (Idaho), Thanvee Paga (Iowa), India Young (Ky.), Andrew Kil (Mich.), Emily Aloise (N.H.), Guhan Krishnan (Ohio), Jesse LaBahn (Okla.), Henry Overbay (S.C.), Abigail Whicker (Tenn.), Trenton James McMillen (Va.) and Emma Lo (Wash.).
The contest, now in its 84th 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.
WASHINGTON (March 31, 2023) – The head of the nation’s largest veterans organization called on VA to assure student veterans who have been impacted by missed Post-9/11 GI Bill housing stipends today to “quickly make the situation right and assure veterans that it never occurs again.”
“Veterans understand that when they fail in uniform, the only acceptable responses are ‘no excuses!’ and ‘I’ll correct it!’ This is the type of response that The American Legion expects VA to offer all the students who were expecting their housing stipend today,” said American Legion National Commander Vincent “Jim” Troiola. “Yesterday, a senior VA official assured us that their inspector general has been notified and the department is working to ensure that electronic payments reach veterans by Monday and checks are mailed out that same day. They are going to conduct a root cause analysis and contact schools to ensure that they are aware of what occurred. VA will also provide letters to veterans to share with creditors. These measures are a good start. The American Legion understands that when mistakes occur, it is the corrective response that is most important. The American Legion has always believed that VA has a responsibility to serve veterans as well as veterans have served this country. We expect VA to quickly correct whatever flawed process led to this error and ensure that veterans are not further inconvenienced by this delayed payment.”
WASHINGTON (March 24, 2022) – The head of the nation’s largest veterans organization double-downed on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs’ assurances that proposed Congressional Budget Office cuts to the VA budget will not happen.
“In remarks to the media yesterday, Secretary (Denis) McDonough said of proposed cuts ‘We don’t think that’s a good idea…Nobody inside VA is talking about it, nobody in the executive branch and I haven’t heard anything about it from Congress…We’re not going to do it,’” Vincent “Jim” Troiola, national commander of The American Legion said. “The American Legion agrees with Secretary McDonough. Veterans have sweated, bled and sacrificed for this country. There is absolutely no way The American Legion would allow unelected bureaucrats from the CBO to reverse the hard-fought gains that veterans have made over the last couple of years. The administration and Congress deserve great credit for last year’s passage of the PACT Act. The American Legion is committed to ensuring that the promises made to veterans are promises kept.”
Troiola pointed out that the CBO is not a deliberating body and does not have the authority to cut veterans benefits. “What I can assure veterans and their families is that The American Legion has a strong legislative team that monitors such proposals, and we would use our loud pulpit to ensure that members of Congress know that such suggestions should be considered dead on arrival.”
Leader of Nation’s Largest Veterans Organization Urging Congress
to Oversee Implementation of PACT Act, Address Veteran Suicide
WHEN: Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at 10:00 am ET.
WHERE:Room #50, Dirksen Senate Office Building – Capitol Hill
WHO: Vincent “Jim” Troiola, National Commander of The American Legion, will represent the organization’s nearly 1.7 million members when he speaks to lawmakers about the implementation of the promises made by the PACT Act, suicide prevention, health care for veterans and quality of life for military and family members.
WHAT: Commander Troiola’s testimony in a joint session of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs, will point out that U.S. Coast Guard members risk going unpaid in the event of a future government shutdown, many military retirees still pay a “disabled veterans tax,” the U.S. Flag Code needs modernization and many other issues of importance for the veteran community. The testimony will be streamed live on www.legion.org
Leader of Nation’s Largest Veterans Organization, National Leaders to Address Public Policy Priorities of American Legion
WHEN: February 28, 2023, at 8 am-12:45 pm
WHERE:International Ballrooms, Concourse Level, Washington Hilton Hotel 1919 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
WHO: Vincent “Jim” Troiola, National Commander of The American Legion, will address members of the nation’s largest veterans service organization as they prepare to visit Congress to discuss the organizations top legislative priorities. Commander Troiola will also testify before a joint session the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs on March 1 at 10 am. Other Speakers at the February 28th “Commander’s Call” include Ukraine Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova, VA Secretary Denis McDonough, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill.; Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif.; Brig. Gen. Stephen J. Lightfoot (USMC); and other distinguished leaders involving the veterans community.
WHAT: Commander Troiola, the Ukraine ambassador, the VA Secretary and other speakers will address The American Legion’s concerns about the state of VA health care, the U.S. military, national security and other issues of importance to American veterans.
WASHINGTON (February 17, 2023) – The American Legion and Hiring Our Heroes are holding a career event for veterans, transitioning servicemembers, military spouses and caregivers on February 28 at the Washington Hilton. The event is free and will be held from 9 am – 4 pm.
From 9 am to 1 pm, The American Legion will be conducting a series of Career Workshops at the International Ballroom West, Concourse Level The workshops include the:
Military to Civilian Translation Resume Workshop, where participants will recognize how to communicate their military expertise in their job applications and interviews.
Federal Resume Workshop , which will show job seekers how to adapt their resume to fit federal internship and job application requirements.
Financial Literacy Workshop, where participants will gain comprehensive knowledge of budgeting, emergency preparedness, and long-term investing.
Networking Luncheon with Employer Panel, which will connect job seekers with employers so that they can gain valuable information on how to succeed at networking events.
A Career Fair will be held from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm in the Concourse Foyer. The registration page for the hiring fair can be found at: www.legion.org/careers/jobfairs.
INDIANAPOLIS (February 21, 2023) – The American Legion is still accepting entries in its annual Fourth Estate Awards competition for excellence in journalism and its positive impact on society. The deadline for submissions to be received or postmarked is March 1, 2023.
The American Legion presents the awards to recognize the outstanding achievements made in print and broadcast media. Website and podcast submissions are also encouraged to compete in the print or broadcast categories. In addition to the award, the winner in each category will be presented a $2,000 stipend to cover travel and lodging expenses to The American Legion National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. The presentation will occur at approximately 9 am on August 31, 2023 at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Submissions are judged on the quality of the work and the impact that it had in producing a positive result for the community. The work must have been published, posted or broadcast in 2022.
All journalists or media outlets who believe their work improved society in a tangible and way are encouraged to submit their entry. There is no entry fee and no single medium is limited to the number of entries.
Past winners include CBS News, CNN, USA Today, The Washington Examiner, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Jackson Clarion Ledger and Military.com. The complete list can be found at www.legion.org.