Department of Florida

Category Archives: National

S.21 and H.R. 367, the “Pay Our Coast Guard Act”

 Take Action!

Contact your Senators and Representative today

The American Legion must continue to serve as a powerful voice for veterans. Our voice in our nation’s capital is only as strong as our membership allows us to be. The American Legion’s Legionnaires, Auxiliary members, and Sons of The American Legion are the heart and soul of our organization.

Today, we need your help in contacting your members of the Senate and House of Representatives. Please use the prepared message or your own letter to ask them to cosponsor and pass S.21 and H.R. 367, respectively. Your member needs to encourage congressional leadership to bring the Pay Our Coast Guard Act to the floor for a vote, and to promise to vote for this legislation, to ensure our members of the Coast Guard do not go without pay ever again.

Members of the US Coast Guard should never find their pay jeopardized because of partisan unrest in Washington D.C. There is a constant and real threat, because of any government shutdown, that without the action of Congress, the Coast Guard may not be able to pay their members. With the current political climate, we need Congress to take immediate bipartisan action. A select number of members of Congress have come together in bipartisan fashion to introduce S.21 and H.R. 367, the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, in this 116th Congress.

Earlier this year, the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history came to an end, stopping what had been more than a three-week gap since more than 41,000 active-duty members of the U.S. Coast Guard had been paid. The American Legion’s Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program was able to provide more than $1 million in non-repayable grants to approximately 1,713 Coast Guard families with 3,170 children.

TFA grants, like the ones distributed to Coast Guard families affected by the shutdown, are made possible through donations to The American Legion Veterans and Children Foundation at www.legion.org/donate. The foundation supports veterans and military families in need, as well as American Legion service officers who provide free VA benefits and health care assistance to veterans.

Contact your Senator and Representative today to tell them to pay the Coast Guard!

“The brave members of our Coast Guard risk their lives defending us daily, just like their sister services in the Department of Defense…. Whether they are performing rescues during a hurricane or stopping drug traffickers at sea, members of the Coast Guard regularly perform heroic and lifesaving tasks on our behalf. They should not have to worry about bills and living expenses just because Congress and the White House cannot agree on a budget.” – Brett P. Reistad, National Commander

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Legion Announces Recipients of 4th Estate Journalism Awards

INDIANAPOLIS (May 17, 2019) – A San Francisco Bay-area television news station, a community newspaper and an influential online media outlet will receive The American Legion’s Fourth Estate Award during the 101st National Convention of the nation’s largest veterans organization in Indianapolis, on August 29.

The Fourth Estate Award has been presented annually by The American Legion since 1958 for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. Nominations in 2019 were considered in three categories: broadcast, print and new media (Internet). They were selected by the organization’s Media & Communications Commission on May 6 and announced today.

Taking top honor in the broadcast category is San Francisco NBC-affiliate KNTV. In a comprehensive series titled “Failure to Report: Sex Abuse Victims Silenced,” the stationed examined allegations of sexual abuse made by student of a private high school in San Jose. As a result of the station’s reporting, the school revised its policies on the handling of abuse accusations, two teachers were put on administrative leave and the school’s president resigned.

The Republican of Springfield, Mass., is being recognized in the print category for its profile of World War II Army Nurse Corps veteran Louise Fleming. “There is another side of war, a time when beauty appears,” the feature said. The piece, authored by managing editor Cynthia Simison, highlights the distinguished service by Fleming and fulfills The American Legion’s longtime goal of promoting the honorable nature of military service.

The Fourth Estate New Media Award is going to Military.com. Reporter Oriana Pawlyk wrote about an Air Force policy prohibiting its pilots from using the HIV-preventative drug Truvada, despite its approval for use by members of other military branches. Shortly after the report was published, 14 members of Congress signed a letter to the Air Force secretary. The service soon after reversed its policy.

“As a veterans organization, The American Legion cherishes the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment and the special role that a free press plays in our society,” said Brett. P. Reistad, national commander of The American Legion. “The American Legion would not be nearly as effective without media coverage of our positions and programs on the national and community level. The Fourth Estate Awards represent the best of the best. These award winners are being recognized for outstanding works of journalism that not only stand far above normal media reporting, but have also resulted in outcomes that have positively impacted the lives of people and issues. These committed journalists have devoted long, hard hours into investigating, researching, writing and producing reports that have truly made a difference.

“I will be honored to present each of these deserving recipients with our highest recognition of journalistic accomplishment, The American Legion Fourth Estate Award, at our national convention in Indianapolis this summer,” Reistad said. “They are all credits to their profession.”

Previous winners of the award include CNN, CBS, USA Today, ABC News, C-SPAN, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and Life Magazine, among others.

The American Legion was founded by World War I veterans in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and patriotic youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly 13,000 posts across the nation.

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National Emergency Fund, Tornado Outbreak and other storms

Today and tomorrow, many of the states across the Southeast, Northeast, Ohio Valley and others will be affected by these devastating severe storms. According to The Weather Channel, for the deep south it’s a 6 in 10 chance there will be tornados, and up the Eastern Seaboard and points north, a 4 in 10 chance. We just want to remind you of the National Emergency Fund. As long as the location from where an application is coming from has been declared a natural or state of emergency disaster, (either state or federal declaration) the members or posts in your department can apply for funds.

Reminder, for Legion and SAL members, they must have been displaced (by damages) or evacuated from their primary residence. The fund can provide grant monies to cover their out of pocket expenses (food, clothing, shelter, medicines, etc.). Not meant to replace or repair damages to their home or outbuildings or vehicles. Receipts for these expenses are needed. Photos are needed. Insurance paperwork, to include what their deductible will be, is helpful. As much information provided is helpful when consideration is given to these members. And they must have been active at the date of the disaster and date of application.

For posts, proof of what programs will suffer as a result of post not being able to operate normally (usually the Consolidated Post Report is extremely helpful). Operations or supplies to their social quarters is not provided for. Insurance paperwork is helpful. Photos are needed.

Bottom line, provide to us as much information as you can so we can do our best to make a good determination to assist our members and post to get as closely back to normal as possible after the disaster hits.

The link below provides where you can download the form. Please share with all your contacts in those states that have been adversely affected.

https://www.legion.org/emergency/apply

Please send to us any printed applications in the mail, fax to us at: 317-630-1413 or scan/e-mail to Internal Affairs at ia@legion.org

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Legion to VA: ‘Fix Communication Breakdowns’

(INDIANAPOLIS, April 11, 2019) — Calling it a case of “mission delayed turning into mission failure,” American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad called for VA officials to implement a plan to prevent future communication breakdowns between home-care social workers and VA medical centers.

Reistad specifically referred to the case of a veteran who had to undergo a partial leg amputation due to delays in receiving home health consultations after being discharged from the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis. The patient, who was treated for diabetic ketoacidosis and an ulcerated foot abscess, “did not receive the necessary home health care,” according to U.S. Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner.

The patient required frequent changes to his wound dressings. As a result of the veteran not receiving the necessary care, an infection occurred which later required a below-the-knee amputation. Investigators determined that social workers were directed to stop entering home health care consults into the Computerized Patient Record System due to a lack of training.

“The U.S. Office of Special Counsel assured the president that VA has taken the necessary steps to prevent similar problems in the future,” Reistad said. “The American Legion certainly hopes that those assurances are well-founded. Too many veterans have lost their limbs on the battlefield. They should not be losing limbs due to bureaucratic malpractice. We thank the whistleblowers who helped expose this case. It reinforces why The American Legion supported legislation that protects these brave employees. The American Legion believes in VA. It’s why The American Legion visits VA medical facilities across the country as part of our System Worth Saving program, so we can identify critical needs and share best practices. We will certainly review this latest incident again as part of our SWS agenda. We also believe that recent reforms such as the Mission Act and increased accountability will improve an already-strong VA system. That said, tragedies such as what happened in Indianapolis should never occur. We expect VA to learn from this and act accordingly.”

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Waukee, Iowa, Youth Sweeps to Victory, Earns $18K Scholarship in American Legion Oratorical Contest

Patrick Junker

Patrick Junker of Waukee, Iowa, won The American Legion’s 82nd annual National Oratorical Contest in Indianapolis April 7. Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion

INDIANAPOLIS (April 7, 2019) – A junior from Van Meter High School in Iowa capped a busy weekend of competition in Indianapolis by earning an $18,000 college scholarship and first place in The American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program – “A Constitutional Speech Contest.” Patrick Junker’s winning prepared oration was titled “The Spread of Constitutional Apathy and how to Quarantine it.”

Junker, who lives in Waukee, Iowa, started the weekend as one of 53 state or department champions in the 82nd annual contest. He advanced to the championship through three rounds of intense competition. Junker was sponsored by American Legion Post 403 in Van Meter.

Caleb Maue, a home-schooled junior from Homer Glen, Ill., earned a $16,000 college scholarship with a second place finish, while Eden Carnes, a home-schooled freshman from Friendsville, Tenn., earned a $14,000 scholarship and finished third. The scholarships account for a small portion of post-secondary scholarships that The American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, awards annually.

In his prepared oration, Junker warned that apathy and ignorance about the U.S. Constitution can endanger freedom. “In a study done by the Freedom Forum Institute, 40 percent of the American survey respondents could not name a single freedom under the First Amendment. The question becomes this, ‘How can we fight and defend our rights if we don’t even know what those rights are?’”

Junker encouraged making education about the Constitution a priority. “We must not only teach students the Constitution, but we must also teach them the importance it has on our everyday life. We must teach them this importance in order to safeguard our future.”

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.

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Together We Can Make an Impact

In the wake of the government shutdown, The American Legion went public to assist active duty Coast Guard members through National’s Temporary Financial Assistance program. This program requires families with minor children. The Department of Florida utilized it’s program, Project: VetRelief, to provide assistance to those that did not have qualifying children.

Through both programs, the Department Staff processed nearly 400 applications received from Coast Guard members.

The wave of US Coast Guard member applications has been overwhelming, but we are happy to report that all cases in which there was not a minor child in the home have been provided with a $250 gift card to Publix from PROJECT: VetRelief. To date, there have been 29 Coast Guard members funded for a total of $7,250. Additionally, of the 302 applications submitted to National’s TFA program, 231 families were provided support for a total of $130,000.

In the event that the government shuts down in a couple of weeks, the Department Staff would like to keep providing support for those effected for as long as we can; however, funds for both programs are limited. We ask that you, along with the members of your Post, take a minute to realize the impact a donation can have on someone defending your coastline and not receiving a paycheck.

DONATIONS CAN BE MADE TO BOTH PROGRAMS:

PROJECT: VetRelief

Temporary Financial Assistance

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Creating Mobility for Veterans

13 Scooters Donated for Florida Veterans

Orlando, January 2, 2019 – Jack Kump (Port Orange, FL) and his wife, Joan Wheeler, continue to impact the Florida veteran community and having recently donated twelve (12) brand new mobility scooters to The American Legion, Department of Florida. Inspired by their commitment to our veterans, SpinLife has also added an additional scooter, free of charge, for a total of thirteen (13) brand new mobility scooters to be given away to Florida Veterans.

This marks the third year Jack and Joan have generously donated mobility scooters to Florida’s veterans. We asked Jack and Joan what prompted such a noble act. According to Jack, “Without the military influence, discipline, Espirit de Corps, and direction, my life would have probably taken a much less productive path”. Jack and Joan believe that all vets are very special people and should be recognized, shown compassion, and never overlooked or forgotten. “The scooters are being donated in memory of two WWII vets very special in our lives, Joan’s late father, Robert I. Wheeler, and Jack’s late mentor, Leonard F. Wedge.”

On Friday, January 4th, Jack and Joan arrived at The American Legion, Department of Florida’s State Headquarters office. David Miller, Purple Heart recipient and long-time member of the American Legion, was also in attendance to show his appreciation. David will distribute three (3) scooters within the Tampa area to deserving veterans who are affiliated with the Wounded Warriors Abilities Ranch in Pinellas Park.

Florida is home to more than 1.6 million veterans, 22% of those veterans have claimed some level of disability. Jack and Joan have asked that these mobility scooters be distributed to disabled veterans who are in need and lack the funds or insurance to cover the costs on their own. They have entrusted The American Legion, Department of Florida with the distribution of this remarkable act of kindness.

The American Legion, Department of Florida would like to extend a debt of gratitude to Jack and Joan, on behalf of all Florida Veterans. It is this type of compassion and kindness that we wish for all of our veterans.

Also featured in:

Orlando Sentinel

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Free Scoutbook on Jan 1, 2019

Scoutbook free for everyone beginning Jan. 1, 2019

It seems too good to be true, but you will absolutely take it.

The BSA announced today that it will make Scoutbook subscriptions free to all BSA units beginning Jan. 1, 2019. Units that already use Scoutbook won’t be charged when they renew their subscription on or after Sept. 1, 2018.

Scoutbook is the BSA’s online unit management tool and helps Scouts, parents and leaders track advancement and milestone achievements along the Scouting trail.

How will my unit be affected?

  • Units with a current Scoutbook account: When they need to renew their subscription this fall, they will not pay any renewal fees, effective Sept. 1, 2018.
  • Councils that provide Scoutbook accounts for their units: When they need to renew these unit subscriptions this fall, they will not pay any renewal fees, effective Sept. 1, 2018.
    • (Essentially, units — or councils paying for their units — can renew Scoutbook subscriptions in September, October, November or December 2018 at no cost.)
  • Units without a current Scoutbook account: They can begin their free Scoutbook unit subscription on Jan. 1, 2019.

Will existing users get a refund?

No. There are no plans to reimburse anyone who has previously paid for a Scoutbook subscription. This change applies only to any new Scoutbook subscriptions effective Jan. 1, 2019, or later — and to any renewing Scoutbook subscriptions that would normally be paid between Sept. 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2018.

What if a current Scoutbook unit needs to add more Scouts this fall?

Let’s say your pack has a 75-Scout subscription with 15 open slots. You expect to recruit well over that number this fall. Can you add Scouts to your subscription when/if that happens?

Yes, if you have a current Scoutbook subscription, after Sept. 1, 2018, you can renew your subscription (if needed) or add more youth to Scoutbook at no cost.

What should units that don’t currently have Scoutbook do this fall?

Scoutbook will be free to all units beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

In the meantime, watch for the release of Scoutbook Lite for all units later in 2018. This free online tool will provide a slightly different user experience from the full Scoutbook, but it will help your unit track advancements for all your youth members.

How will subscriptions/renewals work in 2019 and beyond?

The need to “subscribe” or “renew” annually will become unnecessary. Once your unit is on Scoutbook, you’ll be set for as long as your unit would like to continue using this free tool.

How will making Scoutbook free affect its performance?

Scoutbook will only continue to improve. The BSA IT and Member Care teams will continue to support Scoutbook with their timely service and quality resources. Scoutbook performance enhancements have been implemented regularly over the years, and its performance is continually monitored.

Where can I get more information about this change in Scoutbook?

First, consult the latest FAQs, available in this PDF.

Contact Scoutbook.support@scouting.org

Source:  Scouting Wire, Dec 26, 2018

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Phishing Emails Purported to be from Natl HQ Staff

From: National Adjutant Dan Wheeler

Many of you have recently received fraudulent emails which appear to be from national headquarters. There are several variations circulating, but all seem to use the name of a national headquarters’ staff member and mention an “invoice.” Some of the emails even use the staff member’s actual email address.

These emails are also known as “phishing.” They are scams and do not originate from national headquarters. Although national cannot prevent outside groups from sending this type of email, there are several things we all can do to help protect ourselves:

  • Right now we are seeing “spoof” sender attacks. These are messages pretending to be from coworkers or external work-related relationships. These messages attempt to entice you into clicking an attachment or provide personal information. Don’t do it! If you are not expecting or generally do not get a message with attachments from the purported sender proceed with extreme caution. When in doubt, contact the purported national HQ “sender” to verify the email is legitimate.
  • Sometimes, but not always, the body of the message gives it away. The English is bad. The contact information at the bottom has errors such as wrong city or area code. The context of the message is just not something this sender would discuss.
  • If you open an email and find that it’s not legitimate, delete the message without opening any attachments.
  • Don’t provide credit card information to the sender. National headquarters will never ask that you provide your credit card information to us in an email.
  • If you wish to share a message that contains the email addresses of other recipients, please delete the email addresses before you forward. That will help prevent those legitimate email addresses from getting into the wrong hands to be misused as has happened here.
  • Report such phishing to the Federal Trade Commission at spam@uce.gov
  • In general, we all must have our “guard up” at all times when dealing with email. It’s easy to get in the habit of seeing a name we recognize, and clicking to open it or any attachments or links, and that can lead to many hours and dollars to recover. Question anything even slightly suspicious.
  • If you wish to create a message that contains the email addresses of other recipients, get in the habit of placing email addresses in the “Bcc:” field (instead of To: or CC:). If you are going to forward a message that displays others’ email addresses, delete those addresses before forwarding to prevent those email addresses from getting forwarded on, shared or captured by a hacker and being misused as has happened here.
  • Please see the attached link for more information on this subject. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0003-phishing
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VFW, Legion National Commanders Demand Immediate Action

VA Rates 70 Percent of its Nursing Homes as Failures
VFW, Legion national commanders demand immediate action

WASHINGTON (November 14, 2018) — The national commanders of the nation’s two largest veterans organizations are demanding that Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie bring immediate attention to his nursing home program that currently has 70 percent of its 132 homes receiving failing grades by the VA’s own rating system.

The call by Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. National Commander B.J. Lawrence and American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad is in response to a series of scathing articles by two USA Today and Boston Globe reporters who documented substandard and negligent care at the VA nursing home in Brockton, Mass., which is one of 45 nursing homes that received the VA’s lowest rating of one star. Forty-seven homes received two stars, 16 homes three stars, and 15 homes four stars. Only nine nursing homes received the VA’s top five-star rating.

“While much of the media’s attention has been on the proper implementation of VA healthcare legislation, we cannot forget about 46,000 mostly senior veterans who reside in these nursing homes,” said the two national commanders, who collectively speak for more than 4.6 million members and their auxiliaries.

“The media reports about sub-par care, patient neglect and safety violations at VA nursing homes are more than just disturbing,” said the Legion’s national commander. “Legionnaires, our friends in the VFW, and anybody who respects veterans should be angered by this,” said Reistad. “These are not just patients in a home, these are people who in the prime of their lives risked their lives, and made enormous sacrifices on behalf of our country. America’s veterans deserve better. We not only expect VA to fix these problems immediately, but we want transparency. Those who sleep on the job and ignore the best interests of their patients need to find a different employer.”

Echoing his counterpart, the VFW national commander said “These veterans earned the right to receive high quality care in a fully-staffed and well-managed facility. Their families deserve to know that their loved ones — their heroes — are not being abandoned or abused, and America needs to be reassured that the VA is honoring our nation’s promise to those who have borne the battle,” said Lawrence. “The VA must improve its delivery of quality care at these facilities. It must recruit and retain only the best healthcare professionals and support staff, and it must hold all employees accountable for their actions or inactions. It is not a right but a privilege to work for America’s veterans, and anything less is unacceptable.”

Media Contacts: VFW: Joe Davis, 202-608-8357, JDavis@vfw.org , The American Legion: John Raughter, 317-441-8847  jraughter@legion.org

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