Department of Florida

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Category Archives: National

Weekly Reports November 23, 2022

LEGION REPORTS

Department Membership Summary
Post Membership Summary

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Legion Family begins to address Ian’s aftermath

Post 274 in Fort Myers, Fla., after Hurricane Ian.

Post 274 in Fort Myers, Fla., after Hurricane Ian.

National ~ In over a decade as the Department of Florida’s disaster preparedness chairman, Bill Hoppner has seen plenty of destructive storms.

“I have never seen devastation and destruction to this degree,” he said in a Facebook post after Hurricane Ian.

More than 100 people died from the storm and damage estimates are in the billions. And there’s still much to do before cleanup and relief efforts can begin in earnest in the state’s hardest hit areas.

“Everyone wants to help which is good,” Hoppner wrote. “But we have to understand the logistics. There are still search and rescue missions going on. Still powerlines down. The gas stations are running out of gas and the stations that do have gas have lines blocks long. I don’t want anybody to come in with supplies and not get out because they have no gas.”

The department’s Disaster Preparedness Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday to assess damage, identify distribution centers, and develop a plan of action. In the meantime, the Department of Florida is collecting donated items at department headquarters, 1912A Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810.

The department is collecting:

Water, non-perishables (canned food, dried meats, hard candies, granola or power bars), dry goods (crackers, nuts, dried fruit, trail mix), peanut butter, hand can openers, hygiene items (shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.), bug spray, sunscreen, infant supplies (diapers, wipes, food, formula), feminine products, pet food, batteries (all sizes), flashlights, solar lights, battery operated fans, pocket juice battery chargers, camping stoves, propane, charcoal grills, cleaning supplies (disinfectant wipes, dust rags, dust masks), first aid items (Band-Aids, antibacterial ointment, gauze, medical tape, aspirin, rubbing alcohol, etc.), chain or hand saws, utility gloves, packaged undergarments (all sizes). 

Donations can be shipped to or dropped off at Department of Florida headquarters during business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., until official distribution sites have been designated.

In the meantime, American Legion posts outside the disaster area have also been collecting supplies.

A team of Legion Riders is scheduled to leave Post 104 in Pinellas Park, Fla., early Oct. 8 to deliver donated items.

Post 382 in Navarre, Fla., is collecting donations of water, non-perishable foods, paper products, tarps and more. Drop-off times are from noon to 7 p.m.

Post 221 in Niceville, Fla., is seeking donations of water, canned goods, non-perishable items, tarps, gloves, generators, diapers, baby food, new clothing, and new blankets and sheets still packaged. Drop-off times are from noon to 6 p.m.

Legion posts are also providing for relief workers.

Post 69 in Avon Park, Fla., provided pizzas, sodas and a break for the National Guard.

Post 103 in Punta Gorda, Fla., is serving as headquarters for Team Rubicon for the next 6-8 weeks as the organization helps demolition and cleanup efforts.

Resources for those impacted by the hurricane and ways to donate to the Department of Florida’s Hurricane Relief Fund are available at floridalegion.org/resources/hurricane-relief/.

The American Legion stands ready to assist eligible Legionnaires, American Legion posts and Sons of The American Legion impacted by these and other natural disasters.

Grants from the National Emergency Fund (NEF) are available — up to $3,000 to Legionnaires and SAL members displaced due to damages to their primary residence from declared natural disasters, and up to $10,000 for Legion posts that have been damaged by a natural disaster and whose programs and activities within the community have been impacted.

Click here for the NEF grant application.

For assistance in completing the application, click here for a video presentation. And this video illustrates how disaster relief teams were set up in Illinois following a tornado outbreak.

NEF grants are made possible from the generosity of donations to the fund. Donate here.

In addition to the requirement that an emergency declaration be made for a natural disaster, applicants must be current on their membership prior to the disaster and at the time of application submission, and must provide photos, receipts, insurance paperwork, and FEMA statements if possible.

The Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program is also available to assist American Legion eligible veterans with minor children in the home who need financial help to pay for shelter, food, utilities, and medical expenses.

For TFA information on eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit legion.org/financialassistance.

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Department of Florida mobilizes to help those affected by Hurricane Ian

Wikimedia Commons

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Chapter 237 Riders Take Top Honors Again

Members of Post 237 of the Beverly Hills American Legion celebrated on July 23 winning the “Riders Chapter of the Year” award from the state American Legion. Photo by Margo Wilson/For the Chronicle

By MARGO WILSON For the Chronicle Jul 28, 2022 ~ It’s not the first time, nor the second … but for the fifth year in a row, the over 100 motorcycle riders of Beverly Hills Post 237 of the American Legion have earned the title of “Riders Chapter of the Year,” outpacing the state’s other 138 American Legion Riders’ chapters with a total of 10,000 riders.

“It’s phenomenal,” said rider Bo Boden, who was attending a July 23 celebration at the post. “It’s a lot of hard work by our leader, John (Roby).”

Roby, who’s directed the Beverly Hills riders group since it was founded in 2012, told the partygoers, “It’s not about one individual. It’s about all of you.”

He saluted members who have passed away and dedicated the event to them. He also thanked the veterans’ and other community groups and individuals who support the post and vets.

“In April 2012, there were 20 members,” he said. “We were the little kids on the block.

We had to go out and earn respect,” Roby said.

Since then, the riders have logged over 1 million miles for charitable causes.

“We’ve gone out over and over and over again,” Roby said.

Those rides have earned over $350,000 for veterans’ and community projects and racked up over 1 million hours of community service.

Last year, the riders rode over 300,000 miles, raised $48,425, and tallied about 300,000 hours of community service.

Some of the groups and causes to which they donate include the Race for Fallen Veterans, the Special Olympics, Toys for Tots, Project Vet Relief, Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast, Veterans for a Cause, Gold Star Families, the VFW, Am Vets, other American Legions, female veterans, and homeless veterans.

They accompany the Vietnam Traveling Wall.

The riders frequently escort, to Bushnell National Cemetery, veterans who’ve passed away. This past year, they placed 5,000 flags at the cemetery.

On “Red Shirt Fridays,” they ride to other American Legions and VFWs to show their support of their fellow veterans.

On Veterans Day, they visit comrades at assisted living sites.

They support veterans’ suicide awareness projects.

Member Alan Oscarson, a Vietnam veteran, said the award and the riders’ group and Post 237 “mean the world to me. When I came home from Vietnam in 1971, I got spit on at the airport. There were protestors outside. … I felt it was a waste of my time being in the service until I came down here.”

Oscarson said after he moved to the area, he was out for a motorcycle ride one day and Post 237 riders cruised past.

“I followed them,” he said.

He pulled up to Ray Roby, who was commander of the post, and asked him what was going on.

“We’re doing a ride for charity,” Roby said. “It’s a veterans’ ride, too.”

“I’m a Vietnam vet,” Oscarson said. Then, Roby reached over, shook Oscarson’s hand, and said, “Thank you for your service and welcome home.”

Oscarson joined the post that same day.

Greg Olynyk, the assistant director of the riders group, said he participates because “I do it for the vets. And I like to ride.”

Danny Elsass, of S&S Electric, donated $500 toward the celebration and has supported the post financially many times, according to John Roby.

Elsass said, “I love this group.”

David Herrington, who met his wife at the post and married her June 27, said, “It’s a nice, small group, a fun group. They do a lot for the community.”

Herrington’s wife, Sgt. Maj. Rose E. Gonzalez-Herrington, who has volunteered with Vets for Vets and other groups in Ocala, not only praised Post 237, but her spouse.

“My husband has a big heart,” she said.

She was not the only spouse singing the praises of his or her significant other.

John Roby praised his wife, Karon, who is treasurer and membership chair of the post’s 210-member Auxiliary. She also designed the cake served at the celebration.

And Karon praised John, as well as the members.

“It’s about dedication and camaraderie,” she said.

Bucky Palmer said winning the award “is a great amount of work for the commander and post. … You’ve got to be good.”

Marie Jones said she would echo what Palmer had said, but added, “It’s the friendliest American Legion. It’s very family-oriented.”

Kathleen Moran, the riders’ secretary, said, “No one supports vets like we do. This post is a family.”

Andrea Bolden, an Auxiliary member, whose father, mother, and brother are veterans, said about the award, “It’s fantastic when you think about our little town, and there is Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa. It’s great.”

Veteran John Ferris said, “The people are so fantastic. I’m very proud to belong.”

Ralph Hanks, who served in the Army in Germany from 1966-69, said he loves riding his motorcycle and supports the causes of the riders’ chapter.

“I wish I could do more,” he said. He mentioned the riders have supported hospice programs. Hanks’ wife died in hospice. He credited John Roby for his leadership and said Roby “is probably one of the biggest reasons” for the riders’ success.

David Fredericks, a Vietnam-era Marine, said the riders and post “do a lot of public service for the community.”

Robin Fredericks said the work the post does is “for God and country. … We’re small but mighty.”

Dee Collins said, “We love our country.”

Her husband, Ron, who served in Germany with the Army, said, “We’ve been doing hard work.”

But in the end, as Director John Roby said, “Awards don’t make us any better. We’re just committed to our mission.”

For information about the post or riders’ group, call 352-897-4776, or stop by the post, 6726 N. Lecanto Highway. The post is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Talk to the bartender, and he or she will put you in touch with Roby.

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Florida Legion Riders received the Child Welfare Foundation’s Garland Murphy Jr. Award

Florida Legion Riders received the Child Welfare Foundation’s Garland Murphy Jr. Award

Florida Legion Riders received the Child Welfare Foundation’s Garland Murphy Jr. Award

During the 103rd National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Florida Legion Riders received the Child Welfare Foundation’s Garland Murphy Jr. Award. Joe Marcheggiani received the award on behalf of the Florida Legion Riders.

The Child Welfare Foundation presents awards annually for significant contributions to the foundation. The American Legion Riders are strong supporters of the Foundation, which grants to nonprofits that contribute to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual welfare of children.

To qualify for the Garland Murphy Jr. Award, the department must be the most active in the nation, based on actual contributions received during the year. One department from each of the Family organizations is recognized.

Congratulations and a huge “Thank You” to the American Legion Riders for their dedication and never-ending support of our programs. A special mention to Chapter 110, who pushed us over the top for the win.

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American Legion National Commander Expresses Condolences to United Kingdom for Loss of ‘Legendary Queen’

(INDIANAPOLIS—September 8, 2022) – –   American Legion National Commander Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola issued the following statement regarding the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

“The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has often been characterized as ‘special.’ The strength, grace and class that Elizabeth II exhibited as a princess during World War II and later as queen, has only deepened the affection that our veterans have for our allies in the United Kingdom. The passing of this legendary queen saddens The American Legion but we will always be inspired by her many decades of service to humanity and her commitment to freedom for all. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family and the people of Great Britain.”

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Jimmie Johnson surprises Tampa veteran with new car

Rachel West, Tampa Bay Times – Friday ~ TAMPA, Fla. — Marine Corps veteran and Tampa resident Barry Morgan didn’t know how he was going to be able to make it to his soon-to-be 6-year-old granddaughter’s birthday party in New Jersey next weekend.

But now, he’ll not only be able to make the trip, he’ll be arriving in style.

Online car retailer Carvana, IndyCar driver and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, as well as the Tampa chapter of the American Legion, teamed up to surprise Morgan Thursday with a much-needed new set of wheels.

He was chosen through the Carvana Cares program to receive an electric blue Honda Civic by members of the American Legion.

“I am truly thankful and grateful for this,” Morgan said. “It’s definitely a blessing.”

Morgan, who thought he was attending a meet-and-greet with Johnson to honor the local veteran community, also received a membership to American Legion U.S.S. Tampa Post 5. Worldwide, the American Legion is made up of almost two million brothers- and sisters-in-arms.

During the presentation at the Carvana Car Vending Machine, the team did a “test run” to show how it works. Morgan was completely caught off guard to learn he was the new owner of the car coming down the machine.

“When I saw my name on the sign — ‘Winner Barry Morgan’ — I was frozen for a second,” he said.

Previously, Morgan didn’t have a reliable vehicle. His old truck had become inoperable and was in need of a new engine, which would have cost him thousands of dollars. Because of a lack of transportation, he hasn’t been able to see his family in months and struggled to find employment.

“To meet Barry, to see how much this means to him, it’s the most incredible thing. It’s really been a cool day,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, good things happen to good people. Barry is that man.”

While taking his new car out for a test drive, with Johnson riding along in the passenger seat, Johnson asked Morgan where he was going to go first. Morgan had a quick and emotional response.

“My granddaughter, Ava, her birthday is next Friday (in New Jersey),” Morgan said. “I was afraid I was going to have to tell them I couldn’t make it, but now it looks like I’m going to be able to make it and visit my granddaughter on her birthday.”

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President Signs Honoring Our PACT Act, American Legion Commander Praises ‘Patriotic Advocates’

WASHINGTON (August 10, 2022) – The American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard praised President Biden and the bipartisan majority of congressional members who supported the most comprehensive veterans’ health-care legislation in decades.

Dillard, who attended the bill-signing ceremony at the White House this morning, pointed to the law’s overwhelming support. “The Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act is now the Honoring Our PACT law,” Dillard said. “We thank President Biden for signing this legislation. Millions of veterans and their families can take comfort in knowing that their government truly appreciates their service and sacrifice. This comprehensive health care law is the result of hard work and bipartisanship by patriotic advocates, members of Congress and American Legion Family members worldwide.  It was a privilege to represent all of our allies at the White House today. I encourage all veterans who have been exposed to toxic substances while serving in the military to contact their American Legion service officers for free assistance in accessing the benefits that they have earned. The claims process can be complicated, and American Legion service officers are happy to help.”

The PACT Act will provide health care for millions of post-9/11 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, including Agent Orange and atomic radiation for veterans whose exposure was previously unrecognized for VA health-care services and disability benefits. It will also provide additional resources and staff to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Enactment of the PACT Act was a major legislative priority for The American Legion in this session of Congress.

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US ‘will not abandon’ its commitment to Taiwan, Pelosi says in Taipei

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged her commitment to Taiwan on Wednesday as Chinese ships and aircraft ramped up their military activity in response to her visit.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen presented Pelosi the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon award, during a livestreamed ceremony that morning.

“Now more than ever America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial,” said Pelosi, who departed Taiwan on Wednesday evening for South Korea. “Today our delegation, of which I’m very proud of, came to Taiwan to make it unequivocally clear we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan, and we are proud of our enduring friendship.”

China held live-fire military exercises Saturday off its coast opposite Taiwan after warning Pelosi to cancel her visit. Ahead of her arrival on Tuesday night, Chinese aircraft and warships brushed up against the median line in the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial dividing line, according to Reuters.

Also after her arrival, China’s Eastern Theater Command announced drills would take place near the Taiwan Strait starting late Tuesday. These included long-range live-fire and conventional missile launches, the official China Military website reported.

Chinese J-20 stealth fighters took off from an airfield that evening to participate in the drills, the official Global Times reported Wednesday.

This map released by China’s People’s Liberation Army shows six zones around Taiwan where extensive military drills are scheduled to take place Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, to Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022. (People’s Liberation Army)China also announced a series of naval exercises, to include live-fire drills, slated to run from Thursday to Sunday that will effectively surround the self-governing island, according to a Tuesday report from China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency.

China’s planned exercises effectively “amount to a sea and air blockade,” a Taiwan National Defense Ministry official told reporters after Pelosi’s ceremony with Tsai, according to the Washington Post.

The drills show that China seeks “a cross-strait resolution by force instead of peaceful means,” the ministry tweeted Wednesday.

“Activities around our territory are closely monitored by [the defense ministry] and will meet our appropriate responses when needed.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy positioned the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan with the cruiser USS Antietam and the destroyer USS Higgins as escorts near Taiwan, according to USNI News and Reuters.

Reuters cited an unnamed Navy source; USNI cited unnamed Defense Department sources. An unnamed Pentagon official told USNI that the ships were operating normally in the region.

Meanwhile, the USS Tripoli, an amphibious assault ship that carries F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters, steamed near Okinawa.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command on Wednesday referred questions about its Western Pacific operations to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which did not answer a telephone call or immediately respond to an email.

Pelosi, the third-ranking member of the U.S. government, and a five-member congressional delegation arrived in Taipei on Tuesday night. Her highly anticipated visit to Taiwan is part of an Indo-Pacific tour that also includes stops in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

In the days leading up to Pelosi’s arrival, Chinese authorities made clear that a military response of some kind could be expected.

“We are closely following the itinerary of Speaker Pelosi,” China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Tuesday. “And if the U.S. continues down the wrong path, we will take strong and resolute measures to protect our sovereignty and security interests.”

Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland, by force if necessary. The U.S. government officially abides by the “One China” policy, which acknowledges Beijing’s view that it has sovereignty over Taiwan, which split from the mainland in 1949, but considers Taiwan’s status unsettled.

Assertive Chinese military activity has been taking place beyond Taiwan in the South China Sea, East China Sea and in the Pacific, said Ian Chong, an associate professor of political science at the National University of Singapore.

“There has also been a lot of military activity in Taiwan’s [air defense identification zone] for some time,” he told Stars and Stripes in an email Wednesday.

“The Pelosi visit did not cause, nor will it change,” China’s coercive military activities, Chong said.

China’s response to Pelosi’s visit may ultimately be indirect and deniable, New Zealand-based U.S. security expert Paul Buchanan said in a Wednesday email. China could potentially expel U.S. diplomats and attaches to protest the visit, but won’t go to war over it, he said.

“That does not mean that there will be no response or even no kinetic response from [China] … perhaps another island seizure or fishing fleet confrontation that may or may not involve the U.S. and Taiwan,” he said.

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Florida Legion Riders chapter again steps up for Toys for Tots

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The American Legion Hails Senate for Passing Honoring our PACT Act

WASHINGTON (August 2, 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.  A previous version passed on June 16 but had to be reconsidered due to parliamentarian objections to a technical provision.

“Tonight, the U.S. Senate passed historic legislation that will make a difference in the lives of millions of veterans,” American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard said. “After some unusual delays for a bill that is largely identical to what passed on June 16, a bipartisan majority of senators voted in favor of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act. This act will save lives and offer health care and benefits for those exposed to the poisons of war while serving our country.  It would not have passed without the tireless efforts of our American Legion Family and friends who contacted lawmakers and encouraged them to do right by America’s veterans. We look forward to President Biden signing the PACT Act expeditiously.”

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.

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American Legion National Commander Extends Well Wishes to President Biden

(INDIANAPOLIS—July 21, 2022) – –   American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard issued the following statement regarding the announcement that President Biden tested positive for COVID-19:

“The American Legion extends its heartfelt prayers that President Biden will have a full and speedy recovery from COVID-19. Our nation has made remarkable progress in combatting and defeating this horrific virus, though far too many people have been lost to the disease worldwide. We are fortunate to have access to life-saving vaccines and we are gratified that the White House described the president’s symptoms as ‘very mild.’ The American Legion looks forward to having our nation’s president back to good health.”

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Norma J. Walker

Norma J. Walker (Dept of South Carolina) 143 California Ave, Oak Ridge, TN 37830-4001, died June 10, 2022 at the age of 81. Source: Department Adjutant. A Vietnam War Navy Veteran and a member of Post #71 with 38 continuous years of membership. ID#100934562.

Memorial donations may be made to American Legion Post 71 at PO Box 6036, North Augusta, SC 29861-6063.
Condolences may be shared online at weatherfordmortuary.com or William Walker and family at 143 California Avenue, Oak Ridge, TN 37830.

RECORD:

Dept Americanism Chmn 7-01-2002 to 7-01-2003
Dept Civil Defense Chmn 7-01-2002 to 7-01-2003
Dept Commander 7-01-2004 to 7-01-2005
Dept Convention Chmn 7-01-2005 to 6-24-2006
Dept Historian 6-23-2007 to 6-02-2013
Dept Internal Affairs Chmn 7-01-2003 to 7-01-2004
Dept M&PA Chmn 7-01-2003 to 7-01-2004
Dept National Security Chmn 7-01-2001 to 7-01-2002
Dept Public Relations Chmn 7-01-2002 to 7-01-2004; 7-01-2008 to
7-01-2009
Dept Vice Commander 7-01-2001 to 7-01-2004
Natl Americanism Council Vice Chmn 2002 to 2003
Natl M&PA Committee Memb 2004 to 2010
Natl Security Council Vice Chmn 2001 to 2002

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The American Legion Calls for State Funeral for Woody Williams

(INDIANAPOLIS—June 29, 2022) – American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard called for President Biden to authorize a state funeral for Woody Williams, the last Medal of Honor recipient from World War II to pass away.

“Delegates at our national convention in 2018 unanimously passed a resolution calling for a state funeral to honor the last of these remarkable heroes,” Dillard said. “Even before Woody’s passing today, our Washington staff has been working with Congress to permit the last World War II Medal of Honor recipient to lie in honor in the Capitol rotunda. All Medal of Honor recipients are extraordinary and Woody Williams was particularly special to The American Legion. He was a proud Legionnaire who demonstrated legendary valor at Iwo Jima and then spent a lifetime serving veterans and Gold Star Families. He was a true American hero in every sense of the word. We extend our condolences to his family.”

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The American Legion Hails Senate, 117th Congress for ‘Historic Bipartisan Achievement’ on PACT Act

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.

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American Legion calls PACT Act agreement ‘historically impactful’ for generations of vets

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.”

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Birmingham, H.S. Junior Sweeps to Victory, Earns $25K Scholarship in American Legion Oratorical Contest

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.

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The American Legion Mourns Passing of Orrin Hatch

(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.

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Three High School Orators to Face Off Sunday for Top National Honor in American Legion Competition

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.org and 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.

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Hiring Heroes

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

atreece@legion.org
(202) 735-2212

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