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Category Archives: National

American Legion Calls Urgent Meetings on Ukraine

INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 24, 2022) – The head of the nation’s largest veterans organization has called an emergency meeting of its top leaders to discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine and a recommended U.S. response.

“The American Legion is deeply concerned about today’s invasion of Ukraine by Russia and how this military action affects U.S. security, Europe and the rest of the world,” American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard said. “The American Legion National Security Commission is meeting urgently to address the situation with plans to recommend to the organization’s National Executive Committee (board of directors) a statement of policy and recommended course of action that restores peace immediately.”

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The American Legion seeks entries for Fourth Estate Awards in print, broadcast and online media

INDIANAPOLIS (February 9, 2022) – The American Legion has announced a second call for entries in the 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, 2022.

            The American Legion awards multiple prizes to recognize the outstanding achievements made in print, broadcast and web-based media. 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 Milwaukee. The presentation will occur at approximately 9 am on Sept. 1, 2022 at the Wisconsin Center.

            An entry form with contest rules can be found at www.legion.org/presscenter/fourthestate. You can also contact pr@legion.org for further information.

            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 2021.

            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.

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American Legion to Navy: ‘Fix Walter Reed Barracks Now’

INDIANAPOLIS (February 7, 2022) – The head of the nation’s largest veterans organization is demanding immediate action to fix unacceptable living conditions that reportedly exist in junior enlisted barracks at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“If the reports in the Military Times and Reddit are accurate, the senior brass at Walter Reed and the Department of Defense have a lot of explaining to do,” American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard said today about the lack of hot water, broken locks and broken air conditioners that have reportedly existed for several years. “I understand that certain hardships are to be expected in combat zones, but Walter Reed is located near our nation’s capital. It is the flagship facility for our wounded, injured and ill servicemembers.  By all accounts, their caregivers do an amazing job in treating our nation’s heroes. The Navy corpsmen and Army medics deserve far better living conditions than this.  If a private sector company ran a housing facility of this kind, the company would be labelled a ‘slum lord.’”

Dillard said he was particularly moved by a source in the Military Times who reported, “They call Walter Reed the ‘corpsman killer.’ You come home after 10 to 12 hours and you can’t take a shower after working in a hospital with  constant germs, it doesn’t feel like your getting clean, and we’re in a pandemic.”

Dillard noted that the names of the buildings are “Comfort” and “Sanctuary,” yet the conditions reported there describe the opposite. “While a full investigation into these longtime deficiencies needs to be launched, priority one must be to immediately improve the conditions for those impacted. The military needs to provide quality billeting for these men and women, even if that means using hotels as a temporary measure. Comfort and sanctuary are not mere labels to put on buildings, but a mission statement for those entrusted to provide housing for our military. We expect this situation to be resolved post haste,” Dillard said.

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Get free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order #4 free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.

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COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus.

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred on or after January 20, 2020.

More Information | Download Flyer

 

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Flag at Half Staff

As a mark of respect for former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, the United States flag is to be displayed at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Thursday, January 13, 2022, in accordance with the White House proclamation calling for half-staff on the day of his interment.

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The American Legion seeks entries for Fourth Estate Awards in print, broadcast and online media

INDIANAPOLIS (January 4, 2022) – The American Legion has announced its call for entries in the 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, 2022.

The American Legion awards multiple prizes to recognize the outstanding achievements made in print, broadcast and web-based media. 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 Milwaukee. The presentation will occur at approximately 9 am on Sept. 1, 2022 at the Wisconsin Center.

An entry form with contest rules can be found at www.legion.org/presscenter/fourthestate. You can also contact pr@legion.org for further information.

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 2021.

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.

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The American Legion Mourns Passing of Sen. Johnny Isakson

(INDIANAPOLIS—December 20, 2021) – American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard issued the following statement today concerning the passing of former Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson:

“A proud Legionnaire from Post 130 in Loganville, Ga., Sen. Isakson was a champion for veterans. Thanks largely to his leadership in the Senate, the Department of Veterans Affairs underwent serious and meaningful reforms that will benefit veterans for generations. The MISSION Act, accountability and appeals modernization are all part of his legacy. In 2016, The American Legion presented Sen. Isakson with a well-deserved Distinguished Public Service Award. Sen. Isakson represented the best in public service. Our condolences to his wife, Diane, their family and many friends.”

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Weekly Reports December 18, 2021

LEGION REPORTS

Department Membership Summary
Post Membership Summary

SAL REPORTS

Coming soon.

 

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The American Legion Praises Congress for NDAA Provisions

(INDIANAPOLIS—December 16, 2021) – The head of the nation’s largest veterans organization praised Congress for several provisions passed yesterday in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022.

“There are a number of important initiatives in the NDAA that The American Legion supports,” said American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard. “First, no military servicemember will receive a dishonorable discharge solely on the basis of COVID-19 vaccine refusal. While we are supportive of the vaccines, we do not believe a veteran’s military service should be characterized as ‘dishonorable’ simply because he or she disagrees.

“The NDAA will also provide for a robust national defense and establish the long overdue Global War on Terrorism Memorial,” Dillard added. “There is renewed funding for the Troops for Teachers program, which is not only a win for our transitioning veterans but for students in classrooms across the country. The legislation also makes strides in fighting military sexual assault and establish a commission that will examine every aspect of the Afghanistan war. We are also pleased that this law makes it easier to preserve and update Arlington National Cemetery memorials to military chaplains. The NDAA is a bipartisan example of lawmakers coming together and putting our country first. The American Legion is looking forward to the president signing it into law.”

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The American Legion to Render Assistance to Tornado Areas

An American flag hangs from a damaged tree Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Mayfield, Ky. Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across several states Friday, killing multiple people. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

(INDIANAPOLIS—December 14, 2021) – American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard issued the following statement concerning last week’s outbreak of tornadoes that impacted eight states:

“Christmas is normally a season of joy for millions of Americans. This year, however, it is a time of heartbreak and tragedy for towns across the Midwest that have been devastated by these horrific tornadoes. American Legion posts and departments from around the world are already rendering assistance to impacted areas. It is times like these that we truly appreciate the efforts of our first responders, who continue rescue and recovery operations. Post 26 in Mayfield, Ky., is working on clean-up efforts and food distribution. In addition to our heartfelt prayers, The American Legion has national programs that can also help. Please visit www.legion.org to see how The American Legion can assist. We are also accepting donations that can be used for American Legion Family members affected in declared disaster areas.”

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Florida district continues support for Toys for Tots

Shelly Blevins said she grew up in a less-than-ideal financial situation. That’s one of the reasons why the Marine Toys for Tots program is so near and dear to her heart – and why what started as her own personal fundraiser has grown into one taken on by the American Legion Department of Florida’s 5th District.

Blevins, a member of Auxiliary Unit 283 and the sergeant-at-arms for American Legion Riders Chapter 283 in Jacksonville, Fla., started fundraising for the program out of her home 12 years ago. Soon after that, Post 283 got involved, as did American Legion Post 129 in Jacksonville Beach.

Blevins said other American Legion posts started to get involved, and by 2019, the fundraiser was a 5th District program. Seeing it grow has been special for Blevins – as is Toys for Tots itself.

“I grew up very poor,” Blevins said. “When I got involved with the Legion, it just kind of made sense. I became friends with several Marines at the different posts. And this is easy. It’s children. It’s the Marines. To me, it was an easy fit.”

The most recent show of support took place this holiday season, when the district was able to purchase nearly $17,000 worth of toys and bicycles to donate to Toys for Tots. Marines from Blount Island Command in Jacksonville come to Post 283 to pick up the toys and typically are given an escort back to their base by American Legion Riders.

“I was not going to do escorts anymore,” Blevins said. “I called the Marines to touch base with them. The person I was talking to said, ‘you’re the Legion motorcycle people.’ I laughed and went ‘yeah.’ And he goes, ‘we can’t wait for our escort.’”

Blevins immediately reached out to ALR Chapter 283 Director John Lang, who “immediately started sending out emails to the 5th District,” Blevins said. “And the turnout was amazing. These people had five days’ notice. That’s what made this year so special. It was probably my favorite year of all the 12.”

Blevins said 97 motorcycles from 5th District Legion Riders and at least one other district showed up at Post 283 on Dec. 4 to escort the Marines back to base. The Sons of The American Legion Squadron 283 cooked hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone who came to the post.

The program has gotten so successful that toys continue to be donated after Christmas. Blevins said those items are taken to the Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville to be distributed there.

“It went from being a neighborhood charity to kind of a Legion one,” Blevins said. “And now it’s kind of a 5th District thing. It’s evolved over 12 years.”

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Florida ALR chapter’s ‘Ride for the Claus’ brings out emotions in participants, recipients

For seven years, American Legion Riders Chapter 382 in Navarre, Fla., has staged a Ride for the Claus that distributes Christmas presents to local children on the first two weekends in December. The past four of those, ALR 382 Director Jason Skobel has been involved.

And he still remembers a piece of advice he received prior to his very first Ride for Claus.

“I was told, ‘make sure you have dark sunglasses,’” Skobel said with a laugh. “Because tears will be flowing.”

Skobel said it’s because of the reactions he and the other Legion Riders get from their effort. On each ride, the Riders deliver toys to families struggling in some way. The event started when members of Chapter 382 realized there was a need for a Christmas toy program for Santa Rosa County families in need. Since then, the chapter has delivered thousands of dollars in toys each year.

“We fund raise all year. This the biggest event of the year that we do for children and youth,” Skobel said. “Usually in October and November we start purchasing toys and gathering the names of kids around the community. We get them from schools. We get them from daycare. Sometimes these people hear from neighbors that we’ve delivered to and ask, ‘how do I get on the list?’”

The list starts with a very specific group but then expands. “Low-income (families), special needs and Gold Star families – that is our priority,” Skobel said. “But we don’t turn anybody down. If they call us, they’re going to get put on the list, and we’re going to show up in front of their house.”

Some of the Riders dress up for the deliveries, including as the traditional toy deliver himself. And any children along the route that request a toy are provided one.

“We make sure that we have enough gifts for those that sign up or that we get names for, and we usually buy two to three times as much extra gifts,” Skobel said. “When you pull up on a street with 20-30 motorcycles and a Santa Claus, reindeer and elves, kids come out of the woodwork from all the houses. We don’t want to turn anybody down. We buy a lot of extras, all age ranges, so we can accommodate any kids that come out onto the street to see what we’re doing.”

The Riders distributed around $4,000 worth of toys last weekend and expects to add another $2,000 or so after this weekend’s delivery. A total of 60 families and around 220 kids – in addition to another 80 or so children who get presents along the way – will be impacted by this year’s Ride for the Claus.

Skobel said there are so many touching moments during the ride, but one stood out this year: a mother who’d lost her job in the service industry during the pandemic and reached out to the post for help.

Skobel said the mother sent a text to his wife on the day of the Ride for the Claus. “She told her how much this meant to her and that this was going to be the only gifts her son receives this year,” he said.

While the ride itself is a Chapter 382 program, Skobel said the effort receives support from all facets of the post’s American Legion Family. “I have to give a big shout-out to our (First District) commander, Sonny Decker, and our post commander, Israel Root, who have just preached Legion Family,” he said. “Yes, we have certain things that (are separate), but we in the last year we have come together as a Legion Family and made all of our events better.”

An Air Force veteran who also is a member of Post and Auxiliary Unit 382 – and has applied for membership in the post’s Sons of The American Legion squadron – Skobel said being a part of the Ride for the Claus is one of his highlights of the year.

“We give the parents a heads up, saying, ‘hey, we’re 15 or 20 minutes out from your house,’ so they kind of prep their kids and get them ready,” he said. “Some of them are waiting outside. When they hear the motorcycles and see a Santa get off, some of the kids come running from the front door through the yard. They just want to give Santa a hug. We had one little girl say, ‘Santa, where have you been? I missed you last year (because of COVID restrictions).’ It’s a tear-jerker. The goosebumps you get …”

And the program is expanding. “This is the first year we’ve had a surrounding post participate,” Skobel said. “Post 235 in Fort Walton Beach, they have sent some of their guys over to ride with us. This is something they want to start doing. Next year we’re going to try to make this even bigger. There are three posts within 20 miles of each other. So we want to make this something next year where all three posts get together.”

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The American Legion Mourns Passing of Bob Dole

(INDIANAPOLIS—December 5, 2021) – American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard issued the following statement today concerning the passing of former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole:

“Today we not only lost a great Legionnaire, but America has lost an iconic statesman and tireless veterans advocate. Bob Dole distinguished himself in combat long before becoming one of the most respected voices in Congress. His leadership and determination led to the construction and dedication of the National World War II Memorial. America is a better country as a result of this great patriot’s service. The American Legion was proud to present Sen. Dole with our organization’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal in 1997. Our condolences to his wife, Elizabeth, his family and many friends.”

As a presidential candidate in 1996, Dole presented a U.S. Flag to The American Legion as he addressed delegates at the 78th National Convention of The American Legion. “On this past Memorial Day, when I knew I might be leaving the Senate, I asked that about a half dozen flags be flown over the Capitol of the United States in honor of the men and women of The American Legion,” Dole said. “After flying over one of America’s landmarks of freedom, I can’t imagine a better place for it to fly than over another landmark of freedom – The American Legion National Headquarters.”

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The American Legion Calls on Congress to Ease Restrictions on Visits

The American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard sent a letter today to the leaders of Congress calling for greater access for constituents to visit their elected senators and representatives.

Download Letter

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U.S. Flag Half-Staff Alert Notification

As a mark of respect upon the death of former U.S. Secretary of State General Colin L. Powell and his life of service to our nation, the White House has directed that the United States flag shall be flown at half-staff until sunset Oct. 22, 2021.

White House proclamations are available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/

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The American Legion Mourns Passing of Colin Powell

(INDIANAPOLIS—October 18, 2021) – American Legion National Commander Paul E. Dillard expressed condolences today concerning the passing of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Powell was recognized by The American Legion in 1993, with the organization’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal. As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Powell addressed delegates at the 72nd National Convention of The American Legion in 1990.

“While our values have nurtured us, our power has protected us,” Powell told The American Legion. “Purpose and power, it’s an unbeatable combination, one that fascism could not destroy, one that communism could not defeat, one that has always been ready to meet aggression.”

Dillard added today that Powell’s leadership will be missed. “Colin Powell was not only a general, but a statesman and leader in every sense. He was a groundbreaker in so many ways,” Dillard said. “Not only was he the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but he was also America’s National Security Advisor as the Cold War ended. He served with distinction in Republican and Democratic administrations. We extend our condolences to his family and many friends. America is better because of his service.”

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Flag at half-staff

By a joint resolution approved Dec. 18, 2001, Public Law 107-89 designates Sept. 11 as “Patriot Day” and requests the United States president issue a proclamation each year calling for display of the United States flag at half-staff on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. This year Patriot Day is observed on Saturday, Sept. 11, marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

A section of the law is below:

”§ 144. Patriot Day”(a) DESIGNATION.-September 11 is Patriot Day.”(b) PROCLAMATION.-The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation calling on-
(1) State and local governments and the people of the United States to observe Patriot Day with appropriate programs and activities;
(2) all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States and interested organizations and individuals to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001; and’
(3) the people of the United States to observe a moment of silence on Patriot Day in honor of the individuals who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks against the United States that occurred on September 11, 2001.”

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New National Officers

National Commander

  • Paul E. Dillard, Texas

Vice Commanders

  • James T. Higuera, California
  • Jerry Wilson, Ohio
  • Angel O. Narvaez, Puerto Rico
  • Cory D. Bates, Rhode Island
  • Michael Mitrione, Virginia
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Veteran from Lake Kiowa, Texas, Elected National Commander of The American Legion

PHOENIX (Sept. 2, 2021) – Paul E. Dillard was elected national commander of the nearly two-million member American Legion today in Phoenix, during the organization’s 102nd national convention. He first joined the nation’s largest veterans organization in 1969.

A native Texan, Dillard graduated from Whitesboro High School in 1965 before joining the U.S. Navy and serving in Vietnam through four campaigns including the Tet offensive. He later received an honorable discharge as a radarman second class petty officer from the Navy Reserve before attending Grayson County Junior College and East Texas State University.

Dillard worked several years in the manufacturing business as an Engineer, Plant Manager and Director of Manufacturing in Tennessee. Upon returning to Texas, he accepted a sales representative position with Sherman Foundry and became its airplane pilot. A career change was made when he and his wife, Donna, began their family and he entered into the insurance business specializing in Employee Benefits and later forming Dillard & Gann Insurance.

As a paid-up-for-life member of Post 265, Lake Kiowa, Texas, Dillard served as post commander, vice commander, adjutant and judge advocate. He coached American Legion Baseball for more than 10 years and served as his post’s Boys State chairman.

He served the 4th District as commander and vice commander and served the department as sergeant-at-arms, Membership & Organization chairman, National Security chairman, Uniformed Organization chairman, Board of Trustees chairman, and he served on the Finance Committee and the Long-Range Planning Committee. He was elected as Department of Texas (state) commander in 2007. His theme as national commander is “No Veteran Left Behind.”

On the national level, Paul has served as Alternate National Executive Committeeman, consultant to the Insurance Committee, Distinguished Guest Committee, Children and Youth Committee, Media and Communications Council. He has served as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, chairman of the Veterans Employment & Education Commission and chairman of the Legislative Commission. He was elected as national vice commander in 2013.

He married Donna in 1983. They have two sons, William and his wife Allison, and Jonathon and his wife Karri and two grandsons Jarrett and Lukas. All are members of the American Legion Family. Donna has been an active and dedicated member of the American Legion Auxiliary for several years and has served in numerous positions of leadership at all levels of the organization, including department president in 2017 – 2018.

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