(INDIANAPOLIS, October 8, 2019) — American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford issued the following statement regarding the passing of the organization’s national treasurer, George A. Buskirk:
“The American Legion lost more than a national treasurer today. We lost a treasure. George A. Buskirk was the kindest of gentlemen. We will certainly miss his sound financial leadership, but we will mostly miss our time with this affable, decent and smart man. He served his country during the Vietnam War and rose through the ranks of the Indiana National Guard to become its adjutant general. His intellect was without question. A senior executive in the banking industry, we were fortunate to have this great Legionnaire as our national treasurer for 21 years. We were more fortunate to have known him. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers are extended to the Buskirk family. We shall miss him.”
To my fellow Legionnaires in Florida,
This is an exciting time for our American Legion. This year, we passed a milestone that very few organizations ever get to accomplish: a centennial. Although we have a truly remarkable history that no organization can match, I like to remember the title of an old song, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet!”
Our first century demonstrated the power that a large group of veterans can have in shaping national policy and communities from coast-to-coast and even regions overseas. In the early years, these endeavors succeeded without the use of widespread air travel, universal telephones or even national highways.
As we enter our second century, think of what we can accomplish through the use of social media, telecommunications and technologies in store for us that we cannot even begin to fathom. The theme for my year is a foundation for the future. And the main ingredient in the foundation is our membership.
We fought for passage of the LEGION Act not as a membership tool but because of the millions of veterans who served honorably during periods not recognized by Congress. Approximately 1,600 brave men and women were killed or wounded during hostile operations that occurred during those periods from the end of World War II to the beginning of the Gulf War. They too earned the right to be called “Legionnaires.” We would be foolish not to welcome the estimated 4.2 million living veterans from those periods into our ranks. When you consider all of their relatives, our American Legion Family can grow exponentially.
Even as we build a foundation for the future, our founding pillars and values remain the same. In my own shorthand, I like to refer to these pillars as V-DAY – that’s Veterans, Defense, Americanism and Youth.
V-DAY is what you all do every day when members of your department volunteer at the local VA, advocate for the needs of our military, retire an unserviceable American flag, or sponsor a teenager in one of our great youth programs.
I know that your department will continue to explore ways in which The American Legion will continue to serve America by combining our traditional values with a foundation for the future. Have a great conference.
For God & Country,
James W. “Bill” Oxford
The American Legion is seeking a qualified and committed individual to supervise the Department Veterans Service Division. The American Legion of Washington is a non-profit Veterans Service Organization chartered by the US Congress in 1919. It is committed to serving veterans and their families, our local communities and the United States of America.
The primary office is located in the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building in Seattle, WA. There are multiple subordinate offices located throughout the state.
The Department Service Officer is the Director of The American Legion Service Division responsible for a wide range of professional level work including the supervision and administration of the veterans service program throughout the State of Washington.
The successful applicant will possess the knowledge, skills and abilities gained though education and experience to excel in the areas of program administration, personnel supervision, management and budget planning and oversight. Training pertaining to VA case law and VA benefits programs will be provided. The candidate should possess the following attributes.
How to Apply:
Mail, FAX or email resume and letter of interest to The American Legion Department of Washington, PO Box 3917, Lacey, WA 98509-3917; FAX (360) 491-7442 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Final Date to Apply:
Resumes must be received at the Department of Washington office no later than September 20, 2019.
The Department Commander has appointed a selection committee to review the résumés, select applicants for interview and conduct the interviews of the candidates. Initial interviews will be conducted in Lacey, WA with subsequent interviews in Seattle, WA, as required.
The salary range for this position is $45,000- $55,000. Benefits include 401K retirement plan and paid vacation and sick leave. Health, dental and life insurance is available with employee contribution.
Only wartime era veterans eligible for membership in The American Legion can be considered for this position. The American Legion is an equal opportunity employer and actively supports diversity in the workplace. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities and persons over 40 years of age are also encouraged to apply.
The American Legion Constitution and Bylaws has been updated to replace the word “wife” with “spouse,” related to the membership criteria for the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA).
Here are some common questions and answers to what this means going forward:
Question: Why change ALA membership eligibility?
Answer: In 1920, veterans were almost 100 percent male so the ALA was formed as the organization for the spouses of the veteran — those spouses just happened to be women.
Today, an estimated 16 percent of enlisted people and 18 percent of officers are women, who may be married to a non-veteran. To keep the ALA as the organization that supports spouses of the veteran, we need to change the ALA’s definition from wives to spouses, thereby updating the organization to represent the changing makeup of the military.
Q: How can this change help ALA membership?
A: Think about female spouses who are alone as their husband is deployed. They have the ALA to lean on. Who can the male spouse rely on? With this eligibility change, now male spouses who are ALA members can receive the same support while their wives are deployed.
Q: Would this change need to be approved by Congress?
A: No, because the American Legion Auxiliary is not chartered by Congress. The American Legion, which was chartered by Congress, created the ALA. The Legion approved the ALA to operate as a separate corporation; however, The American Legion has always set the eligibility requirements of the ALA in their bylaws.
Q: What about the previous communications issued by former ALA leadership claiming this change could not happen? Why is that information inaccurate?
A: Previously released messaging could have been interpreted by members to mean ALA needs congressional approval for this change to happen. That information is inaccurate. The American Legion Auxiliary is not chartered by Congress.
Q: ALA refers to itself as the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. How can we allow men to join?
A: Now that the resolution has been adopted by The American Legion, the Auxiliary will no longer call itself the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization.
Q: How would this change affect the American Legion Auxiliary membership application or signing up new members?
A: We anticipate taking applications on Sept. 1.
During The American Legion’s 101st National Convention, delegates approved changes to the Constitution and Bylaws to replace the word “wife” with “spouse,” related to the membership criteria for the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA).
The American Legion, which was chartered by Congress, created the ALA. For that reason, the ALA operates as a separate corporation and does not need congressional approval for an eligibility change. The American Legion’s bylaws have always set the eligibility requirements of the ALA.
“We are happy to welcome eligible male spouses of veterans and servicemembers to the American Legion Family,” ALA National President Nicole Clapp said. “This is consistent with our longstanding legacy of embracing military families and supporting them any way we can.”
The ALA expects to begin taking applications for new potential members Sept. 1.
The change to Article XIII now reads as such:
The American Legion recognizes an auxiliary organization, known as The American Legion Auxiliary.
Membership in The American Legion Auxiliary shall be limited to the:
(1) grandmothers, mothers, sisters, spouses, and direct and adopted female descendants of members of The American Legion; and
(2) grandmothers, mothers, sisters, spouses, and direct and adopted female descendants of all men and women who served in either of the following periods: April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918, and any time after December 7, 1941, who, being a citizen of the United States at the time of their entry therein served on active duty in the Armed Forces of any of the governments associated with the United States during either eligibility periods and died in the line of duty or after honorable discharge;
(3) grandmothers, mothers, sisters, spouses, and direct and adopted female descendants of all men and women who were in the Armed Forces of the United States during either of the following periods: April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918; and any time after December 7, 1941 who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States during either eligibility periods and died in the line of duty or after honorable discharge; and
(4) to those women who of their own right are eligible for membership in The American Legion.
INDIANAPOLIS,( August 19, 2019)—The head of The American Legion called on Congress to address a tax that unfairly penalizes Gold Star families once lawmakers return to Washington.
“There is a real problem with this provision of the tax reform but the Senate and the House already passed different solutions to fix it,” National Commander Brett P. Reistad said of the measure. “For many Gold Star family members the tax penalty has become unbearable. In some cases the taxes on the survivor’s benefits received after a military member’s death have increased from $1,000 a year in 2018 to nearly $4,500 in 2019. It re-defines certain benefits for children as ‘unearned income,’ subjecting them to higher rates. Increasing the tax burden on these families who lost a loved one is unconscionable.”
The law, which is often referred to as “the kiddie tax,” increases the marginal tax rate for some to as much as 37 percent.
“It’s outrageous to hammer these families with such an unjust tax hike. Haven’t they already sacrificed enough? How can a family plan its financial future for such things as rent, food or the basic necessities of life when the tax rate on the important benefits they received is held up in limbo? In addition to the ‘kiddie tax,’ there is a ‘widow’s tax’ that The American Legion has long opposed.” Reistad said. “The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act includes the elimination of the widow’s tax and The American Legion has called on the Senate conferees to adopt the same language and pass it as part of the budget deal as soon as they return from recess.”
With a current membership of nearly two million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, patriotic youth programs and Americanism. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly 13,000 posts worldwide. From the drafting of the original GI Bill to the creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, The American Legion is the most influential voice for America’s veterans. The American Legion, www.legion.org, will be celebrating its centennial through Veteran Day.
(INDIANAPOLIS, August 5, 2019) — The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization issued the following statement in response to the recent mass shootings:
“From Gilroy, California to El Paso, Texas to Dayton, Ohio – there are just no words to fully express the outrage that The American Legion feels toward the perpetrators of these horrific acts, which is only outweighed by the compassion and sorrow that we feel for the families impacted,” National Commander Brett P. Reistad said. “There are no simple solutions that will totally stop such atrocities from occurring. But we must put politics aside and prioritize civility. We must open our minds and consider ideas that will make our communities safer. Veterans didn’t fight in wars abroad only to witness carnage at home. Support the first responders and donate blood. Express your concerns to authorities when you see troubling behavior that could develop into something worse. Above all, love thy neighbor. Evil will not triumph.”
(INDIANAPOLIS, July 30, 2019) — The head of the nation’s largest veterans organization thanked President Trump for signing a bipartisan act which will recognize veterans who served during periods not previously considered “wartime.”
The Let Everyone Get Involved In Opportunities for National Service Act (LEGION Act) opens the door for millions of veterans to access American Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible.
“We are grateful that President Trump fully acknowledges the importance of The American Legion by signing the LEGION Act in the White House today – just one week after it passed the House of Representatives,” National Commander Brett P. Reistad said. “In an era of partisan gridlock, Republicans and Democrats in Congress overwhelmingly recognized the importance of allowing millions of honorable but previously ineligible veterans the right to join the largest and most influential veterans organization in the country.”
The gaps in the war eras were largely during the Cold War, a time when threats to U.S. national security was real, especially to the men and women serving in uniform. Overall, about 1,600 U.S. servicemembers were killed or wounded in hostile operations during periods that were not previously recognized as times of war by the federal government.
“Recognizing the service of these wartime veterans is the right thing do and it is long overdue,” Reistad said. “The families of those who were killed or wounded during these wartime acts should take pride in knowing that we recognize their sacrifice and service. Moreover, we are proud to welcome any of the six million living veterans from the previously unrecognized periods into our organization and call them ‘Legionnaires.’”
Reistad points out that existing American Legion membership applications are in the process of being updated but can still be used. “In the meantime, I recommend that prospective Legionnaires and recruiters write ‘LEGION Act’ in the eligibility date section of American Legion membership applications if they fall outside the previous war eras,” Reistad said. “The larger pool of veterans now eligible for The American Legion will also open their family members to eligibility in the Sons of the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary as well.”
With a current membership of nearly two million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, patriotic youth programs and Americanism. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly 13,000 posts worldwide. From the drafting of the original GI Bill to the creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs, The American Legion is the most influential voice for America’s veterans. The American Legion, www.legion.org, will be celebrating its centennial through Veterans Day.
INDIANAPOLIS (July 24, 2019) — The nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization and a leader and pioneer in the gardening industry will join forces to help veterans overcome the mental and physical wounds suffered during deployment. The American Legion announced today that The Hawthorne Gardening Company will support its Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) program, which provides supplies and equipment that play an important role in the rehabilitation and quality of life for wounded warriors and veterans.
“Today’s veteran is recovering from illnesses and injuries in traditional and non-traditional ways,” said American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad. “Some of the more creative ways aren’t included in military and VA budgets. Whether it is loose-fitting sweat suits to cover their healing wounds, fitness equipment to rebuild strength or a fun outing that helps them reintegrate into society, The American Legion, with incredible support from companies like Hawthorne, is filling a need.”
To kick off the relationship, Hawthorne and The American Legion will host a respite event in August in Tacoma, Washington with 500 veterans and their families. The gift from Hawthorne will also be used to support additional emergent grant requests through the end of 2020.
“Support for our nation’s veterans is a responsibility we all share,” said Chris Hagedorn, senior vice president and general manager of Hawthorne Gardening Company. “More than ever, our country’s veterans need our support and The American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors program is able to provide recovery items and services that are tailored to the individual needs of service members. This is especially important to me as a member of a family with military roots as well as a proud employer of military veterans.”
Each year The American Legion awards approximately 25 grants that provide support at military hospitals, warrior transition units and VA medical facilities across the country. For more information about the Operation Comfort Warriors program visit legion.org/ocw.
About The Hawthorne Gardening Company
Hawthorne Gardening Co. is a house of brands that provide an incredible array of tools for a multitude of gardening needs, and yet, all share one mission: to help people live happier, healthier lives through gardening. Our company is dedicated to creating high-quality products founded in social and environmental responsibility. We create engaging consumer experiences and products with the ease and innovation to empower more people to garden — no matter where they chose to grow.
Contact: Cheryl Hall