The American Legion June 2010 Published by The American Legion, Department of Colorado Helping Veterans Come Home Inside The Victory We Can Never Forget Page 2 A lice Ford, Alexandria Vet Center Team Leader, like most of her staff, is an Army where and sincere greetings behind every door. Every Veteran is treated like family. tive tone that permeates the entire office with her quick smile and Alabama gracious- Desecration of Majave Desert Cross-Does Not Deter The Veteran who knows how to These are the people in the ness. "I love my job." American Legion Page 3 listen. Vet Center? What's a VA who welcome home war The Alexandria Vet Center Vet Center? veterans with honor by pro- is one street away from the Department Adjutant Message A Vet Center is a place viding quality readjustment main highway. Page 4 where Veterans who served in counseling in a caring manner. The Alexandria Vet Center is one street away from the VA Updates Online Application main highway and feels new Page 4 and clean and very organized; none of those dark halls and A Process Long Overdue old linoleum floors. The Page 6 impression for Veterans visit- ing for the first time is a American Legion Says Vets’ Job sunny but serious, modern Preference “Ignored Page 6 operation set up just for them, to help them handle coming New Scholarship For The home. Children Of Fallen Service Vet Centers understand and Members Page 7 appreciate Veterans' war expe- riences while assisting them “Roll Call Of The Greatest The Alexandria Vet Center is one street away and their family members Generation” Page 8 from the main highway. toward a successful post-war Winners 2010 Birthday combat, or experienced trau- Team Leader Alice Ford, an (Continued on Page 3 See Vets Center) Sweepstakes Page 8 ma/harassment, can come for Army Veteran, sets the posi- service. Family members of Blue Water Veterans Study In deceased service members can The Works Page 9 also receive bereavement counseling at Vet Centers. Children’s Home Needs Your There are 232 community Help Page 10 based Vet Centers located in all fifty states, District of Amicus Briefs Filed In Snyder- Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico Phelps Case Page 11 and the US Virgin Islands. Here's a story about just VA Home Loan Program one Vet Center — in Remains Healthy Despite Alexandria, Virginia. Housing Market Woes The first thing you notice is Page 12 how friendly and welcoming everyone is. Outreach Specialist Domonicque Tatum pro- By-Law Change Resolution At the Alexandria Vet vides Vet Center brochures and information to Page 14 Center, there are smiles every- a Veteran looking for assistance. Page 2 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 A Message From The National Commander The Victory We Can Never Forget By: Clarence Hill “In my generation, this was not the first occasion when the strong ing table. had attacked the weak .... Communism was acting in Korea just as “They said a truce was signed because nobody won,” John Hitler, Mussolini, and the Japanese had acted ten, fifteen, and twenty Koontz Sr., 77, who served in Korea with the 24th Infantry years earlier. I felt certain that if South Korea was allowed to fall, Division, recently told the Hagerstown, Md., Herald-Mail. Communist leaders would be emboldened to override nations closer to “That’s not true. There was a winner. We won.” our own shores.” President Harry Truman Had the United States and the 16 nations that fought with us under the U.N. banner not gone to war, the Republic of Korea S ixty years ago this month, the North Korean People’s Army invaded South Korea, challenging the resolve of a fledgling United Nations and prompting President Harry Truman to would have fallen to communism, and other countries in the region most assuredly would have followed. Our world would be a vastly different place, and one considerably less free. It’s declare that the United States would fight that simple. its “unprovoked aggression.” By crossing For six decades, U.S. forces stationed in South Korea have the 38th parallel, the North’s forces start- stood ready to defend the country, should the North be unwise ed a three-year ground war that, today, is enough to resume shooting; technically, the two Koreas are still widely considered the first battle in a at war. North Korea’s withdrawal from the armistice in 2009, decades-long Cold War between commu- and the suspicious sinking of South Korea’s Cheonan on March nist powers and the West. 26, warn us that totalitarianism’s hunger is never sated. But nei- History tells us we prevailed, at great ther is a people’s thirst for liberty. cost. Nearly 34,000 Americans, and hun- South Koreans have turned a land for which so many dreds of thousands of South Koreans, Americans bled into one of the most prosperous nations on were killed in a horrific struggle to liber- National Commander earth. For that sacrifice, they have never stopped thanking our Clarence Hill ate the country and push the enemy back veterans, and neither should we. across the prewar border. Far more were wounded, and thousands on both sides remain unaccounted for. Two generations later, countless families mourn the loss of a husband, a brother or a son. I pray they understand why our sol- Go online to www.coloradolegion.org and look for diers, sailors, airmen and Marines fought half a world away, and the red button. Push the red button labeled know that their lives purchased the freedom of millions. “Who Are You” and a survey will appear. You can Because it ended with a cease-fire instead of a peace treaty or communicate to your Post Commander/ Adjutant a democratic, unified peninsula, some say the United States lost your “interests, wants, and needs.” the Korean War. Others say it ended in a stalemate. Those are two views. But the veterans who were there, those who fought the war, know differently. They defeated the North Korean mili- Create your profile Who Are You? tary and held off a vastly larger Chinese army, costing them 10 times our number in casualties and forcing them to the negotiat- The American Legion Publisher/Editor-in Chief: Still Serving America Internet Observer Charles P. Smith Do you have an ongoing program or activity that Contributors: serves your community? Do you have a friend or relative that goes above and beyond the call of The American Legion Internet Observer is an official publi- The American Legion duty to help others? cation of The American Legion, Department of Dispatch Colorado,and is owned exclusively by the Colorado Drop us a line and tell us what your story is or how Department. Published Monthly at the Department Design and Layout: you or this person is demonstrating that they are Headquarters, 7465 East 1st Ave, Ste D Denver. CO Darrell Myers Still Serving America. 80230. (303) 366-5201. Send correspondence to the above address. Visit us at In submitting your information, please be sure to include your full name, address and telephone www.coloradolegion.org or e-mail to theobserver@col- number. There!s a good chance the information oradolegion.org you send us will make it into The Observer. Please send to: Still Serving America, The American Legion, 7465 East 1st Ave. Ste D Denver, CO 80230 June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 3 Vets Center (Continued from Page 1) station. He does a great deal of work with the Yellow Ribbon adjustment in their community. Program, TAPs (Transition Assistance Program, PDHRA (Post As Alice Ford puts it, "The Veterans gave so much. They Deployment Health Reassessment), and various social network- deserve our help. It's an honor to assist them in every way I ing and informational events at local universities. can." Domonicque says, "I inform the troops of the services avail- A lot of people, and too many Veterans, don't know about Vet able to them from our local vet center and all vet centers nation- Centers or what they do. ally. These services include, but are not limited to, offering That's the job of Hal Koster and Domonicque Tatum, out- group and individual counseling to combat and sexual trauma reach specialists at the Vet Center whose job it is to get the word victim veterans." out to as many Vets as possible. "We help them with issues such as PTSD, Traumatic Brain The Vet Center Program was established by Congress in 1979 Injury, substance related problems, and any other issues that the out of the recognition that a significant number of Vietnam era veteran or their families may be facing." vets were still experiencing readjustment problems. Vet Centers He takes a personal approach to meeting the veterans where are community based and part of the U.S. Department of they are in their current life situation. This means helping guide Veterans Affairs. them through life situations such as homelessness, occupational There is no cost for Vet Center readjustment counseling and issues from unemployment to under-employment, social adjust- no requirement for a disability rating. ment issues, health care, as well as compensation and pension Outreach Specialist Domonicque Tatum provides Vet Center advice and support. brochures and information to a Veteran looking for assistance. "I pride myself on being not only the voice and face of the A Veteran Gets the Word Out to Veterans Vet Center, but also a resource and referral contact for all of my Domonicque Tatum is the Vet Center's GWOT (Global War brothers and sisters in arms who may have a need for assistance on Terrorism) outreach specialist. He takes his message to the or just the listening ear of someone whom has been there. This streets, and malls and bus stations and anywhere else he thinks is something that I love to do and that I intend to continue to do there may be Veterans needing help. A combat arms soldier who as long as there are soldiers in need." served a tour in Iraq, Domonicque knows how hard it can be - Vet Center locations are listed on the VA website. Check the after leaving the Army, he was homeless and sleeping in the bus Vet Centers web site for more information. Desecration of Mojave Desert Cross-Does Not Deter The American Legion in its Fight to Protect Memorials T he American Legion vowed to continue its fight to preserve a veterans’ war memorial in the Mojave desert, even after vandals have apparently removed the cross in the middle of the won what was widely believed to be a Supreme Court victory on April 28, when the court ruled that the memorial was not an overtly religious symbol. Moreover, Supreme Court Justice night. Anthony Kennedy wrote that, “the Constitution does not oblige “This was never about one cross,” said The American Legion government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s National Commander Clarence E. Hill. “It’s about the right to role in society.” The Supreme Court ordered a lower court to honor our nation’s veterans in a manner in which the over- reconsider the case. whelming majority supports. The American Legion strongly The desecration of the memorial, did not sit well with Hill. believes the public has a right to protect its memorials.” “Reports that the Mojave Cross was illegally removed overnight The lawless act is just the latest chapter in a decade-long are very disturbing,” he said. “The American Legion expects legal fight pitting The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign whoever is responsible for this vile act to be brought to justice. Wars, Liberty Institute and several other organizations against While the memorial has been attacked, the fight will continue to the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups that find ensure that veterans memorials will remain sacrosanct.” the cross offensive. “This is an outrage, akin to desecrating people’s graves,” said According to a statement issued by the Mojave National Kelly Shackelford, president / CEO of Liberty Institute. “It’s a Preserve, the cross was reported missing on Monday morning by disgraceful act on the selfless act of our veterans. We will not staff of the National Park Service who went to the site to replace rest until this memorial is re-installed.” the wooden cover that had been removed from the cross some- A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to time earlier. The cross has stood for the last 76 years as a memo- the arrest of those responsible. Anyone with information about rial to World War I soldiers. The American Legion and its allies the crime is asked to call (760) 252-6120. Page 4 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 A Message From The Department Adjutant Education and Training By: C. Pat Smith O ne of the absolute keys to maintaining a strong American Legion is an educated and informed membership. For 91 years veterans joined this organization, because they knew the programs. The college will concentrate on teaching our members all of the details of managing these excellent programs. The college will provide classes on how to manage an American Legion represented a value system that was important American Legion Post. Included will be officer’s duties and to them and their families. Our founders built this organization responsibilities, how to run meetings, parliamentary law, legal on a solid foundation of four principles. They fought the “war to aspects of running a post and relations between the post and a end all wars” and they knew their priority was to take care of club operation. The post is the most important cog in the wheels their brothers as they returned to a of the organization so extra time will be spent to educate and free America. Families were impor- train at this level. tant so they made the “rightful edu- And, of course, our number one priority is taking care of vet- cation of our children” another prior- erans and their needs. The college will spend time on all aspects ity. They loved America and our flag of our Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation programs. Included so patriotism was another principle. will be a resolution-writing course to write effective resolutions They knew the horrors of war and to impact the policies of our organization and of those who pro- did not want another generation to vide services to veterans, the VA, the Department of Labor, the experience what they went through State of Colorado and other agencies. so they advocated for a strong To put all of this together the Department Executive national defense. These four pillars Committee have changed the by-laws to provide for a Colorado Deptment Adjutant became the foundation of The American Legion College (CALC) committee consisting of ten C. Pat Smith American Legion and more impor- knowledgeable Legionnaires. The members will serve three-year tantly became the basis of our value system. terms and will be totally responsible for putting together the We just completed an Education and Training Conference in entire program, including the curricula, location, instructors and Aurora that will be the foundation for a new annual conference presenters, and all details necessary to run this college. to be called American Legion College. This new event will We are now accepting applications to serve on this commit- encompass teaching all aspects of the organization. History will tee. To apply please send your Legion resume and reasons why be an integral part of the college. This organization is solid, you want to be a part of this committee to college@coloradole- because of who we were in the past. For our members to have a gion.org, attention Department Adjutant. The Past Department true understanding of the organization they need to have this Commanders will review your application and the selection will important knowledge. be announced at the upcoming department convention in June. Although the organization is based on four pillars, within Even if you don’t want to be a member of the committee we those pillars is a very complicated organization. Our Children would still like to hear from you and what you think is impor- and Youth and Americanism programs are some of the best in tant in the education and training of our members. the country. We need to continue to adapt to the changes in soci- We look forward to hearing from you. ety while maintaining our value system when it comes to our VA Updates Online Application for Health Benefits V eterans will find it easier and faster to apply for their health care benefits now that the Department of Veterans Affairs has updated its online Form 10-10EZ, “Application for Health The most significant enhancement allows Veterans to save their application to their local desktop and return to the application at any time without having to start over. Previously, Veterans had Benefits.” to complete “VA is committed to tapping into the best that technology has the form in a single session. to offer to ensure Veterans receive the benefits they have This updated online form, along with the revised VA Form earned,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. 10-10EZ, reduces the collection of information from Veterans by “We continue to look for eliminating some questions. new ways to improve access to care and benefits.” In addition, there are minor changes to simplify the wording This revised online application provides enhanced navigation of questions and provide clarity in the instructions. Further features that make it easier and faster for Veterans to apply for enhancements to the online application are expected to be deliv- their health care benefits. This new version also allows Veterans ered in increments throughout 2010. to save a copy of the completed form for their personal records. June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 5 American Legion Volunteers Make Real Difference In Veterans’ Lives P racticing what they preach – helping to make a real differ- ence in veterans’ lives – members of The American Legion spent nearly one million hours volunteering at VA medical facil- “There are some things they do that we can’t put a price on. What’s the price of a ‘thank you’? What’s the going rate for dig- nity and respect for a combat veteran? Such values cannot be ities in fiscal 2009. calculated,” he said. The nation’s largest veterans group is also one of America’s While The American Legion makes a strong contribution largest volunteer organizations, its ranks populated by what VA every year to VA’s Voluntary Service Program and Suicide Secretary Eric Shinseki recently described as “people who are Prevention Program, its outreach to veterans in need doesn’t regularly, habitually and deliberately kind.” stop there. The Legion also helps the Habitat for Humanity and Shinseki highlighted the critical importance of volunteerism Rebuilding Together programs, which often provide quality when he addressed graduates May 15 at the University of housing for veterans and their families. Maryland-University College. Last month, Adm. Mike Mullen Barry Searle, director of The American Legion’s veterans told the Council on Foundations that community non-profit affairs and rehabilitation division, said the Legion’s department groups are the answer to meeting veterans’ needs, once they’ve in Wisconsin is working with Rebuilding Together to construct a left the federal system. Mullen is chairman of the Joint Chiefs of new veterans’ center in Milwaukee – this year’s location for The Staff. American Legion National Convention in August. “Lately, Secretary Shinseki and Admiral Mullen have been “We do a lot of volunteer work for the VA, but we also like to placing an exclamation point on what we’ve been doing for a get out there with our tool kits and build houses for our veterans long time – volunteering to help out veterans and their families,” community,” Searle said. “We’ve got about two and a half mil- said Clarence Hill, national commander of The American lion veterans in The American Legion, and a lot of them are Legion. exceptionally good at spreading their volunteer wealth around.” “Lobbying Congress on veterans issues is something we do “We also give a lot of volunteer hours to the national Ride to extremely well, but The American Legion isn’t centered on Recovery program, which hosts a lot of bicycling events that Capitol Hill. We’re a huge grass-roots organization that does help injured veterans with their recovery and rehabilitation,” most of its good work at the local level. Searle said. “And we’re deeply involved with the Heroes to “Everywhere you find a VA hospital or clinic, you’re bound Hometowns program that helps our veterans make their transi- to find an American Legion post, too – and Legionnaires from tion to the civilian world.” that post spend a lot of their time visiting disabled and wounded This fiscal year, The American Legion is pushing to go veterans,” Hill said. beyond the one-million mark in the number of volunteer hours About 6,300 members of The American Legion volunteered its members contribute to VA facilities. To help in that effort, 916,598 hours of their time in FY 2009 to visit with veterans. Legionnaires can join the volunteer programs sponsored by their Although that effort saved VA $18.5 million, Shinseki said that local posts, or register online at legion.org/volunteers. monetary value was only part of equation when it came to veter- The American Legion’s new brochure, “Veterans Serving ans reaching out to other veterans. Veterans,” is also available online at the legion.org Web site. This Is A Heads Up Notice Our 2010 Department Convention to be held in Aurora at the Red Lion Inn at I-225 and Parker Road, June 24-27, 2010. The DEC meeting will be held on Thursday June 24 at 1:00 pm at the hotel. The annual VA&R reception and awards ceremony will be held at Aurora Post 23 on Thursday June 24. On Friday morning the Legion, Auxiliary and SAL will meet in joint session. Part of the opening session will involve visits from our candidates for U S Senate, Governor and Secretary of State. Friday afternoon the Legion, Auxiliary and SAL will split into sepa- rate sessions. Friday evening will be a “Post Brag Night” and membership awards ceremony at the hotel. Saturday morning will be normal Legion business, to include site selection for the 2012 department convention. Saturday afternoon will be the election of officers. The banquet on Saturday evening will highlight the Colorado National Guard with Major General Mike Edwards as the featured speaker. Sunday morning will be DEC meeting and then the normal memorial service and installation of new officers. More complete information will be published later on the web site and in the Observer. Make a note of the dates and plan on attending. Page 6 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 A Process Long Overdue I n his testimony before Congress on May 4, American Legion staffer Joe Wilson reminded congress that one of the Legion’s that more conclusive research be conducted to determine if the effects of exposure to herbicides in Vietnam affected the off- top priorities is “to assure that long overdue, major epidemiolog- spring of those who served,” Wilson said. ical studies of Vietnam veterans, who were exposed to the herbi- The American Legion believes the latest IOM report on Agent cide Agent Orange, are carried out.” Orange supports the inclusion of “blue water” Navy veterans Wilson, deputy director of The within presumptive-condition American Legion’s Veterans categories. The report “provides Affairs & Rehabilitation scientific justification to the leg- Division, reminded the House islation currently pending in Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Congress that seeks to correct that The American Legion had this grave injustice faced by Blue collaborated with a Columbia Water Navy veterans,” Wilson University research team that has said. developed a powerful method for The VA’s plans to restart its characterizing exposure to herbi- 1984 National Vietnam Veterans cides in Vietnam. A 2003 report Longitudinal Study (halted in issued by the Institute of 2001) was also addressed in Medicine (IOM), “Characterizing Wilson’s testimony. According to Exposure of Veterans to Agent VA, the new study will examine Orange and Other Herbicides the Vietnam-era generation’s Used in Vietnam,” was based on physical and psychological the team’s research. VA&R Deputy Director Joe Wilson testifies health. It will also provide sup- “In its final report on the about the health effects of the Vietnam War plemental research on post-trau- study, the IOM urgently recom- before members of the House Veterans Affairs matic stress disorder and the mends that epidemiological stud- Committee. Photo by: Craig Roberts health of women Vietnam veter- ies be undertaken - now that an ans. accepted exposure methodology is available. The American Wilson said The American Legion supports the follow-up Legion strongly endorses this IOM report,” Wilson told the study, announced by VA in September 2009, and wants to make committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif. sure that “federal government committees charged with review Such a health study has yet to be carried out, according to of such research are composed of impartial members of the Wilson, although VA estimates that about 900,000 Vietnam vet- medical and scientific community.” The Legion encouraged erans are eligible for treatment of Agent Orange-related dis- proper congressional oversight and input from veteran’s service eases: Type II diabetes, Hodgkin’s Disease, ischemic heart dis- organizations to make sure the study is not halted again. ease, Parkinson’s Disease, prostate and respiratory cancers, and “Since 1990, when The American Legion brought suit against some forms of soft-tissue sarcoma. the U.S. government for failure to carry out its congressionally In his testimony, Wilson also addressed the issue of diseases mandated Agent Orange study,” Wilson told the committee, that affect children of Vietnam veterans, including Type II dia- “The American Legion remains steadfast in its belief that such betes and spina bifida. “It is The American Legion’s contention studies are needed.” American Legion Says Vets’ Job Preference “Ignored By Numerous Agencies” T estifying before a House subcommittee today, The American Legion said that veterans’ preference in the federal job mar- ket “is being unlawfully ignored by numerous agencies. Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, chaired by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis. Sharpe said that such behavior on the part of some federal “The reality is that employment opportunities are not being agencies make the Veterans Employment and Training Service properly publicized,” said Joe Sharpe, the Legion’s economic (VETS) a critically important program, since it investigates vio- division director. “Federal agencies, as well as federal govern- lations of veterans’ preference policy and corrects unlawful ment contractors and subcontractors, are required by law to noti- practices. fy the Office of Personnel Management of job opportunities. “The mission of VETS is to promote the economic security of “But more often than not, these opportunities are never made America’s veterans,” Sharpe said. “The American Legion is available to the public,” he said. eager to see this program grow, and especially would like to see Sharpe testified before the House Subcommittee on Labor, greater expansion of entrepreneurial-based, self-employment June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 7 opportunity training.” The TAP and DTAP programs need to be expanded quickly, The American Legion has recommended about $340 million The American Legion says, to include many National Guard and for fiscal 2011 to fund five Dept. of Labor programs created to reserve members whose businesses have suffered –or have been serve veterans: lost – while they were serving their country. While DoD esti- • Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS): Offers mates that 79 percent of active-duty troops attend TAP seminars, employment and training services to eligible veterans through only 35 percent of reserve components do the same. non-competitive “Jobs for Veterans” state grant programs. “These attendance numbers are a disservice to all transition- • Transition/Disabled Transition Assistance Programs ing servicemembers,” Sharpe said. The American Legion wants (TAP/DTAP): Help servicemembers who are separating from DoD to make its TAP and DTAP sessions mandatory for all ser- active duty with their return to the civilian world and work vicemembers leaving active duty. force. ($267M, including VETS funding) Discussing the VWIP program, Sharpe noted that current • Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP): A com funding allows it to operate in only 15 states. “The problem is petitive state-grant program for agencies and organizations clearly a lack of adequate funding. The budget baseline needs to that offer jobs to homeless veterans. ($50M) be increased to … train eligible veterans in all 50 states in FY • National Veteran’ Employment and Training Services 2011,” he said. Institute (NVTI): Ensures that staffs for federal and state At the start of the hearing, Rep. Obey – who chairs the House employment services are highly trained and proficient in deal Appropriations Committee – expressed frustration over congres- ing with veterans’ needs. ($6M) sional reluctance to fully fund programs favored by The • Veterans Workforce Investment Program (VWIP): Provides American Legion and other veterans service organizations. training and support services to veterans to lead to higher He said he favored almost all of the programs proposed by wages and long-term careers – especially those with service- the score of testifying witnesses, but noted the combined cost connected disabilities, are recently separated from active duty, would increase President Obama’s proposed FY 2011 budget by or have significant barriers to employment. ($20M) $14 billion. But in light of the massive federal deficit, Obey Sharpe also recommended $61 million in funding for the said, Congress is being asked to trim $3.5 billion from the presi- Office of Personnel Management to improve compliance with dent’s figure. veterans’ preference rights in the job market. He reminded the “Congress needs to realize that there are deficits that need to subcommittee that employment rights of veterans and service- be considered other than federal budget deficits,” Obey said, members are covered by the Veterans’ Employment Opportunity “like deficits in jobs and opportunities and care.” With that pro- Act of 1998 and the Uniformed Services Employment and logue, he opened the morning round of testimony. Reemployment Rights Act of 1994. New Scholarship For The Children Of Fallen Service Members “Benefit Honors Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry” T he children of military personnel who died in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001 can apply for an educational scholarship similar to the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. Benefits are 15 years to use their benefits, beginning on their 18th birthdays. Eligible children attending institutions of higher learning may receive payments to cover their tuition and fees up to the highest retroactive to Aug. 1, 2009. amounts charged to public, in-state students at undergraduate The scholarship, which is administered by the Department of institutions in each state. A monthly housing allowance and Veterans Affairs, are named after Marine Gunnery Sergeant John stipend for books and supplies are also paid under this program. David Fry, 28, a Texas native who died in Iraq in 2006 while VA will begin paying benefits under the Fry scholarships on disarming an explosive. He was survived by three young chil- Aug. 1, 2010. Eligible participants may receive benefits retroac- dren. tively to August 1, 2009, the same day the Post-9/11 GI Bill “The Fry scholarship represents this nation’s solemn commit- took effect. ment to care for children whose mothers and fathers paid the Eligible children may be married. Recipients are entitled to ultimate price for our country,” said Secretary of Veterans 36 months of benefits at the 100 percent level. Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. When dependents also serve in the military, the reserves or VA begins accepting applications for the Fry scholarship on are Veterans in their own right, eligible for education benefits May 1, 2010. For more information or assistance applying, call under the Montgomery GI Bill for Active Duty, the Montgomery toll-free 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551), or visit the VA GI GI Bill for Selected Reserves or the Reserve Educational Bill Website at www.gibill.va.gov. Assistance Program (REAP), then they would relinquish their VA estimates nearly 1,500 children will receive benefits under eligibility under those programs to receive benefits under a Fry the Fry scholarship program in 2010. Recipients generally have scholarship. Page 8 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 “Roll Call Of The Greatest Generation” T he National World War II Museum in New Orleans is trying to muster as many veter- courage, determination and extraordinary drive toward free- dom they exhibited on behalf of ans and homefront workers as our country.” possible for a special weekend Last year, more than 300 of events and ceremonies June World War II veterans from 30 5-6. The Second Annual “A different states participated in Gathering of the Greatest the first Roll Call event. As Generation” is presented by names are called from those Chevron. who participated from each “As this is an occasion to state, the museum’s replica commemorate their service, I Normandy Liberty Bell is would particularly like to invite tolled. All registered World War all World War II veterans and II veterans and the families of home-front workers from every deceased World War II veterans state, along with your families, will receive commemorative to attend and participate in the certificates. They will also be ‘Roll Call of the Greatest asked to participate in the muse- Generation,’” Museum President um’s oral-history project in and CEO Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” order to tell their stories to Mueller wrote in a letter of invi- future generations. Pre-regis- tation to The American Legion. tered attendees will also be able “The Roll Call is the highlight to attend the museum’s exhibits of the weekend and one of the free of charge. ways we have found to express To complete an application our thanks and price in the online, click here. Photo by Sodahead.com Winners 2010 Birthday Sweepstakes 1st Place Post 103 4th Place Post 178 7th Place Post 200 1000.00 200.00 100.00 Marcos Druyos Thomas Paul Cheryl Evans 2nd Place Post 1864 5th Place Post 209 8th Place Post 69 750.00 100.00 100.00 Chuck Hudak Rollo Lind Victor Sundquist 3rd Place Post 211 6th Place Post 207 9th Place Post 211 500.00 100.00 100.00 Robert Cooper David Mason Larry LeMay 10th Place Post 211 100.00 R. Edwards June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 9 Shinseki Extols Value Of Volunteerism Volunteers “Priceless” To VA, Country R andom acts of kindness are nice, but Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki told graduates at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) that the world needs combat Veteran? Such values cannot be calculated.” The VA Secretary noted that Veterans in the class of 2010 were the first to take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the more “people who are regularly, habitually and deliberately largest improvement in the traditional educational program since kind.” its inception in 1944. “We can no more put a value on kindness than we can put a “By time [the original GI Bill] ended in 1956, it had pro- price on heroism,” Shinseki told nearly 1,300 graduates. foundly transformed America economically, educationally and “People who make caring for others a personal devotion, a part socially, catapulting our economy to the world’s largest and our of their everyday lives, that’s what’s needed - people who are nation to a global leader and a victor in the Cold War,” Shinseki willing to serve the needs of others.” said. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, Shinseki noted, about He saluted the UMUC staff for their programs tailored to the 140,000 volunteers help Veterans at VA’s hospitals, Vet Centers educational needs of the men and women on active duty. About and cemeteries. Conservatively, VA prices their time as worth 60,000 of the school’s 100,000 students are military personnel. $240 million, while the volunteers also contribute more than $80 The school operates on 130 military installations, including four million yearly in gifts and donations. in Iraq and four in Afghanistan. “There are some things they do that we can’t put a price on. “UMUC and the military have long shared a vital partnership Not everything can be reduced to a dollar value,” Shinseki in education,” said Shinseki, a retired Army four-star general. added. “What’s the price of a Thank you? How about an hour “Wherever the Army went campaigning, UMUC went with us.” of patience? What’s the going rate for dignity and respect for a Blue Water Veterans Study In The Works D enise Williams, The American Legion assistant director for Health Policy, Affairs to develop a better understanding of exposures to, and the potential health risks attended the first meeting of the from, exposure to Agent Orange Institute of Medicine’s and other herbicides. Blue Water Committee on Blue Water Navy Navy veterans who served dur- Vietnam veterans May 3. The ing the Vietnam War on ships committee will conduct a study offshore from Vietnam have and prepare a report on whether long maintained they should the Vietnam veterans in the Blue have access to the same pre- Water Navy experienced a com- sumption of herbicide exposure parable range of exposures to available to Vietnam War veter- the herbicides and their contam- ans who served on the ground. inants as the Brown Water Navy The American Legion will Vietnam veterans and those on continue to attend these com- the ground in Vietnam. mittee meetings to keep abreast This project is proposed by of any updated information the Department of Veterans regarding this issue. Photo by U.S Navy Department Convention June 24-27, 2010 Aurora, Colorado Page 10 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 Children’s Home Needs Your Help O ver the years, many children’s homes have closed their doors due to insufficient funding and poor stature. But The American Legion Children’s Home in Ponca City, Okla., has Legion’s Child Welfare Foundation and Legionnaires, it also inherits financial support from the government. “As a non-profit, we are too dependent on government fund- remained open for the past 82 years from its positive reputation ing,” said Kerri Bowman, the home’s development officer. “Our as a school and a home, and because of its supportive family of goal is to be independent from the government, but in order to Legionnaires. succeed we will need help, especially from our Legion family. The American Legion helped the home get underway in 1928 There is no sense in us stopping our services to these children as a way to administer care and after 82 years.” support for children of veterans The thought of stopping serv- who could no longer provide for ices, displacing 48 children and their young. But over time, the losing staff members isn’t a home opened its doors to all consideration as the Children’s displaced youth. For this reason, Home is dear to the hearts of approximately 8,000 children many, including Bowman, ages 11-17 have received the whose grandmother and grand- attention and provision they father grew up and met there. deserved. Therefore, a writing campaign is Today, 62 children reside at underway to see that the federal the facility that sits on 100 acres government does not cut the of land and features ample home’s number of residents or amenities such as a playground, funding dollars. garden, baseball field, and an art Pat Walker, a staff member at the American Legion family members can and recreational room. be a great help with the cam- Legion Children!s Home, plays ball with a girl However, a federal Medicaid paign by writing a letter to their during some free time at the home in Ponca rule is trying to cut the number U.S. congressional delegation, of residence living in the home, City, Okla. Photo by Brandi Simons informing them of the federal as well as the funding received - Medicaid rule and its devastat- a cut that would leave 48 children homeless and many employ- ing consequences. The letter should also be a reminder of how ees out of work. the Legion Children’s Home has served children of veterans for The federal Medicaid rule, which has apparently existed since 82 years and plans to serve for many years to come. 1988, states that a childrens home acquiring funding from the Additionally, click here to learn more about The American federal government may not have more than 16 children in resi- Legion Children’s Home. dence. While the Children’s Home receives funding from the Following Congressional Testimony, VBA Plans To Change Work-Credit System F our days after The American Legion testified to Congress on problems with VA’s work-credit system for processing veter- ans’ disability claims, the Veterans Benefits Administration they wouldn’t have been delayed and veterans would not have been denied their benefits.” Referring to de Planque’s May 6 testimony before the House (VBA) announced it will take new steps to improve the quality Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and and timeliness of work performed by its benefit claims staff. Memorial Affairs, Hill said that VBA’s plan to improve the per- Ian de Planque, The American Legion’s deputy director for formance of its claims processors “has to begin with the quality operations and legislative action, told a House subcommittee on component, just like (de Planque) said to the House subcommit- May 6 that VBA’s work-credit and management systems are still tee last week. geared toward a “quantity over quality,” a mindset that con- “If VBA doesn’t properly evaluate a claim the first time tributes to initial errors in processing disability claims and adds around, then The American Legion or some other veterans serv- to an already enormous claims backlog. ice organization has to submit an appeal on behalf of the veter- “We’ve heard many outrageous stories from veterans about an. That appeals process can take a long time, it adds to the how their disability claims appeals have languished months or claims backlog, and it stops veterans from getting benefit pay- even years within VBA’s processing system,” said American ments they’ve already earned from their service,” Hill said. Legion National Commander Clarence Hill. “If those claims had Last week, de Planque told the subcommittee, chaired by been properly adjudicated in the first place – if enough time had Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y., that VA has projected an accuracy rate been taken to make the right decision the first time around – of 87 percent for more than one million disability claims being June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 11 processed this year – a figure deemed overly optimistic by its “A lot of these claims get decided prematurely – mistakes are own Office of the Inspector General. So it is reasonable to made,” Hill said. “So while we do welcome the news that VBA assume that VBA will inaccurately process about 130,000 dis- wants to address this problem, we’re still waiting for details on ability claims this year alone. how, exactly, they intend to do it. Will the changes produce “Errors affect lives. It is essential that the removal of errors meaningful results, or will they be cosmetic?” from the system be the highest priority of reform,” de Planque Fixing the inaccuracy of VBA claims processing has become told the subcommittee on May 6. “Errors take years – not hours even more critical because the number of disability claims con- – to correct.” tinues to increase. In 2009, VA received more than one million “I hope the VBA has finally gotten the message from veterans claims – a 14-percent jump from the number filed in 2008. groups that their work-credit system produces bad outcomes for Given the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the veterans,” Hall said in a news release from the House aging of Vietnam-era veterans, the number of claims for com- Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “The VBA needs to re-engineer pensation and pension benefits should go even higher. from the ground up how it incentivizes employees to make “VBA has yet to officially publish the proposed changes for absolutely sure claims are decided correctly the first time.” its work-credit system,” Hill said. “We are anxiously waiting to Under current policy, according to de Planque, VBA claims see the substance of those changes, and whether they are likely processors must earn a fixed number of production credits per to make claims processors more accurate in their work – every day; this creates an incentive to work quickly, but not necessari- mistake they make affects the quality of a veteran’s life.” ly accurately. Amicus Briefs Filed In Snyder-Phelps Case F orty-two senators filed an amicus “friend of the court” brief recently in the Supreme Court case of Snyder v. Phelps, which involves the right of a religious group to stage protests at division, spoke at the press conference, saying “Anyone who makes it a point to offend, disrupt and, yes, assault the solemn and venerable ceremonies of a military funeral cannot be permit- military funerals. ted to continue these acts of clear and intentional invasion of Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., made the privacy.” announcement during a Washington, D.C., press conference, Riley was one of eight Legionnaires who attended the press accompanied by Al Snyder of York, Pa. His son, Marine Lance conference. The American Legion has contributed to Snyder’s Corp. Matthew Snyder, was killed in Iraq. legal fund for the Supreme Court case. At Lance Corp. Snyder’s funeral, members of the Westboro “I never wanted to take away anybody’s freedom of speech,” Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., Snyder told the audience. “But staged a protest. The church this wasn’t freedom of speech - believes that troops killed in this was harassment.” Riley Iraq and Afghanistan is a pun- said there was no such thing as ishment from God because of a “do-over” for the solemnity of liberal attitudes toward homo- funerals, “where bereaved fami- sexuals in America. ly and friends have the sacred Following his son’s funeral, right to feel and share their grief Snyder sued the Westboro in peace and togetherness, nur- Baptist Church, founded by tured by their faith. Fred Phelps Sr. A federal court “The First Amendment is not decided in favor of Snyder, but written to trump their rights to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of privacy and peaceful ceremony Appeals overturned that ruling of the closure of life,” he said. and ordered Snyder to pay The amicus brief filed by the Westboro’s legal expenses - U.S. Sen. Hary Reid announces filing of an senators argues that verbal about $16,000. Snyder refused amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to harassment and obscene signage to pay and took his case to the exclude obscene demonstrations near funerals in the vicinity of military funer- Supreme Court. of military personnel from “free speech” pro- als should be excluded from Phil Riley, director of The freedom of speech guarantees American Legion’s national tections. Legion NS/FR Division Director Phil under the Constitution. security and foreign relations Riley looks on. Photo by Craig Roberts Page 12 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 VA Home Loan Program Remains Healthy Despite Housing Market Woes W hile America has been suffering through an unprecedented crisis in housing loan defaults, the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program has remained healthy. ture of the home loan program and – even more unfortunately – it has been raised numerous times by Congress,” Sharpe said. Currently, veterans using the program for the first time must “The American Legion has been very pleased to watch the pay 2.15 of the loan amount and 3.3 percent for the second time performance of VA loans during the unprecedented downturn in (i.e., $4,300 or $6,600 for a $200,000 loan). the mortgage marketplace over the last two and a half years,” Sharpe told the subcommittee that The American Legion said Joe Sharpe, the Legion’s economic division director. wants Congress “to consider either eliminating this fee or signif- Sharpe testified on VA’s home loan program May 20 before icantly reducing it. the House Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, chaired by “Veterans should not have to make such a significant finan- Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D. cial sacrifice in order to use a benefit that they have earned as a According to The Mortgage Bankers Association, the delin- result of their service to America,” he said. quency rate for subprime loans stands at 30 percent, while only The American Legion also wants VA’s home loan program 5 percent of veterans have defaulted on their VA home loans. extended to the spouses of deceased veterans – regardless of The prime loan delinquency rate is 7 percent while FHA defaults what maladies they died from. “It is unfair for a veteran’s stand at about 9 percent. spouse only to become eligible for the home loan if a veteran “This data clearly shows that VA loans are performing better dies of a service-connected disability,” Sharpe said. than all other mortagage loan types in the marketplace,” Sharpe The VA home loan program has had a resurgence since fiscal told the subcommittee. He attributed such favorable perform- 2007, when it guaranteed only 137,297 loans. Sharpe noted that ance to several factors: VA guaranteed 325,673 home loans in fiscal 2009. “It looks like While other lenders compromised their standards to generate VA is on track to match last year’s high volume during fiscal more business, VA has maintained its prudently crafted credit year 2010,” he said. underwriting standards. The substantial increase in VA home loans can be partially VA selects home appraisers from its own approved list; it attributed to the fact that other lenders stopped offering riskier does not allow lenders to choose appraisers, as is common in the “no down payment” packages once the mortgage crisis hit, mortgage industry. Sharpe explained. VA has an aggressive and comprehensive program to help Another reason VA’s home loan program has gained more veterans who are unable to make loan payments. customers is because it now uses automated underwriting sys- Veterans and servicemembers are usually more responsible tems that are preferred by lenders, Sharpe told the subcommit- borrowers because of discipline and maturity developed through tee. These systems reduce significantly the time needed to their military service. process a loan application, and VA has maintained the integrity One problem The American Legion wants to eliminate is VA’s of its underwriting process by requiring its own standards to be current practice is charging veterans a “funding fee” that was written into the systems’ software. introduced in 1982. “Unfortunately, this fee has become a fix- The American Legion To DoD: Nonaction Medal Is ‘Nonstarter’ C alling a proposal to award U.S. troops medals for holding fire in a war zone “misguided,” the head of the nation’s largest veterans organization voiced concern that overly restric- men and women in combat who already do an extraordinary job of exercising restraint. Too much restraint will get our own peo- ple killed.” tive rules of engagement would ultimately cost lives. Hill also worried that rewarding those who don’t use force “Nobody likes to see innocent civilians killed in a war zone sends the wrong message to those that do. “Vietnam veterans but the blame for these tragedies lies with the terrorists who were outrageously slandered as ‘baby killers,’” he said. “This caused the war in the first place,” American Legion National was tragic because the overwhelming majority of those who Commander Clarence E. Hill said. “The proposal to award served there tried to prevent innocent casualties. Now, by award- medals for holding fire is troubling because it is symptomatic of ing those who supposedly practice restraint, we would be imply- a growing culture in the military that will punish troops for mak- ing that our heroes who have to fire their weapons are somehow ing split-second decisions while they are expected to defend failing in their mission or coming up short. It’s a bad idea and themselves and their comrades. This proposal is an insult to our the Pentagon should kill it.” June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 13 Rocky Mountain USO At DIA, Recipient Of Local Art Work By: Jim Gates, Department Junior at 303-342-6887. Vice Commander A limited edition copy of the original art work was present- R ocky Mountain USO at Denver International Airport was presented with a ed to President George W. Bush at the White House in the fall of 2008, by the artist. framed copy of MY NAME A percentage of the sales IS OLD GLORY ™. The revenue of MY NAME IS artwork by Longmont, OLD GLORY ™ is donated Colorado, Artist Dick annually to The American Lovenburg, was donated to Legacy Scholarship Fund the USO by The American from the artist and Post 32 in Legion, Department of Longmont. Colorado. Several versions of the art Gates says the USO at work are available for pur- DIA is a busy place and vol- chase through The American unteer opportunities to help Legion’s national web-site at staff the center are available www.Legion.org, or (and appreciated). For more In the above photo Jim Gates, Department Jr. Vice ww.mynameisoldglory.com information, contact Weibel Commander presents the art work to USO Center Assistant Director Jaime Weibel, on May 2, 2010. Photo by Jim Gates Page 14 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 Memorial Scholarship Presented To Erie High Schooler T he Paul David Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship sponsored by John Harold Buckley American Legion Post 32 ed to Colorado youth at the 22nd annual awards banquet. (Longmont) on behalf of the Bravo In the photo, Post 32 Legionnaire Foundation was presented to Derek and Department of Colorado Jr. McCachren of Erie High School at the Vice-Commander Jim Gates is annual Hispanic Education Foundation shown presenting the $1000.00 (HEF) Awards Banquet on May 6, 2010 Paul David Rodriguez Scholarship at Mead High School. The annual scholarship award is given to Derek McCachren of Erie High in memory of Paul David Rodriguez, the School. Photo by Judy Gates, Post 32 Auxiliary first Longmont casualty of the Vietnam and HEF board member. War. A total of 35 scholarships were award- By-Law Change Resolution WHEREAS, The Department Chaplain, Department Historian WHEREAS, The Department Chaplain, the Department and Department Sergeant-At-Arms are elected officers of the Historian and the Department Sergeant-At-Arms are dully elect- Department of Colorado; and ed officers of the Department of Colorado and in good standing WHEREAS, The Department of Colorado Constitution and By- within a Colorado Post; now therefore be it Laws adopted and corrected at the June 29, 2008 Department RESOLVED, By District 5 The American Legion Department Convention, Article IX, Department Executive Committee, of Colorado in regular convention at the Wilmore-Richter Section 1 states, in part: The voting members of the Department American Legion Post 161, Arvada, Colorado on May Executive Committee shall be the Department Commander, the 1, 2010, that the Department Chaplain, Department Historian immediate Past Department Commander, the Department Senior and Department Sergeantat-Arms become members of the Vice-Commander, the Department Junior Vice-Commanders, the Department Executive Committee, and be it National Executive Committeeman, any past National FINALLY RESOLVED, That the Department of Colorado Commander(s) from Colorado who remain an active member of Constitution and By-Laws, Article IX, Department Executive a Colorado Post, the Department Executive Committeemen [one Committee, Section 1 be amended to add as voting members of (1) from each of the districts of the department], and two the Department Executive Committee, the Department Chaplain, (2) past Department Commanders.... The Department Adjutant the Department Historian, the Department Sergeant-At-Arms and the Department Finance officer shall be members of the and/or any elected officer of the Department of Colorado. committee, without vote; and WHEREAS, The Department Chaplain, Department Historian Richard L. Humphrey and Department Sergeant-At-Arms are not identified as mem- District 5, Commander bers of the Department Executive Committee (DEC): and Annual Department Golf Tournament Thursday, June 24, 2010 Shot Gun Start 7:00 am Park Hill Golf Club Only $40.00 Per Player - Includes Range, Balls, Carts - Lunch at Post # 1 I-25+Yale - Hosted By Post #1 - Reserve Your Foursome - Call 720 341 6688 June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 15 Page 16 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 Are Some Veterans More Equal Than Others? “The Two Classes of Vietnam Veteran ” Nothing is more disgusting and offending than being referred to as a I’m not going to go into the entire Blumenthal situation now. Vietnam Era Veteran. The U.S. government officially refers to all as You’ve no doubt seen it on the news, and have an understanding "Vietnam era veterans, “ according to the U.S. Department of Labor, of the issues involved to engage in the necessary dialogue. The the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 American Legion is open to all honorably discharged veterans of (VEVRAA) certain periods of war as defined in time periods set by the Others say that because you did not serve “in country you are not a Vietnam Veteran! Now that is a double slap in the face, first by fellow United States Congress. Further, the Legion Constitution itself veterans and our government, for my service, like I am some red creates an egalitarian community within our ranks, which stands headed stepchild. Now, I am not sure who decided that only certain in direct contrast from the strict construction of the rank struc- veterans could call themselves Vietnam Veterans, while the rest of us ture from the military that we all came from. For instance: are not worthy of such a title...I served during the Vietnam War, I did Article II, Section 1. […] Rank does not exist in the Legion; no not serve in country, but I am just as much a Vietman Veteran as those who did serve in combat. member shall be addressed by his military or naval title in any Who ever decided that Vietnam Veterans would have a class dis- convention or meeting of the Legion. tinction has to be just this side of being a moron. We are all Veitnam Veterans, those who served in country are special, but, not better than Article IV, Section 2. There shall be no form or class of mem- we who served were Uncle Sam told us to go. bership except an active membership, and dues shall be paid The following article can be found on the Burn Pit website, annually or for life. www.burnpit.us and it speaks about this classic division of veterans based upon combat and non-combat service. Down with the word Since this is inherently a subjective discussion, owing to our ERA when talking about Vietnam Veterans - we who served all served own personal views on our military service, let me be clear and our country during a time of war. put mine right up front. As a veteran of Afghanistan, and an Infantryman, I tend to gravitate towards those like me. Which is Darrell G. Myers, Editor not to say I value the service of an Afghan Infantryman more than say a bomber pilot in WWII, merely that that is who I tend May 19th, 2010 by MOTHAX “Burn Pit” to associate with. And, I tend to go towards the Army over the Air Force, despite the fact that if I could do it all over again I T ers. he Affair de Blumenthal has brought an issue out that deserves discussion: Are some veterans more equal than oth- would likely go AF. I’ve always said that to me there were only 2 Military Occupational Skills in the Army: 11B, and wannabe. This morning I was discussing all this with Demophilus (who, In George Orwell’s classic work Animal Farm, the animals again, served with me in Afghanistan, and whose thoughts rarely oust the farmers from the farm, and set up a government which are too divergent from my own) and our National Adjutant. The Adjutant posted this: I think there is a difference between saying “I am a Vietnam War veteran” and “I served in Vietnam.” Why is Vietnam the only war where you attach “era”? Most people in the Korean War and World War II did not see combat and many didn’t leave the states, but they are WWII vets and Korean War vets. Who did this to us and is it really worthwhile. What about all those people who are serving today and not going to Iraq or Afghanistan? What is their status? Now, as a start for our discussion, let us state that Vietnam does seem to be the only war that divides its people so starkly into hyphenated veterans. You have “Vietnam veterans” “Vietnam-era veterans” and “Vietnam combat veterans.” Why should that be? Let’s look at a hypothetical. If you were a radar tech deployed to Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, are you a is constructed to follow seven commandments. The first two “Gulf War veteran”? If you never went into Iraq, are you still a thereof are that: “Gulf War” veteran? What if your radar site was in Turkey? 1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. Whatever goes Here’s one that comes up occasionally, since I have seen it upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend. discussed with regards to a Congressman now serving… If you are called up under orders for “Operation Enduring Freedom” But the seventh is the one around which the plot revolves most but only deploy to Italy, are you a veteran of the war in cleanly: Afghanistan, or the Global War on Terror? Per the rules govern- All animals are equal. ing the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, I guess June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 17 the answer is “no”, since Italy is not listed as one of the places Bosnia was up to the level they wanted. Now, this is not to earning such a distinction. But does this distinction have merit? excoriate the VFW, as I have heard the same said by Vietnam This piece is tough to write, because I know how hypocritical vets when they tried to join Legion posts when they got back. I am on this. I believe that all men and women who serve honor- Honestly, I didn’t feel I was worthy either, but according to their ably deserve praise. On that at least I think we can all agree. But membership criteria, I was. does that make that sub sect equal? Last week at the Warrior Anyway, here are the questions I would ask that you answer Games, I interviewed every guy I saw from the Army wearing a in the comments if you would: combat infantrymen’s badge, and every marine wearing their Do you agree that veterans should be divided along artificial CAB equivalent. In fact, I asked each of the infantrymen (there lines? Who do you think is responsible for this division? Could were 4 specifically I asked this of): Which means more to you, we get past such division, and would it be advantageous to do your CIB, or your purple heart? The results were unanimous. so? What level of precision is needed for those, like Blumenthal, Again, I was an Infantryman, but when I meet Airborne guys, who served honorably DURING Vietnam, but not IN Vietnam? they call me a “Dirty Leg.” (Yeah, just about everyone at Is merely being precise the requisite level, or must one go the Blackfive calls me that.) The Airborne guys probably take crap extra step as well and ensure that reporters or others are accurate from the Rangers. The Rangers no doubt take crap from the SF as well? guys who treat them like little children. (Some good examples I ran this post by the National Adjutant who appends: of this in Blackhawk Down.) The SF guys probably take abuse from the Delta guys. The Delta guys no doubt look at this Air The question needs to be asked: Are the vast majority of people Force brethren sleeping in nice hotels and playing golf and won- who have served during wartime and not been shot at any less of der what they were thinking. a veteran of that war than those who were on the front line? Are If you are a veteran, there will always be someone higher they not entitled to be called and to think of themselves as than you I suppose. It’s in the nature of the “In my day I had to “XXX War Veterans”? crawl to school backwards through 7 feet of snow” phenomena. And the phonies in particular note it. How many phonies have Is there something curiously less than acceptable about their you met who claimed to be a PFC in the S4 shop at Ft service? Should they be not proud that they served? Leavenworth? None that I know of. They all claim to have been SF, working for the CIA under secret orders from Hogwarts or Do they stand in the shadow of those whom they supported? Are something. They almost always were in units with massive casu- they like the red-haired stepchild? If 90 percent of those who alties in places that the Gov’t won’t admit. enlist are going to end up being “less than real veterans,” why Now, as a rhetorical question, which classification of phonies should they bother? bothers you the most? Not which is the most reprehensible, but which bothers you the most. For me I think it is those who On the other hand, the hand of God or Uncle Sam can at any served honorably, but then feel the need to embellish. That moment change one of those guys’ statuses, and that guy has no makes me sad for some reason. control over what happened. I served in Bosnia in 1997-1998. I did “combat patrols” there, but….there was a lot of patrolling, and not any combat. I felt a Nonetheless, when called, he was ready. He trained just as hard bit sketchy about my service there. It wasn’t like I chose it, nor as the next guy, and was just as willing as the next guy to go had any real control over it. I did what I was sent to do, and felt where sent. a little let down that there wasn’t much going on. Anyway, two things happened when I came back from These are real questions and they go right to the heart of honor- Bosnia. I first went to join a VFW post, and was denied. I quali- able military service. fied, had the expeditionary medal, but the post didn’t feel Want To Receive The Internet Observer and The Observer Weekly Update You can mail in this cutout to: Department of Colorado, 7465 East 1st Ave Ste D, Denver, CO 80230 Or You can email Elaine Bock all of the required information at Ebock@coloradolegion.org Name:___________________________________________________________________________ Email Address_____________________________________________________________________ Page 18 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 Military Sexual Trauma Needs Closer Look I n written testimony submitted May 20 to Congress, Denise Williams of The American Legion informed a joint session of two House subcommittees that the departments of Defense and ambiguous, and does not detail the necessary training for MH professionals who treat/counsel victims of MST or other sexual trauma,” Williams noted. The American Legion wants VA Veterans Affairs “are lagging” in their efforts to address the Secretary Eric Shinseki to intervene in the situation and amend worsening problem of military sexual trauma among service- policy so that it clearly defines professional requirements for members and veterans. MH staff that treat and counsel MST patients. Williams, assistant director of health policy for the Legion, In her testimony, Williams wrote that certain aspects of mili- told the House subcommittees on Disability Assistance and tary culture may discourage some MST victims from reporting Memorial Affairs, and on Health that sexual assault in the U.S. their assaults. Perpetrators are usually other servicemembers, military is increasing. DoD reported 2,688 sexual assaults according to the American Journal of Public Health, and victims among its ranks in fiscal 2007, and 2,908 assaults in fiscal 2008. often must continue to live and work with their assailants. This According to VA statistics, more than 90,000 veterans increases the risk for distress and subsequent victimization. screened positive for military sexual trauma (MST) in fiscal “The American Legion believes that, in order to combat this 2008 alone (about 48,000 women and about 44,000 men). appalling issue, there needs to be more involvement from top “These numbers are alarming and The American Legion urges leadership within the Department of Defense,” Williams wrote. Congress, DoD and VA to act Another problematic issue now to eliminate this disturbing that Williams mentioned is that trend,” Williams told the joint veterans who suffer from MST session, chaired by Rep. John often encounter barriers when Hall, D-N.Y. they file a claim for disability The American Legion is con- compensation through the cerned that VA may be deficient Veterans Benefits in its attention to female veter- Administration. Williams noted ans who have been sexually that veterans “are left with the assaulted. A recent GAO report burden to prove that they are found that only two of nine VA eligible to receive compensa- medical centers visited had spe- tion, even though they have a cialized residential treatment diagnosis of military sexual programs for women with MST. trauma from the Veterans Health “Although VA has taken steps Administration.” to inform staff about their vari- Reminding the joint session ous programs offering MST that American Legion service treatment and counseling, this Denise Williams of The American Legion officers are being trained to han- information is only available delivered testimony on military sexual trau- dle MST cases with proper sen- internally, and VA has not pro- ma to the House subcommittees on sitivity, Williams wrote, “It is vided this information on their Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, incumbent on all of us - DoD, external Web site - where it can and on Health. Photo by Craig Roberts VA and the veterans’ advocacy be easily accessed by veterans,” community - to make sustained Williams said in her written testimony. efforts to deal with this growing problem, or it will continue to The American Legion wants VA to do a much better job at fester.” providing veterans with information on MST treatment and counseling - and to make better use of the Legion and other vet- erans service organizations to get the job done. For its part, Williams told the subcommittees, The American Legion has been training its own professional service officers - located in Log on to-http://news.coloradolegion.org/cat- every state - to use proper sensitivity in handling MST issues. egory/observer-news-updates! Posted there will “These service officers can assist veterans and their families in filing a claim for benefits and gaining access to VA health care,” be current news items of interest to veterans. Williams said. American Legion service officers “are trained to Double click on the headline of any of the arti- recognize and handle benefits issues, claims and discharge cles and at the bottom of the article you will be upgrades for women veterans.” able to leave you comments. The recent GAO study on VA health care, published in March, also took the organization to task over an apparent lack of uniformity in training its mental-health professionals. “VA policy on mental-health (MH) professional training is June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 19 Lakewood American Legion Post 178 “Second Annual SAL” Golf Tournament Friday, June 19, 2009 7:30 AM Shotgun Start Applewood Golf Course, 14001 W. 32nd. Golden, CO Four Person Scramble - 6:30 AM Check in $70 Entry fee per person includes: 18 Holes of Golf, Cart, Range Balls and Goody Bag 1st Drink, Lunch and Prizes after tournament at Post 178, 1655 Simms St., Lakewood Team Prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place Longest Drive, Closest to the Pin and Longest Putt Hole Sponsors $200 includes sign placed on Tee Box, recognition at lunch and in Post newsletter. Must have by June 9, 2009 Golf Committee Mickey West Marilyn Anderson Bill Radunz (after 1PM) (303) 238-0039 (303) 278-3849 (303) 995-2663 I cannot participate but would like to make a donation: Name__________________Address_________________Telephone # ____________ Proceeds to benefit past Detachment Commander Scott Yearn Fund, Child Welfare Foundation and Fisher House. ———————————————————————————————————-—————————- Entry fee must be received no later than Monday, June 9th at 6 PM. Mail to SAL, 1655 Simms St., Lakewood, CO 80215. Make checks payable to “SAL Golf”. Team Captain Player # 3 Name:________________________________ Name:________________________ Address:______________________________ Phone:________________________________ Player # 2 Player # 4 Name:________________________________ Name:________________________ Important Dates Jun 05-12, 2010 Boys State Pueblo Jun 24-27, 2010 Department Convention Denver Oct 16, 2010 3rd Annual Fall Air Rifle Tournament Post 2 Pueblo Page 20 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 Legion Takes Part In VA Forum D eputy Director Ian de Planque of the Legion’s of Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division recently attended quar- terly meetings with the Central Office staff of the Department of to provide medical information to VA in a more useable form. Early indications from these pilots is in an assessment stage. It is believed that while no one program has proven perfect, and Veterans Affairs. These meetings, conducted in conjunction with each have pluses and minuses, elements from all programs may veteran service organizations, provide a forum for the discussion be combined into a new, more comprehensive operational of ongoing programs within VA, as well as provide an opportu- model. nity for VSOs to address concerns on a regular basis. The meet- de Planque pressed VA for more information on VA’s new ing revolved around updates of progress on various electronic work standards for veterans service representatives, which VA is claims processing projects, the measures VA is taking to address in the process of implementing nationwide. Initial information previous problems with enrollment in the Post 9-11 GI Bill, and regarding these changes to the work-credit standards has indicat- extensive updates from VA Associate Deputy Under Secretary ed a greater focus on moving the claims along in the develop- for Field Operations Diana Rubens. ment process with less individual credit for actions that could VA currently is implementing a multitude of regional pilot sometimes result in overdevelopment. However, despite assur- programs aimed at addressing the current business model of ances to the contrary by VA staff, there was no obvious focus on operations and attempting to integrate technological, as well as the quality component of claims processing. The American structural, improvements to facilitate a more effective claims Legion and other VSOs are seeking copies of the new work process. The four major pilot programs include the implementa- standards from VA for analysis to see how quality is being tion of “Lean Six Sigma” management techniques in Little addressed. Recent testimony earlier this month by The American Rock, Ark.; the Virtual Regional Office model in Baltimore; the Legion stressed that the obvious indicators for work credit in the business transformation lab in Providence, R.I., that is exploring VA system stressed quantity over quality, and that VA must the challenges of an entirely paperless office environment; and a reform these standards to ensure that the quality of processing in pilot program in Pittsburgh that focuses on increased phone con- the claims was on equal footing with the timeliness and quantity tact with veterans to provide more clarity in the claims process, of claims processed. as well as to test templates for physicians, both private and VA, The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund Competes Again For $250K Pepsi Refresh Everything Grant Votes Needed! F or the second consecutive month, The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund is competing for a $250,000 grant to be awarded by the Pepsi Beverage Company as part of its ensures that the children of these fallen heroes will be able to attend college and not have to worry about the rising cost of higher education. We can support the children of these heroes Refresh Everything Project. simply by voting every day throughout the month of June. The While Pepsi did not announce just where the Legacy process will cost you nothing, but the reward can truly make a Scholarship Fund finished in its May voting competition, the top difference.” two charities win the grants and the remaining top 100 are Visitors can cast their votes at “rolled over” to participate in the following month’s competi- www.refresheverything.com/theamericanlegionlegacyschol- tion. During the evening of May 31, The Legacy Scholarship arship or by clicking on the “Vote Daily” Pepsi panel at was ranked 49th of 1,341 participating charities. www.legion.org . The American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors finished Hill also recommended that Legionnaires, Legion family in first place during February’s voting and has already been members, friends and supporters of The American Legion spread awarded the top grant of $250,000. the message to vote for The American Legion Legacy “While I am disappointed that The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund. Scholarship Fund did not win a grant, I am not surprised that we “Individual voting alone will not win this competition,” Hill apparently finished in the top tier,” said The American Legion said. “We need people to post it on their web sites, Facebook National Commander Clarence E. Hill. “If The American Legion and Twitter accounts. They should use all social media methods family and all of our friends support this great cause, we can do at their disposal. Operation Comfort Warriors was able to win better in June. Operation Comfort Warriors finished first in because American Legion posts, Auxiliary units, Sons of the February. This is not about the same organization winning twice. American Legion squadrons and American Legion Riders chap- It’s about assisting an entirely different group of deserving peo- ters all came together and worked toward a common goal. ple, those whose parents paid the ultimate price and sacrificed Spreading the word in newsletters and the mainstream media their lives while serving in our military during the War on can also help us replicate our earlier success.” Terrorism. The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 21 Page 22 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 Senate Hears Legion Testimony On 6 Bills T he American Legion testified in Congress on May 19 on several pieces of pending legislation that would affect veter- ans if signed into law. S. 3234: Veterans Employment Assistance Act of 2010 Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced this legislation less than a week after The American Legion testified to a House sub- Appearing before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Ian committee on the seriousness of unemployment in the veteran’s de Planque conveyed The American Legion’s support for several community. bills being considered by the committee. De Planque is deputy Updating the Senate committee with current data, de Planque director of the Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation said that 14.7 percent of OIF/OEF veterans are jobless; the rate Division: is 30.2 percent for veterans aged 18 to 24. “The total number of S. 1939: Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009 unemployed veterans of the two wars is about 250,000,” he said. The American Legion strongly supports the extension of pre- “This legislation would provide these veterans with the training sumption of exposure to Agent Orange for veterans who served and additional skills they need in order to acquire gainful on naval vessels located in the territorial waters of Vietnam employment in today’s marketplace.” (known as the “blue water” Navy veterans). The bill has several provisions The American Legion has De Planque cited a 2008 study by the Institute of Medicine, backed for some time: extend GI Bill benefits to vocational and which builds a solid case for making blue water veterans eligible apprenticeship programs, more training and counseling for small for benefits linked to Agent Orange-related disabilities. He said businesses, and creating pilot programs to help veterans market the report “provides scientific their military experience and justification for this current leg- training more effectively. islation, which admirably seeks “No mission is more critical to correct the grave injustice at this time in our history - faced by ‘blue water’ Navy vet- given the nation’s involvement erans. The American Legion in two wars and the uncertain strongly supports this legisla- economic situation - than tion.” enabling America’s veterans to S. 1940: To study the effects have a seamless transition from on children whose parents military service to the civilian were exposed to Agent Orange workforce,” de Planque said. This bill directs VA to com- S. 3368: Allows certain indi- plete a study - and report its viduals to sign VA claims on findings to Congress - on how behalf of claimants servicemembers’ exposure to The VA’s fiduciary program Agent Orange in Vietnam has is addressed in this legislation, affected their children (includ- which would give legally desig- ing possible links to multiple Ian de Planque speaks to the Senate Veterans nated representatives the author- sclerosis and asthma). Affairs Committee on six bills being considered ity to sign and file VA claims Such a study, de Planque by the committee that The American Legion for veterans who are incapable said, “can help establish the supports. Photo by Craig Roberts or unable to do so themselves. associations necessary to allow The American Legion sup- the VA to provide entitlement to all benefits due to the child or ports this bill, but emphasizes the need for proper oversight to children of any veteran exposed to a Vietnam-era herbicide ensure that veterans’ rights are protected. agent.” “Dedicated oversight is necessary to ensure that the veterans S. 3035: Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Care affected, most of whom have little ability to protect themselves Improvement Act of 2010 in such situations, are not subject to being taken advantage of by VA would establish a polytrauma rehabilitation center in the unscrupulous individuals or institutions,” de Planque told the northwestern United States. The American Legion believes this committee. center will help VA health-care outreach to many rural areas. In previous congressional testimony, The American Legion The American Legion is urging the committee to consider recommended that VA should allocate more staff solely to funding additional areas of TBI studies and emerging treatments administer its fiduciary program. in the private sector, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) S. 3348: Allows misfiled disability claims appeals to be treat- and the Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Brain Injury Screening ed as motions for reconsideration Questionnaire. Many veterans, unfamiliar with the procedure for filing dis- “The American Legion remains concerned that the private ability claims appeals, mistakenly file their appeals with VA sector uses a 100-question screening test, while DoD and VA instead of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). only use a four-part questionnaire,” de Planque told the commit- If veterans disagree with the decisions made on their disabili- tee, chaired by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii. ty claims by the Board of Veterans Appeals, they have 120 days June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 23 after notification to appeal that decision to CAVC. This legisla- confused by a complex system, such as the system for adjudica- tion would offer protection to veterans who file their cases in tion of veterans benefits,” de Planque said. The American error. Legion also wants to extend the appeals filing period from 120 “This legislation can serve as a safety net for veterans already days to one year. The American Legion to Congress: Don’t Repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ I n letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner, the head of the nation’s largest wartime veter- ans organization stated his group’s opposition to repealing the which would repeal the law. “Under current policy, men and women are already allowed to serve their country regardless of their sexual preference. military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ Allowing homosexual members (DADT) policy. to announce their preference “We feel strongly that the within the ranks could jeopard- current policy has served the ize the unit cohesion which is so U.S. military well for 17 years essential to military success,” and it would not be wise to said Hill, a retired U.S. Navy make a major cultural change in captain and veteran of the Gulf the middle of two wars,” The War. American Legion National “The military is a unique Commander Clarence E. Hill environment, in which DADT wrote. “Moreover, the has worked well, without dimin- Department of Defense has ishing our nation’s war-fighting already directed a study on the capability,” Hill continued. policy and it would be prema- “Indeed, the core purpose of our ture to act before the commis- military is to fight and win our sion conducting the study nation’s wars. Enacting any law releases its findings.” National Commander Clarence Hill wrote let- that does not enhance the mili- The American Legion was ters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and tary’s ability to accomplish that concerned with reports that Minority Leader John Boehner addressing the mission would be detrimental to members of the House might the security of our nation. We seek an amendment to the FY11 recent reports that !don"t ask, don"t tell" might believe that the repeal of DADT defense authorization bill, be amended. Photo from file photographs would be such an action.” Memorial Service On Top Of Hoosier Pass By: Darryl Atherton, Commander, Post 55 Buena Vista A merican Legion District 12 has conducted Memorial Day services on top of Hoosier Pass as far back as 1985. District 12 includes Fairplay, Bailey, Buena Vista, Salida, Leadville and Breckenridge. The posts have vigilantly been making the trip, snow, rain or shine to the top of the pass. This is usually coordinated by the district commander, with Post 55 leading the way, but the last 2 years without a district commander Post 55 commander has coordinated it. It is said to be the highest Memorial Day Service in the nation to honor our Veterans, at 11,539 feet. Local VFW Post 1166 in Buena Vista and 8661 in Bailey have dual members that participate. Fairplay post always has a BBQ lunch after the service. Wreath & flower ceremony 2010. Photo by Post 55 Page 24 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 Department Employment Committee Presents Employer Quarterly Winners Awards By: Darrell Myers, Member Dept Employment Committee 2010 in the large and small categories, respectively. The quarterly award is new this year, as the Committee decid- O n May 26, 2010, PNC Tom Bock and Department Employment Committee member, Darrell Myers traveled to Colorado Springs to present awards to Northrop Grumman, and ed to recognize employers throughout the year, thereby increas- ing participation and increasing the pool from which the selec- tion committee can choose a state winner for each category; Pennica Financial Group for their work in hiring veterans to fill instead of having to jump through hoops at the end of the year, their employee rolls, becoming the 1st Quarterly Winners for as has been the custom. Pictured from left to right: American Legion Pictured from left to right: American Legion PNC, PNC, Tom Bock; Michael C. Pennica, Tom Bock; Michael B. Sullivan, Director, President, Pennica Financial Group, Small International Relations, Northrop Grumman, Employer of the Quarter Award Receipt; Brian Large Employer of the Quarter Award Receipt; Gault, State Veterans Program Coordinator, Brian Gault, State Veterans Program Coordinator, Department of Labor and Employment; and Department of Labor and Employment; and Charlie Whelan, CEO, Workforce Center, Charlie Whelan, CEO, Workforce Center, Colorado Springs, CO. Colorado Springs, CO. VA Initiative Enhances Safety of Inpatient Surgery Services T he Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the nation’s largest health care system, today announced measures to ensure that all inpatient surgeries are performed under the safest possible plex, intermediate or standard. Based on appropriate criteria developed by 16 surgical advi- sory boards including 80 experts, VA has authorized 66 hospitals conditions at facilities with the resources to support them. to conduct “complex” inpatient surgeries; 33 hospitals to con- VA is the first hospital system to conduct a comprehensive duct “intermediate” inpatient surgeries; and 13 to conduct “stan- review to determine what level of inpatient surgeries may be dard” inpatient surgeries. performed in each of its 112 surgery programs. Hospitals with a “complex” rating require special infrastruc- “VA began this major undertaking in 2007 to close and pre- ture (facilities, equipment and staff) allowing intricate opera- vent gaps in surgical care,” said Dr. Robert Petzel, VA’s Under tions, such as cardiac surgery, craniotomies and total pancreatec- Secretary of Health. “Our mission is to provide the best health tomies. Those with an “intermediate” rating may perform sur- care to Veterans, and we are determined to meet uncompromis- geries such as colon resections, repairs of abdominal aortic ing standards for inpatient surgery.” aneurysms and complete joint replacement. Those with a “stan- After an expert work group’s review of surgical standards, VA dard” complexity rating may perform inpatient surgeries requir- conducted on-site studies of each of its hospitals between June ing limited infrastructure, such as hernia repair, cholecystecomy, 2009 and March 2010. As a result, VA has assigned each of its urologic procedures and ENT surgeries. medical centers an inpatient “surgical complexity” level — com- June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 25 “We are committed to expand Veteran access to quality care,” While aimed at ensuring patient safety and high-quality care added Petzel. “If a patient requires a surgical procedure that for all Veterans, the initiative will affect only a very small num- exceeds the facility’s complexity rating, VA will ensure that the ber of surgical procedures. VA provided over 357,000 inpatient patient receives the required care from another provider.” surgeries for Veterans during 2009, and based on 2009 figures Five facilities that have previously conducted some “interme- anticipates that 0.1 percent of “intermediate” or “complex” sur- diate” surgeries will now perform “standard” surgeries in-house geries (approximately 364) would now be referred to another and ensure that Veterans obtain other procedures nearby from provider. the best-qualified providers. These are the surgery programs at VA’s surgical review program will be continuous, expand to VA hospitals in Alexandria, La.; Beckley, W.V.; Fayetteville, include standards for outpatient surgery, and provide a key tool N.C.; Illiana at Danville, Ill.; and Spokane, Wash. for ongoing health system improvement. Each of VA’s 21 hospi- VA does not anticipate that any Veteran surgery will need to tal networks has developed a surgical strategic plan to ensure be rescheduled at these or other facilities due to the planned that Veterans receive needed care while facilities strengthen launch of the Surgical Complexity Initiative on May 11, 2010. quality, safety and service. The American Legion Celebrates Signing Of Veterans Caregivers And Families Relief Act “But National Commander urges lawmakers to “not forget” veterans of previous eras” W ith an American Legion official standing behind him Wednesday afternoon, President Barack Obama signed into law the long-awaited Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus are beginning to be met.” Many of The American Legion’s top legislative priorities have been included in the congressionally popular Caregivers Health Services Act. As its name implies, the act calls for the and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, including improve- government to provide health benefits, training, respite care and, ments for women’s services at VA health-care facilities, better in some cases, monetary stipends for individuals who provide support for caregivers of disabled veterans, expanded mental- at-home care for severely ill and disabled veterans. health services and more funding to help reduce homelessness “This is a big step in the right direction,” said The American among veterans. Legion’s National Commander Clarence E. Hill. “Finally, the As it stands, the benefits of the new act apply primarily, sacrifices made by the families and caregivers of our wounded though not exclusively, to veterans and caregivers of veterans of warriors are being recognized and, more importantly, their needs Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) – the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. According to a House Veterans Affairs Committee press release, the act does require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) “…to provide hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for cer- tain Vietnam-era veterans exposed to herbicide, and Gulf-War era veterans who have insufficient medical evidence to establish a service-connected disability” but contains little else specific to veterans of the pre-9/11 era other than to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to “…submit a one-time report on the feasibili- ty and advisability of expanding the program to cover veterans who have a serious injury incurred or aggravated before September 11, 2001.” “The American Legion has urged and will continue to press congressional leaders to expand this very important but incom- plete legislation to benefit all seriously injured and ill veterans and their caregivers,” Hill said. “Our nation must not forget them.” The estimated cost of implementing all current provisions of the act is $1.7 billion over the next five years. Observers say future funding will be the biggest obstacle to expansion of its benefits. Page 26 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 OCW Shows More Support For Fort Lewis E arlier this month, The American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors program was announced as the overall winner of the Pepsi Refresh Everything Contest. Pepsi awarded cussion, which gave wounded warriors and their family mem- bers an opportunity to raise issues that face them and their fami- lies. Legion officials were able to address those issues with Fort a $250,000 grant to OCW - a transition assistance program that Lewis staff later in the day as they toured the facility. helps returning military assimi- “The gut feeling is that this late back into civilian life. was a terrifically successful Already, the money is being visit,” said Phil Riley, director put to good use. American of the Legion’s National Legion staff members visited Security and Foreign Relations Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Division. “We were welcomed Washington State for an and before we actually started Operation Comfort Warriors dis- the business end of the trip, we tribution effort on Wednesday. were thanked for the gift from a The Legion announced that it year and a half ago when the will provide nearly $29,000 in Legion’s OCW provided a gift wounded warrior support items of biofeedback equipment, to Fort Lewis. It was OCW’s which is very effective therapy second showing of support for for PTSD and TBI victims.” Fort Lewis, which was given Additionally, it was biofeedback equipment by the Department of Washington Commander Robert announced that the Legion Legion about a year and a half W. Schwartz presents an OCW check to Lt. would receive office space at ago. The devices aid in the Col. Daniel Dudek, battalion commander of the Fort Lewis’ Soldier and Family recovery of PTSD and TBI vic- Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Lewis. Also Support Center. There, the tims. pictured are Legion National Security Division Legion can house a service offi- The Legion also will provide Director Phil Riley and Command Sgt. Maj. cer who will work medical eval- a comprehensive kiosk-based James Davis. uation board cases and physical information system to benefit evaluation board cases for the wounded warriors and their family members and caregivers, wounded warriors. The service officer will work DoD Disability allowing access to all the data needed to take full advantage of Evaluation System cases for servicemembers, and represent ser- appointments, therapy opportunities unit events, social events vicemembers before and during their Physical Evaluation and community events. Boards and with making appeals of disability determinations Legion staff members also participated in a family forum dis- when required. Failure To Comply D espite a law passed more than a decade ago, federal agencies are still failing to comply with a key mandate: make agencies responsible for meeting their small business needs.” Sharpe, director of the Legion’s Economic Division, sure that small businesses has criticized for some time owned by service-disabled the inability of federal agen- veterans get at least 3 percent cies to meet the congression- of all federal contracting dol- ally mandated goal of award- lars. ing 3 percent of their con- Testifying April 29 before the tracts to service-disabled vet- House Veterans’ Affairs eran-owned small businesses Subcommittee on Economic (SDVOSBs). Opportunity, Joe Sharpe of “The Department of The American Legion said, Defense, who will have the “The very men and women responsibility of directing who served in uniform, stood more than $6.5 billion of ready to fight and - if neces- stimulus infrastructure, con- sary - die in order to protect tinues to be satisfied with an and preserve America’s free Legion staffer Joe Sharpe testifies before the embarrassing, less-than-1-per- enterprise system, are sum- House Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on cent achievement of the feder- marily ignored by the federal Economic Opportunity. Photo by Craig Roberts ally mandated 3 percent June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 27 SDVOSB contracting goal,” Sharpe told the subcommittee. mines the spirit and intent of P.L. 106-50 (Veterans Especially important to note, Sharpe explained, is that the stim- Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of ulus money has been earmarked for construction and infrastruc- 1999 ),” Sharpe said. He recommended that fiscal 2010 funding ture improvement - two strong suits among SDVOSBs, according for the Office of Veterans Business Development be increased to the Federal Central Contractors Registry. from its current $2 million to $15 million “in order to implement Additional funding from the Army Corps of Engineers and a nationwide community-based assistance program to veterans other sources brings the total for military or VA projects to more and self-employed members of the Reserve and National Guard.” than $20 billion, according to Sharpe. “The American Legion In his testimony, Sharpe listed several recommendations from finds it unconscionable that businesses owned by veterans remain The American Legion, including: at the back of the line when competing for federal contracts,” he • Implementation of a coordinated, standardized training pro- told the subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Stephanie Herseth gram for procurement staff that focuses on SDVOSB procurement Sandlin, D-S.D. “Last year, The American Legion pointed out strategies in their respective agency. that, although the stimulus package included a number of eco- • Reissue by President Obama of Executive Order 13-360, nomic development and small business outreach programs, not a “Providing Opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran dime was specifically targeted toward the development of veteran- Businesses” to increase federal contracting and subcontracting owned businesses.” opportunities for veterans, and make it part of SBA’s regulations. Further emphasizing his point that federal contractors are still • Hold agency leadership responsible for meeting the 3-percent dropping the ball when it comes to hiring veteran-owned small congressionally mandated goal. businesses, Sharpe quoted from the remarks of Rep. Nydia The American Legion Small Business Task Force has devel- Velazquez, D-N.Y., at a congressional hearing last March: oped an initiative to challenge the leadership of DoD service com- “Federal agencies missed their small business contracting goals by ponents that are not meeting the 3-percent goal. 2 percent. Procurement officers will tell you that number is negli- “We identified the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) as among gible, and no big deal. But while a 2-percent shortfall may not the worst-performing organizations in terms of award percentage sound like a lot, it ultimately cost entrepreneurs $10 billion in to SDVOSBs,” Sharpe told the subcommittee. Last January, The missed opportunity.” American Legion requested a meeting with DLA’s director, Vice While The American Legion welcomed the Small Business Admiral Alan S. Thompson, and his staff. To date, DLA has not Administration’s decision last March to spend about $1 million in responded. grants to help veterans with their businesses, Sharpe pointed out “Vice Admiral Thompson is a flag officer serving as a director that SBA has $10 million in discretionary spending. “The of a DoD agency supporting America’s warfighters. However, his American Legion believes a portion of that money needs to be organization continues to fail at meeting a congressionally man- directed toward the (SBA’s) Office of Veterans Business dated goal aimed at assisting the very community that has sacri- Development,” Sharpe said, noting that the office “remains crip- ficed so much,” Sharpe said. He recommended that the subcom- pled and ineffective due to inadequate funding.” mittee schedule a hearing with DLA and other federal agencies “The American Legion feels that this is insufficient and disap- that consistently fail to meet their procurement goals with pointing to America’s veteran business owners and clearly under- DVOSBs Department Adjutant In Trouble With The Law At Boys State Department Adjutant, Pat Smith has to walk up to a Pueblo Country Sheriff to explain why his car was parked in an illegal parking area for over 24 hours massing so many parking tickets. Handcuffs and a trip to Pueblo County Jail awaited our poor Adjutant....anyone have bail money so we can get him out of jail???? Hahahaha Page 28 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 can reach our goal. If you need assistance or have questions, National Vice Commander Message ask, firstname.lastname@example.org Remember that every donation goes into the fund, which pro- SAL Update vides grants to organizations helping kids throughout the nation. By: Jim Gelwicks, National Vice Commander Your efforts count. O n August 23, I was elected National Vice Commander of the Sons of The American Legion during our national con- Pictures From The Annual vention in Louisville, Kentucky. I’m working with Sons in ten states from North Dakota to New Mexico. The position serves as SAL Child Welfare Foundation a liaison between the national Dinner organization and states. At national, we are focusing attention on working with Veterans Hospitals and raising money for Child Welfare. So far, I’ve visited seven veterans facilities, honored the fallen with wreath ceremonies in three Detachments, and lobbied Congress and Legislatures on Veterans issues. Membership in Colorado is slow this year. Colorado can do Jim Gelwicks better. We need to start early in National renewing our members for next Vice Commander year. Why do we drag this process out? Too many members carry cards with 2009 written on them. The earlier we complete our membership drives, the more we can devote to programs and helping veterans. Bill Radunz (Sqd 178), right, presents a CWF I am a proud Son. It’s a great honor to serve everyone. check to Detachment Commander Shawn McCrary, center as National Commander Detachment Of Colorado’s Arneson far left, and National Vice Commander Gelwicks, second from far left, watch. Annual Child Welfare Foundation Dinner N orth Jeffco Squadron 11–11 hosted the Detachment’s Sixth Annual Child Welfare Foundation Dinner on April 3rd. National Commander Mark Arneson (Georgia) remarked, “a great event, I couldn’t miss it. You all do a wonderful job.” The event raised $8,116 for The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation. The foundation provides annual grants to programs throughout the United States. The Colorado Sons are among the top contributors to the foundation every year. When combined with previous contributions, Colorado is the current leader in CWF fund raising. Our total contributions for the year exceed $20,257. Colorado ranks second, just behind Pennsylvania ($300 on May 1) and ahead of California in total contributions and are first in per member contributions at $7.58. We are three-fourths way to our Detachment goal of $25,000. Let’s get to work. How did we reach our current contributions? One dollar at a time! How do we reach the next five thousand? The CWF cake held by National Commander One dollar at a time! Act now and raise donations for the Child Mark Arneson (GA), left, and Jim Gelwicks, Welfare Foundation. This year’s fundraising cycle ends on May right, National Vice Commander. 31 with donations in Indianapolis by June 1. I know together we June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 29 Owens’ Purple Heart Finally Reaches Home A t American Legion Post 147, in James Island, S.C., a Purple Attendees who stayed enjoyed a nice meal provided by the Post Heart citation for one of the original “Band of Brothers” was returned to the family of the man who earned it with his 147 Auxiliary. Two local television stations also covered the cer- emony. death on D-Day. The ceremony, held on Armed Forces Day, “It’s wonderful that we could return this citation to where it honored Sgt. Richard E. Owens of the 101st Airborne Division belongs,” Seavey said. “It has been great getting to know Mr. who died June 6, 1944, when his plane was shot down in Owens and his family through all of our historical research, but Normandy. But his Purple Heart citation was only recently dis- now that we have located the family, it is time to put it back in covered, turning up in an upstate New York Salvation Army the hands of people who know how much it means.” store. Marshall stressed that, “I want everyone to know that Richard Ronald Heimbrock of Messena, N.Y., found the Purple Heart was never forgotten by our family, and he was always loved and and an accompanying portrait of Richard Owens in January remembered by out family.” While she had no idea how the cita- when they were anonymously dropped off at his Salvation Army tion ended up in Messena, she was pleased to have it back. She store. He turned to the news and later to blog sites to try to find expressed happiness that the effort to locate the family had a family member to return the certificate to. It quickly came to resulted in so much renewed interest in Richard Owens and the the attention of Legion blogger “Mothax” who started searching family. “I’m glad this brought so much attention to a man like as well. Richard who deserves it.” Devoted researchers, led by an American Legion blogger, But his Purple Heart citation was only recently discovered, have made sure the citation turning up in an upstate New returns to where it belongs. York Salvation Army store. The search became larger Devoted researchers, led by and larger as amateur histori- an American Legion blogger, ans and genealogists from have made sure the citation across the country joined in. returns to where it belongs. As Heimbrock stated, “We Ronald Heimbrock of could not have sold this, we Messena, N.Y., found the could not have thrown this Purple Heart and an accom- away. We needed to return it. panying portrait of Richard That is the only thing we Owens in January when they could have done with it.” were anonymously dropped Mothax travelled through off at his Salvation Army southern Indiana, getting store. He turned to the news birth certificates and histori- and later to blog sites to try cal records while other to find a family member to Legionnaires scoured mili- return the certificate to. It tary records in Winchester, quickly came to the attention VA. After a great deal of Mark Seavey holds an Army photo of Richard of Legion blogger “Mothax” researching, a tip paid off, who started searching as Owens. Great niece Susanne Marshall holds the and Owens’ grandniece, well. Susanne Marshall, was dis- Purple Heart, and Cpt. Ronald Hembrock displays The search became larger covered to be located just the Purple Heart Citation. Photo by Caroline and larger as amateur histori- outside of Charleston, S. C. Fitzgerald ans and genealogists from Marshall, a descendant of across the country joined in. Owens and his widow, Ruth McCann, gratefully thanked The As Heimbrock stated, “We could not have sold this, we could American Legion and Salvation Army Captain Ronald not have thrown this away. We needed to return it. That is the Heimbrock of Messena, N.Y., for bringing the citation and only thing we could have done with it.” accompanying picture back to her. Marshall, who hails original- Mothax travelled through southern Indiana, getting birth cer- ly from Winchester, VA., brought a scrapbook that contained tificates and historical records while other Legionnaires scoured pictures of Richard and Ruth, as well as letters written to home military records in Winchester, Va. After a great deal of and articles written about the search for remaining family mem- researching, a tip paid off, and Owens’ grand niece, Susanne bers. Marshall, was discovered to be located just outside of The event was emceed by former Department Commander Charleston, S. C. Heimbrock and Mothax are currently in Dick Walsh of James Island and attended by members of The Charleston, ready to pass over the citation and the portrait to American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary. Legion blog- Marshall at a ceremony that takes place Saturday - Armed ger Mark Seavey represented National American Legion staff, Forces Day. and Hembrock and his family came from the Salvation Army. Page 30 The American Legion Internet Observer June 2010 Joblessness On The Table T he American Legion shared its ideas on how to get more jobs for veterans at a May 26 roundtable held in Washington by the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. ans is good for business. It doesn’t get much simpler than this,” he said. The American Legion wants Congress to extend Post-9/11 GI Hosted by Committee Chair Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., the Bill education benefits to vocational and training schools. gathering had representatives from eight veterans service organi- Madden pointed out that many veterans seek such education zations, including Robert because it takes less time than Madden, assistant director of traditional schools and gives The American Legion’s them skills that can lead to Economic Division. Its purpose immediate employment. was to discuss joblessness “Veterans should be allowed to among veterans, highlight suc- choose their own education and cesses of some top military- career path,” Madden said. friendly businesses, discuss Veterans’ preference for fed- stakeholder plans to help eral jobs “is being thwarted and employ more veterans, and sug- usurped,” according to Madden. gest measures Congress can “With programs such as the take to assist veterans in their Federal Career Intern Program, job search. veterans are being passed over In his prepared remarks for for direct hires. Veterans prefer- the roundtable, Madden said the ence needs to be properly current levels of unemployment Robert Madden, assistant director of The implemented.” among veterans called for “dras- American Legion!s Economic Division, shares More hiring fairs for veterans tic solutions.” He listed four his thoughts at a House Veterans! Affairs - where they can interview for steps The American Legion is Committee roundtable on veteran!s employ- real job openings - should supporting to get veterans back ment. Photo by Craig Roberts become a priority for federal to work: hiring more veterans in agencies, Madden said. Such the private sector, extending GI Bill benefits to vocational and fairs have been successful before, hiring veterans “on the spot.” training schools, strengthening veterans’ preference and creating In closing, Madden highlighted the need to train veterans so more hiring fairs. they can market their military skills effectively in the civilian Madden told the House roundtable that the federal govern- job market. “We need to be training veterans more than a three- ment needs to spread the word in the private sector about the day class during separation,” he said. many qualities that veterans can offer employers. “Hiring veter- American Legion Welcomes New Measure To Improve GI Bill Benefits versities.” T he American Legion welcomed the introduction of a Senate bill last week that would substantially improve and expand education benefits for veterans. Robert Madden, assistant director of The American Legion’s economic division, said that if Akaka’s bill (S. 3447) becomes Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, is sponsoring the Post-9/11 law, “every veteran would be free to choose any type of educa- Veterans Educational Assistance Improvements Act of 2010, tion and employment path that he or she happens to desire. which he introduced in the Senate on May 27. “Veterans have served America with pride and dedication. “This new legislation would realize some of the changes With bipartisan support, Congress can show its gratitude to them we’ve been suggesting to Congress for the past couple of years,” and their families by creating a GI Bill that is much more equi- said Clarence Hill, national commander of The American table,” Madden said. Legion. “We’re especially happy to see that Senator Akaka’s bill If passed, Akaka’s legislation would upgrade veterans educa- would extend benefits to those veterans attending vocational tion benefits with several new provisions, including: schools, on-the-job training and apprenticeships.” • Veterans attending vocational schools would receive the Hill said the original 1944 GI Bill – authored and champi- national yearly average for tuition/fee payments, plus housing oned by The American Legion – paid for the education of about stipend based upon regular rate of the military’s BHA (basic 16 million veterans. “And half of them went to some type of housing allowance). vocational institution after World War II, so it’s most appropriate • On-the-job training and apprenticeships will be paid for on to expand today’s benefits beyond traditional colleges and uni- a prorated schedule: June 2010 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 31 • 75 percent of costs for the first six months, 55 percent for lished rate (which would become prorated, based on a veteran’s the next six months, and 35 percent for each subsequent month actual course load). up to 24 additional months; benefits also include housing • Instead of paying up to $2,000 for a one-time test for licen- stipend and $1,000 annual book stipend. sure or certification, an unlimited number of tests will be • 60 percent of charges for flight training and 55 percent for allowed, with charges being deducted from a veteran’s monthly correspondence courses will be covered, based on the national benefits. average of established cost at all institutions of higher learning. During a hearing before the Senate Veterans’ Affairs • Servicemembers who retired after Sept. 11, 2001 but before Committee on April 21, Madden urged Congress to cover non- the Post-9/11 GI Bill went into effect would be able to transfer degree education programs with GI Bill benefits, saying that current veterans education benefits to their family members (this such a disparity “has caused much concern.” provision would be paid for by DoD and other federal agencies). At that same hearing, Akaka promised to introduce legislation • Housing allowance: distance-learning students and those before Memorial Day to help improve veteran’s education bene- attending schools overseas will receive 50 percent of the estab- fits. He delivered on that promise last week. Offering Up Informed Advice T he American Legion recently offered its advice to a House subcommittee on various pieces of legislation - proposed and pending-related to veterans health care. expanded to cover veterans from the Korean War and Vietnam War eras. While VA has improved its outreach to veterans, Searle said, Barry Searle, director of The American Legion’s veterans “significant issues remain and there is much work to be done.” affairs and rehabilitation division, reminded the House He noted the value of the Transition Assistance Program and the Subcommittee on Health that the Legion monitors the quality Benefits Delivery at Discharge program, “but outreach efforts and timeliness of VA health care with its “System Worth vary both in quality and effectiveness. Saving” Task Force. Its mem- “In particular, reserve compo- bers conduct annual site visits at nent members released from VA medical centers nationwide. active-duty mobilizations are “We have found that turnover often rubber-stamped and of personnel and the shortage of returned to their home stations, personnel at most facilities with little or no understanding require renewed emphasis on of what entitlements they have standardized procedures, quality earned, due to their honorable review and individual training,” service,” Searle said. Searle told the subcommittee, The American Legion pro- chaired by Rep. Mike Michaud, vides regular updates to its D-Maine. members on VA benefits and One proposed bill, H.R. changes to any entitlements; it 4505, would provide VA nursing also reaches out to veterans with home care to parents of children professional service officers in who died while serving in the each state. Currently, the Legion Legion VA&R Director Barry Searle testifies is helping VA with its outreach Armed Forces. The American Legion sent letters to members before a House Veterans Affairs subcommit- efforts to Priority Group 8 veter- of Congress in January, urging tee. Photo by Craig Roberts ans. passage. Searle said that such partner- While the original provisions were made with good inten- ships between VA and veterans service organizations “continue tions, Searle said it was unrealistic to require “that all children to benefit the veteran population. of a parent must die in service to this nation, in order to qualify “This demonstrates that extended VA outreach has an imme- for admission to a nursing home.” diate impact on the lives of veterans, and VA must not lag The American Legion supports another proposed bill that behind in the modernization and scope of their own outreach to would provide hearing aids to World War II veterans with serv- veterans,” he said. ice-connected hearing losses, and recommends the legislation be June 2010 - Back Page The Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation Fundraising Radiothon R ick Crandall, radio personality, veteran, veteran’s advocate and tireless worker spreading the word about The American Legion, its programs and how we help our nation’s veterans American Legion Post 1 hosted us for the broadcast and they were simply amazing. These are special friends who really want to see the Memorial built! fight for their rights. Through the use of the radio airwaves he The Monaco South Optimist Club, who just happened to be broadcasts interview with department and national American having their breakfast meeting at the Post, passed a hat and col- Legion leadership, and tells the lected $280 dollars, and then stories about veterans and their asked how they could become experiences to keep the memory ongoing sponsors! We had of past alive. pledges called in from New It was during one of those Mexico, and ISRAEL!! We had public announcement inter- hundreds of people stop by and views, to spread the word about we made many new friends for Colorado American Legion the Memorial. It would be Boys State and increase public impossible to list everyone here awarness amoung his listening who supported us. Please know audience, that he said he would you were the shot in the arm we like to do a Colorado Freedom needed to get re-energized to Memorial Foundation fundrais- keep moving forward. What a ing radiothon around the wonderful day it was!!! Don’t Memorial Day weekend. And, stop now. wondered if Legion Post 1 Please keep sharing our story would provide their facilities to with people and inviting others Rick Crandall, center, puts his magical voice to support him. to join the effort. Let’s make A quick phone call to the Post work entertaining his listening audience, playing 2010 the year we beat the odds 1 Adjutant, Joe Sweeney, to got swing music and talking about what this nation!s and showed our Gold Star fami- the ball rolling and before the veterans have done to protect the freedoms we lies how grateful we are. end of that that day, Rick’s had all enjoy today. Thanks Rick for all that you do The Colorado Freedom the facility booked and their Memorial will provide all of us for our veterans. support enlisted. an opportunity to make sure we Rick Crandall on May 28, 2010, went on the air not only to never forget the price paid for our freedom. On two acres of entertain his listening audience with his swing music out of the park land in Aurora there will be a glass-walled memorial unlike 40’s, but at the same time raised funds in support of the any other in America. It will be etched with the names of all Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation. Colorado veterans killed or missing in action since those first 46 Now, Rick writes, The Colorado Freedom Memorial fell in the Philippines. Foundation would like to THANK everyone who made the Make it a point to participate. You’ll help us bring home, if KEZW-AM 1430 Freedom Memorial radiothon a tremendous by name only, over 6000 of the best Colorado had to offer. And success. We raised over nearly $30,000 in our 12-hours on the you’ll be saying to the families left behind, we didn’t forget. It air and were touched by so many wonderful people, and stories. really is the least any of us can do. The Annual VA&R Reception And Awards Ceremony Will Be Held At Aurora Post 23 On Thursday June 24.
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