Inside Helping Veterans Come Home by yaosaigeng

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									                                            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


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 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, jgelwicks@western.edu
                                                                        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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