Dear American Legion Family Members and Friends,
The report by the Navy Times hit like a gut punch. No hot water, A/C or doors with locks for junior troops forced to live in hellish Walter Reed base barracks was the headline of the article published on Feb. 4. In essence, nearly 500 Navy corpsmen and Army medics stationed at Naval Support Activity Bethesda were housed in quarters with insufficient hot water, broken locks, inoperable air conditioning and other “trouble ticket” items that even the commanding officer admits have existed for years. It is no small irony that the two barracks were named Comfort Hall and Sanctuary Hall. Fortunately, leadership at the facility has started relocating more than 350 of the servicemembers to temporary lodging and initiating the needed repairs.. But still, one has to wonder how did we get to this point? In 2007, the Washington Post reported mold and rodent infestations in Building 18 at the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In 2021, a congressional delegation toured a barracks at Fort Hood which was described as “the worst they’d ever seen.” Military.com reported a similar situation at Camp Lejeune. When the media exposed a wait-time and records manipulation scandal at a VA Medical Center in 2014, The American Legion loudly proclaimed that the problem was “not just Phoenix.” Subsequent inspector general reports and congressional hearings proved us right. I hope that history is not repeating itself with military housing. The sixth of the 11 Principles of Military Leadership is “know your people and look out for their welfare.” Every military commander should take it to heart. Infrastructure has been one of the most used Washington buzz words for the last year, yet I can think of no infrastructure project more worthy than providing quality housing for our military members. Veterans have endured many hardships while serving in war zones. But garrison living should be different. The men and women who choose to serve in our all-volunteer force have many other attractive options. They should not be subjected to living in third-world conditions while serving in a first-world nation. The military of 2022 should not expect its members to live in housing that hasn’t been adequately renovated in decades. Next month, I will address a joint committee of Congress. You can bet that this will be a major topic of discussion.
For God and Country, Paul E. Dillard National Commander of The American Legion
Good afternoon all,
Please share as you see fit and as needed. Please carefully review the attached National Emergency Fund (NEF) application. Spring 2022 has begun. In light of the recent tornadoes and wildfires in the south and anticipating destructive weather conditions now that Spring is upon us, we are sending this e-mail to all as a reminder that the NEF is here to assist Legionnaires, SAL members and American Legion posts that have sustained damages due to a declared natural disaster. For the fires, the NEF will only provide for those fires that were started naturally, not fires started by people.
For Legionnaires and SAL members, grants are capped at $3,000. For American Legion Posts, grants are capped at $10,000.Having a big sale, on-site celebrity, or other event? Be sure to announce it so everybody knows and gets excited about it.
Please review the application carefully, and remember, until there’s an emergency or disaster declaration for a natural disaster in place (federal, state or local), the NEF can’t help until one is issued. If a declaration is issued, ensure that the applicant is current on their membership prior to the disaster and at the time of application submission, provides photos, receipts and any insurance paperwork. FEMA statements are good too. Statements from American Legion Post/District/Department officers or community leadership is encouraged to reinforce the grant application. Ensure application is completely filled out, or it could be sent back to the department for more information. This is all outlined on the application and is provided for on the instruction sheet and the video. NEF does not provide for repairs or replacement of lost or damaged items in the primary home of residence. If the destroyed property is owned by the member, but he/she does not physically live there, that property is not covered by the NEF. Vehicles or outbuildings are not covered. These should be covered by the member’s insurance. If available, provide copies of insurance determination, if any. If the home is rented, renters insurance information should be provided, if any. Call or e-mail me for any clarifications. For American Legion posts, only things covered are post programs that might sustain losses pertaining to the intent of the Four Pillars of The American Legion. Losses from the social quarters and/or restaurant of the post are not covered. A copy of the most recent Consolidated Post Report (CPR) needs to be attached. Written statements from post/district/department officers and/or local community leaders as to how the losses to the post will be detrimental in the community is very helpful. Insurance documents should be provided. Departments can mail, fax (317-630-1413) or scan/e-mail the application and any attachments (photos, receipts, other supporting documents) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff will process from there. If approved by the National Adjutant, a check will be cut from Finance and mailed that same day or the next day to the department adjutant to disburse to the member or the post. Address to mail to: The American Legion National Headquarters ATTN: National Emergency Fund Internal Affairs & Membership Division P. O. Box 1055 Indianapolis, IN 46206 If a National Emergency Fund application comes to us directly from the member, we will scan/e-mail back to the department adjutant for his or her recommendation. Remember, the department leadership and volunteers are “boots on the ground”, so the department has to make the best determination for recommended grant amount to the national organization.
(OKLAHOMA CITY) – ODVA AIMS TO SERVE OKLAHOMA’S MOST DISABLED VETERANS THROUGH “70 PERCENT-PLUS INITIATIVE”
The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) “70 Percent-Plus Outreach Initiative” has been launched. The “70 Percent-Plus Outreach Initiative” is a tightly focused effort by ODVA to connect, through in-person presentations, direct mail, radio spots and word of mouth, with the 53,000 Oklahoma veterans who are 70 percent or higher in their service-connected disability to reach those who need long-term care. Veterans with a long-term care need and service-connected rating of 70 percent or higher can live completely free of charge in one of ODVA’s seven State Veterans Homes. Unlike many other long-term care facilities in Oklahoma that rely on Medicare/Medicaid (CMS) funding, ODVA does not have a “spend down” requirement where a veteran must divest of his or her life savings prior to receiving assistance. Also, all medications are provided to all resident veterans completely free of charge. Oklahoma’s seven Veterans Homes are located in Ardmore, Claremore, Clinton, Lawton, Norman, Sulphur, and Talihina and have a combined total of 1,423 beds. Each Home is designed and staffed to meet the unique needs of aging and disabled veterans, and each Home has its own unique features, amenities, and local culture. Each Veterans Home offers highly professional, on site accredited medical staff, social workers, pharmacies, and recreation, as well as varied therapies. Also, a brand-new State Veterans Home is presently under construction in Sallisaw, Oklahoma and is scheduled to open its doors mid-summer 2023. “It is indeed a special privilege to care for Oklahoma veterans who have faithfully served our state and nation,” stated Joel Kintsel, Executive Director, Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs. “These men and women truly exemplify the ethos of “service before self” and it is an honor to care for them and to support their families.” By state law, disabled veterans receive priority admission to the State Veterans Homes as do veterans on the basis of their service period and status as combat veterans. In addition, ODVA maintains an admissions “waiting list” to allow veterans who do not need care now, but wish to plan for future long-term care needs to apply now to minimize what could be a significant wait at the time they seek future admission. To be eligible for admission, applicants must have served in active Armed Forces of the United States for at least 90 days and must have received a discharge under conditions other than dishonorable. Likewise, an applicant must need long-term care as documented by a medical professional. A full list of eligibility requirements as well as the application for current or future “wait-listed” admission can be found at: oklahoma.gov/veterans/veterans-centers.html
(OKLAHOMA CITY) – The Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) is excited to announce that Oklahoma has reached a special milestone. Oklahoma is now number ONE among the 50 states for veterans, per capita, in receipt of federal, service-connected disability benefits. This represents a $2.4 billion cash infusion into the Oklahoma economy. “We have an amazing veterans community here in Oklahoma and this could not have been accomplished without all the veteran service organizations banding together as a team and working really hard to achieve this,” said Joel Kintsel, ODVA Executive Director. Out of approximately 300,000 Oklahoma veterans, there are about 100,000 veterans with some level of service-connected disability. Service-connected disability means that the federal VA has established that a veteran has a compensable injury or medical condition resulting from military service. For the 100,000 service-connected, disabled Oklahoma veterans, this reflects $2.4 billion provided directly to the individual veterans. “So much can be accomplished when we all work together. Hitting number one was a huge win for the Oklahoma team,” said Pete Peterson, Chairman, Oklahoma Veterans Council. “Congratulations to our great Veteran Service Officers across Oklahoma for the outstanding achievement of being first among the 50 States,” stated Charles O’Leary, State Commander, American Legion. “All of us sacrificed during our time in the military and disability is the price we paid for that sacrifice.” “The VFW is very proud to be part of Oklahoma’s accomplishment. This is proof of the power of veterans helping veterans,” said Jim Basset, State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars. “I am tremendously proud of ODVA’s role in bringing Oklahoma to number one,” stated Larry Van Schuyver, State Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart and Chairman, ODVA Veterans Commission. “Our Executive Director has shown tremendous leadership leading Oklahoma’s effort to the top.” “Oklahoma has achieved this level of success in serving veterans because there is no competition in helping veterans. Oklahoma service organizations have unified in this effort. We are one team and one family taking care of veterans,” said Danny Oliver, State Adjutant, Disabled American Veterans. “As a paralyzed Oklahoma veteran, this issue is near to my heart,” stated Bill Kokendoffer, State Commander, Paralyzed Veterans of America. “At the PVA, we are committed to serving paralyzed veterans and we are proud to be a part of the effort to be number one.” It is estimated that nearly half of the Oklahoma veterans who are eligible for compensation for injuries and/or medical conditions arising from military service have not yet applied. 2 Oklahoma veterans who need assistance with filing a claim for service-connected disability are invited to call or visit on-line: (405) 523-4000; www.oklahoma.gov/veterans
The American Legion is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization with great political influence perpetuated by its grass-roots involvement in the legislation process from local posts to Capitol Hill. Legionnaires’ sense of obligation to community, state and nation drives an honest advocacy for veterans throughout our nation. The American Legion’s success depends entirely on membership, participation and volunteerism.
The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans.
The American Legion's Washington Conference, held annually in our nation's capital gives our organization's leadership a chance to meet with elected officials to discuss legislative initiatives and priorities important to Legion members and their families. It also provides a forum that allows Legionnaires to hear from senators, representatives, and officials from the White House and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Please give to our Oklahoma Veterans and their families.
Help The American Legion provide another 100 years of service.