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Six Men Tell Their Stories of Sexual Assault in the Military

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More than 100,000 men have been sexually assaulted in the military in recent decades. Shame and stigma kept the vast majority from coming forward to report the attacks. Six men are speaking out to break the silence.

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Patriot Day, coast to coast

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As many Americans spent Sept. 11 remembering the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States carried out 18 years ago, American Legion posts and Legion Family members across the country helped commemorate Patriot Day in their communities.

The following are a sampling of how Legion posts spent Wednesday honoring those killed during the attacks, gathered from various media outlets.

California

Sons of the American Legion Squadron 291 in in Newport Beach held a Patriot Day event that included remarks from Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon and first responders, as well as food, vendors and music at Veterans Memorial Park, which adjoins Post 291.

Colorado

George Beach Post 4 in Fort Collins conducted a 9/11 memorial service. Click here for video via The Coloradoan: https://www.coloradoan.com/videos/news/2019/09/12/9-11-memorial-service-american-legions-fort-collins-post-4/2295587001/

Florida

Dozens of veterans, Palm Bay firefighters and police gathered at Charles F. Thomas IV Post 117 in Palm Bay for a poignant tribute to those who died on Sept. 11, along with those Brevard County first responders who died in the line of duty. A ceremonial bell tolled during the ceremony.

Illinois

• American Legion Post 332 in Rockton hosted a “9/11: Never Forget Tribute,” where local lawmakers and first responders reflected on the impact of the 18th anniversary. It was the third year for the tribute.

• In Bloomington, American Legion Posts 56 and 635 gathered to honor and remember those lost on 9/11. “I think it refreshes in everyone’s mind, even the people who remember it," Post 635 Honor Guard Commander Jerry Monical told CI.com. “It refreshes in their mind and lets the younger people know also what happened that day.” The ceremony concluded with trumpet Taps and a ceremonial flag-folding to honor the military and first responders. https://www.centralillinoisproud.com/news/local-news/american-legion-post-635-hosts-9-11-memorial-ceremony/

• In Elgin, American Legion Post 57 and the city teamed up for a ceremony at the city’s Civic Center Plaza. The morning included the posting of the colors, remarks from speakers, ringing of the fire bell, a gun salute and the playing of taps. “As I think of Sept. 11 this 18th year, one thing comes to mind and the thing that perhaps we should learn: the day after Sept. 11 there were no hyphenated Americans. We were only Americans," Post 57 Legionnaire Tricia Dieringer told the Elgin Courier News. "And regardless of what happens in your life, in your community or in your nation, we are strongest when we are together. We are strongest when we can forgive, show compassion and we know what’s truly important in our lives. And most of all we’re strongest when we’re on our knees looking up.”

Kansas

In Topeka, members of American Legion Post 421 gathered at the Fairlawn Road overpass over I-70 West to wave flags for passing motorists.

Michigan

In Grand Haven, residents gathered at American Legion Charles A. Conklin Post 28 to remember the first responders and others who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks 18 years ago. According to the Grand Haven Tribune, Post 28 Commander Janet Fonger asked everyone to continue to remember Sept. 11, 2001, for the days and years ahead. “We need to remember this day,” she said. “We need to remember what happened to our country 18 years ago, and we need to keep in mind the lives that were lost on that day.”

Montana

In Bozeman, law enforcement officers, firefighters, veterans and others gathered at American Legion 14 to honor the first responders who went into burning buildings on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as those who continue to risk their lives.

“We have to memorialize those who passed away and gave their life for this country,” Post 14 member Randy Kemp told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “It was 18 years ago; some people in this room may not have been born.”

Nevada

In Laughlin, Richard Springston American Legion Post 60 honored first responders. Members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s Laughlin Substation, representatives of the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Highway Patrol Division and personnel from the Laughlin stations of the Clark County Fire Department were on hand to receive a lunch and thanks from members of the post for their bravery and sacrifice on a daily basis while serving the residents and guests of Laughlin.

New Hampshire

• At a Wednesday evening dedication ceremony for the new 9/11 memorial at Veterans Park in Salem, Gov. Chris Sununu said the granite monument honors the nation’s firefighters, policemen, and men and women in uniform who fought and continue to fight wars that were the consequence of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The Salem N.H. Won’t Forget Committee, which is under the umbrella of American Legion Post 63, put the memorial together.

• In Hampton, six names were added to the Global War on Terrorism Monument located outside American Legion Post 35: Master Gunnery Sgt. Dale F. Racicot, 54, of Weare; Spc. Matthew R. Woods, 22, of Lyman; Spc. Jonathan M. Mickle, 27, of Rye; Spc. Ryan J. McDermot, 26, of Hampton; Sgt. Ryan P. Goggin, 30, of Wolfeboro; and Cpl. Jonathan W. Currier, 21, of Hampton. The monument bears the names of all servicemembers from New Hampshire who lost their lives in the Global War on Terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001. “We try to make the monument more inclusive than most,” Post 35 Commander Berkley Bennett told Seacoastonline.com. “We do it for the families of the fallen, so that they don’t feel that their loved one is forgotten.”

New Mexico

In Conway, a ceremony was attended by about 80 people in North Conway’s Schouler Park. The event was chaired by State Rep. Steve Woodcock, a member of American Legion Post 95 of North Conway. “We are here to honor, remember and pray for the over 3,000 lives that were lost on that tragic day,” Woodcock told the Conway Daily Sun. “And beyond that, we cannot and should not forget the families and friends that are still impacted each day by these losses.” The ceremony included a “Heroes’ Flag of Honor” that included the names of the 3,000 people who died on 9/11 after terrorists hijacked commercial airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in New York. Another hijacked jetliner was flown into a field in Pennsylvania.

New York

• In Batavia, Glenn S. Loomis American Legion Post 332 conducted its first ceremony to mark the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. The ceremony included the tolling of a bell at the exact times planes struck the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon, and at the time a plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pa., after passengers prevented terrorists from reaching the Capitol. The tolling of the bell was followed by a prayer and a period of silence, then comments and remembrances if anyone wanted to share them. Legionnaire Jim Neider said Post 332 would like to make the ceremony an annual event. “I think in this digital age, we tend to forget these personal connections like this. We think that the personal contact is essential,” he told The Daily News.

• In Olean, American Legion Post 530 hosted a ceremony that included speeches from Mayor William J. Aiello, Assemblyman Joe Giglio and Olean American Legion Commander Jim Farmer. The speeches were followed by a flag raising from Navy veteran Conrad Tincher and Army veteran William Hilliard. Then Olean Fire Chief Robert Bell and Olean Police Chief Jeff Rowley placed a wreath in memory of those lost. “Veterans already have two days of remembrance, Memorial Day and Veterans Day,” Farmer said. “This is what today is for, to remember those who ran into those burning buildings. Today is a day to say to your first responders, thank you for your service.” https://www.tapinto.net/towns/greater-olean/sections/police-and-fire/articles/olean-community-remembers-victims-and-heroes-of-9-11

Oregon

A ceremony organized by American Legion Post 10 took place at the courthouse lawn in Albany, where a large crowd – including local students – came to pay tribute to the victims of Sept. 11.

“On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists robbed America of more than 2,000 lives,” Post 10 Commander Dave Solomon told the crowd. “Quite simply, 9/11 wounded our nation in a way it hadn’t known since the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

Pennsylvania

• A U.S. flag was suspended 30 feet between ladder trucks from local fire departments at American Legion Post 868 in Lower Burrell for a ceremony, which included a rifle salute from Post 868’s Color Guard. Speeches were delivered by Post 868 Commander Ed Zollinger, Lower Burrell Mayor Rich Callender and state Rep. Bob Brooks, R-Murrysville. Post 868 has a 9/11 memorial with a section of a beam from one of the twin towers and has been honoring the anniversary since the first year after the attacks.

• In Mansfield, Austin-Cox Post 478 again conducted a memorial ceremony at Mansfield Veterans Park. "It's an important part of our American history, and it's a sad part," American Legion Post 478 commander Bruce Dart told WENY. "It's something that we need to remember and salute all the people who died and all the people who responded, who also subsequently died."

• In York County, American Legion Post 799 donated nearly 3,000 U.S. flags to two seniors at Central York High School, Clayton Brosend and Madeline Brodbeck, who placed the flags on their school grounds. Each flag represented a life lost during the 9/11 attacks. The flags are part of the pair’s 9/11: Never Forget Project. They are working with their classmates and teachers to make sure the next generation of students never forgets 9/11.

South Carolina

In downtown Conway, American Legion Post 111 and other local civic groups held American flags on the Main Street Bridge to commemorate the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Virginia

At the Appomattox Court House, American Legion Post 104 conducted a memorial service again, having done so every year since 2002.

“At about this very moment 18 years ago, the second plane struck the south tower of the World Trade Center in New York City,” Post 104 Public Information Officers Howard Gregory said. “And all of us instantly realized that our nation was under attack and that life would never be the same for us again.”

Virgin Islands

In St. John, first responders were joined by more than 20 cadet firefighters and veterans for a solemn ceremony to memorialize the 9/11 attacks and honor those who put their lives before others in times of disaster. The events were organized by Viggo E. Sewer Post 131 and were timed to take place at the hour of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York 18 years ago.

Post 131 Commander Harry Daniel led the audience in a rendition of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” After a closing prayer, the public was invited for refreshments at the post.


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9/11: An opportunity to educate the nation's youth

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With the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, now 18 years in the past, there are now seniors in high school who may not have been born when the attacks occurred.

That’s why many American Legion posts across the nation feel it’s their role to remind those youth what transpired on that day. On such post is Hilton Stone American Post 279 in Woodbury, Tenn., which on Sept. 11 conducted its ninth National Patriot Day Ceremony.

A full gymnasium of Cannon County High School students, first responders, military personnel and community members joined Post 279 Legionnaires, state and district Legion leaders and American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford. The national commander was invited by Post 279 to attend the ceremony while on his official visit to the Department of Tennessee; near the close of the ceremony he was presented a $425 donation by the post to the Legion’s National Emergency Fund.

“Today, we’re in a school, and that’s part of who we are and what we do,” Oxford said. “We are about training, teaching and educating our young people, and providing the developmental process for them to make sure we don’t forget 9/11.

"We’ve also got to remember that America was under attack on 9/11, but we’re still under attack. We’re still constantly facing those kinds of issues and things that we need to remember.”

Looking around as the bleachers in the gym began to fill with students, Post 279 Adjutant Michael Parks explained that “9/11 was 18 years ago. Most of these kids weren’t born, so they need to know. Whoever said it – ‘if you don’t know history you’re going to repeat it.' They need to know the sacrifices the (first responders) and military have made all along, and especially since 9/11.”

Welcoming attendees to start the ceremony, Post 279 Third Vice Commander Christine Barrett called the ceremony “a solemn reminder of the continued sacrifices of our first responders and military that are deserving of our utmost honor and respect.”

In his law enforcement prayer, Rev. Tony Burnett – statewide coordinator of the Drug Recognition Expert School and Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement within the Tennessee Highway Safety Office – said first responders “so many times go to places that we fear, places where we are that we don’t know what to do. I pray today and throughout every day that they would feel the commitment and appreciation of their community.”

Cannon County Rescue Squad Chief Operating Officer Tim Bell, a former state paramedic of the year, was the guest speaker and reminded the audience that among those U.S. citizens killed when planes hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and when a fourth plane crashed in Pennsylvania, were 412 first responders.

“This day is a day that we should never forget. We don’t want to forget,” Bell said. “We want to honor those (killed).”

Bell, who graduated from Cannon County High School, urged the students to not shy away from serving their community and country, “either in the military or in the volunteer fire department or rescue squad. If you believe that you can’t help, you won’t. If you believe that you can’t do something, it will be a self-fulfilling promise. But if you believe that you can do something, you will be able to.”

Post 279 Commander David Faulkner said that the events of 9/11 deserve the same recognition and reflection as another event that took place nearly 78 years ago.

“It’s important for our nation to take the time to remember those events in our history that have shaped this nation,” Faulkner said. “Two of those events that have happened in the last 100 years … are the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Forces of Japan on the seventh of December, 1941. The next major attack was on Sept. 11, 2001 by a group of terrorists.”

Among the students in attendance were 2019 Tennessee Boys State attendees Lucas Clark, Austin Powell and Collin Reed, who recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Cannon County Fire Department Chief Michael Underhill struck a bell honoring fallen first responders, while a member of each area first-responder agency was honored as an Outstanding First Responder by Post 279.

Near the close of the ceremony, retired U.S. Army Sgt. Franz Walkup placed a wreath in front of the podium.

"Today is about remembering, honoring and never forgetting those who died on 9/11,” Oxford said, “those who died (during the attacks), but also the first responders who actually participated in the rescues.”


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Colorado Legionnaires remember sacrifices made 18 years ago

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On Sept. 12, 2001, finding an American flag on a store shelf was near impossible – they were flying outside homes, schools, businesses and churches to show unity and patriotism in a time of tragedy.

“We were all proud Americans … we were united, we were strong,” said American Legion Department of Colorado Commander Dean Noechel Sept. 11 during Loveland Post 2000’s 9/11 remembrance ceremony. While looking at a massive American flag hanging from the ladder of a Loveland Fire Department truck at Foote Lagoon park where the ceremony was held, Noechel, whose theme as commander is “Reigniting Patriotism,” said, “I have seven brothers that came home underneath that flag. When I see that flag wave, it makes me proud to be an American.”

This was Post 2000’s fifth annual 9/11 ceremony where American Legion Family and community members, Loveland Mayor Jackie Marsh, the local fire and police departments, and other first responders came to the park to pay their respects and honor the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives, including 343 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers, on a day that became the deadliest terror attack on American soil.

The ceremony opened with a 21-gun salute, posting of colors, singing of the National Anthem and opening remarks by Post 2000 member and chairman of the event Tony Abbott. He asked Legionnaires, veterans, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency personnel, doctors and nurses to stand in recognition of their ongoing service, sacrifice and role in saving lives.

“It’s more important than ever for us to unify as Americans. Everybody that was here (for the ceremony) was here because they’re a patriot,” said Abbott, who was a volunteer fireman on the dive team and rope rescue team when the attacks occurred. “They’re all here because of what happened on Sept. 11.”

Sept. 11, 2001, was a day that forever changed America, one that many can recall where they were when news reached them that America was under attack, and one that instilled patriotism in Americans to serve their country.

Tabbott has a guest speaker each year for the ceremony to share how 9/11 changed them. This year it was Post 2000 Commander and Sons of The American Legion Squadron Commander Tony Koch, who was about three weeks in to his seventh grade year when teachers shared the shocking news. Then, five years later during his senior year in high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army “to be a part of something bigger. To continue the sense of honor and duty that I developed in the Boy Scouts,” he shared with the crowd. “If it were not for the first responders on that day, more lives could have been lost. You save, heal and protect this beautiful place we call home.”

The event for Loveland Assistant Police Chief Tim Brown is a reminder of “a very meaningful piece of a relationship (with the community) that was born out of tragedy,” said Brown, a law enforcement officer for 37 years. “The respect for the military, the first responders, law enforcement, emergency staff and then the show of support from the community, our veterans … that mutual respect and camaraderie is incredible.”

As online news stories throughout the day Wednesday recounted the events that occurred 18 years ago, Koch read a headline that stood out to him and one he closed his remarks with. “We need to start treating this era like we did Sept. 12, 2001, where everything is American and that we should become one.”

The ceremony concluded with the playing of Taps on a bugle and “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. Sept. 11 remembrance events like the one held by Post 2000 are conducted throughout the country to never forget the sacrifices made and continue to be made by servicemembers.

“I want people to remember the sacrifice the civilians made … just by going to work. By taking a flight,” said Noechel, an Army veteran who was on active duty and stationed in Hawaii on Sept. 11, 2001. “I want everybody to remember that because for a military person, we signed up and we knew there was a chance we were going to go to combat. The (servicemembers) who joined after 9/11, they made the choice that they were going to defend our country because of what happened. Those (lost on 9/11) just went to work.”

Colorado Springs Post 209 Jr. Vice Commander Desiree Guerra was in 10th grade when she heard the news that lead her on the path to protect and defend her country.

“For people who joined (the military) after 9/11, we knew (what we were signing up for) … it was this fire inside of us that we’re going to do this and this is something that I’m committed to," she said. "I love my country enough to do that.”


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American Legion invites D.C. area veterans to discuss VA care

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The American Legion invites all Washington, D.C,. area veterans and their family members to a town hall meeting to discuss their VA care.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, at American Legion Kenneth Nash Post 8, 224 D St. SE, Washington, DC, 20003.

The town hall is one of many such events that The American Legion will conduct around the United States this year. The American Legion hosts these events to hear feedback from veterans about the quality of health care they receive at their local VA facilities.

Staff from The American Legion's Washington, D.C., office and The American Legion Department of District Columbia will be in attendance.

The American Legion is scheduled to hold these remaining System Worth Saving site visits in 2019:

Oct 22 -24 Lexington, VA Medical Center, Lexington, Ky.

Nov 4 - 6 Salisbury VA Medical Center, Salisbury, N.C.

Dec 2 - 4 Central Alabama VAHCS, Montgomery, Ala.


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Did you know?

The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at www.archives.gov