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Veterans Benefits Information

A community-post relationship 100 years strong

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Located approximately 45 minutes south of the Twin Cities, Montgomery, Minn., was platted in 1877. Four decades later, American Legion Post 79 was chartered and has been an integral part of the city ever since.

On Aug. 10, the post again opened its doors to its community, this time to celebrate 100 years of that strong relationship. The event included live bands, food, a corn hole tournament and an opportunity to view the post’s history through pictures and documents on display. Dozens of members of the community attended the event.

Past Post Commander and current Department of Minnesota Vice Commander Mike Maxa said the relationship between the post and Montgomery made opening the centennial celebration up to the public an easy decision.

“Our community here supports our veterans,” Maxa said. “I’m really proud of Montgomery because they do step up and support Post 79 and their veterans. The city was instrumental in developing our Veterans Memorial Park. They donated the land for us and we put up the rest. Montgomery really stands behind its veterans.”

Post 79’s 42-year-old commander, Corey Kotek – who grew around the Legion with his father, Ed, a member of Post 79 – said that relationship was critical in the post being able to celebrate the centennial. “For us to last 100 years in the community, we had to be joined – both of us together,” he said. “We need the support from the community, and the community benefits from us being a part of it.”

Being commander as The American Legion turned 100 has led Kotek to imagine “how it started 100 years ago. One of the founding fathers of The American Legion was born and raised here in Montgomery, George Washington Bentley. So thinking about 100 years ago, the end of World War I, they were there and starting this. Thinking about that and the nostalgia with it is pretty amazing.”

World War II veteran and 73-year Legionnaire Edward E. Holicky understands that nostalgia. His father – Edward T. Holicky – was a founder of Post 79. Seeing what his father started celebrate a 100th birthday “is neat to see,” Holicky said.

Fellow Post 79 member and World War II veteran Buck Zahratka, a Battle of the Bulge veteran, joined the post more than 60 years ago. Being a part of the 100-year celebration “is pretty great. It’s an honor to be here,” he said. “There aren’t very many (organizations) that can celebrate 100 years.”

Inside Post 79, Post Historian Andy Regenscheid has set up a wall display in the post’s club area that honors a member of the post and include photos of the veteran during his time in the military, with his family and while participating in American Legion activities. He said the reason behind the display, which changes every two months, is to honor those veterans while they are still alive.

For Regenscheid, the centennial event was a chance for the public to do something similar – “to give the community the opportunity to meet some of the veterans and share an appreciation for what they have done for them.”

Serving as post historian has been “eye opening” for Regenscheid, who found a book that contained the minutes from Post 79’s very first meeting. “I’m very proud to be a part of (the centennial),” he said. “And an event like this gives people a chance to see what we do and who we are.”

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OCW donations to support wounded veterans this weekend

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The American Legion's Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) program will be helping hundreds of wounded veterans and their families this weekend with two events.

On Aug. 17, OCW donations will cover the cost of admission to Six Flags Fiesta in San Antonio and lunch for hundreds of patients from Brooke Army Medical Center and their families for a day of relaxation, camaraderie, food and rides. OCW has worked with the Department of Texas since 2012 to make this event happen, and Legionnaires from the department will be on site to distribute OCW gifts to the wounded veterans.

Also on Aug. 17, OCW and the Hawthorne Gardening Company in Vancouver, Wash., will kick off their newly-formed relationship by hosting 500 veterans and their families to the Tacoma Rainiers vs. Fresno Grizzlies minor league baseball game at Cheney Stadium. Food and gifts will be provided.

Each year The American Legion awards about 25 OCW grants that provide comfort items and rehabilitation equipment to wounded servicemembers and veterans recovering at VA medical facilities and warrior transition units. Every dollar that is donated to OCW goes toward purchasing items for the recovering servicemembers and veterans. Help continue these OCW events, donations of rehabilitation equipment and comfort items that support our veterans by making a donation online at

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Sign up for American Legion Flag Alerts

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Interested American Legion Family members, patriots, supporters and others are now able to subscribe to the organization’s text alerts when the flag has been ordered to fly at half staff.

In recent months, the Flag Alerts continued to be dispatched whenever the president ordered flags to be lowered as part of a period of mourning. However, due to a change in text policy by phone carriers, new subscribers were unable to sign up for the alerts.

Now customers can opt-in to receive text messages for the flag alerts (those who previously signed up will not have to do so again). To subscribe to the Flag Alerts, text Flag to 534466.

If you no longer want to receive these notifications, text STOP to 534466 to cancel the service. Or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

For more information, text HELP to 534466, call 800-433-3318 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Please note that data rates may apply. Depending on your text plan, you may be charged by your carrier.

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2019 Legacy Run to again be a moving experience

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One of the most moving experiences of the 2018 American Legion Legacy Run stop in Albert Lea, Minn., was when more than 200 American Legion Riders stopped at Graceland Cemetery to pay their respects to U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Corey Goodnature.

The chief lead pilot of a Chinook helicopter, Goodnature was killed on June 28, 2005, when his aircraft was hit by Taliban and Al-Qaeda fire while attempting to assist a Navy SEALS team under intense fire in the mountains. Goodnature, seven other crew members and eight Navy SEALS were killed when the helicopter crashed. On Aug. 21, 2018, the Legion Riders watched as Goodnature’s parents, Don and Debbie, placed a wreath at his grave.

The ceremony left many Legion Riders with tears in their eyes, which again likely will be the case during this year’s Legacy Run stop in Waycross, Ga., on Aug. 18. There, the Riders will attend a similar wreath laying to honor U.S. Army Sgt. Chad M. Mercer, who was killed during combat operations on June 30, 2005, in Baghdad. Mercer’s mother, sister and son will attend the ceremony, as will members of the community and local officials; a visit to American Legion Post 517, and a ceremony and dinner will follow at the Historic Passenger Rail Depot in Waycross.

“It’s going to be a really big town event,” said Legacy Run Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan, noting Waycross Mayor John Knox will be in attendance.

The stop in Waycross is one of the many highlights of this year’s Legacy Run, which will leave American Legion Post 347 in Lady Lake, Fla. – the world’s largest Legion post – on Aug. 18 and arrive in Indianapolis on Aug. 22 for the 2019 American Legion National Convention. Along the way, the ride will make stops in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky, before ending up at Kenneth N. Dowden Wayne Post 64 in Indianapolis.

This year’s ride will include stops at lakeside posts in Gainesville, Ga., and Spartanburg, S.C.; a lunch stop at Cumberland Bowl Park in Jonesville, Va.; a dinner stop at Wildcat Harley-Davidson in London, Ky.; and a lunch stop at Post 9 in Madison, Ind., before the ride comes to an end in Indianapolis. On some stops, smaller flights of Legion Riders will visit American Legion posts in the area that are not scheduled for stops by the larger Run contingent.

American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad will accompany the ride, and in fact is getting his ride to the American Legion World Series via the Legion Riders. The Run will stop in Shelby, N.C., on Aug. 20 for an afternoon parade in downtown Shelby, and afterward Reistad will be taken to Keeter Stadium for the ALWS championship game.

Two events will take place in Florida prior to the departure of the ride. From 4 p.m. to closing on Friday, Aug. 16, Gator Harley-Davidson, 1745 US-441, Leesburg, will have bike and rider accessory vendors, food vendors and a live band. All proceeds will be donated to the Legacy Fund.

And Aug. 17 will be a full day at Post 347. Ride registration is from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; all participants must report to the registration tables for additional Run materials, wristbands, and to sign final waiver documents. All riders must check in with completed emergency medical forms.

American Legion Emblem Sales will be set up from 8 a.m.-7 p.m., selling a large assortment of American Legion Family merchandise and taking catalog orders. Various rider briefings will take place, food will be available to purchase from noon-2 p.m., and the All-Riders Safety Briefing will take place from 4-5 p.m.

Post 347 will provide a spaghetti and meatballs dinner, which will be followed by the Run’s opening ceremony. Sussan urges all participants to arrive at Gator Harley-Davidson Lady Lake Post 347 as early as possible on Friday and Saturday.

Sussan said Margaret Abbott – the widow of American Legion Rider and 11-time Legacy Run participant Verlin Abbott, who was killed in a motorcycle accident while providing a funeral escort in Indianapolis two weeks before the 2018 Legacy Run – is sending some of Verlin’s riding gear to Post 347 for anyone who can use it.

“Rain gear, gloves and helmets – they’re going to be delivered to Lady Lake and we’re giving them away to the Riders,” said Sussan, who in the past few years had planned the ride with Verlin. “So that’s going to be with us on the ride. And (Verlin’s brother Von) is going to join us on the last gas stop going into (Indianapolis).”

The Run will depart Post 347 at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 18.

The ride raises money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, which provides college assistance for the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher. The 2018 Legacy Run raised a record $1,300,804 for the fund, the fifth-straight year the ride has raised more than $1 million. The American Legion Department of Minnesota led the way, donating $251,000 during the national convention in Minneapolis, while the departments of Missouri ($93,324), South Carolina ($65,204), Florida ($57,005), Wisconsin ($45,439), and Kansas ($27,717) were top contributors.

Donations continue to grow each year as more American Legion departments are staging in-state Legacy Runs. This year, several departments again had successful state rides: Minnesota ($146,828), Missouri ($86,009), South Carolina ($66,000), Maryland ($50,000-plus), Virginia ($30,000), California ($23,706), Texas ($22,000-plus) and Kansas ($20,000).

Online registration for riders and passengers taking part in the 2019 Legacy Run will remain open through the entirety of the ride, while registration for supporters (non-riders and non-passengers) will remain open indefinitely. To register, click here. To date, more than 400 participants have registered for the ride.

Online registration is simple and easy with a credit card payment. Those preferring to print and mail a registration form with a check or money order need to continue through the online registration process. Instructions are provided on the information review page to print the registration form and mail payment.

A reminder that pre-payment for fuel and meals is mandatory, in order to avoid dealing with cash on organized fuel stops and to be able to properly advise meal locations how much food to prepare.

For those wanting to support the Legacy Run but are unable to participate, online registration for supporters will continue indefinitely. Supporter registrations of $25 or more will also receive a thank-you package while supplies last.

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U.S. Mint to sell Legion centennial coins at convention

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The U.S. Mint will have a presence in the Exhibit Hall at the Indiana Convention Center during the American Legion's 101st National Convention in Indianapolis, Aug. 23-29.

American Legion Family members attending convention will have the opportunity to purchase American Legion centennial coins. A limited-edition print will also be available, courtesy of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

For more information about The American Legion's centennial coin series and to make a purchase, visit

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