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Veterans Benefits Information

American Legion welcomes president’s signing of POW/MIA Flag Act

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American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford thanked President Trump for signing a bipartisan act which will require certain prominent federal properties to display the POW/MIA Flag every day with the U.S. Flag.

“Yesterday I was humbled to stand with my fellow veterans inside the Oval Office and watch the president of the United States sign this symbolic but important legislation,” Oxford said. “It is important that Americans never forget that there are still more than 82,000 men and women who were taken prisoner or never had a full accounting. The American Legion reveres their memory and will continue to honor them at all of our meetings. I plan to visit the headquarters of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency later this month to observe their work firsthand. DPAA does a remarkable job of identifying and repatriating so many heroes who paid the ultimate price for freedom. The American Legion is eager to explore additional ways to lend our support.”


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Legion College graduates leave Indy with tools for membership growth

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On Friday, 57 Legionnaires celebrated a successful week at National American Legion College in Indianapolis, where they gained a deeper knowledge of the organization, developed mentorship and leadership qualities, explained their “why” when it comes to belonging and recruiting, and much more.

At a graduation ceremony in the NEC Room at National Headquarters, Legion College Chancellor and Past National Commander David Rehbein encouraged and challenged the class of 2019 as they prepared to receive their diplomas.

“Your leadership is going to be dependent upon your communication skills,” Rehbein said. “The better they are, the better you can be a leader. Accept criticism, and never let it get personal. If you’re never criticized, you’re never challenged. But make sure the criticism is valid.”

For post meetings, come early and stay late,” he continued “It’s about creating personal relationships. A big part of this is getting to know each other … we’re all in this together.

Finally, “the only time you should be aware of what color of cap you’re wearing is when you look in the mirror. If you act different because you now put on a white cap … that’s a failure. (No matter the color of the Legion cap), deep down we are all blue caps and need to remain blue caps so we can connect with people at the post.”

The Legion College graduates return home with tools and other resources to continue growing as Legionnaires and to help support their departments.

Michael Downs, commander of American Legion Post 1 in Alaska and the department’s second vice commander, wanted to attend Legion College to learn how he can do more for the organization at the local level.

“I want to help more, and I want to have the tools that I need to do that,” Downs said. “I don’t want to be stumbling around in the dark. (This has been) a great experience. Interacting with other folks here has probably been the best part.”

For Patricia Thurston, sergeant at arms for the Department of Maine, she enjoyed sharing ideas and camaraderie with other Legionnaires. “The experience has been very positive,” she said. “Everybody is lifting each other up and working together.”

Networking through Legion College is “the most valuable piece of your experience,” National Commander James Oxford told the graduates. Further, with what they’ve learned, they will sell others on the benefits of belonging to The American Legion. “You are the best commercial that we can have out there.”

As the graduation ceremony concluded, the students presented Oxford with an $1,800 donation to support his fundraising efforts for The American Legion’s Veterans and Children Foundation.


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November impact report shows Legion support for kids, veterans

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American Legion National Commander James “Bill” Oxford challenged the organization in October to “build a Foundation for the Future” by contributing to the Veterans & Children Foundation. The foundation provides cash grants to veteran and military families with children at home that are facing financial hardships. It also pays for American Legion service officer training and support.

The November Membership Impact Report shows, in numbers, just how much the foundation means to The American Legion’s mission. Also this month’s “Moment in History” panel looks back at the transition from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, after a 1951 American Legion resolution.

Click here to see the November 2019 Membership Impact Report and others of past months.

 


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I Never Expected to Protest the Vietnam War While on Active Duty

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In 1969, this Army veteran joined a contingent of active-duty troops at an antiwar rally. That led him to a lifelong career working for peace.

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Legion Riders turn out to honor one of their own

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A strong American Legion Riders presence gathered Oct. 27 in Richmond, Va., to say goodbye to one of their own. Legion Riders from as far as Florida came to the University of Richmond’s Cannon Memorial Chapel for a memorial service for World War II veteran and avid American Legion Rider Dr. E. Bruce Heilman.

Heilman pass away Oct. 19 at age 93. He was a member of Maj. Charles A. Ransom American Legion Post 186 in Midlothian, Va., and took part in multiple Rolling Thunder events with the American Legion Riders and also rode on the 2015 American Legion Legacy Run.

Heilman’s motorcycle was placed outside the chapel, and American Legion Riders from Post 186 and other chapters rode their motorcycles to the chapel in a tribute to their fallen comrade.

“He was just … somebody to look up to just from his stories and you know, everything that he’d been through in his life,” Post 186 Legionnaire Gordie Holmes told The Collegian. “It was just great to know him.”

Heilman’s daughter, Bobbie Heilman Murphy, said when it was decided to place her father’s motorcycle outside of the chapel, she reached out to Post 186’s Legion Riders to see if they would attend the ceremony on their motorcycles.

“They immediately responded and said they would be there to do that, and it was such an honor for them to do that,” Heilman Murphy said. “It was amazing.”

A World War II Marine Corps veteran, Heilman fought at Iwo Jima and decades later rode 6,000 miles across the country, traversing 20 states, to bring awareness to the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Heilman served as a spokesman for The Greatest Generation Foundation and Spirit of ’45, organizations dedicated to honoring World War II veterans and honoring America’s Gold Star Families, families who have lost loved ones in combat.

In addition to serving as the University of Richmond’s chancellor since 1986, Heilman also served as the university’s president from 1971 through 1986 and again from 1987 to 1988.

And though Heilman didn’t become involved with the American Legion Riders until the final years of his life, his daughter said the bond that developed was a strong one.

“He really loved being around people who had been in similar situations that he had been in, and not only veterans, but riders,” Heilman Murphy said. “He so much enjoyed meeting and experiencing other people’s stories about (wars). He loved hearing their stories. He really loved hearing about other (veterans’) experiences in wars, whatever war it was.”

For more about Heilman’s relationship with the American Legion Riders, click here.


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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