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Veterans Benefits Information

Guidelines for honoring the Four Chaplains

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Sunday, Feb. 3, will mark the 76th anniversary of the sinking of the United States Army Transport Dorchester and the selfless acts of four Army chaplains aboard.
The Dorchester tragically sunk on Feb. 3, 1943, while crossing the North Atlantic, transporting troops to an American base in Greenland. A German U-boat fired a torpedo that struck the Dorchester, killing 672 of the 902 officers and enlisted men, merchant seamen and civilian workers aboard. Many of those survivors owe their lives to the courage and leadership exhibited by four chaplains of different faiths, who, in sacrificing their lives, created a unique legacy of brotherhood.

As soldiers rushed to lifeboats, Reverend George Fox (Methodist), Jewish Rabbi Alexander Goode, Reverend Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed) and Father John Washington (Roman Catholic) comforted the wounded and directed others to safety. One survivor watched the chaplains distribute life jackets, and when they ran out, they removed theirs and gave them to four young men.

As the Dorchester sank, the chaplains were seen linked arm in arm, praying.

American Legion posts nationwide remember Four Chaplains Day with memorial services that pay tribute to the courageous chaplains and the brave young men who lost their lives on that fateful night. The following is an example of how to conduct a Four Chaplain’s service.

Location: The service can be held at a post, fraternal hall, auditorium, church, synagogue or chapel.  

Media: Spread the word about your Four Chaplains service through local newspapers, radio and TV stations, and social media. Encourage reporters to write about the upcoming service or to do a follow-up story.  

Program: Printed programs add to the dignity and importance of the occasion.

Suggested format:
Posting of the colors
Pledge of Allegiance
“America the Beautiful” (assembly or solo)
Welcome
Invocation
Introduction of guests
Message (focused on the Four Chaplains and sacrificial service)
Tributes to the Four Chaplains (wreath laying or candle lighting by four clergy, one of each faith)
“Let There Be Peace on Earth” (assembly)
Benediction
Retirement of colors

To symbolize the tragic sinking of the Dorchester, there can be any number of focal points for the service such as four lifejackets or four empty seats.  
For a story about and biographies of the Four Chaplains, suggested introductory remarks, formats and music, and remarks for the candle lighting ceremony, download The American Legion’s Chaplain’s Handbook here.


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American Legion invites Tampa, Fla., area veterans to discuss VA care

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The American Legion invites all Tampa, Fla., 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, Jan. 21, at American Legion Post 111, 6918 N. Florida Avenue, Tampa.

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 National Headquarters office in Washington, D.C., and American Legion Department of Florida, as well as representatives from VA and members of the Florida congressional delegation, will be in attendance.


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Membership to be discussed during annual meeting

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Members of The American Legion’s National Membership & Post Activities Committee will meet in downtown Indianapolis Jan. 11-12.

The annual meeting will be conducted by newly-appointed Membership & Post Activities Committee Chairman Rev. Daniel J. Seehafer of Wisconsin. Special guests include National Commander Brett Reistad and leading candidate for 2019-2020 national commander James "Bill" Oxford of North Carolina.

Committee members will hear an update on membership incentives and retention awards, resolutions, training initiatives and details about Reistad designating the week of The American Legion’s 100th birthday, March 10-16, as “Week of Personal Engagement.” The national commander is calling on Legionnaires to make contact with veterans in their community to ask them join and be a part of Team 100.


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Chairman Takano Introduces Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) released the following statement after introducing H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019: “The 116th Congress has officially been sworn-in, and thousands of veterans are still waiting for their government to deliver on its promise and grant them the benefits they have earned. The fact that politics got in the way of our duty to care for veterans affected by toxic exposure is a disservice to the 90,000 Navy veterans who served in the coastal waters of Vietnam, and an insult to all veterans who served with the expectation that their country would care for them if they were wounded while serving. “We must get to work and finally secure the benefits our Blue Water Navy veterans earned over 40 years ago. As Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I am committed to working in a bipartisan manner to ensure this remains a top priority for this new Congress. It is time we right this wrong. “It is up to Congress to ensure that we repay our debt to the veterans of this country by upholding our responsibility to provide treatment and care for injuries and illnesses sustained while they served.”   ###

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Membership effort set for California

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American Legion national staff and Department of California Legionnaires will team up for a district revitalization and membership outreach effort Jan. 17-19 in the Sacramento Valley area. Veterans in the area are invited to attend a special service session at Yolo American Legion Post 77, 523 Bush St., Woodland.

The hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Jan. 17-18, and 9 a.m.-noon Jan. 19. Veteran service officer information will be available to assist all area veterans with claims or other veteran benefits related questions during these times.


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