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Veterans Benefits Information

Legionnaires pursue medals owed to vets

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It took nearly 70 years for retired Army Staff Sgt. Willard B. Hinnant from Selma, N.C., to be awarded the Bronze Star medal – a recognition he earned for his acts of bravery during World War II but never received. Hinnant, like many other veterans, would still be waiting to receive earned military honors if it wasn’t for the Veterans Legacy Foundation and its special group of volunteers: Legionnaires. 

The non-profit Veterans Legacy Foundation, located in Cameron, N.C., was founded in 2010 by John Elskamp, a retired Air Force veteran and member of American Legion Post 28 in Lillington, N.C. Elskamp founded the organization in effort to conduct what congressional aides and veteran agencies no longer have time for – tracking down overdue medals to veterans from World War I to post Desert Storm.

“It’s rewarding when we help veterans get the recognition that they’re owed,” said Elskamp. “All of the people that work with me are just as passionate as I am about helping our veterans.”

The ability to  pursue awards owed to veterans isn’t foreign to Elskamp; that was his job while on active duty, and his passion for it hasn’t resided. Now, Elskamp and his colleagues, which consist of around 10 volunteers, wear many hats when it comes to tracking down the medals. They are detectives looking for platoon leaders and commanding officers; researchers pouring through old historical files; and fundraisers seeking state and federal grants, a well as charitable donations. The group offers their services free of charge because they understand the value of leaving behind a legacy.

“What I did in the military is important to me and my family, and earning a medal is something you want to leave behind,” Elskamp said. “This is why the group is called Veterans Legacy.”

Since it’s establishment, the foundation has given overdue recognition to nearly 35 veterans in several North Carolina counties, and currently has 80 active cases. Each case can take anywhere from 30 to 40 days to complete, or up to several years for the more difficult ones. And more importantly, an official ceremony is hosted when a veteran is awarded for his or her heroism.

The foundation seeks ceremonial support from the local National Guard. They will ask National Guard members to attend the ceremony and even send a one-star general, or another servicemember of higher rank, to present the award(s) to the veteran. For Hinnant, the Bronze Star medal was pinned to his suit on the steps of the Johnston County Courthouse in Selma where an audience of family, friends, Legionnaires and Legion Riders applauded in excitement.

“We haven’t been forgotten,” Hinnant said. “That’s the big thing really.”

As word of the Veterans Legacy Foundation’s success continues to rapidly spread, resulting in other states contacting the group for assistance, Elskamp said the foundation’s goal is to expand outside of North Carolina in hopes of giving more veterans the recognition they deserve.

Visit the Veterans Legacy Foundation’s Facebook page to see many of the veterans who have been honored for their service thanks to the volunteer efforts of Legionnaires.

 


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New Era in Army Medicine: Horoho Takes Command as Army Surgeon General

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Lt. Gen. Patricia D. Horoho offically became the the 43rd Army surgeon general this week. She is the first woman and first nurse to hold the top spot in Army Medicine.

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Army-Navy set for Saturday

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The annual Army-Navy football game is scheduled for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md. The game is sponsored by USAA, a partner with The American Legion, and will be broadcast on CBS. Navy enters the game 4-7, while Army is 3-8. Sons of The American Legion member Ken Kraetzer – who hosts The American Legion Veterans Segment and covers Army football WVOX AM 1460 in New Rochelle, N.Y. – attended the game’s media luncheon and wrote two pieces about the game. Click on the links below to read Kraetzer’s stories. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/972803-college-football-armys-andrew-rodriquez-nations-top-scholar-athlete-by-nff http://bleacherreport.com/articles/966319-college-football-army-versus-navy-press-conference

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Legion: Reconsider pipeline delay

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Pointing out that unemployed veterans need jobs now, American Legion National Commander Fang Wong is encouraging President Obama to speed-up production of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. “We are very disappointed that President Obama is delaying the approval for this needed project,” Wong said. “This project alone has the potential to create 20,000 construction and manufacturing jobs and stimulate related business activity that could lead to at least 250,000 permanent jobs. Returning veterans are disproportionately unemployed and would undoubtedly benefit from these jobs. Moreover, the United States must reduce its reliance on energy imports that can be disrupted by foreign conflicts, terrorism or piracy.” The $7 billion privately funded pipeline would carry an estimated 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada, the Dakotas, Montana and Oklahoma to Gulf Coast refineries. It has undergone years of environmental review but must be approved by the State Department since it would cross an international border. The oil would be extracted from Canada’s tar sands. Last summer, delegates to The American Legion’s 93rd National Convention in Minneapolis passed Resolution 107 in which they urged all segments of the U.S. government to pursue and grant all required permits for the proposed pipeline “without further delay.” “President Obama clearly cares about helping unemployed veterans,” Wong said. “He should be commended for recently signing the Veterans Opportunity to Work Act. But the truth is that unemployed veterans need jobs now and the Keystone XL Pipeline has widespread support among members of both parties and unions, who see this as an opportunity for true ‘shovel-ready’ jobs. We urge the president to put our nation’s interests first. Approve the pipeline.” Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who favors the project, pointed out on Fox News recently that Canada will likely extract the oil whether the United States approves the project or not. “That oil will be produced, it just won’t go here. It will go to Asia or elsewhere.”

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Army-Navy set for Saturday

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The annual Army-Navy football game is scheduled for Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md. The game is sponsored by USAA, a partner with The American Legion, and will be broadcast on CBS. Sons of The American Legion member Ken Kraetzer – who hosts The American Legion Veterans Segment and covers Army football WVOX AM 1460 in New Rochelle, N.Y. – attended the game’s media luncheon and wrote two pieces about the game. Click on the links below to read Kraetzer’s stories. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/972803-college-football-armys-andrew-rodriquez-nations-top-scholar-athlete-by-nff http://bleacherreport.com/articles/966319-college-football-army-versus-navy-press-conference

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