Received a request from the Commander that all Post 163 Officers be informed of a Self-paced Online Training Course they need to complete. The URL is as follows: 

  

                        https://www.legion.org/alei

  

I’m Cc’ing the Cmdr as I’m sure he’d greatly appreciate a link (of your own design) notifying Post Officers, and other interested members, that the course is available in a Self-paced Online format. 

Thanks so much for all that you do! 

  

Ron 

For God and Country, 

Ron Durand 

American Legion Post 163 

Chaplain/ALR Communications 

321-795-5709 

rond383@outlook.com or rond383@att.net   

http://legionpost163.com/

IMPORTANT NOTICE CONCERNING FAKE EMAIL FROM NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS

Forwarded from Bob Hughes, Commander, POST 163

Members are receiving a fraudulent email purporting to be from national headquarters (email below).  At this time, we don’t know who it is going to in the Legion, but several members have already notified us that they received it.  

A .pdf is attached to the email (I have deleted it from this email so no one will open it).  The .pdf includes our name and emblem and indicates that “a secure document sent to you concerning an important upcoming event.”  It contains a link that should not be opened.  We are currently checking to see what happens when the link is clicked. 

  

Please advise your members that they should not open the attachment or click on any links in this email. 

  

National Adjutant Wheeler will provide additional details to you as soon as they are available.

email looks like this:

 

From: "The American Legion" <rich.fisher@comcast.net>

Date: January 31, 2018 at 8:23:20 PM CST

To: "The American Legion" <rich.fisher@comcast.net>

Subject: File

Dear Member, 

You have been selected to speak at upcoming district event, kindly see attached file for your review. Your prompt attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated. If you have any queries regarding this, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

 

Best Regards 

  

The American Legion National Headquarters 

700 N. Pennsylvania St. 

P.O. Box 1055 

Indianapolis, IN 46206 

Fax: (317) 630-1223

DO NOT OPEN THE

ATTACHED FILE

OR ANY LINKS

Military Times: Veterans group creates PSA to follow rejected Super Bowl ad

By: Kyle Rempfer    4 days ago

4.2K 

  

AMVETS has created a 30-second public service announcement to elaborate on their print ad that was rejected by the NFL for including the message “#PleaseStand.”

In the new announcement, phrases like “please vote,” “please volunteer,” “please serve” and “please exercise your rights,” are interspersed with shots of an American flag waving in the wind. A concluding shot depicts a man dressed in AMVETS regalia asking the listener to “please stand,” echoing the message of the rejected print ad. 

That ad, which would have cost the veterans organization $30,000, featured the “#PleaseStand” phrase, alongside a picture of service members saluting the American flag and information on how to donate to the congressionally chartered nonprofit.

Both advertising attempts were created amid the controversy surrounding the NFL’s decision to allow its players to kneel during the national anthem. 

The print ad was rejected on Jan. 21, and was accompanied shortly thereafter by a statement from NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy. 

In it, McCarthy said the premier football game of the season “is designed for fans to commemorate and celebrate the game, players, teams and the Super Bowl. It’s never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement.” 

The NFL added that the Super Bowl will have an ad from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which will include the message “We Stand for Veterans.” 

McCarthy said AMVETS was asked to consider changing their ad to read “Please Stand for Our Veterans,” however they did not reply in time for production deadlines. 

AMVETS said in a press statement that it is a “non-partisan organization and does not consider its message political at all.” 

The group wrote that the new public service announcement does not simply call for people to stand, but also to observe other non-political civic responsibilities as well. 

“Our message has always been patriotic and polite. It simply requests that people choose to stand during the national anthem. It neither judges, vilifies or even opposes those who choose otherwise,” said AMVETS Executive Director Joe Chenelly. 

“We’re simply asking that people choose standing, and the NFL has made it harshly clear that it does not want veterans delivering this message anywhere near its biggest game. We think that’s wrongheaded,” Chenelly added. 

Other large veterans groups, such as the VFW and American Legion, have also been critical of the flag protests that have been common before NFL games over the past year. President Donald Trump has been similarly critical of the anthem protests. 

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now,‘” Trump said during a September rally in Alabama. "You know some owner is going to do that. He's going to say, 'That guy that disrespects our flag, he's fired.' And that owner, they don't know it, [but] they'll be the most popular person in this country." 

Players involved in the protests, which involve silently kneeling, counter that the protests are not related to service members at all.  

The protests date back to 2016, when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick chose to protest racial inequality and police brutality by sitting during the anthem. He later chose to kneel instead after speaking with former Staff Sgt. Nate Boyer, a former Special Forces soldier who was in camp with the Seattle Seahawks as a long snapper before being released prior to the 2015 regular season.

Both the new announcement and the rejected print ad can be viewed on AMVETS's multimedia page.

--

Matthew Shuman, Director 

The American Legion Legislative Division 

 

 

LEGISLATIVE DIVISION UPDATE 

  

Congress 

On Tuesday, ahead of the President’s State of the Union (SOTU) address, the House passed, yet again, the FY18 Defense appropriations spending bill. The bill was substantially the same as what the House has passed twice already. It contained $1.2 billion more than the previous versions in overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding, as well as language specifying that the Budget Control Act (BCA) spending caps should not apply. The move was a symbolic one, with the bill passing on a vote of 250 to 166 (with the support of 23 Democrats, and 4 Republicans voting no). The Senate is not expected to pass the bill. However, the House was able to point to the vote as a measure of support for the President’s intention to build up the military. 

  

On Thursday, from the GOP retreat in Greenbrier, WV, Republican leaders told reporters that they expect to be able to vote on a fifth continuing resolution (CR) as early as Tuesday. House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI) expects that to be the last CR, saying that negotiators are very close to reaching a bipartisan agreement on spending caps that will allow appropriators to craft a final FY18 omnibus spending bill. The Republicans appear to be very certain that the government will not shut down once again when the current CR expires next Friday. Those negotiations have surely been spurred by the President’s exhortation in the State of the Union address for Congress to eliminate sequestration, especially for defense spending. 

  

House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ) on Monday announced that he will not be seeking re-election. He was facing a difficult election, as his district had started trending Democrat in the last election (and his Democratic opponent would have been a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor, Mikie Sherrill). Within a few hours of Frelinghuysen’s announcement, Rep. Bob Aderholt (AL) and Rep. Kay Granger (TX) made clear their interest in assuming the committee lead. 

  

Pentagon view of CRs 

On Tuesday, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva told reporters that DoD is “gambling” as it tries to craft an FY19 budget before Congress has even passed a full FY18 spending bill. 

  

Gen. Selva noted that, while the military continues to adjust to the lack of full year budgets when the fiscal year starts, he wonders how much longer contractors will be willing and able to hang on with such funding instability. He noted that the time might come when contractors choose to “step off to the side” rather than engaging with the Pentagon. 

  

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care 

Legislation to update the VA’s community care programs continues to work its way through Congress. Next week, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on almost 20 pieces of legislation, many of which touch on some aspect of VA’s provision of health care to veterans. All stakeholders – Congress, the Administration, and veterans groups – appear to be eager to find a solution. 

  

VA Secretary Shulkin has previously warned Congress that the Department is having a hard time funding the current level of community care. The CR in December contained an additional $1.2 billion for Choice, which Shulkin called a “band-aid”.  

  

The White House is convening a meeting next Monday with veterans service organizations (VSOs), with the expectation that updating the community care program will be on the agenda. The VA is reportedly resuming its monthly meetings with VSOs later in the week. 

  

In the meantime, Thursday afternoon the Department announced that Doug Paxton, Director of the Roseburg Medical Center in Oregon, had stepped down. This medical center is one of the VA’s 15 lowest performing facilities. 

  

Coast Guard EHRs 

At a House subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, the Coast Guard was raked over the coals for its failure to implement a new electronic health record (EHR) system. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Maritime Subcommittee chairman Rep. Hunter (CA) joined Rep. John Garamendi (CA) in expressing outrage over the Service’s wasting $60 million on the Integrated Health Information System (IHIS) before dropping the project altogether. 

  

Coast Guard witnesses reported that they are currently exploring options for a commercially available EHR system. Hunter and Garamendi, both of whom also serve on the House Armed Services Committee, strongly encourage the Service to go with Cerner, which both DoD and VA are adopting. The witnesses assured the Members that they are definitely leaning in that direction. 

  

Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) 

This week, the Defense Health Agency (DHA) announced that BAMC has once again been verified as a Level I trauma center by the American College of Surgeons. This certification must be renewed every three years. BAMC is the only Level I center in the Department of Defense health system. With only one other such facility in the San Antonio area, BAMC also treats civilians from the community. 

  

Letters of Support 

The American Legion on January 24 sent a letter of support to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL), giving our organization’s support for H.R. 303, the Retired Pay Restoration Act. The measure provides for a comprehensive solution to the concurrent receipt problem facing members of our nation’s Armed Service. This bill reflects the Legion’s view that military retired pay is compensation for longevity of honorable military service, while VA’s service-connected disability compensation is payment for medical conditions incurred or aggravated while on active duty. Retirees receiving both of these benefits face a dollar-for-dollar offset on their military retired pay based on their VA disability compensation. [Resolution #224]

  

On January 24 The American Legion sent a letter of support to Rep. Tom Rooney (FL), giving our organization’s support for H.R. 506, the Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act of 2017. The legislation amends the federal criminal code to declare that any person who knowingly engages in any scheme to defraud an individual of veterans’ benefits, or in connection with obtaining veterans’ benefits for that individual, shall be fined, imprisoned, or both. This bill recognizes that current laws are not sufficient in deterring criminals from targeting our nation’s veterans, and an additional tool is needed to use against criminal committing fraud in connection with veterans’ benefits. [Resolution #57]

  

The American Legion on January 24 sent a letter of support to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL), giving our organization’s support for draft legislation, entitled the Servicemembers Improved Transition through Reforms for Ensuring Progress (SIT-REP) Act. The measure would make an important modification to the Colmery GI Bill Act. If a newly-enrolled student’s GI Bill payment is more than 90 days late, the school or training program would be required to adopt a policy that disallows them from imposing a late fee, denial of access to facilities, or other penalty due to the late payment from VA. [Resolution #318]

  

On January 24 The American Legion sent a letter of support to Sen. Richard Burr (NC), giving our organization’s support for S. 1072, the Homeless Veterans Prevention Act of 2017. The bill would: a) allow VA to enter into partnership with other entities to expand legal services available for homeless veterans; b) require housing providers to take steps to better meet the needs of female veterans; c) amend VA rules to ensure the children of homeless veterans are allowed to live in VA-run transitional housing programs; d) authorize VA to provide dental care to homeless veterans; and, e) increase the authorization limit for the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) program to $500 million. [Resolution #324]

  

Update on Flag Amendment Bill 

The American Legion is continuing its efforts to protect the American flag in the 115th Congress. As he did in the previous Congress, Rep. Steve Womack (AR) re-introduced a flag protection constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution (H.J. Res.) 61. The measure currently boasts 26 co-sponsors.

  

On Flag Day, Sen. Steve Daines (MT) introduced a Senate companion measure, Senate Joint Resolution (S.J. Res.) 46, in that chamber. The amendment is co-sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (TX), Johnny Isakson (GA), Mike Crapo (ID), Lindsey Graham (SC), Dean Heller (NV), Chuck Grassley (IA) and Orrin Hatch (UT). You can read Sen. Daines’ press release here: https://www.daines.senate.gov/news/press-releases/on-flag-day-daines-introduces-constitutional-amendment-to-prohibit-flag-burning

  

The American Legion issued the following congratulatory response here: https://www.legion.org/commander/237811/american-legion-national-commander-salutes-senate-bill-flag-day

  

  

Matthew Shuman, Director 

The American Legion Legislative Division 

(202) 861-2700 

For Week Ending 02-02-2018

T&P: Most Vets Don’t Know What Mental Health Services VA Offers. So Here You Go

By James Clark

on February 2, 2018 

T&P on Facebook

Roughly half of all post-9/11 veterans who may need mental health care do not seek it through the Department of Veterans Affairs or in the private sector, according to a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Alarmingly, the report also says a significant number of veterans are unaware of the services available to them from the Veterans Health Administration — the VA’s medical arm. 

Veterans who need mental health care but haven’t sought VA help cite several reasons, including “that they do not know how to apply for VA mental health care benefits, they are unsure whether they are eligible, or they are unaware that VA offers these benefits,” according to the Congressionally mandated Jan. 31 report.

“I was dismayed to learn how many veterans didn’t know how to access care,” Ralph Bozella, Chairman the of Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission for The American Legion, told Task & Purpose. “The VA has done a great job advertising their mental healthcare services on the web and via social media.” 

But, he added, “At this point, I think the entire veteran community needs to do more to ensure veterans in need link up with the care they require. We all need to play a more active role here.” 

To help with that, here’s a list of mental health services the VA provides to recently transitioned veterans. 

Are you a combat vet? 

Veterans who served in a combat zone can receive medical services — including mental health care — for five years through the VA, beginning the day of their discharge. This isn’t the same as having a service-connected disability rating; instead, think of it as free health insurance. Eligible vets will have free care and medications for any condition that might be related to their service; there’s no enrollment fee or premium, but you do have to cover copayments. This also opens you up to the VA’s CHOICE program, which means you can receive care through a private-sector specialist at the VA’s expense, not yours.

Soon, every transitioning vet can receive a year of mental health care through the VA. 

Last month President Donald Trump signed the executive order “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition from Uniformed Service to Civilian Life.” It expands VA mental health care services to the 60% of recently separated vets who were previously deemed ineligible — usually because they lack a verified service-connected disability or service in a combat zone. Beginning in March, all transitioning service members with an honorable discharge will be eligible for 12 months of mental health care through the VA. Though the details of the program are still being worked out, veterans will be eligible to receive care at VA facilities — or in the private sector through CHOICE, if a local clinic can’t meet their needs.

Related: Here’s What We Know About Trump’s Executive Order To Combat Veteran Suicide » 

Emergency mental health care is available for veterans with OTH discharges. 

Though the executive order provides a year of care to many veterans, it doesn’t cover those with “bad paper” discharges — punitive discharges that preclude access to Veteran Affairs benefits, like education and health care. But last March, the VA launched a separate program offering emergency mental health services for veterans with other-than-honorable discharges. Though not all vets with bad paper are eligible, those with an OTH discharge in need of emergency mental health care can receive treatment through the Veterans Health Administration for up to 90 days — inpatient, residential, or outpatient care.

Community-based vet centers are an option, too. 

Established in 1979, vet centers offer individual and group counseling on a range of topics for veterans, service members, and their families who have served on active duty in any combat theater; experienced a military sexual trauma; served as part of an unmanned aerial vehicle crew and provided direct support to combat operations; or provided emergency medical care or performed mortuary services while on active duty. The staff at vet centers also offer support for those looking to file a claim with the VA — though you don’t need to have a disability rating or be enrolled to receive counseling.

The VA offers much more if you’re enrolled in their system, though. 

Veterans who qualify to register with the Veterans Health Administration enjoy a variety of mental health services. These include counseling, therapy, and, often, a treatment plan that includes prescribed medication. The range of coverage is fairly expansive, with experts able to offer support to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and stress, among other concerns. Additionally, the VA offers short-term inpatient care for vets suffering from life-threatening mental illness; outpatient care to a psychological rehabilitation and recovery center; video conferencing with a care provider; and residential rehab programs.

If you need immediate help, or just someone to talk to, resources are always available. 

For those in need of immediate support, responders with the Veterans Crisis Line can be reached by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1; via text, by sending a message to 838255; or online. The conversations are confidential and the line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week year-round, and the staff is trained to assist veterans of all ages and circumstances.