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American Legion News

PACT Act extends presumptions of service connection for three new cancer types

Source: June 14, 2024

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Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is including three new cancer types in the list of presumed service-connected disabilities due to military environmental exposure under the PACT Act. Through a sub-regulatory policy letter published to the Federal Register, the following three cancer types have been included in the list of presumptive diseases:

Male breast cancer. Urethral cancer. Cancer of the paraurethral glands. This policy establishes presumptions of service connection for eligible Gulf War and post-9/11 veterans who deployed to Afghanistan, Somalia, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Uzbekistan, and the entire Southwest Asia theater of operations, which includes Iraq. Presumptive service connection means VA automatically assumes service connection for the disease and provides benefits to eligible veterans who have submitted claims with evidence of a diagnosis.

"We are working with urgency to deliver on the promise of the PACT Act to provide health care and benefits to as many toxic-exposed veterans as possible — we're leaning in wherever we can," said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. "VA is working with one goal in mind: getting today and tomorrow's veterans and their families the benefits they deserve as fast as possible."

Any veteran who currently has or previously had one of the listed cancers at any time during military service or after separation may be entitled to disability compensation benefits dated back to Aug. 10, 2022, the date the PACT Act was signed into law. VA will review all claims from impacted Veterans and survivors who previously filed and were denied for these three conditions on or after Aug. 10, 2022, to determine if benefits can now be granted. Veterans enrolled in VA health care can obtain cancer screening and treatment at VA, which recently announced expansion of cancer care services closer to where Veterans are.

VA has granted its 1 millionth PACT Act-related disability compensation claim and awarded over $5.7 billion to veterans and survivors since President Biden signed the bill into law.

Veterans and survivors can apply or learn more about the PACT Act by visiting or by calling 1-800-MYVA411.

There is no charge to file a claim with VA. For further assistance with the disability claims process, veterans are encouraged to work with a VA-accredited representative or contact their state veterans affairs office.

For more information about VA cancer care, visit

Next article: VA awards second option period to Oracle Health in support of Federal EHR modernization contract

VA awards second option period to Oracle Health in support of Federal EHR modernization contract

Source: June 14, 2024

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced the award of the second option period for its contract with Oracle Health in support of VA's Federal Electronic Health Record modernization, with an emphasis on improved fiscal and performance accountability.

Through this agreement, VA and Oracle Health continue to partner to deploy the Federal EHR as part of the reset announced last year. The 11-month option period award announced today is a continuation of VA's focus on improving the Federal EHR for veterans while supporting the six VA health care facilities actively using the Federal EHR. This contract will also support potential pre-deployment and deployment activities at new sites in fiscal year 2025 once VA determines reset goals have been met.

On May 16, 2024 — the date the first Oracle Health contract option year was set to expire — VA announced a one-month extension to support negotiations to ensure long-term success of the program for Veterans and VA providers. The 11-month option awarded June 13, 2024, completes the second option period award.

"This announcement is a testament to VA's commitment to keeping the best interests of veterans, VA providers, and taxpayers at the forefront while maximizing resources in a fiscally restrained environment," said VA Deputy Secretary Tanya Bradsher. "Executing the second option period of the contract allows VA and Oracle Health to continue to drive forward on the goals of the reset and future deployments. VA remains committed to holding ourselves and our vendors accountable for resolving challenges with deployment of the Federal EHR and moving forward productively."

Negotiations for the second option period are focused on two main objectives: 1) supporting value-added services, such as system improvements and optimizations, and 2) achieving better predictability in hosting, deployment, and sustainment — all while keeping an eye on fiscal responsibility. These objectives align with and facilitate VA's reset efforts towards resuming site deployments in fiscal year 2025. VA will continue to evaluate and align future option periods with the best path forward for its Federal EHR modernization efforts.

Last year, VA renegotiated the contract with Oracle Health from a five-year term to five one-year terms, allowing the annual review of Federal EHR progress and renegotiation with Oracle Health, as needed. This approach has substantially increased accountability across a variety of key areas, including minimizing outages and incidents, resolving clinician requests, improving interoperability with other health-care systems, and increasing interoperability with other applications to ensure an integrated health care experience. The Federal EHR will ultimately replace VA's current Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, or VistA, for documentation and support of veteran health care, streamlining access across all VA health-care facilities.

For more information about VA's overall EHR modernization effort, visit


Next article: Nebraska post raises PTSD, Be the One awareness with ruck march

Nebraska post raises PTSD, Be the One awareness with ruck march

Source: June 13, 2024

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A few years ago, P.R. Halligan American Legion Post 163 in North Platte, Neb., conducted a health and job fair. A total of four people showed up.

That's when Post 163 member John Miles and his fellow Legionnaires knew something had to change.

"We were like, ‘Man, we need to do something to get in the community eyes,'" Miles said. "That's what we were aiming for: to get out in the public, do more for our community and see we what we can do."

That's what led to Post 163's June 8 Heroes March, which consisted of a six- and a 12-mile ruck march carrying 35-pound packs, as well as six- and 12-mile runs. The theme of the event was post-traumatic stress disorder awareness, coinciding with PTSD Awareness Month.

Well over 100 runners and marchers took part in the event.

"This thing was a monster. It grew and grew and grew," said Miles, who served as the race coordinator and will soon take over as Post 163's adjutant. "This was definitely the biggest thing we've done in a lot of years."

American Legion Post 163 Commander Joe Wiezorek, who became regularly active in the post in 2018, said the idea was tp reach out to the community while also sharing the issue of PTSD, veteran suicide and the Legion's Be the One program to address the latter.

"John came up with the idea – ‘Let's host a ruck march.' And it just kind of grew from there," said Wiezorek, who lost a close friend and fellow reservist to suicide. "The purpose was to get new members and more community involvement. Past two years we've done a pretty good job of growing the numbers and maintaining. But we wanted to get our name out there. And we needed a theme, and (Miles) thought it was a pretty good idea to do PTSD."

Miles wanted to make sure the community knew the connection between PTSD and veteran suicide. "I think one of the leaders of veteran suicide is PTSD. So, we wanted to get some awareness out there," he said. "We want to stop as many veteran suicides as we can. I think if we can stop even one suicide, I think it's worth it."

The post worked with Platte River Fitness Series, a local racing organization, to get some ideas for staging the runs and rucks, as well as for promotion of the event. "That was a great partnership because it helped us get out in the athletic community and probably drew in more people," Wiezorek said. "Once we hit 50 (registrants) I thought we were going to have something. And then it grew from there."

The post made it a point to share information about Be the One at the event. "We gave a challenge coin to all of the overall winners … with our race logo on one side and the Be the One symbol on the other side," Wiezorek said. "And when Joe presented it to the winners, he gave them a little speech about Be the One."

Money raised from the event will go to Post 163's scholarship fund, which assists veterans, National Guardsmen and reservists in the area who are attending a post-secondary school. The fund was started with the proceeds from the funeral of Joe's father, Larry Wiezorek.

Wiezorek said the event had another positive effect, sparking a local veteran and friend of Wiezorek to start a local veteran ruck club. "That'll be a good club for veterans and civilians to get together and do things, and even more veterans to participate in something to possibly help with the mental health," he said.

Click here to watch video of the ruck march.

Next article: A roadmap to saving veterans' lives

A roadmap to saving veterans' lives

Source: June 13, 2024

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"It's OK to ask for help" was a message that resonated throughout the packed conference room as Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Denis McDonough opened the third annual VA SAMHSA conference June 11 in San Diego.

"You know what?" McDonough asked the VA staff, clinicians, active-duty Department of Defense (DoD) professionals and other partners working to reduce suicide among veterans and servicemembers. "Anxiety, depression, isolation, loneliness, those are aspects of the human condition. It's not weakness to name those, it's not weakness to confront those, it's strength."

It wasn't simply McDonough's message. It was one he was conveying on behalf of David and Brenda Fox, the parents of Army Staff Sgt. Parker Gordon Fox, who died by suicide in 2020 at age 25.

"The last line in his note was tell people to get help," McDonough said in an interview after his speech. "Importantly, he goes on to tell people it's OK to get help. Nobody understands duty in this country better than this country's awesome veterans. So what I'd say is it's OK to get help, as Staff Sgt. Parker Gordon Fox said. Not only that, it's your duty to get help and we want to help you fulfill that duty."

The messaging throughout the three-day event aligned with The American Legion's mission, Be the One, to reduce the number of veterans and servicemembers lost to suicide. Speakers, panel discussions and breakout groups fostered solutions-based conversation among the approximately 225 in attendance who are on the front lines of this battle to save lives.

The American Legion had a prominent presence where information materials were distributed to attendees to raise awareness around Be the One.

Vic Martin, commander of the 22nd District in the Department of California, praised the connectivity of the event.

"The Be the One program is all about reaching out," said Martin, a member of Post 275 in La Jolla, Calif. "Not only reaching out to veterans who we feel may need that support and need that help, but also reaching out to the community to ensure that we are able to build relationships with stakeholders to ensure they are knowledgeable about our programs and services."

Martin also said attendees thanked him and expressed gratitude that The American Legion had a presence.

"It speaks to a collaborative that we, as Legionnaires, need to incorporate into our mission," he said. "Working with other organizations to not only spread the word about Be the One and the programs we have, but understand how our programs may intertwine with their programs. So the Be the One message can be water carried not just by The American Legion, but by our partners as well. We're seeing a lot of interest from organizations that are interested in being part of the Be the One mission, and we're excited about that."

McDonough is grateful for The American Legion to be aligned in this mission.

"When you think about being there for our veterans, in so many ways VA is emulating the Legion, right?" he said. "The Legion now, for more than a century, has been there in communities for veterans, for their families, for their survivors. At the end of the day, that's the baseline requirement for beating this. The Legion is showing us the way by making sure they're being there for each of their members, for their communities, for all veterans. We're thrilled at VA for the Legion to be our partner in that effort."

Another critical partner in the mission to end veteran suicides is their families and loved ones.

"We want to be a support to those families," he said. "We encourage veteran family members, if in crisis, to use the Veteran Crisis Line. Dial 988, press one, we'll get you and your veteran in touch with providers today, if need be."

McDonough looked ahead beyond the conference, pointing to the group effort required to save at-risk veterans.

"Each of our partners works together with us to make us better," he explained. "Importantly, each of those partners also holds us to account to make sure that we're doing our part. At the end of the day, we work for the veterans and we want to hold ourselves to account to the veterans. A critical way we do that is by holding ourselves to account to our partners, including our great partners like the Legion."

Next article: All they could be

All they could be

Source: June 13, 2024

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June 14 is the birthday of the U.S. Army. According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History's website – at – it was on June 14, 1775, that "the Continental Congress authorized enlistment of expert riflemen to serve the United Colonies for one year."

The most famous Army veteran may be Elvis Presley (truck driver in Germany), but other famous figures served in a variety of roles and locations.

Gene Wilder, actor: paramedic in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurology at Valley Forge Army Hospital in Pennsylvania.

Mr. T, actor/professional wrestler: Military Police Corps.

Jackie Robinson, Major League Baseball player: athletics coach at Camp Breckinridge in Kentucky.

Clint Eastwood, actor/director: swimming instructor at Fort Ord in California.

Ice-T, actor/rapper: squad leader at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

James Earl Jones, actor: established a cold-weather-training command at Camp Hale in Colorado.

Tony Bennett, singer: In 1945, his 63rd Infantry Division liberated a concentration camp in Germany near Dachau.  

Next article: More than 50,000 women veterans enrolled in VA health care over past year, the largest enrollment year ever for women veterans

More than 50,000 women veterans enrolled in VA health care over past year, the largest enrollment year ever for women veterans

Source: June 13, 2024

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On Women Veterans Recognition Day, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that more than 53,000 women veterans enrolled in VA health care between May 2023 and May 2024, marking a 20% increase over the previous year and the largest enrollment year for women veterans on record.

Health care enrollment of women veterans increased across all 50 states, with the greatest number of enrollments in: Texas (6,507), Florida (4,666), California (4,318), Virginia (3,806), Georgia (2,937) and North Carolina (2,776). Women veterans are currently VA's fastest growing patient population. This historic enrollment of women veterans into VA health care and benefits is driven in large part by the PACT Act, which President Biden signed into law in August 2022, empowering VA to deliver record health care and benefits to millions of veterans exposed to toxins while serving in the military.

"On this day in 1948, women were granted a formal place in our country's military. Today, the more than 2 million women veterans living in the U.S. make up our fastest growing veteran population," said VA Deputy Secretary Tanya Bradsher. "It's important to all of us here at VA that every woman veteran knows she belongs at VA."

VA is leading the way in specialized health care for women veterans. VHA's Office of Women's Health oversees these dedicated health-care services. Today, there is a women's health program led by a Women Veterans Program Manager at every VA health-care system across the nation. Additional specialized women's health staff include: Women's Health Medical Directors, Women's Health Primary Care Providers, Women's Health Patient Aligned Care Teams, Maternity Care Coordinators, Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Coordinators, and Women's Mental Health Champions. Women's health teams are also supported by LGBTQ+ Veteran Care Coordinators, Intimate Partner Violence Coordinators, and Military Sexual Trauma Coordinators.

Over the past two years, VA has dramatically expanded health care services dedicated to women veterans. This includes expanded breast cancer screenings and mammograms for veterans with potential toxic exposures, increased access to reproductive health services, and expanded maternity care coordination for veterans from pregnancy through 12 months post-partum. All of this work contributes to VA's equity action plan and broader efforts to ensure that every veteran gets the care and benefits they deserve.

VA is also delivering disability compensation benefits to an all-time record number of women veterans, with 717,141 women veterans receiving disability compensation benefits today. Over the past five years, an additional 197,667 women veterans have begun receiving benefits, representing a 28% increase. More than 89% of women veterans who have applied have received disability benefits from VA for at least one condition, on average receiving $27,109 in earned disability compensation benefits per year.

VA's dedicated Women Veterans Call Center is here to support women veterans in navigating all the services they may need, including health care and benefits. Call or text 855-VA-WOMEN (855-829-6636) or use the online chat feature. For more information specifically on how the PACT Act is helping veterans and their survivors and to apply for care or benefits today, visit or call 1-800-MYVA411 (800-698-2411).

Next article: US set to hand off direction of Ukraine defense campaign to NATO

US set to hand off direction of Ukraine defense campaign to NATO

Source: June 13, 2024

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The U.S. and its allies in Europe will agree this week to a plan to put NATO in charge of efforts to arm and train the Ukrainian military, marking a shift away from what so far has been an American-led endeavor.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, speaking before the start Thursday of a two-day ministerial conference, said defense chiefs are gathered in Brussels to put the finishing touches on a concept expected to be met with final approval at NATO's July summit in Washington.

"What I can say today is that we now have very broad agreement … that NATO takes a leading role in the coordination of security assistance and training," Stoltenberg said.

In recent months, there has been a push at NATO headquarters to take control of the initiative, which was launched by the Pentagon in the aftermath of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

It's not clear whether the NATO-led effort will mean the dissolution of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's Ukraine Defense Contact Group, also known as the Ramstein Group, which is meeting at NATO headquarters this week. However, the NATO plan will have implications for the U.S.-led initiative at the Army's Europe headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany, which has been the focal point of efforts to equip Ukraine.

The Security Assistance Group for Ukraine, known as the SAG-U, has been under American command since it was launched in 2022 at U.S. European Command headquarters in Stuttgart. It later moved to Wiesbaden, remaining under the leadership of EUCOM's Gen. Christopher Cavoli.

While Cavoli would still be in charge, it would be in his capacity as NATO's top military commander rather than his EUCOM role, Stoltenberg said. Using NATO's command structure will generate "a more robust, more predictable framework" for supporting Ukraine, Stoltenberg said.

The idea of putting NATO in charge emerged in April when Stoltenberg floated the idea at an alliance ministerial meeting. At the time, Washington was at a partisan impasse on defense spending, with lawmakers at odds about future support for arming Ukraine. The situation raised concerns about the reliability of American backing for Ukraine and also sparked interest inside NATO about taking on a larger role.

"We of course appreciate what the United States and other allies have done. It's unprecedented," Stoltenberg said. "At the same time, we saw that the United States spent six months agreeing (on) a supplemental for Ukraine."

Likewise, allies in Europe have made promises on weapons shipments that have not been delivered, he said. "If we turn this into not voluntary contributions but NATO commitments, of course it will become more robust, it will become more reliable," Stoltenberg said.

Since Russia's full-scale invasion, allies have provided about $43 billion in military support to Ukraine each year, Stoltenberg said.

In Brussels, defense leaders are meeting for the final time before the heads of state of member countries convene in Washington next month. In addition to final approval on NATO's larger role in supporting Ukraine, allies also are expected to come to agreement on a long-term funding plan for Ukraine. At an April foreign ministers' meeting, a $100 billion fund was under consideration, but the final figure hasn't been finalized.

While Ukraine will be a focal point of the Washington summit in July, Kyiv's aim of being welcomed into the alliance as an official member is off the table for now. Still, allies will agree to "strong language" on Ukraine's eventual membership, Stoltenberg said.

"It's not for me to go into the details on the exact wording, but I expect that that language will be even clearer in our commitment that Ukraine will become a member of the alliance," Stoltenberg said.

Next article: Legion testifies in support of bills to aid veterans, Guard and Reserve seeking education

Legion testifies in support of bills to aid veterans, Guard and Reserve seeking education

Source: June 12, 2024

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The American Legion expressed its support for legislation that would improve educational and economic opportunities for veterans and servicemembers during a House subcommittee hearing on June 12.

Kevin O'Neil, senior policy associate for the Legion's Veterans Employment and Education Division, testified before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

"Keeping in line with the theme of education, The American Legion would like to express its support for two bills that will greatly improve education and training outcomes for veterans," O'Neil said in his opening statement to the subcommittee.

H.R. 8529, the Warriors to Workforce Act, would increase the monthly basic housing allowance paid by the VA to eligible individuals during the first year of a full-time apprenticeship or other on-the-job training program. "If passed, this bill will be a significant step towards ensuring that veterans have the necessary support to transition into the civilian workforce," O'Neil said. American Legion Resolution 296 supports the aim of the legislation. "We firmly believe that no veteran should be forced to discontinue their education due to housing costs."

H.R. 7543, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2024, would expand eligibility for Post-9/11 educational assistance to National Guard and Reserve servicemembers. "From safeguarding our borders and capitols to providing pandemic aid and supporting local law enforcement, National Guard and Reserve servicemembers have been increasingly called upon to face unique challenges," O'Neil said. "They often make significant sacrifices, leaving their families and civilian employers for extended periods of time —sometimes even accepting substantial pay cuts. Yet, despite all we ask of them, they often are denied fundamental benefits of their service, particularly the GI Bill. The American Legion believes that every day in uniform counts." American Legion Resolution No. 24: GI Bill Fairness for Activated National Guard and Reserve Servicemembers supports counting every day in uniform toward GI Bill eligibility.

O'Neil also noted the Legion's support of the VA Housing Loan Forever Act. "The American Legion supports transferring housing loan benefits to spouses and biological or legally adopted children. There's no option for servicemembers and veterans to transfer VA home loan benefits to their spouse or child. By enabling and supporting the families of our veterans and servicemembers, we are supporting the military community as a whole," O'Neil said.

The American Legion supports those benefits through Resolution No. 8: Home Loan Guaranty Program Eligibility.

In written testimony provided before the hearing, the Legion expressed support for other pending legislation:

H.R. 8560, the End Veteran Homelessness Act of 2024, would improve the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program. Among the improvements:

*Streamlining case management by prioritizing vulnerable veterans;

*Advocating for an annual HUD-VASH report to detail veterans served, qualifications of case managers and more;

*Clarifying rental assistance for homeless or at-risk veterans.

Resolutions 357 and 332 reiterate the Legion's call for Congress to immediately improve the HUD-VASH program.

H.R. 7920, the AG VETS Act, "recognizes veterans' potential in agriculture and directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a grant program to establish and enhance farming and ranching opportunities for veterans," the Legion wrote. "… Awarding grants to entities that provide veterans with targeted training and classroom education will lead to more opportunities."

The Legion's support for the AG VETS Act is demonstrated through Resolutions 318, 296 and 25.

In written support of H.R. 7896, the VETS Opportunity Act of 2024, the Legion wrote, "The Post-9/11 GI Bill fails to adequately benefit veterans in hybrid versions of skilled trade training programs. This bill would extend educational benefits in the Post-9/11 GI Bill for veterans enrolled in hybrid certificate programs offered by higher education institutions; these hybrid programs teach in-demand skilled trades.

"Endorsed by the American Legion through Resolution No. 14: Preserve Housing Benefits for Online Education, we urge Congress to expand the Post-9/11 GI Bill to better support veterans in hybrid versions of skilled trade training programs."

H.R. 8661, the Reforming Education for Veterans Act, would allow "servicemembers seeking an education to withdraw, take a leave of absence, or otherwise come to an agreement with the institution if they receive orders to enter a period of covered service. Second, it requires the VA to allow educational institutions with multiple campuses to file only one compliance survey. Last, if the VA updates its official handbook, it must notify all school certifying officials (SCOs). These reforms will improve the protection of education benefits and simplify the reporting process for SCOs and institutions, which ensures better outcomes," the Legion wrote. The Legion supports the legislation through Resolution 318.

"Historically, on-campus educational and vocational counseling has suffered from a lack of qualified personnel. Additionally, those who may be qualified are administratively burdened by the number of students being served at any given time, leading to a disparity in the services provided to veterans on campus," the Legion wrote. "(H.R. 8646, the Modernizing the Veterans On-Campus Experience Act of 2024) seeks to improve the provision of on-campus educational and vocational counseling by the Department of Veterans Affairs." Provisions of the bill are supported by Legion resolutions 318 and 343.

Through resolutions 228 and 59, the Legion supports H.R. 8627, the Student Veteran Debt Relief Act of 2024, which "aims to alleviate the financial burden and stress associated with overpayment recovery for veterans pursuing education," the Legion wrote. The bill would stipulate that overpayments would not be made a liability for veterans if due to a VA error or incorrect information from DoD; would include a hardship waiver if the overpayment liability would prevent a veteran from continuing their education; and would establish a payment plan if an overpayment cannot be recovered.

H.R. 8647, the VA Home Loan Program Reform Act, would authorize the VA Secretary to take actions to prevent or resolve a default on a housing loan guaranteed by the VA.

"Many veterans still face foreclosure because of the pandemic's impacts. Additional resources provided through this bill will alleviate problems of delinquency and allow veterans to remain in their homes without fear of foreclosure," the Legion wrote. "… Based upon Resolution No. 8: Home Loan Guaranty Program Eligibility, The American Legion supports legislation that helps veterans seeking a home and, therefore, any administrative or legislative effort to make this process easier for veterans."

Next article: NY Legionnaires conduct 3rd annual Women Veterans Day event

NY Legionnaires conduct 3rd annual Women Veterans Day event

Source: June 12, 2024

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On June 12, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, enabling women to serve as permanent, regular members of the U.S. Armed Forces. That date now is honored annually as Women Veterans Recognition Day or Women Veterans Day.

In New York, not too far from the Finger Lakes area, members of The American Legion have made sure that date has commemorated each of the past three years, most recently on June 9.

At Skinner Ernest American Legion Post 1612 in Big Flats, the Chemung County American Legion conducted its third Women Veterans Recognition Day. The event was open to women veterans and their families, and served as a way to both honor and educate women veterans.

Ciji Remick-Sheremeta, who serves as Chemung County second vice commander – the same position she holds at American Legion Harry Bentley Post 443 in Elmira – said the idea for the first recognition event came from fellow Legionnaire Terri Souder and now is an annual event. Remick-Sheremeta has worked with Souder to coordinate the event the past two years.

"A lot of veterans I've talked to who are females say they've had a negative experience in the military," Remick-Sheremeta said. "I just want them to know they deserve to take up space as well. And it's paying tribute to all those female veterans who served before us and connecting with them.

"On Sunday, I got to meet a Korean War veteran who is a female and a Vietnam War veteran who is a female. They had so much gratitude. They were like, ‘No one sees us as veterans.' All of that meant so much, hearing that from them. They had so much joy on their faces. It was amazing."

Remick-Sheremeta, who served in the U.S. Army from 2000 to 2008 and also now serves as chaplain for American Legion Riders Chapter 443, also gained some perspective during the event. "We honored a female World War II veteran who had recently passed away … and had actually served in the military prior to that 1948 enactment," she said. "I was thinking about that and thought that was really amazing. So, in the speech that I gave at the event, I talked about how it's not just about female veterans. It's about showing respect to those individuals back in 1948 who said, ‘Hey, this isn't right. Let's do something about this.' The females deserved just as a much (as male servicemembers)."

While honoring women veterans, which included a lunch and a raffle, the event served to share what resources are available to women veterans. Also in attendance at Post 1612 were representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Chemung County Veterans Affairs and the Women Veterans Alliance.

"We want to get people connected with the VA. And the Chemung County veteran service officer was there, too," Remick-Sheremeta said. "We want it known that ‘Hey, these are options for you when you're ready. Just know that you're not alone.'

"Prior to me becoming a part of The American Legion, I kind of felt alone. We're not really connected. That's why I also talked about the importance of The American Legion, the VFW. Start there. There's lots of connections."

Next article: A new membership record for the Sons of The American Legion

A new membership record for the Sons of The American Legion

Source: June 12, 2024

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For the second year in a row, the Sons of The American Legion have set a new membership record.

Through June 6, membership in the SAL is at 384,400. Last August, just before National Convention, the SAL set a record at 375,743 members and finished 2023 with 380,743 members.

Thirty of the 55 detachments surpassed their 100 percent membership goal through June 6, led by South Dakota (118.25% of membership goal). The rest of the top 10:

2. New Mexico, 116.06%

3. Puerto Rico, 113.46%

4. Latin America, 112.12%

5. Hawaii, 110%

6. Florida, 107.96%

7. Arizona, 107.69%

8. District of Columbia, 106.59%

9. Oregon, 105.67%

10. Idaho, 105.61%

Full membership reports are available here. The next target date (105%) is July 22.


Next article: PACT Act extends presumptions of service connection for three new cancer types