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American Legion

New Commander for 2014-15

The American Legion’s new national commander, Michael D. Helm, took issue with President Barack Obama’s support for a 1-percent pay raise in 2015 for members of the armed forces.

Elected for a one-year term during the Legion’s 96th Annual National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., last month, Helm expressed disappointment over the paltry pay increase.

“With a war in Afghanistan, boots back on the ground in Iraq, and ISIS on the loose in the Middle East, is a 1-percent salary raise really the best we can do for the men and women we expect to meet those challenges?” Helm asked.

According to data released Aug. 19 by the federal government, the country’s inflation rate has stood at 2 percent for the past 12 months. While the White House wants to cap the military’s basic pay increase at 1 percent, Congress could appropriate a larger increase, Helm said.

“We are well aware of the budgetary constraints our government is operating under,” Helm said. “We are also aware of the fact that America’s servicemembers received only a 1-percent increase last year – the lowest since the all-volunteer force was created.

“The American Legion wants the White House and Congress to agree on a pay raise for our troops that keeps up with the inflation rate – that means 2 percent. It is the least we can do, even in these trying fiscal times, to maintain a decent quality of life for our servicemembers.”

New data on the country’s inflation rate is scheduled to be released by the federal government on Sept. 17.

- See more at: http://www.legion.org/commander/224508/legion-disappointed-1-percent-military-pay-cap#sthash.4fvPGMax.dpuf

The American Legion’s new national commander, Michael D. Helm, took issue with President Barrack Obama’s support for a 1-percent pay raise in 2015 for members of the armed forces.

Elected for a one-year term during the Legion’s 96th Annual National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., last month, Helm expressed disappointment over the paltry pay increase.

“With a war in Afghanistan, boots back on the ground in Iraq, and ISIS on the loose in the Middle East, is a 1-percent salary raise really the best we can do for the men and women we expect to meet those challenges?” Helm asked.

According to data released Aug. 19 by the federal government, the country’s inflation rate has stood at 2 percent for the past 12 months. While the White House wants to cap the military’s basic pay increase at 1 percent, Congress could appropriate a larger increase, Helm said.

“We are well aware of the budgetary constraints our government is operating under,” Helm said. “We are also aware of the fact that America’s service members received only a 1-percent increase last year – the lowest since the all-volunteer force was created.

“The American Legion wants the White House and Congress to agree on a pay raise for our troops that keeps up with the inflation rate – that means 2 percent. It is the least we can do, even in these trying fiscal times, to maintain a decent quality of life for our service members.”

New data on the country’s inflation rate is scheduled to be released by the federal government on Sept. 17.
- See more at: http://www.legion.org/commander/224508/legion-disappointed-1-percent-military-pay-cap#sthash.4fvPGMax.dpuf

 



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Message From National Commander Mike Helm

Dear Legion Family Members and Friends,


       The most recent data for veteran suicides – 22 a day – is heartbreaking. These are men and women who vowed with their lives to protect our great nation. They slept on battlefields, spent weeks at sea, flew over hostile territory and faced enemy fire so that we might sleep without fear at home in America.
       Somewhere along the line, sometime after discharge, something happened to them. It may have been caused by post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury. It may have been depression brought about by unemployment, under-employment or homelessness.
No matter the reason, mental health of veterans is an issue in need of resolve. The American Legion knows that the high suicide rate does not need to exist.
       VA has broadened its ability to help veterans in crisis. In fact, family members and friends can contact VA through its suicide prevention hotline, texting service or online chat if there are concerns. Here is how you or someone you care for can reach VA during a crisis:


                                                          Chat phone number: 800-273-8255, press 1. Texting service: 838255
                                                          Online chat service: www.veteranscrisisline.net


       VA responders have participated in more than 1.25 million crisis center calls, 175,000 online chats and 24,000 texting conversations. There are many success stories and happy endings in those conversations. Still, more needs to be done to reverse the increasing number of suicides.
       September is National Suicide Prevention Month. But once the calendar turns to October, the threat remains. Be on the lookout for veterans who need help. Listen to them. Talk with them. Direct them to their local coordinators at: www.veteranscrisisline.net  Or, if necessary, contact a counselor on their behalf.
       A simple phone call, a willingness to listen or to step up with a referral for a fellow veteran can save lives. Please be on the lookout.


For God and Country,

Mike Helm
National Commander

 



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Legion disagrees with official's analogy on in-state tuition - See more at: http://www.legion.org/education/224538/legion-disagrees-officials-analogy-state-tuition#sthash.vbIYGbYF.dpu
Legion Disagrees With Official's Analogy On In-State Tuition
By The American Legion - September 4, 2014

In a Sept. 4 Stars & Stripes article, an employee of the American Association of State Colleges (AASCU) referred to the benefit of in-state tuition for all student veterans – regardless of their residency – as “the proverbial ‘free lunch.’”

Barmak Nassirian, director of federal policy for AASCU, made his comments in the article, which covered the newly mandated in-state tuition provisions for veterans that were included in the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act that was signed into law by President Obama last month. Nassirian complained the additional education benefits were provided without covering “the significant costs this will impose on public colleges.”

American Legion National Commander Michael D. Helm disagreed with the ‘free lunch’ analogy. “That phrase implies that a good or service is received at no cost, and that is far askew of reality," Helm said. "Our student veterans have already paid a high price through their service and sacrifice while serving in uniform.”

It is not the fault of veterans, Helm said, that their military service got in the way of residency requirements for in-state tuition. “Is it right to penalize our veterans and deny them the same price break that civilian students get for merely residing in a state long enough?”

Helm said he hoped that institutions of higher learning across the country do not see in-state tuition for veterans “as some kind of handout. If they do, then we need to carefully observe the way veterans are treated on those campuses.”

Nassirian also said in the article that Congress could have opened the Yellow Ribbon program “to public colleges to be more price-competitive with private and for-profit schools.”

Helm said the statement was incorrect. “If you check the Department of Veterans Affairs website, it says that all degree-granting institutions of higher learning are eligible for the program – that includes public colleges and universities, so they can join Yellow Ribbon at any time.”

Under VA’s current eligibility rules, student veterans can only participate in Yellow Ribbon programs if they are eligible to receive maximum benefits afforded by the Post-9/11 GI Bill. For example, veterans who served (or are serving) in the National Guard or reserves may not be able to participate in a Yellow Ribbon program because they do not qualify for 100 percent of their veterans education benefits.

 




 

 

The Landing Zone

With Alan Dowd

 

   Interested in national security and foreign relations issues? "The Landing Zone" on The American Legion's new web-site in November. The "Landing Zone" will feature articles written by Alan Dowd, contributing editor for The American Legion Magazine. Coverage includes everything from detainees in Cuba to Russia's oil claims in the Artic. The page also features links to several well-known think tanks that focus on todays issues.

 www.legion.org/landingzone

 




American Legion Calendar

Upcoming Career Fairs

9 SEPTEMBER 2014 10 SEPTEMBER 2014 11 SEPTEMBER 2014

 

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Legion welcomes overdue change to PTSD discharge guidelines - See more at: http://www.legion.org/veteranshealthcare/224535/legion-welcomes-overdue-change-ptsd-discharge-guidelines#sthash.tCYvReYi.dpuf
Legion welcomes overdue change to PTSD discharge guidelines - See more at: http://www.legion.org/veteranshealthcare/224535/legion-welcomes-overdue-change-ptsd-discharge-guidelines#sthash.tCYvReYi.dpuf
Legion Welcomes PTSD Discharge Guidelines
The Department of Defense issued supplemental guidelines on Sept. 3 that will help its review boards when considering petitions for discharge upgrades from veterans claiming they had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the time of separation.

The guidelines, issued in a memo from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, will be used by DOD’s Military Department Boards for Correction of Military/Naval Records. They will help in considering whether service members suffered from PTSD while on active duty, and if that condition may have contributed to their discharges under other-than-honorable conditions.

American Legion National Commander Michael D. Helm welcomed DOD’s announcement.

“As the only veterans service organization that automatically helps veterans with discharge petitions, The American Legion knows that many veterans are going to get the break they have deserved for several decades," Helm said.

Helm said the Legion’s office in Washington handles many petitions from veterans to have their discharges upgraded to the “honorable” or “general” categories. “Many of those veterans getting our help served in Vietnam, and many of them came home with undiagnosed PTSD and a bad conduct or dishonorable discharge they never should have received."

The Legion’s Washington office participated in a conference call on Sept. 4 with DOD experts who clarified the meaning and effect of the new guideline and answered questions.

In 2013, The American Legion handled 211 discharge petitions and appeared at 85 military board hearings. Of the 193 petitions decided on, 60 of them received upgrades.

- See more at: http://www.legion.org/veteranshealthcare/224535/legion-welcomes-overdue-change-ptsd-discharge-guidelines#sthash.tCYvReYi.dpuf

 

 

 

 

 

What's Going On In Washington?

   Use this site to find out what your Congressmen and Congresswomen are doing to earn our tax money. On this site you can lookup Legislative alerts and updates, find your representatives by zip code, and find current issues and legislation that's pending. Also find out about elections and the candidates, and find and contact your national and local media. This site is great for you to learn about your local and state elections. Your just a click away from all the current happenings in Washington, DC. All this information is provided to you by The American Legion.

http://legion.capwiz.com/legion/home/

 




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