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Legion Baseball alums Morris and Trammell elected into HoF

Former American Legion Baseball players Jack Morris and Alan Trammell became the 73rd and 74th Legion Baseball alums elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

In the last five years, 11 American Legion Baseball alums have been inducted into Cooperstown.

The longtime Detroit Tiger teammates earned the honor on Dec. 10, through the 16-member Modern Era Committee, which held deliberations and balloting this weekend at the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Morris had the most wins of any pitcher in the 1980s, 216, and made five All-Star appearances in his career. He also won four World Series rings, including three straight from 1991-1993.

The right-hander played Legion Baseball for St. Paul, Minn., Christie de Parcq, competing against fellow Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor.

Morris was the 1991 World Series Most Valuable Player for his hometown Minnesota Twins.

Trammell spent his entire 20-year career as a member of the Detroit Tigers, amassing 2,365 hits, 185 home runs and 1,003 RBIs.

A six-time All-Star, Trammell led the Tigers to the 1984 World Series title, earning the World Series MVP in the process. Known for his stellar defense, Trammell earned four Gold Gloves.

Trammell was named the 1989 American Legion Baseball Graduate of the Year and played Legion Baseball in his hometown of San Diego.

The two players will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 29, 2018, along with any additional inductees voted upon by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in January.

For a full list of American Legion Baseball players in Cooperstown, click here.

Army edges Navy, wins first Commander-in-Chief’s trophy in 21 years

The 118th Army-Navy game came down to a last-second field goal attempt in swirling, snowy conditions Saturday in Philadelphia. Two false start penalties pushed Navy back, forcing kicker Bennett Moehring to try a 48-yard field goal with just 0:03 left.

Moehring’s attempt had just enough height to clear the cross bar, but it drifted outside the left upright by less than a foot, giving Army a 14-13 victory, its second consecutive win against Navy. It is the fourth time the two teams have played a one-point game. Army has won them all.

With the victory, Army (9-3) won the Commander-in-Chief's trophy for the first time since 1996. Earlier in the season, Army defeated Air Force 21-0.

"It means a lot," said Army co-captain and quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, who led Army with 94 rushing yards and the game winning touchdown. "We've been working toward this since I've gotten here (at West Point). We talk about it every day, and it's the biggest accomplishment we've had so far."

"I'm so proud of this team, this guy (Bradshaw)," said Army Head Coach Jeff Monken. "What a leader, what a competitor. And this whole team, (I'm) just so proud. As a coach and as a program you want to be able to overcome the adversity that faces you. To have group of guys as resilient as ours that believe – there was never a moment they thought we weren't going to win the game. We had the drive to take the lead and got the stops we needed right there at the end. It was a great day to celebrate this team and all they've done."

After taking the lead on the first possession of the game, the Black Knights found themselves trailing 13-7 with less than 13 minutes left in the game. Starting on the Army 35, Bradshaw finally got untracked, logging runs of 12, 12 and 9 yards. With Bradshaw sharing the running duties with Andy Davidson and Darnell Woolfolk, Army continued a relentless advance that led them to a second-and-goal situation on the Navy 9.

Bradshaw then rolled to the left and surprised everyone with a pitch – his first of the game – to running back John Trainor, who turned and dashed up the left sideline only to be knocked out of bounds less than a yard from the end zone. On the next play, Bradshaw pushed straight ahead for the touchdown and the ensuing PAT gave Army the lead.

"It was just a quarterback sneak," Bradshaw said. "I don't think I would've gotten in (the end zone) without my fullback and offensive line. The Navy defense did a great job all day stopping us inside."

With 5:10 remaining, the game came down to Army’s defense versus Navy’s offense. "I told (the defense) 'This is the ball game. We've got to make a play and win'," Monken said. "The game was on the line we just made enough plays."

Army struggled to contain Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry, who ran for a game-high 250 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries. Under Perry's leadership, the Navy running attack advanced from its own 35 to the Army 23 as the seconds ticked down. But Evan Martin was called for a false start, sending the Midshipmen back to the Army 28 and two plays later Tyler Carmona was whistled for the same infraction, leaving Navy with a third-and-16 on the Army 31 with just three seconds left. Navy had no choice but to try for the field goal by Moehring, who had made two earlier in the game.

The season is not over for either team. Army faces San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 23, while Navy plays Virginia in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28 at Annapolis, Md.

Legion urges passage of S. 2193

On Dec. 7, The American Legion and several other veterans service organizations sent a letter to U.S. Senate leadership, urging passage of S. 2193, the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017. The legislation would build on current community care programs by putting an end to arbitrary standards for when veterans may receive community care and by consolidating the disparate community care programs into one program. The intention is to remove confusion over when and how veterans can access community care doctors, and ensure VA remains the coordinator of care for veterans regardless if care is delivered at VA medical facilities or through community care providers.

The letter comes on the heels of The American Legion, and other VSO representatives and members of Congress joining together Dec. 6 for a Capitol Hill press conference to urge Congress to pass a bill expanding caregiver benefits to veterans injured before 9/11. The group presented Congress with more than 180,000 petitions calling for expansion of the benefits.

The full text of the Dec. 7 letter follows.

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer:

On behalf of the millions of veterans we represent, and all veterans who use the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, we write to urge you to take whatever actions are necessary to swiftly bring to the floor and pass S. 2193, the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation approved by the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs last week to improve and modernize the care America provides her veterans.

The brave men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform must have timely access to high-quality, comprehensive and veteran-centric care. The majority of our members rely on VA to provide such care, but understand that VA must turn to private sector partners when it is not able to reasonably meet the demand for care in its health system. This legislation would build on current community care programs by putting an end to arbitrary standards for when veterans may receive community care and by consolidating the disparate community care programs into one program. In doing so, this legislation would remove confusion over when and how veterans can access community care doctors, and ensure VA remains the coordinator of care for veterans regardless if care is delivered at VA medical facilities or through community care providers.

We are pleased this legislation would empower veterans and their health care providers to work together to determine when and where veterans should receive care based on access and quality measures. This approach is also very similar to VA’s Veterans Coordinated Access and Rewarding Experiences (CARE) plan, which was developed with direct input from major veterans service organizations. The bill would ensure certain community care doctors are trained to provide veteran-centric care that abides by VA’s best practices and clinical practice guidelines. Importantly, this legislation would ensure VA does not rush implementation of the new and improved community care program by funding the current Choice Program through the end of fiscal year 2018. It also consolidates future community care funding within one discretionary appropriations account to end the current dual-funding process which has led to numerous community care funding shortfalls and veterans being denied access to community care.

The legislation would also give veterans the opportunity to access walk-in clinics throughout the country to fill the gap between costly emergency room care and waiting for ambulatory care. However, it does not protect a covered veteran from paying out-of-pocket fees for service-connected illnesses and injuries. We call on Congress to make certain veterans are not charged copayments for illnesses and injuries related to their military service.

Additionally, this legislation includes important provisions to strengthen the VA health care system and expand its ability to provide direct care to our nation’s veterans, while preserving VA foundational services not accommodated in the private sector. It would expand and improve VA’s graduate medical education, loan repayment and residency programs to ensure VA is able to recruit and retain high-quality health care professionals. It also includes much-needed supplemental appropriations to expand and improve VA’s capital infrastructure and authorizes VA health care professionals to practice telemedicine across state lines to ensure veterans, particularly those in rural settings, have convenient access to virtual health care.

Finally, we strongly support Title III of the legislation which would extend VA’s comprehensive caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras. The legislation would finally correct a serious inequity between veterans who served before September 11, 2001 and their post-9/11 comrades, who believe the caregivers of pre-9/11 veterans must have access to comprehensive caregiver services that are fully funded and properly managed. As this legislation moves through the Senate and into conference discussions with the House, we urge you to ensure this critical caregiver equity provision remains part of the final legislation.

We ask that you work together to secure Senate passage of the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017 before the end of the year so the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs are given enough time to reach a final agreement before funding for the Choice Program is depleted again. Failure to do so would deprive veterans access to the high-quality care they have earned and deserve. We look forward to working with you and all members of the Senate to ensure swift passage of this important, bipartisan and comprehensive legislation.



Texas Post 71 Scouting Jamboree On The Air

On Oct. 20, a Cub Scout group from Muenster, Texas, and Justin, Texas, along with parents, assistants and one Girl Scout, came to American Legion Post 71 to participate in the international Scouting Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) and Jamboree On The Internet (JOTI). We started by explaining a bit about our equipment, then proceeded to stretch the attention span of third graders to the limit as we tried to find any activity on the frequencies designated as JOTA calling frequencies. We finally found a fellow in Saskatchewan but before the kids had a chance to speak with him, the propagation shifted and he faded out. The same thing happened with another station so in the interest of keeping the audience occupied, we shifted over to JOTI and the Echolink app (Ham radio on the phone). That proved to be the best idea as right out of the box we contacted a Scout group in Queensland, Australia. But as luck would have it, before the kids could get "hands on," some very inconsiderate types connected to that conference bridge and drowned out our conversation so we tried a JOTI bridge in Brazil and gave it a try and VOILA! a wonderful gentleman there agreed to help with our effort, take questions from the Scouts and then translate into Portuguese for all the ones there. Every Scout who wanted to ask questions was able to do so. Each participant was given his/her own commemorative JOTA log sheet with the details of the contact and they were given the order information for the Boy Scout JOTA/JOTI uniform patch. Refreshments were served and there was a discussion session to wrap up the evening. The experience so excited some that according to their moms they talked about it all the way home and Muenster is over an hour away. A few of the parents were so impressed that they asked about the amateur licensing process for themselves. And of course we also handed out Sons of The American Legion recruitment literature. All in all, it was a very successful night. Fred Stevens - WA5LIE Adjutant Sons of The American Legion Squadron 71 Denton, Texas

Legion Rider remembered for role in funeral protest legislation

The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to consider a legal challenge to a Nebraska law restricting funeral protests – a law that a former American Legion Rider is credited for helping get passed.

Nebraska State Sen. Bob Krist has publicly praised Bob “Corndog” Swanson, who died last May in a motorcycle accident, for his role in getting the bill through the state legislature. Krist was the chief sponsor of the 2011 bill, which expanded the buffer zone between funerals and protesters from 300 to 500 feet. The original legislation, passed in 2006, was done in reaction to the Westboro Baptist Church protesting the funerals of fallen military personnel.

Swanson – a member and past commander of Omaha Post 1, as well as a Patriot Guard Rider – worked on the original piece of legislation in 2006 with Sen. Mike Friend that established a 300-foot buffer between the protestors and those attending the funeral.

The protests continued, however, which Krist said was “unacceptable to (Swanson).” Krist and Swanson looked at the legislation, did constitutional research and then began crafting a bill to increase the buffer.

“Bob came to testify with several other (Patriot Guard) Riders … at the committee hearing,” Krist said. “He helped orchestrate that kind of testimony, giving real-life experiences and how discourteous and how much (Westboro Baptist) efforts had disrupted very sacred times for most families. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in that whole thing. He was a big part of both the first bill in Nebraska and then the upgraded distances that we did later on.”

In addition to his efforts with the funeral protest bill, Swanson also worked with Krist to get signs honoring all five branches of the military placed at every rest stop along Interstate 80 in Nebraska. The signs read "Nebraska honors our troops. Thank you for your service”; the design for the signs came from Swanson, who also raised money for the project.

“(Swanson) just felt it very important to recognize the people that served in the armed forces,” Krist said. “He was just, to me, an amazing individual who believed so much in this country and the people who served in defense of the country."

Swanson also had the idea to place an empty chair at Werner Park, the baseball home of the Omaha Storm Chasers, that honors U.S. prisoners of wars and missing in action.

And Swanson also was the force behind the development of the Legion Riders in Nebraska, helping organize 39 chapters across the state. A street along Post 1 in Omaha is named for Swanson.

John ‘Hammer’ Hanzlik, road captain for Omaha Post 1, first met Swanson during a gas stop. Swanson shared the Riders’ mission, and Hanzlik ended up going on a ride to Sioux City for a veterans memorial dedication the next day.

“That trip is how I ended up road captain for the ALR at Post 1,” Hanzlik said. “Bob was the man to ask about anything veteran or Legion. (There’s) so much respect we all have for him.”

National Commander Rohan: Don’t let America forget Dec. 7

“December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy.”

That famous proclamation from President Franklin D. Roosevelt still stands true today. But as 76th anniversary events take place this week in Pearl Harbor, there is a noticeable shift from the large-scale commemoration activities that occurred a year ago for the 75th remembrance services.

This year, fewer media outlets will be in attendance. Fewer guests will be in Hawaii to honor those who defended democracy amid the surprise attack by the Japanese on that Sunday morning so long ago. And, sadly, there will be even fewer Pearl Harbor survivors than in the past.

The number of survivors will continue to dwindle every year.​

But we cannot – we must not – let their heroism fade from the memories of Americans. It is our duty as patriotic citizens to educate future generations on what the Greatest Generation did, starting with repelling the attack on Pearl Harbor. After all, it’s embedded in the DNA of our organization, “To preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in the Great Wars.”

I am honored to be a part of the commemoration ceremonies this year at Pearl Harbor. For those who are unable to attend, the ceremonies will be streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and the website of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument’s website. A schedule, details and more information can be found here:

Join me in honoring our commitment to “never forget” by honoring those heroes on Dec. 7. And be sure to engage your communities, your local schools and others in remembering and honoring the date that will indeed live in infamy.

Volunteering across borders

Members of the Department of Mexico and Pahrump, Nev., Post 22 teamed up with the Pahrump Valley 4 Wheelers to replace 500 feet of water pipe at the Wheeler Well wildlife area in Nye County, Nev. The Legion members and much-needed supplies were transported to the remote Spring Mountain site by the 4 Wheelers. The well has been a concern of the county residents as it is a major source of water for wild horses, deer and elk.

USAA Tips: How to protect new mobile devices

Content provided courtesy of USAA.

It’s no secret that shiny new mobile phones and tablets will be high on many wish lists this holiday season. Protecting the devices you and your loved ones unwrap is one resolution that shouldn’t be too hard to keep, thanks to tips from the USAA Security Center.

Lock it

Don’t leave your tablet or phone vulnerable. Keep it secure with a passcode, PIN or biometrics, says Robert MacDonald, a USAA security advisor.

“One of the challenges with security is convenience versus security,” he says. “Biometrics helps to make that experience less of a hassle.”

Stay current

Operating systems, applications and devices cycle out of date fairly rapidly. Making sure to update your operating system — and your device when it no longer supports operating system updates — means you will benefit from security patches created to fix known vulnerabilities, MacDonald says. Even if you just purchased a device, don’t assume it uses the most current operating system or will for very long.

“It’s more critical when you are dealing with apps that handle financial transactions and medical and health information,” he says. “You should always check. When you get a new device, you don’t know when that device was packaged.”

Be password savvy

Never store your passwords on your device, and avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and profiles.

Consider using a password phrase rather than a hard-to-remember string of letters and numbers, MacDonald says.

“That helps ensure you have strong passwords,” he says.

Beware of public Wi-Fi

Although it’s tempting to jump on free public wireless while out and about, be aware that you could be an open book to fraudsters looking for a target.

“People can eavesdrop on the traffic and a lot of things go over the Wi-Fi network unencrypted, so you have to be very cautious about it,” MacDonald explains. “They could be sitting in the parking lot where you don’t even see them.”

Be proactive with settings and security features

Encrypt your device’s data whenever possible. Some operating systems encrypt automatically and others offer it as an option. If yours does, use it. Back up your data in case you decide to remotely wipe your device’s data because of a possible lost device.

Likewise, be picky about permissions and which applications you allow to share your location settings, camera, contacts and other information. Don’t share more than necessary.

Check notification settings. If your device falls into the hands of someone with bad intentions, don’t make it easy for them to see sensitive notifications on your screen.

NEF deadline extended for hurricane victims

More than 100 National Emergency Fund (NEF) grants have been distributed to American Legion members, posts and Sons of The American Legion members following the series of devastating hurricanes last fall.

Legionnaires and posts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico received the bulk of the aid after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria struck those areas, respectively.

“This is what The American Legion does,” said National Commander Denise H. Rohan. “When our brothers and sisters face tough times, we pull together as a family, to provide whatever help they need – an emergency grant, a shelter for the night or just comfort from a fellow veteran.”

NEF provides emergency grants to eligible members of The American Legion and SAL who have been victimized by natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and more. Individuals can receive grants up to $3,000, while Legion posts can receive up to $10,000.

Due to the severe damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, the deadline for applying for grants has been extended to Feb. 1. To apply for a grant, please visit

Two Texas posts and one in Florida received the full amount from NEF.

“It is critical to help these posts recover, not only for their members and The American Legion as a whole, but for the communities which they serve,” Rohan said. “We’ve seen from past disasters like Superstorm Sandy that investing in a post’s recovery pays immense dividends when members return to serving their communities once again.”

To donate to NEF, please visit

Legionnaire praises VA decision to allow hyperbaric oxygen treatment

A recent Department of Veterans Affairs decision to begin offering hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to some veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder has drawn praise from the chairman of The American Legion’s PTSD/TBI Ad Hoc Committee.

In a Nov. 29 statement, VA announced that HBOT therapies will be supervised by a physician, and that both VA and the Department of Defense are planning additional research to study HBOT’s effectiveness.

In a statement, VA Secretary David Shulkin said that his agency must “explore every avenue” and “be open to new ideas. There is nothing more important to us than caring for our nation’s veterans, and that care must include finding different approaches that work best for them.”

American Legion Past National Commander Bill Detweiler, chairman of the Legion’s PTSD/TBI committee, noted that the Legion has “urged the VA for years to allow the use of HBOT to treat veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries and/or post-traumatic stress. Using oxygen as a drug has been proven to be successful for many veterans, members of the military and professional football players. It's another tool in the physician's tool box.”

HBOT has been federally approved to treat such conditions as decompression sickness, carbon monoxide poisoning, and to treat wounds that won’t heal because patients are undergoing radiation or have diabetes. Though it’s been studied – 32 times between 2005 and 2015, according to a Government Accountability Office – HBOT hasn’t officially been proven to work for traumatic brain injury or PTSD.

But in November 2011, The American Legion Magazine featured a story on how HBOT was helping two veterans injured by IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. One of those, Ret. Army Sgt. Tim Hecker, shared that, “By the fourth treatment, I started feeling like a new person. I was more aware. I could see things. The deeper I got into the treatments, my cognition started to come back - my motor skills and my balance. My vision started to improve. The biggest benefit was my emotional control."

In 2013, The American Legion released a report that was a culmination of a study on current treatments and best practices for TBI and PTSD. The report, “The War Within,” noted that at the time both VA and DoD “have not done a lot of research on alternative methods. There’s no simple answer to what works as far as PTSD or TBI is concerned, but we found that the (DoD and VA) medical profession shied away from certain things which they considered to be alternative medicine."

An example of that was HBOT, which Detweiler said at the time "works for some people. It’s not the answer for everybody, but (DoD and VA) have shied away from putting any serious money into doing studies."

And at the Legion’s 98th National Convention in Cincinnati in 2016, delegates passed Resolution 165, which urged Congress to provide oversight and funding to DoD and VA for innovative TBI and PTSD research currently used in the private sector, including HBOT and other non-pharmacological treatments.

“(HBOT) is not additive, has no side effects, is inexpensive and readily available,” Detweiler said. “It's a win-win for America's veterans.”

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