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Legion News

Commander: pass the Coast Guard Authorization Act

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hosted a hearing Dec. 12 on “Expanding Opportunities, Challenges, and Threats in the Arctic: A Focus on the U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Strategic Outlook.”

Throughout this hearing, the critical role the U.S. Coast Guard plays in our national security was highlighted repeatedly. Despite the vital role they play in securing our nation’s shores, the Coast Guard is the only military branch in modern history that has gone without timely pay during a government shutdown.

Sadly, the threat of a government shutdown and going without pay once again looms over the brave men and women of the Coast Guard. No member of our military should ever live in fear of not being paid. This is why The American Legion supports Section 221 of S. 2297 Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2019. This provision, known as the “Pay Our Coast Guard” provision, ensures appropriations for Coast Guard pay in the event an appropriations act expires. The American Legion exists to serve and advocate for our nation’s veterans. Last January, our organization gave out more than $1 million in grants to junior enlisted Coast Guard families with children at home, those whose lives are most affected when pay is interrupted. However, veteran service organizations and nonprofits should not have to continually backstop the federal government simply because Congress cannot pass a budget.

In a recent letter to Congress, I wrote that it is imperative we address this issue permanently, as it is becoming an unacceptable norm for the men and women that protect our nation. Congress must act now to pass the Coast Guard Authorization Act.

9-8-8 suicide crisis hotline gets Senate committee’s unanimous approval

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Wednesday unanimously approved the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, S. 2661. The American Legion sees this as a positive step to improve access to mental health help for veterans in need.

The bipartisan act, supported by American Legion Resolution No. 377, would require the Federal Communications Commission to designate 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for a national suicide prevention and mental-health crisis hotline. Advocates for the hotline believe that designating a three-digit telephone number can transform access to mental health care.

“This easy-to-remember number would make it easier for Americans dealing with a mental health crisis to receive life-saving support," said Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. "With the Senate Commerce Committee’s approval today, this bipartisan bill to create a three-digit suicide hotline became one step closer to becoming reality. I will continue to push Congress to create this three-digit hotline."

In addition to designating 9-8-8 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, it would include a provision for the Veterans Crisis Line giving veterans fast and easy access to veteran-specific mental health support.

“When they dial 9-8-8, they will have a warm handoff to the veteran crisis line,” American Legion Legislative Director Melissa Bryant said during a panel discussion in October. “The importance of connecting with someone who speaks veteran during a mental health crisis is crucial.”

More than 45,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States, including more than 6,100 veterans, said Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Ill. “We need to do everything we can to prevent suicide, and that means improving the tools we have to help people who are suffering from depression or other mental health issues." Baldwin is happy the legislation is moving forward "so we can make it as quick and easy as possible for Americans in crisis to get the help and support they need through the National Suicide Hotline.”

The act is sponsored by Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Tammy Baldwin, D-Ill., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Jon Tester, D-Mont.

California post building to be recognized as historical site

The City of Palm Springs, Calif., will rededicate and recognize American Legion Post 519 as a “Class One Historical Site” the first week in January. This recognition stems from the discovery and restoration of old radio studio equipment that the members of W6TAL, Post 519’s amateur radio club, found while restoring an old soundstage at the post used by some of the great stars of the post-World War II era – James Cagney, David Niven, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and many other Hollywood talents relaxing in Palm Springs and spending time at the post in the 1940s and 1950s.

You can see some of the modern television-news exposure online at this link, or at But Tom McLean KJ6DZT, commander of Post 519, vice president of K6TAL and California’s Area 5 commissioner, thought it was more important to share that W6TAL and Post 519 are also working to be certified by the American Red Cross to be an emergency shelter. Like many other TALARCs, the special interest of K6TAL is emergency community service and disaster preparedness.

Kudos to the members of Post 519 and to W6TAL.

Rhein Main post celebrates Thanksgiving with community

Rhein Main Post GR05, American Legion Department of France, hosted our first Thanksgiving Potluck on Nov. 28 at the Die Flying Dragon Bar. The event was held for our post members and their families.

It turned out to be a great success, with about 50 attendees from our post, German Army reserves counterparts from the SF d.R. und BA Marschgruppe, who sponsored the first annual OP Alpha March, the second lord mayor and the volunteer fire department from Walldorf, and their families. Music was provided by Damian, the Dragon’s owner.

During dinner we also signed up two new members into the Legion.

We made new friends from the city, and invited the German Army reservists to come join us at one of our meetings to see how an American Legion post conducts them.

See more photos at

Order your centennial coin in time for Christmas gifting

There’s not much time left to purchase The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin series, especially if you want to share them as gifts for Christmas. Visit to order now.

The expedited shipping deadline is Dec. 19 to ensure delivery before Christmas. U.S. Mint has a $10 off shipping with code HOLIDAY2019.

The three commemorative coins that celebrate The American Legion’s centennial and legacy include a $5 gold piece, a silver dollar and a clad half-dollar. The three-coin proof set is also still available for purchase.

The gold pieces feature on the heads side the Eiffel Tower, a V for victory in World War I, the engraved word LIBERTY and the years 1919 – 2019 encircled by the outer ring of an American Legion emblem, recognizing the organization’s founding in Paris after the armistice that ended the Great War. On the tails side of the $5 coin, a soaring bald eagle is depicted, along with a sculpted American Legion emblem.

The silver dollar shows on the heads side the Legion emblem surrounded by oak leaves and a lily, commemorating the Legion’s founding in Paris. The reverse side has crossed U.S. and American Legion flags under a fleur-de-lis and the dates 1919 and 2019 and the inscription 100 YEARS OF SERVICE.

The half-dollar has on its heads side two children, one of whom is wearing her dad’s Legion cap, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The reverse continues the pledge with … OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA with a billowing U.S. flag and Legion emblem above the inscription.

This is the final opportunity to own The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin series before they go off sale forever Dec. 31.

Plaque commemorates 100th American Legion national convention

The American Legion and the city of Minneapolis have a relationship going back for 100 years. That connection is now explained on a plaque at Peavey Plaza, near the corner of Nicollet Avenue and South 11th Street.

On Pearl Harbor Day, about 25 members of the American Legion Family, primarily from the 4th and 5th districts, gathered at Peavey Plaza to unveil and dedicate the plaque and to read a proclamation from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

The ceremony had a moment of silence for military members who perished in the attacks at Pearl Harbor in 1941 and for three members of the Minnesota National Guard killed in a helicopter crash Dec. 5 about 15 miles southwest of St. Cloud.

Peavey Plaza is the site of the former Minneapolis Auditorium, which opened in 1905 and is where the first American Legion national convention took place in 1919. The structure was refurbished and became the Lyceum Theater in 1924, then razed in 1973. The site now has Minnesota Orchestra Hall and Peavey Plaza, both built in 1974.

The plaza got a makeover in 2018 and features a quarter-inch-deep wading pool. Of course, it isn’t operating in the month of December. Snow, however, pools at varying depths.

The new plaque is near a 1959 plaque that commemorates the first convention. The new plaque says:

“100th National Convention of The American Legion, August 28, 29, 30, 2018. This tablet is placed in grateful recognition of The American Legion in awarding the 1st and the 100th national convention to the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, dedicated November 11, 2019, Department of Minnesota.”

The dedication originally had been slated for Veterans Day, but it was switched to Pearl Harbor Day because of availability of an honor guard and other scheduling conflicts. Past Department Commander Jim Kellogg, Dick Ward of Minneapolis Post 1 and a few others worked with the city and Twin City Monument Co. to make the plaque happen.

Kellogg read the mayoral proclamation. It declares Veterans Day 2019 “The American Legion Day in the city of Minneapolis.”

Department Vice Commander Teresa Ash and 5th District Commander Andrew Rose Sr. unveiled the plaque.

USAA Tips: Avoid these classic holiday party fails

Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

We have all seen these mistakes made or maybe made them ourselves — we get too relaxed at a holiday party, drink too much, show up late or don’t show up at all. Follow these tips to help make sure you do not make these same mistakes at the upcoming holiday party.

If You Are Invited, You Are Expected to Attend.

In some organizations, the annual holiday party is an important tradition. The best rule of thumb is that if you are invited, then plan to attend. Remember, holiday parties are about tradition, the company leadership’s view of giving back to employees, and having non-office interaction with fellow employees. Have a good attitude and make the best of these parties.

When You Dress, Plan on Holiday Traditional Casual.

What to wear is always a challenge. Traditional holiday casual is the best choice. Wear an outfit that is classic, a little conservative, and tasteful. In the case of the holiday party, a little boring is fine. Anything that is too tight, shows too much skin, or too much color can make you the focus of the evening.

Limit Yourself to Two Drinks – The Entire Night.

Limiting yourself to two drinks for the entire night seems like a “buzz kill” and that is correct. Alcohol and holiday parties are where stories come from and you do not want to be a story of that type. Even if you can drink a lot of alcohol and still be yourself – don’t do it. People are always looking and evaluating others' alcohol consumption. The two-drink limit eliminates one more risk.

Arrive on Time and Don’t Stay Late.

If a party is at a home or restaurant, then be very mindful of arriving on time and not staying too late. Respect your hosts and the restaurant owners because they have gone to the immense trouble to organize, clean, staff, and stock for a great event. By staying within the timeline of the event, you respect everyone’s time and effort it took to arrange for a great event.

Stay Within the Dollar Range for A Gift Exchange.

It’s easy to want to spend above the limit on a gift exchange, but don’t do it. Your gift exchange item should be classy, memorable, creative, and under the dollar limit. When people go above the limit, they make everyone else who stayed under the limit feel bad. Don’t be that person — there are lots of ways to have a classic gift. A great idea is a recipe card with all the ingredients already bought — then you can literally give someone their dinner for the next night.

Minimize Politics and Religious Differences in Conversations.

Finding a conversational theme that offends no one seems to get harder every year. Stay clear of politics, office politics, gossip, and anything that puts another person or group down. Instead, stock up on local stories, vacation ideas, a new local restaurant, or a favorite recipe. It also goes without saying that vulgar language of any kind is off limits. Focus on “softball” conversations and topics that allow you to talk freely with anyone.

Be Aware for Others and Don’t Forget a Thank You Card.

At every holiday party, be especially aware of any young people that may not follow these rules or feel that they can emulate behavior from more senior members of your organization. In addition, make sure anyone uses a ride share service or taxi cab to get home if they had too much to drink. Finally, a written and mailed “Thank You” card is a great way to offer sincere thanks and make a great impression.

Post 240 serves as haven after NAS Pensacola shooting

American Legion Post 240 sits just a few miles away from Naval Air Station Pensacola, so the post became a haven for people evacuating the base after a deadly shooting on Dec. 6.

Among those who headed to Post 240 after the shooting was American Legion Auxiliary First District President Kim Edens, whose husband, Western Area Commander John Edens, is an instructor at NAS Pensacola.

“My first reaction was, I want to get to my husband,” Kim Edens told FOX-10 News.

John Edens told the TV station that his worries were for those outside his locked-down building.

The Edens told FOX-10 that Post 240, where they are members, would be open to the community in the aftermath of the deadly incident.

Saudi Air Force 2nd Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani killed three sailors and injured eight others before sheriff’s deputies shot and killed him. Alshamrani, 21, was in the U.S. for naval aviation training. Investigators said Alshamrani was able to purchase the handgun he used in the shooting legally after he obtained a Florida hunting license.

The three sailors — Ensign Joshua Watson, Airman Mohammed Haitham and Airman Apprentice Cameron Walters — were posthumously awarded Wings of Gold by Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly on Tuesday.

The Navy said Monday that five of the eight injured had been released from the hospital.

Oxford attends Dignified Transfer of Korean Unknowns

They’re coming home. Still simply “known but to God,” seven fallen Americans from the Korean War are undergoing an identification process at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in Hawaii that will likely verify their true identities within the next two years.

As their caskets were moved in what military officials refer to as a “Dignified Transfer of Remains” last month, American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford stood in formation and rendered a salute.

“Many years have passed, but these veterans had and may still have family members who want them home,” Oxford said. “They may be ‘known to God,’ but they are forgotten by no one. The American Legion has numerous resolutions supporting a full accounting for, and whenever possible, a repatriation of the remains of every American who has served and made the ultimate sacrifice. I was honored to have observed the Dignified Transferred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The American Legion fully supports the mission of DPAA. We owe our heroes and their families nothing less.”

The seven remains that were disinterred Nov. 18 were turned over to the United States from North Korea in 1954. The men reportedly died in captivity while being held at three separate POW camps in North Korea. Based on the operating dates of those camps, they would have died in the first six months of 1951.

“The increase in identifications of U.S. servicemen previously interred as Unknowns is due to a few different factors,” said Stephen E. Thompson, a spokesman for DPAA. “Advances in forensic science now allows DPAA to make identifications previously not possible. The DNA scientists at AFDIL (Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory) have greatly assisted in this process.”

In addition to DNA analysis, the scientific advances include isotopic mapping. This science involves studying markers that are the result of dietary habits and remain in bones for many years. Clavicle matching is also helpful at providing characteristics considered as unique as a fingerprint.

Dignified Transfers of Korean War Unknowns occur every two weeks, with each set of remains undergoing rigorous testing until DPAA officials have met a “clear and convincing” burden of proof to make a positive identification. There are more than 7,600 unaccounted for Americans from the Korean War. AFDIL has collected DNA samples from family members of 92 percent of these unaccounted for veterans.

Family members or those who wish to learn more about DPAA’s mission are encouraged to visit its website at

Army-Navy game: 10 things to know

One of the greatest rivalries in both college football and all of sports takes place Dec. 14 when Army and Navy meet at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The two service academies will be meeting for the 120th time since 1890 in front of nearly 70,000 fans and a world television and radio audience.

The Army-Navy game, presented by USAA, will be televised by CBS Sports and broadcasted by the Westwood One radio network, with kickoff scheduled for 3 p.m. ET. Prior to the game, CBS Sports Network will air Inside College Football: Army-Navy March-On, which will included the march-on of the Brigade of Midshipmen at 12:10 pm and the march-on of the Corps of Cadets at 12:40 pm.

Here are 10 things to know about this year’s Army-Navy game and the history leading up to it.

1. The Cadets and Midshipmen played the first Army-Navy football game Nov. 29, 1890, on "The Plain" at West Point. Navy had been playing organized football since 1879 and won 24-0 against the newly established Army team. (via

2. Army won Associated Press national titles in 1944 and 1945, and won a share of the national title in 1914, 1916 and 1946. In both ’44 and ’45, Army was ranked No. 1 and Navy No. 2 heading into their annual game; Army won both games. Navy also won a share of the national championship in 1926. (via

3. The 1963 Army-Navy game was postponed one week following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The game was played a week later, at the insistence of his widow Jacqueline, and a Roger Staubach-led Navy squad downed Army 21-15. The Midshipmen finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country and lost to No. 1 Texas 28-6 in the Cotton Bowl. (via

4. During its first season in 1973, Episode 20 of the hit TV series “M*A*S*H" was titled “The Army Navy Game.” In the episode, Navy wins 42-36 in what was the 53rd game of the series. The actual 53rd game was a 7-0 Navy win and took place in 1952. (via

5. The 1983 game was played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., the only time the game has been played west of the Mississippi River. The nonprofit Army-Navy '83 Foundation was set up to attract donations to cover the estimated $6 million it cost to hold the game.

6. In 2015 Keenan Reynolds did what no other Navy quarterback has ever done: beat his archrival four times. Reynolds both ran and passed for more than 110 yards, leading the Midshipmen past Army 21-17. Reynolds finished fifth in Heisman voting that year, guiding Navy (11-2) to its best record in program history. Reynolds had started the rivalry game since his freshman year, winning 17-13, then 34-7 as a sophomore and 17-10 his junior season.

7. Navy enters this year’s game 9-2 and ranked 23rd in the College Football Playoff Rankings, and 21st by the Associated Press. Army is 5-7 after going 29-10 the previous three seasons.

8. Navy leads the all-time series 60-52-7. Army has won three straight games in the series by a combined 12 points, ending Navy’s 14-game winning streak from 2002-2015.

9. Both teams will be wearing special uniforms this year. Navy will wear a throwback uniform reminiscent of the academy’s 1960s teams – which produced Heisman Trophy winners Jim Bellino (1960) and Roger Staubach (1963) – while Army’s uniform honors soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division.

10. The Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy is on the line Saturday for the 48th time in the series. The trophy is awarded to the service academy – either Army, Navy or Air Force – with the best record after playing their two rivals. If Navy defeats Army, the Midshipmen would win the trophy for the 16th time in school history and for the 11th time in the last 17 years. If Army wins, the three academies will share the trophy, which would remain in West Point for another year.

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