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American Legion Child Welfare Foundation awards grant for autism research

The American Legion’s Child Welfare Foundation (CWF) awarded the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) a grant April 16 that will aid in the printing and distribution of a revised resource “A Parent's Guide to Research: 2019 Outreach.” The revised guide will provide parents with information about autism, explain the differences in information resources, and give them the tools to interpret and apply findings to their individual situation and needs.

OAR is a national nonprofit organization in Arlington, Va., that was founded and led by parents and grandparents of children with autism. They work to provide new and useful information to members of the autism community, and promote initiatives that enhance the quality of life for individuals with autism.

The $14,250 grant was presented to OAR Executive Director Michael Maloney and Director of Research and Programs Kimberly Ha by American Legion Finance Commission member George Lussier and Department of Virginia's National Executive Alternative Committeeman Linden Dixon Jr.

The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation was founded to contribute to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual welfare of children and youth. CWF accomplishes this mission by promoting child welfare through dissemination of knowledge about research, studies, surveys, projects, or by supporting programs and activities benefiting the welfare of children and youth.

Festival air

On April 11, the American Legion Post 519 Amateur Radio Club put up a booth at the Palm Springs (Calif.) Village Fest. We had a radio set up with UHF/VHF/HF and encouraged the public to stop by. We had over 100 veterans, family members and curious tourists stop by to thank us for our service and inquire about The American Legion. All children passing by received an American flag – we had 1,000 flags to begin with and ran out halfway through. We even got several youngsters and adults on the air. It was a great night.

Mid-April brings the Coachella music festival, with over 100,000 concertgoers in town for a two-weekend extravaganza. Pop Up Palm Springs is a brand-new event taking place on April 16 between the festival weekends. Main Street Palm Springs, the association of Uptown and Downtown Palm Springs businesses, invites local businesses to host an on-site special event, and Post 519 is a participant. We are still finalizing details, but currently our plans include a tour of our historic post including the restored Amateur Radio Room (K6TAL), a lecture on the history of the post, and maybe a lecture on our Palm Springs fallen heroes. For more information, visit palmspringslegion.org or call (760) 325-6229.

5 things veterans should not do at job interviews

From Military.com | By Sean Mclain Brown

Job interviews can be a daunting experience but with the proper preparation, you can learn strategies that can help you ace an interview.

There’s no such thing as a second chance to make a first impression so it’s critical that you take the time to do your research and create a battle plan that will help you overcome some of your interview weaknesses.

So you’ve landed an interview? Great! Now the real work begins. Here are some tips to help you prepare:

1. Don’t Be Late!

“If you’re on time, you’re late.” You’ve heard that countless times in your military career. It holds true today. In fact, if your interview is within reasonable driving distance, it’s a good idea to actually drive the route. As reliable as Google Maps is, it’s still a good idea to be prepared. Getting there early gives you time to relax, go over your interview notes one last time and use the bathroom to make sure you look squared away (be sure your shoes are clean and polished and you don’t have any food in your teeth!).

2. Don’t Criticize Past Employers

It’s an interview standard to be questioned about your previous employers. Even if you have legitimate grievances against a former boss or colleague, this is not the time to air them. Negativity, even when in tandem with your interviewer, is still negativity. Formulate how you can stay positive and try to turn the conversation to skills you learned and contributions you made.

3. Don’t Um and Ah

Let’s face it. Unless you were a PAO (Public Affairs Officer), you likely don’t have a great deal of experience public speaking. The good news is that you don’t need a college degree to become an excellent public speaker during interviews. Avoid ‘ums’, ‘ahs’, and other filler words as much as possible. If you are not quite sure of your next word, simply take a pause to think. If you need to, clarify the question with the interviewer to give yourself time to think.

In fact, a thoughtful pause might make the interviewer have the impression that you are really taking a moment to consider the question they are asking instead of just immediately rambling on with the first thing that pops into your head.

The key to mastering speaking for an interview is to practice. It’s highly recommended you practice in front of someone, or at the least, record yourself while answering some common interview questions. Keep practicing until you’re confident you can eliminate filler words from your conversation.

4. Don’t Give Generic Answers

Always, always, always be specific. If you say “I’m an excellent communicator” make sure you follow with specific examples on how you’ve demonstrated excellent communication skills. Anyone can rattle off a list of positive sounding traits, but you need to show them how you will be good for the role with evidence and examples.

For example, the question, “What makes you a good team player?,” shouldn’t just be answered with, “Well, I work good with others, I have a positive attitude, and I am a hard worker.” You should answer with a story about a project that you worked on with a team and the way you contributed to that team to successfully complete it.

5. Don’t Say You Have No Questions

Anytime you are asked if you have any questions, ask a question! During your interview preparation compile a list of questions you have about the company and the role. A couple of good fallback questions are “Why did you choose to work here?” or “What excites you most about the company’s future?” Your questions will indicate that you’ve thought more about what this job might be like or what you’re looking for in a job than just getting one for the paycheck. You can indicate more of what you’ll bring to the table. You also should avoid saying the following:

  • “Honestly” -- Any version of “honestly” including, “to tell you the truth” or “truthfully,” signals to the interviewer that what you said previously might have been misleading or untruthful. Deception experts listen for cues such as the word “honestly” to indicate a change of heart in the respondent’s message as if what they just said before wasn’t honest. While it is a subtlety, don’t take the chance that the interviewer would question what you said, casting a doubt on your confidence, information, or ability to relate to others.

  • “No… absolutely…” -- I have a friend who does this one constantly! You ask her, “Do you have time to help me with this?” and she replies, “No, absolutely I do!” Huh? It’s as if the “no” is a stall and the “absolutely I do” is the real response. To the listener, this prefacing statement is confusing and can disrupt the flow of the conversation. Your goal in an interview is to give thoughtful and focused responses to questions asked. If you need to take a few seconds to form a response, do that. Look off to the side (or upwards) and then respond clearly and with confidence.

  • “Between you and me…” -- In an interview, nothing should be considered private or confidential. If you aren’t comfortable sharing the information with your former employer, colleagues, or former C.O., don’t mention it. Prefacing with a statement like “between us” implies a level of trust and intimacy misplaced in a job interview.

USAA Tips: How to deliver unwelcome news to your boss

Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

In both the military and in business, no one likes to be surprised by bad news and no one likes to deliver bad news. Yet, delivering bad news to your boss is a sign of being a great business leader and a solid leader in both good times and bad. Candor, trust, timeliness, and honesty are all signs of a great leader. There is no better test of your leadership qualities than being able to deliver bad news.

Follow these tips to help deliver bad or unwelcome news in a way that is professional.

1. Understand Your Boss’s Priorities. Many times, bad news or off-goal business results which surprise business leaders come from not understanding the priorities of your immediate and next higher-level business leader. Remember that adage of military planning: know the mission of your leaders one and two levels up? The same goes for the business and the civilian world. If you know what is vitally important to your leaders, then the minute anything looks amiss to achieving those goals, you can reach out with information, context, and a revised plan to put their goals back on track. The bottom line: understand the priorities of your immediate and next higher business leaders.

2. Have a Regular and Standardized Way to Report on Business Priorities. Things seldom go wrong in the military or in business from a “perfect” or “on plan” state to a situation of pure disaster. Rather, individuals tend to lose focus on checking on priorities in a consistent manner. Then, when they revisit their priorities and the project status, they are surprised that progress or the situation has deteriorated. To prevent this from happening, have your boss and anyone else senior in the project approve a standard methodology for assessing success and schedule standard updates for the project. This way, there are no surprises on a project's progress (or lack of progress), and everyone agrees on how to evaluate the project’s success (or lack of success). The bottom line: having an agreed upon way to evaluate and measure a project’s success is an integral way to ensure no surprises.

3. Inform Your Boss of the Bad News in a First Report Within 15 Minutes. No one likes to be the last one to hear bad news. When you first hear of bad news, gather as much information as you can in 15 minutes and then go inform your boss. In all organizations, bad news and the rumors that bad news creates travel very fast. In addition, the first reports of bad news tend to miss key facts and other information almost always. After informing your boss and before you leave them, ask when they need additional information and / or a plan on how to react to the situation. Be sure to give your boss written information and a brief timeline to provide to his / her superior. The bottom line: don’t let bad news become worse by not informing your boss immediately. Come to your boss within 15 minutes with a first report of the situation.

4. Don’t Just Rush Back in with 25% of the Information and No Plan. The thing that bosses hate most after being surprised by bad information is when they are given no plan to repair a bad situation. Plans go wrong all the time, but uncorrected initial information combined with no plan to rectify the current situation can make a boss go over the “red” line quickly. After first informing your boss about the bad news, then go back out to gather and to reconfirm the bad news. Most importantly, start to put together a plan or strategic options how to react to the bad news. The bottom line: When you hear bad news then do your best to confirm the information, gather additional facts, and create a plan for your boss how to react to the bad news to get back on plan.

5. Don’t Forget About Your Other Priorities. A classic response in both military and corporate settings is to over-react to the bad news and start to focus 100 percent of the organization on just that problem. Instead, ensure that your other priorities, projects, and plans are in a good situation, progressing, and not showing any possible related problems. The bottom line: don’t overreact in your responses to the bad news and stop being successful on your other projects. Remember that success comes from multiple projects and one piece of bad news should not deter your strategic focus.

Preparing for bad news is the first step to ensuring a successful project. No matter the amount of planning, bad news will always and will continue to happen. Make sure that you have a regular time and process to inform your boss on the current state of your project. And, when bad news does occur, make sure you inform your boss as soon as possible, have a plan to rectify the situation, and make sure you remember and succeed on your other priorities.

University of Akron veterans participating in suicide awareness walk

Members of American Legion University of Akron Post 808 in Ohio and others will participate in a suicide awareness walk on April 28 at the university.

The April 28 event is one of more than 150 Out of the Darkness suicide awareness campus walks taking place this spring across the country. The walks, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, are aimed at raising funds and awareness alike.

Post 808 Commander Daryll Mauder said they’re hoping “for the biggest turnout yet” for the walk, which will take place at 1 p.m. April 28 at Stile Field House on the University of Akron campus. Those seeking to join the UA Veterans team or to donate can do so by clicking here.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Second episode of American Legion centennial documentary released

Before The American Legion celebrated its 100th birthday last month, the first two episodes of the newly produced centennial documentary on the history and influence of The American Legion, "To Strengthen a Nation," were released.

Watch "To Strengthen a Nation: Prelude" and "Episode 1: Formation of The American Legion." The episodes are available on The American Legion's YouTube channel.

The second episode of "To Strengthen a Nation" has been released – "Episode 2: Mutual Helpfulness." This episode focuses on The American Legion helping its fellow veterans through service officers, the GI Bill, Agent Orange benefits, and more.

“To Strengthen a Nation” has professional actors, who are also Legionnaires, crisscrossing the country to discover how The American Legion was formed, grew, and serves community, state and nation today. Episodes will be posted monthly or bimonthly between now and the 101st National Convention in Indianapolis in late August.

American Legion to attend Tattoo festival next week

The 23rd annual Virginia International Tattoo – a world-class event in Norfolk that that draws in more than 45,000 people to honor America’s military, patriotism and freedom through music, marching, pageantry, panel discussions and more – gets underway Thursday, April 25 in Norfolk, Va., at the Scope Arena. The American Legion will have two distinguished American Legion women at this year’s celebration with its theme "Celebrating Women in Service to the Nation."

American Legion Past National Commander Denise Rohan and American Legion 100th Anniversary Honorary Committee member Diane Carlson Evans, a Vietnam War combat nurse, will be present at the Tattoo. And The American Legion will display its four-panel “100 Years for God and Country” chronology exhibit at the festival where hundreds of other exhibitors and vendors will be present.

Rohan and Evans will attend the NATO flag raising ceremony the evening of April 25 and participate in the Courage, Commitment and Leadership Forum: Extraordinary Women of the U.S. Military on Friday, April 26, from 1:30-3 p.m. inside the Scope Arena. The event is free and open to the public. Rohan and Evans also will be recognized and honored during the Tattoo Finale later that evening.

Other events where they will be in attendance include the 66th annual Parade of Nations on Saturday, April 27 at 10 a.m.

The Virginia International Tattoo began in 1997, and is the signature event of the Virginia Arts Festival with over 1,000 performers from around the world. The attraction draws in people from over 45 states and more than eight nations to watch “the largest spectacle of music and might in the United States,” with a display of military music, massed pipes and drums, drill teams, heavy athletics, colorful dances, and much more.

For more information on the 2019 Virginia International Tattoo and how to attend, please visit www.vafest.org/tattoo/.

The American Legion: Notre Dame is ‘gift to humanity’

American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad expressed his condolences to the people of France in a statement issued today following the recent fire at Notre Dame cathedral.

“On behalf of the entire American Legion Family, I offer condolences to the people of France for the tragic fire that engulfed Notre Dame cathedral,” Reistad said. “The American Legion was founded in Paris. We still maintain an American Legion presence there. We will always have a strong connection to the nation that aided us during our revolution and has been a strong ally ever since.

"For eight centuries Notre Dame has been France’s gift to humanity. We are grateful for the brave firefighters who prevented this precious landmark from becoming a total loss. In June, I will visit France to participate in D-Day observances. I plan to personally convey my condolences to the many French officials and citizens that I will meet during my visit to that great country. Let there be no doubt that this nation that has seen so much destruction over two world wars will rebuild this magnificent structure.”

National World War I commission seeking post namesakes

Although the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I has passed, the work of the United States World War I Centennial Commission (WWICC) is not done yet. Ongoing projects emphasize remembrance of both the war and its aftermath – and one of them is intimately bound up with The American Legion.

In 2018, calls went out for information about Legion posts named after World War I veterans. According to David Hamon, VSO/military director for the commission, more than 250 entries have since come in to him. "It has been a moving and inspiring experience working with American Legion posts across the United States who shared history and story of the veterans who served and sacrificed during the Great War, later to be remembered by having Legion posts named after them,” he commented.

“They left behind family and careers to serve in the AEF, and in many cases were immigrants here in the U.S. for a brief time but fighting for their new country. They were buried – some in American cemeteries in France and Europe, some in local cemeteries, still others in family plots, all enshrined for posterity as part of their communities. The newly formed American Legion thus honored their sons and daughters. There are some incredible stories needing to be told …. It has been a tremendous education for me as I spoke with and got to know so many post historians and commanders as they shared the legacy information on their World War I veterans, complete with photos, letters, newspaper clippings and in some cases written histories.” Hamon is especially appreciative of the post historians, commanders and other officers who provided the information and materials for these stories.

WWICC has several platforms (https://www.worldwar1centennial.org/index.php/communicate.html) on which they are re-presenting these post stories – newsletters, a podcast and more. Among the doughboys profiled:

- Sgt. Frederick Withoft of Post 70 in Fort Valley, Ga. Spanish influenza ravaged the world from 1918 to 1920. This version of influenza infected a staggering 500 million people, a third of the world’s population at the time. It haunted the ranks of the world’s militaries throughout the war. World War I provided ideal conditions for the spread of infectious disease, particularly the flu. Soldiers lived in close quarters in training camp and in the trenches, often in terrible living conditions with no access to modern vaccines or medicine. Over the course of the war, the flu spread from the fronts to tightly-packed civilian centers and then back again. Withoft was serving with the 28th Division in Europe when he died of pneumonia a few months after the war ended, on Feb. 25, 1919. He had survived the horrors of war, but like so many other thousands of Americans, could not withstand the ravages of the flu. Post 70 was first chartered in 1919.

- Cpl. James Claire Carmody of Post 39 in Poultney, Vt. Carmody (9th Infantry, 2nd Division, AEF) sacrificed his life in France on July 18, 1918. On June 12, he had written to his mother that he had “just passed through Hell!” While the armies of Europe had been fighting the war for nearly four years by 1918, the Americans were extremely green in combat. Their first experiences of World War I quickly awoke them to the war’s incredible horrors and inspired them toward feats of heroism. Carmody and his comrades played a key role in the defense of France in the spring and summer of 1918, when Germany attempted its last great offensive of the war. The Kaiserschlacht, or Spring Offensive, briefly threatened Paris and put the Allies on their heels. But thanks to a valiant Allied defensive effort and the overextension of the German supply lines, the Allies were soon pushing the Germans back. Carmody’s division defeated so many Germans that he claimed in another letter that he had “never saw so many dead people or soldiers in [his] life.” Post 39 was first chartered in 1919.

- Sgt. John Berg of Post 976 in Crosby, Pa. Berg (Company C, 317th Infantry, 80th Division, AEF) was born in Kalsvit, Sweden in 1889. He and his family immigrated to the United States in 1893. Immigrants became a backbone of the U.S. military effort in World War I, with roughly 500,000 immigrants – or 18 percent of the total U.S. military – serving during the war. Berg enlisted on April 3, 1918, and saw military action between July 1 and the end of the war in continuous service. He participated in key battles during the war’s final months, including the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. For his bravery and accomplishments, Berg earned the Distinguished Service Cross and the Croix de Guerre with gold star, the most famous French military decoration of the war. After the war, Berg was honorably discharged from the military and went on to live a long and happy life. He died of cancer on July 29, 1956. Post 976 was first chartered in 1957.

WWICC is still looking for additional post stories; contact Hamon at david.hamon@worldwar1centennial.org or (202) 380-0821.

A special microsite is designed specifically for members of VSOs and MSOs; learn more at www.ww1cc.org/veterans.

Another ongoing project of WWICC is working on a permanent national World War I memorial in Washington, D.C. American Legion posts have the opportunity to donate to the memorial in the name of their namesake. Visit www.ww1cc.org/donate, or send a check to:

US World War One Centennial Commission

Attn: David Hamon

701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 123

Washington, DC 20004

Hamon stated, “As Americans we must never forget the doughboys and their war. Let's build this memorial!"

Veterans History Project event in Tennessee April 18-19

The Student Veterans Organization (SVO) at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tenn. – in collaboration with the Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress – invites U.S. military veterans to share their stories of service April 18-19 on the Columbia Campus in the Waymon L. Hickman Building. Any U.S. veteran is welcome to participate.

The Veterans History Project is an archive that preserves narratives of veterans’ service through oral history interviews and documents such as photographs, letters, journals and diaries created while in the military, so that researchers and future generations can access these firsthand accounts and better understand the realities of war.

“Every day we lose more and more stories that can no longer be told,” said David Donnelly, Columbia State SVO president. “As a veteran, telling stories is a way to share what we are most proud of. It was a way of life for us for many years that we don’t have out in the civilian world, so this is a way for us to show what we experienced.”

Veterans can sign up for a recorded oral history interview that will last from 30-90 minutes, or can bring original documents to donate. To pick up paperwork and instructions, visit the Columbia State website at www.ColumbiaState.edu/VeteransHistoryProject, or contact Ginny Massey-Holt, Columbia State SVO adviser and associate professor of nursing, at (931) 540-2602. Interview slots must be signed up for ahead of time.

“This project is going to allow Columbia State students from a variety of departments and organizations, including members of the Columbia State history department and Phi Theta Kappa honor society, to come together to collect the stories in our community,” Holt said. “Veterans have an option of where their stories can be archived, and have the right to withdraw that information at any time in the future.”

VHP also collects oral histories with Gold Star Family members, defined as a parent, spouse, sibling or child of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died as a result of their service during a period of war.

These documents and interviews will become part of the permanent collections of the Library of Congress and will be made available to researchers and the general public via the American Folklife Center Reading Room and the VHP website. For more information about the Veterans History Project, visit www.loc.gov/vets.

The American Legion is a Founding Partner of the Veterans History Project, which was founded in 2000. Several area Legionnaires are expected to take part in the Columbia State interviews, a Legion information table will be set up at the event, and historical displays from National Headquarters will also be present.

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