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American Legion News

70 years of Legion Baseball rule books now available on Digital Archive

Source: July 26, 2024

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Learn about American Legion Baseball with more than 70 years of digitized rule books, starting with the 1928 season. The newly available books demonstrate changes in Legion Baseball over the last nearly 100 years.

The national youth program was founded in 1926 as American Legion Junior Baseball. In 1961, the name was changed to American Legion Baseball to differentiate the program from other youth baseball programs. Details of the name change can be found on page 64 of the May 1961 Proceedings of the National Executive Committee.

The books include the rules for the upcoming year and information on national and regional games from the previous season including activity highlights, winner lists and team photos. Regular features include Players of the Year and alumni who are members of a Major League team.

Visit the Digital Archive to discover something new about American Legion Baseball.

Next article: Oklahoma senator elected president of Boys Nation 2024

Oklahoma senator elected president of Boys Nation 2024

Source: July 25, 2024

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In previous years, voting for the president and vice president of American Legion Boys Nation happen the same night as the respective debates for the program's top two offices.

For Boys Nation 2024, the debate took place Tuesday night and the election took place Wednesday morning — resulting in another sleepless night for the candidates.

"I don't think it's fully processed with me yet, the fact that I was selected by this group of outstanding change makers and visionaries, it's just crazy to me," Morgan Johnson of Oklahoma said after his election as president on Wednesday.

"I lost a ton of sleep preparing for this. I have a lot of really great debaters, a lot of national level policy guys and national debate performers that helped prepare me, because I've never really debated before; I don't do debate at my school, we don't have it," Johnson said. "So preparing, educating myself on policy, I was up until almost 2:30, 3 a.m. the night before the debates, practicing and preparing, and then a couple hours beforehand, I was working with my VP candidate from my party, Josh (Williams of Idaho), and we were all preparing. So much help from so many guys."

Johnson, the Federalist candidate for president, defeated Arkansas' X'zaeviun Sims to become the fourth Oklahoman elected Boys Nation president. He joins Joe Davis (1975), Jerome Loughridge (1990) and Rick Lam Jr. (1995).

Johnson said he wanted to run for president because he knew it had been awhile since Oklahoma had a Boys Nation president. And he also wanted "to be able to unify people, to be able to push people's messages."

Johnson was sponsored to Oklahoma Boys State by Post 153 in his hometown of Wagoner, Okla.

"You had faith in me … to be here is so humbling and so awe-inspiring," he said in thanking Post 153 for their support.

The four election races didn't end in a complete sweep by the Federalists, who on Saturday saw Eshaam Bhattad of Illinois and Charan Bala of Maryland elected president pro tempore and secretary of the senate respectively. In Wednesday's voting for vice president, Nationalist Rohan Parekh of Alabama defeated Williams.

Following the election, Johnson and Parekh were sworn into office by David Bobb, president of the Bill of Rights Institute.

Special guests

The senators of Boys Nation 2024 have seen plenty of sights around the D.C. area already this week — some that few get the opportunity to visit.

On Monday morning, both Boys Nation and American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation were guests at the White House alongside NCAA champions from all three divisions. Some of the senators even had the opportunity to play volleyball or cornhole with national champion athletes on the South Lawn.

"White House was awesome, we got to see a bunch of really cool athletes and I met so many really cool teams, like Florida State and UCLA," said Johnny Honnold of Missouri, who was sponsored to Missouri Boys State by Pembroke Hill School. "What was really cool was seeing Vice President Harris right after she was (endorsed) by President Biden to run for the election."

"It really meant a lot to me to be in the White House," added Matthew Hardy of Iowa, who was sponsored to Iowa Boys State by Post 31 in Lake City, Iowa. "I've been to D.C. a couple times now, seen the White House every time but never the inside. It was really unique to read up on the history that they had placarded around and you could see, visualize what other presidents lived there, and feel that."

After a visit from West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. Steve Gilland on Monday night at Marymount University, the Boys Nation senators headed to the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning. There, as guests of Justice Samuel Alito — who attended New Jersey Boys State — they received a guided visit of the Supreme Court chamber and posed for photos on the steps of the building.

And Tuesday night, after the presidential and vice presidential debates, the senators embarked to the House, where they received a tour courtesy of Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.

After Wednesday morning's election and inauguration, the senators visited the Pentagon.

Next article: NORAD jets intercept 4 Russian and Chinese bombers off Alaska coast

NORAD jets intercept 4 Russian and Chinese bombers off Alaska coast

Source: July 25, 2024

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North American Aerospace Defense Command says it "detected, tracked, and intercepted" four bombers — two Russian and two Chinese — flying near Alaska on Wednesday.

The Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bears and Chinese H-6 strategic bombers were operating in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone but "did not enter American or Canadian sovereign airspace," NORAD announced in a press release after the incident.

The intercept was handled by U.S. and Canadian fighter jets, the statement said. The Russian and Chinese bombers were not considered a threat, according to NORAD.

A spokesman for NORAD, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., Capt. Sean Carter, told Stars and Stripes by email that he had no further information available on the incident.

An ADIZ is an area beyond a country's airspace where, for national security, it exerts some air traffic control and requires aircraft to identify themselves. They are not formally recognized under international law, "although various norms pertain," according to the Congressional Research Service.

On Sunday, Russian fighters intercepted a pair of Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bombers in international airspace over the Barents Sea, the area north of Scandinavia and eastern Russia, while the bombers were en route to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, according to the service.

The B-52s continued their flight without changing course, according to U.S. Air Forces Europe and Africa.

Next article: Providing financial ‘relief' for back-to-school expenses

Providing financial ‘relief' for back-to-school expenses

Source: July 25, 2024

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Roosevelt McKnight Jr. has only been the commander of American Legion McCulloch-Wagner Post 109 in Vail, Ariz., for around one month. But he's already made an impact, as seen by the post's most recent attempt to support its community.

On July 20, Post 109 spearheaded with the Corona De Tucson Fire District, a local business and other members of the community to fill one of the fire department's new trucks with school supplies. The contents of the truck are for students in the Vail School District.

"I was looking at this being an annual event," McKnight said. "But we have a couple teachers that go to our post, and they said it would really be good to make it a semi-annual event. But my plan is for it to be at least annual."

McKnight said he knows this time of year can create a financial strain on parents with school-age children. "We have worked before with the (ReSources) Vail Food Bank," he said. "One of the things in working with the food bank … is they were telling me they have seen an uptick in the amount of families coming through, and in particular, the amount of veteran families struggling. So that was in the back of our minds.

"But we wanted to extend it out. If we have families and there's an uptick in families needing food assistance, maybe we can take this on and get our community to come together and this post to come together and provide some relief for returning to school for some of these families."

In addition to teaming with the fire district, Post 109 also invited Caffeine Dealer, a local coffee shop and food truck, to take part in the event. A local Boy Scout troop helped with the effort and also provided a pancake breakfast.

The post was able to collect backpacks, pencils and pins, paper, hand sanitizer and other items. McKnight then reached out to the school system to find out when he could drop off the items, and that's when he found out a news team from News 4 in Tucson – which conducted an unrelated supply drive two days after Post 109's – was there to get video of the supply drop-off. But instead, McKnight ended up being interviewed about the post's effort. Watch the video here.

McKnight said the success of the drive, "exceeded any expectations that I had. But I think we have a really good footprint and a good relationship with this community. The (Corona De Tucson Fire District) fire chief said that this is the beginning of a very different relationship with them. And both of his grandfathers were World War II veterans, and he didn't know he was eligible for membership. So we've picked up a new member (in the Sons of The American Legion)."

Next article: Maryland post makes record donation to VA

Maryland post makes record donation to VA

Source: July 25, 2024

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For years, Dorchester American Legion Post 91 in Cambridge, Md., has made donations throughout the year to various U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities within the state.

But this year the post decided to make the donation in one lump sum – and made history in the process.

Earlier this month, Post 91 made a $42,000 donation to the VA Maryland Health Care System. It was the largest single donation the system has ever received from a veteran service organization's individual post.

"We used to give quarterly, but we decided to do it at the end of the fiscal year, which allowed us give more money at one time," Post 91 Finance Officer George Williams said. "We're trying to support the people that we work with, and our brothers and sisters in the service … who are elderly or need additional assistance. We were in a position where we could do such, and our Donation Committee worked out the money we had available."

In addition to having five legalized slot machines, Williams said the post benefits financially from having a facility that can be broken down into three sizes to rent out for events.

This year, the post will have been able to donate a total of $200,000 to various causes. "We give to every fire department within our county and two in our neighboring county," Williams said. "We give to different churches, animal rescues, educators, Boy Scouts. I think there were over 70 groups that we gave to."

The donation to VA will make a sizeable impact as it benefits veterans receiving care at the Baltimore, Loch Raven and Perry Point VA Medical Centers, as well as the Cambridge, Eastern Baltimore County, Fort Meade, Glen Burnie and Pocomoke City VA Outpatient Clinics. The funds will help provide diversional recreation supplies and activities while also providing support for the VA National Games, transportation services, educational resources, adaptive sports programing, supplies for new and expecting mothers, and equipment for inpatient care units.

"This donation from The American Legion Dorchester Post 91 will help to support important patient projects and programs that enhance the quality of life for Maryland's veterans," said Jonathan R. Eckman, P.E., director of the VA Maryland Health Care System, via press release. "As the largest donation ever received from an individual VSO post, it also demonstrates the commitment of Post 91 to supporting the needs of Maryland's veteran patients and reminds them that their service in the armed forces has not been forgotten."

Williams said being able to make that kind of impact, "is a remarkable feeling – that we have the means to do such. Again, this was one of our better years for giving, and we try to give the bulk of the money to entities relating to the VA system. It's good that we have the ability to give to the veterans in need."

Next article: Legion Riders provide summer barbecue while honoring residents of veterans home

Legion Riders provide summer barbecue while honoring residents of veterans home

Source: July 25, 2024

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Missy Heise grew up in a military family. The secretary of American Legion Riders Chapter and American Legion Auxiliary Unit 452 in Keewatin, Minn., she's the wife of a veteran – Legionnaire and fellow Legion Rider John Heise – while other family members have served.

That's why Heise and a group of her fellow American Legion Riders recently rode 90-plus miles to the Minnesota Veterans Home at Silver Bay to visit with the residents there, providing a summer barbecue in the process.

"For me, it means a lot," Heise said. "It's really important to me, because I feel that they don't get enough thanks for all the freedoms that we get to enjoy."

In addition to grilling out for the residents, members of Chapter 452 spent time listening to their stories and making sure they felt both remembered and honored.

"We felt it necessary to go up there and just spend some time with them," Heise said. "They enjoy seeing and talking to people. They don't get a lot of visitors, other than family. We felt to give back to them, it would be nice to not just donate, but to give our time to sit and visit with them and cook for them."

It's the second year the chapter has visited the home, but the Riders and other members of Post 452's Legion Family regularly support the veterans there with donations.

But the visits are different.

"They absolutely love it," Heise said of the residents. "We circle the building with our bikes so everybody does get a chance to see them. Then we have our bikes parked, and they'll come through and spend a lot of time looking at them and talking to us about our bikes.

"We talked to one gentleman who used to ride Harleys all the time, and he was just amazed looking at our bikes."

Jennifer Fisher, the veterans home's senior RN, told WDIO that visits make an impact on the residents. "You know they don't get tons and tons of visitors besides families," she said. "So having groups like this come in and give that sense of community."

Next article: Legionnaires, at-risk veterans share camaraderie over baseball

Legionnaires, at-risk veterans share camaraderie over baseball

Source: July 25, 2024

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About a year ago, members of American Legion National Defense Post 46 in Washington, D.C., toured Access Housing Inc. (AHI) DC, which provides housing to area veterans experiencing homelessness, along with resources to find employment and permanent housing. Since then, the post has provided donations such as 48 pairs of shoes, boots, socks and 71 sets of bedding that the veterans can take when they transition to permanent housing.

"We are not only meeting a physical need of warmth, but a psychological need that somebody cares. That somebody in this neighborhood (Post 46) cares about you and wants to help you," said Chris Herndon, Post 46 adjutant and District of Columbia National Executive Committeeman. "This is a way that we can take care of our soldiers and the people that really need help."

Along with donations, Post 46 members began to look at how they could socially support veterans residing at Access Housing Inc. This led to the idea of a baseball game outing.

On July 20, members of Post 46, their family and 10 veterans from Access Housing Inc. DC attended the Washington Nationals game against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park.

"Providing this opportunity to our fellow veterans epitomizes what the Legion is supposed to do as a veteran service organization," said Post 46 Senior Vice Commander Jason Secrest, who organized the baseball outing. "This is supporting the bonds of service that tie us together." 

The 10 veterans were shuttled to and from Nationals Stadium for free through Baron Tours, whose owner Claudine Halabi is a supporter of Post 46 and friend of Herndon. They enjoyed concession food and camaraderie with Post 46 members.

"They shook hands with every Legionnaire, and we talked with them," Herndon said. "They were very thankful and so appreciative of us doing this for them. We're trying to build a relationship with these veterans who we don't quite know, but we want to learn more about."

In response to the outing, AHI Lead Case Manager Juanita Carey wrote to Post 46, "On behalf of AHI veterans and staff, I want to extend my deepest gratitude for your generous support and sponsorship of the NATS game tickets. Your commitment to AHI's cause to give back to veterans contributes to the significant impact that lasting memories like at this event have on our veterans."

Next article: Phishing, spear phishing and whaling

Phishing, spear phishing and whaling

Source: July 25, 2024

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is conducting Nationwide Tax Forums, sponsored by the Security Summit, in five different cities this summer. The four remaining forums are July 30 in Orlando, Aug. 13 in Baltimore, Aug. 20 in Dallas and Sept. 10 in San Diego. Registration forms and deadlines are available on IRS.gov; the IRS notes that taxpayers and professional advisers are welcome to attend the forums, but it is expected that they will sell out.

The forums are designed to highlight the latest strategies of fraudsters. There is a a specific focus on protecting tax preparers and their clients. The latest and most successful scams will be covered. Some of the scams to be aware of include:

Phishing/Smishing Phishing emails or SMS/texts (known as "smishing") are common strategies for a fraudster. One method to increase the probability of success is to send phishing emails to several professionals in the same firm. This increases the likelihood that at least one individual will click on a link and download malware.

Spear Phishing This is an email strategy known as a "lure." These scams are more difficult to identify. They single out an individual and attempt to craft an email that is especially likely to succeed. The scammer often claims to be a potential client. They may engage in a series of emails that appear to be a normal part of business. However, there eventually will be an email with a link to documents that supposedly have been requested by the tax professional. This link will download the malware.

Clone Phishing The latest phishing scam involves hacking an email message from a client to the tax professional. Since a regular email is not encrypted or protected, a hacker may be able to intercept such an email. The scammer then re-sends the email and pretends to be the client. This makes the tax professional think the email is from their known client, increasing the likelihood that they click on a link and download malware. The malware enables the fraudster to use client data, file false returns and claim improper tax refunds.

Whaling A whaling attack is similar to spear phishing. However, these attacks are focused on leaders of organizations or executives who have access to important business information. Whaling attacks will frequently target individuals in a finance or human relations office. The whaling email may claim to be from an officer or director of the organization and ask the finance or HR staff person for critical information.

The IRS warns professionals to be on the lookout for red flags or warning signs. If you receive an unexpected email or text that claims to come from a colleague, a bank, a credit card company or your tax software provider, check out the source before clicking on links or responding. A scammer may also decide to send a duplicate email that is very similar to an email you have just received from a trusted individual. The duplicate will contain an attachment or link that downloads the malware.

Another effective strategy for scammers is to claim urgency. They may indicate that your password to an important website has expired and must be renewed immediately. Finally, be careful if there is an email address that includes misspellings. Some scammers have been quite successful with email addresses that are identical, except for an "0" that replaces the "o" in the email address.

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel notes, "There are major red flags that can be easily overlooked, so tax professionals and taxpayers should be extra careful and look closely when they receive an email from an official-looking source."

Tax preparers are reminded that they are required by the Federal Trade Commission to use multi-factor authentication for access to client's personally identifiable information (PII). Professionals should develop a Written Information Security Plan (WISP). This plan will help protect your clients and yourself from fraudsters and scammers.

The American Legion's Planned Giving program is a way of establishing your legacy of support for the organization while providing for your current financial needs. Learn more about the process, and the variety of charitable programs you can benefit, at legion.org/plannedgiving. Clicking on "Learn more" will bring up an "E-newsletter" button, where you can sign up for regular information from Planned Giving.

Next article: Grouper and American Legion partner to promote social connection and health

Grouper and American Legion partner to promote social connection and health

Source: July 24, 2024

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Grouper, the national leader in activity benefit administration, is thrilled to announce a partnership with The American Legion. The collaboration between Grouper and American Legion aims to enhance the health of veterans by providing access to benefits that support staying active and engaged.

Guided by its mission of encouraging healthy living through meaningful social connections, Grouper connects its members to benefits that cover costs associated with group activities. By joining Grouper and staying connected through activities that support the veteran community, American Legion members who are 65 or older and have participating Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plans can unlock the activity benefit offered by these plans and receive a check in the mail. 

"Grouper is thrilled to help support the veterans of The American Legion by offering access to an activity benefit that encourages social connection," said Doug Wenners, Grouper's Chief Executive Officer. "This partnership is a natural fit because both organizations understand that social connection is about building high-quality relationships that enhance our lives."

American Legion members who are eligible for the activity benefit can use it to offset participation costs associated with their activities. American Legion members are then encouraged to remain active so they can receive ongoing benefits. This is a timely collaboration for The American Legion, which has recently prioritized suicide prevention for its members through the Be The One campaign. Instead of focusing on the staggering number of veteran lives lost each day, veterans, caregivers and others are encouraged to "Be The One" to save the life of one veteran. 

"The American Legion's partnership with Grouper is instrumental in enhancing support for veterans and providing them with the resources and social connections they need to thrive," said Dean Kessel, The American Legion's Chief Marketing Officer. "We want to make it OK for veterans to ask for help, and one way we can do that is by building a community of support." 

Legionnaires: Check Your Eligibility For Grouper

American Legion members: to find out if you qualify for the activity benefit administered by Grouper and to join the social fitness movement, visit http://www.hellogrouper.com/al.

Next article: VA surpasses record for veterans, survivors granted benefits

VA surpasses record for veterans, survivors granted benefits

Source: July 24, 2024

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that three-quarters of the way through the fiscal year, it has granted benefits to 1.1 million veterans and their survivors, an all-time record. In total, VA has awarded $137B in benefits, including $127 billion in compensation and pension benefits, to veterans and survivors this year.

To reach this milestone, VA has processed more than 2 million claims in 2024 — another all-time record, on pace to surpass last year's record by more than 27%. The grant rate for these claims is 64.6% and the average overall disability rating granted to veterans this year to-date is 70%, equating to over $20,000 per year in disability compensation.

VA has been able to deliver more care and more benefits to more veterans than ever before largely thanks to the PACT Act, which was signed into law by President Biden in August 2022 and represents the largest expansion of veteran care and benefits in generations. Of the claims granted so far in FY2024, 655,808 were PACT Act-related.

"Our goal is to make sure every veteran and every survivor gets the benefits they've earned for their service to this country," said VA Under Secretary for Benefits Joshua Jacobs.  "These veterans and survivors are now receiving monthly payments for the conditions that followed them home from war or took the lives of their loved ones — and there is nothing, nothing more important than that."

Overall, VA is now delivering more care and more benefits to veterans in a variety of ways:

·       More veterans are using VA health care: VA is on pace to deliver approximately 127 million health care appointments in 2024, surpassing last year's all-time record of 120 million appointments. This is partly a result of VA expanding access to VA care for these veterans and decreasing wait times by offering more night clinics, weekend clinics, and appointment slots.

·       More veterans are enrolling in VA health care: 412,867 veterans have enrolled in VA care over the last 365 days, an increase of 27% year over year — and the most since 2017. In total, since the PACT Act was passed, more than 710,000 veterans have enrolled in VA health care, which represents a more than 34% increase in veterans enrolling compared to an equivalent period before the legislation was signed.

·       More veterans are applying for VA benefits than ever before: Thanks to the largest outreach campaign in VA history, veterans submitted 2,433,729 claims applications in 2023 — an all-time record and 39% more than in 2022. Thus far this year, veterans are on pace to submit even more claims — outpacing last year's record by 2.9%.

·       More veterans report trusting VA: Veteran trust in VA has reached an all-time high of 80.4% — up from 55% when the survey began in 2016. This is based on a survey of veterans who use a wide range of VA services, including health care, disability compensation benefits, memorial affairs, the GI Bill, home loans, and more.

·       When veterans apply for benefits, they are more likely to have their claims granted: Whenever a veteran applies for benefits, our goal is to work with them to gather the evidence to get to yes. Due to this approach, VA has been able to grant benefits for 64.6% of claims, including 75% of PACT Act related claims, a sharp increase from previous years.  

Moving forward, VA will continue to aggressively reach out to veterans to encourage them to come to VA. VA encourages all veterans, family members, caregivers, and survivors to learn more about VA and apply for their world-class health care and earned benefits today.

Veterans and survivors can apply or learn more about the PACT Act by visiting VA.gov/PACT 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, such as an American Legion-accredited service officers, or contact their state veterans affairs office.

Next article: 70 years of Legion Baseball rule books now available on Digital Archive