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American Legion News

Kansas post opening up to community on Legion Family Day

Source: April 23, 2024

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In October 2022, The American Legion National Executive Committee passed Resolution No. 7, American Legion Family Day. The resolution established an American Legion Family Day to be observed annually on the last Saturday of April — this year, that is April 27.

For Legion Family Day, posts are encouraged to open their doors to members of their community for the day to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of Legionnaires, Sons of The American Legion members, Legion Riders and American Legion Auxiliary.

The American Legion Family at Argonne Post 180 in Great Bend, Kan., is taking that suggestion to heart this weekend with its own Legion Family Day this Saturday. From 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the post will open up to the public, providing free hot dogs, face painting, balloon animals and other treats for kids.

Sons of The American Legion Squadron 180 Adjutant Chris Krueger said he and fellow squadron member Terry Harris – who currently is serving as SAL Midwest Region national vice commander – took the Family Day idea to the post, saying it could assist in bringing in "new blood" into the post's American Legion Family. A committee with all four facets of the Legion Family – the Legion, Auxiliary, Sons and Legion Riders – has been guiding the project.

"We see this as a way to let the community know what we do," said Krueger, who also serves as the department's SAL and Legion Riders liaison. "Share the benefits we provide: scholarships, Boys State, Girls State, Cadet Law (Enforcement Academy). All that stuff. Show that we want to be a resource for the community.

"And in the meantime, let's get some new members. Let's get some people who can help with bingo twice a week, help with all the meals we put on. We need people to help keep things going."

During the event, the Great Bend Police Department will provide Ident-A-Kid packets for parents. The packets provide parents with information about their children, including fingerprints, which they take home for safekeeping. If a child is lost or abducted, the information would be used to assist in the investigation.

"One of our members said, ‘Hey, this may be another way to bring parents with kids in.' It's an additional draw. We've got a great relationship with our local police."

And once Post 180 began advertising the event, the Great Bend Fire Department wanted to get involved. Krueger said the department is bringing one of its trucks and will set up a table and hand out kids firefighter badges.

"It's really coming together very well," Krueger said.  

American Legion Family Day also is an opportunity to bring community awareness to the organization's "Be the One" initiative to reduce the rate of veteran suicide. And American Legion posts are encouraged to share details on their Legion Family Day events, either in advance or afterward, at Legiontown.org.

Next article: A mind, body, spirit approach to troop readiness

A mind, body, spirit approach to troop readiness

Source: April 23, 2024

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Noelle Austin-Jones found her path to wellness while with her husband who was stationed in Japan. Now, as the director of the Armed Forces Wellness Center (AFWC) at Fort Meade, Md., she helps veterans, servicemembers, their families and others on similar journeys.

As this week's guest on The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast, she talks about her role where she trains staff members on best practices when it comes to supporting Department of Defense (DoD) beneficiaries in making healthy lifestyle choices and overcoming a variety of physical and mental challenges. 

The AFWC's global mission is to provide programs and services that improve and sustain health, performance and readiness of the total fighting force delivered by trained health professionals. The programs are designed to promote both individual and unit-based readiness.

In 2014, the Army transferred her husband and their family to a base in Japan. That's where Austin-Jones was first introduced to healthy living and a holistic health approach. As a client, she lost weight and gained a new appreciation for the research-based lifestyle change. Eventually, she took a job there, which led her — after another military move — to become the director at the AFWC at Fort Meade. 

Austin-Jones, whose father served in the 82nd Airborne before transitioning to the Air Force, has seen the military's shift in its approach to ensuring troops are physically and mentally fit. "It used to be, ‘You're the soldier, and we need you ready to fight,'" she says. "We didn't used to look at the whole picture. What's happening at home can impact your work. And what's happening at work can impact your home."

She says now they can help identify and addresses fitness issues earlier that allow military members to stay in the service longer whereas in the past they faced an earlier exit.

The AFWC core programs include health assessment reviews, physical fitness, healthy nutrition, stress management, general wellness and tobacco education. Their services are free and available to active-duty servicemembers, dependents, activated Guard and Reservists, military retirees and their spouses, and DoD civilians.

For those who may be dealing with a variety of issues an often-overlooked cause is a lack of sleep, Austin-Jones says.  

"If your sleep isn't good, it's really hard to want to exercise when you're tired," she says. "It's really hard to try nutritious foods when you're tired. It's even hard to perform your job."

Referrals can be from medical professionals or patients can refer themselves. Whether the individual is dealing with an addiction to smoking, PTSD- or stress-related issues, or something else, the goal for everyone is to receive the help they need. 

Austin-Jones' husband battles PTSD so she knows the first-hand struggles presented to family members. AFWC not only assists those with PTSD but their loved ones as well.

"The way we deal with that is we are teaching you new coping skills," she explains. "Our brains are really good at keeping us alive. It's number one goal is survival. In certain situations your brain does something that works but it doesn't work in every situation."

Also in this episode co-hosts Stacy Pearsall, Adam Marr and Joe Worley discuss:

• The circle of life for woobies.

• Bugs feasting on one's flesh.

• A Jamaican-born reggae musician, singer and deejay who credits his time in the Marines for his success.

• A Bravo Zulu from a grieving veteran.

Check out this week's episode, which is among more than 230 Tango Alpha Lima podcasts available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available at the Legion's YouTube channel.

 

Next article: Let us know your Memorial Day plans

Let us know your Memorial Day plans

Source: April 23, 2024

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From Alaska to Florida and Massachusetts to California – and stops in between –American Legion Family members again ensure Memorial Day Weekend was a special in their communities in 2023.

Across the nation, Legion Family members led Memorial Day observances, including traditional ceremonies at the posts, visits to area cemeteries to honor the veterans buried there, conducting parades and staging motorcycle rides.

As American Legion Family members plan for Memorial Day 2024, please keep us in mind. Let us know how you are planning on observing this sacred holiday. Email sbrooks@legion.org with details about your plans. We may feature your efforts in our national media channels.

Also, American Legion posts are encouraged to upload recaps and photos of their Memorial Day celebrations and other community activities to Legiontown.org. Legion Family members also are urged to share a story, photo or even upload a video about whom you will be thinking about and honoring on this sacred day.

And a reminder that an American Legion Memorial Day speech for 2024 is available for American Legion departments, districts and posts to use for Memorial Day events.

The speech is available here and is not meant to be recited verbatim; members are greatly encouraged to amend it to taste and audience.

Next article: Share your American Legion Family Day plans with your local media

Share your American Legion Family Day plans with your local media

Source: April 23, 2024

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In a new video, SAL National Commander Don "JR" Hall encourages American Legion posts to not only participate in American Legion Family Day, but to publicize the event at the end of April.

"Get your local press to promote American Legion Family Day in advance and invite them to cover your event. We need to let the community know we are here to support them in addition to the veterans and their families," Hall said.

A Legion Family Day press release template is available here. Download the document, update it with your post's details and submit it to your local media.

The National Executive Committee passed Resolution No. 7, American Legion Family Day at its Fall Meeting in October 2022. The resolution established an American Legion Family Day to be observed annually on the last Saturday of April — this year, that is April 27.

For Legion Family Day, posts are encouraged to open their doors to members of their community for the day to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of Legionnaires, Sons of The American Legion members, Legion Riders and American Legion Auxiliary.

"No two posts will do it the same," Hall said. "Some may have cookouts, welcoming the community to come in and visit the post. Others may have blood drives, dinners, or other events within their communities."

American Legion Family Day also is an opportunity to bring community awareness to the organization's "Be the One" initiative to reduce the rate of veteran suicide. 

Share your event

American Legion posts are encouraged to share details on their Legion Family Day events, either in advance or afterward, at Legiontown.org.

 

Next article: It's another strong showing for Chip Ganassi Racing

It's another strong showing for Chip Ganassi Racing

Source: April 22, 2024

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It was another strong showing across the board by Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) in Sunday's 40th running of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES' Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, placing two drivers on the podium and four in the top 13.

Scott Dixon drove the last 34 laps of the 85-lap street race on one tank of Shell 100% Renewable Race Fuel to edge second-place Colton Herta by .9798 of a second. Driving the No. 9 PNC Honda, Dixon moved into second place in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship points race.

Dixon's CGR teammate, Alex Palou, finished third in the No. 10 DHL Honda that featured American Legion branding. Marcus Armstrong was 12th, while CGR rookie Linus Lundqvist – behind the wheel of the No. 8 American Legion Honda that featured a special livery promoting Jerry Seinfeld's upcoming Netflix movie "Unfrosted" – finished 13th.

Lundqvist rose to as high as eighth during Sunday's race before settling in at 13th – 10 spots higher than his finish in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He currently sits three points behind CGR teammate Kyffin Simpson in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the Year points race.

"Pretty good race for us honestly," Lundqvist said via CGR media. "Obviously, you're never really happy with P13, but I think considering the weekend we've had, we were actually pretty good. I felt pretty strong in the race. We decided on a strategy and tried to maximize it, and I think from the guys on the same strategy we looked quite strong.

"Overall, I'm happy, very happy for the team. Congrats to the 9 crew on the win and the 10 crew on the podium. It's good to see those guys up there."

Palou, the defending series champion, moved up to fourth in the championship points standings with his third-place finish.

"It was tough man," Palou said. "The 9 car did an amazing job, especially Scott. That strategy was open for everybody, and he made it work.  So very impressive! Congrats to them. For me, it was good. We didn't really have the speed to match the 9 or (Herta). But very proud of our first podium with DHL."

It's a short break for INDYCAR, as the series heads south to Birmingham, Ala., for this weekend's Children's of Alabama Indy Grand Prix powered by AmFirst at Barber Motorsports Park.

Next article: Five Things to Know, April 22, 2024

Five Things to Know, April 22, 2024

Source: April 22, 2024

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1.   North Korea fired several short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan on Monday afternoon, the South's military told reporters soon after the launch. The weapons went up at 3:01 p.m. and flew roughly 190 miles before splashing down into what South Korea calls the East Sea, according to a text message from the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff. They did not specify how many missiles were launched.

2.  The House has approved $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other U.S. allies in a rare weekend session as Democrats and Republicans banded together after months of hard-right resistance over renewed American support for repelling Russia's invasion. With an overwhelming vote Saturday, the $61 billion in aid for Ukraine passed in a matter of minutes, a strong showing as American lawmakers race to deliver a fresh round of U.S. support to the war-torn ally.

3.   Saturday's passage by the U.S. House of Representatives of a much-awaited $61 billion package for Ukraine puts the country a step closer to an infusion of new firepower that will be rushed to the front line to fight Moscow's latest attacks. But the clock is ticking, with Russia using all its might to achieve its most significant gains since its invasion by a May 9 deadline. In the meantime, Kyiv has no choice but to wait for replenishment.

4.   Israeli leaders on Sunday harshly criticized an expected decision by the U.S. to impose sanctions on a unit of ultra-Orthodox soldiers in the Israeli military. The decision, expected as soon as Monday, would mark the first time the U.S. has imposed sanctions on a unit inside the Israeli military and would further strain relations between the two allies, which have grown increasingly tense during Israel's war in Gaza.

5.   The United States will begin plans to withdraw troops from Niger, U.S. officials said Saturday, in what experts say is a blow to Washington and its allies in the region in terms of staging security operations in the Sahel. The planned departure comes as U.S. officials said they were trying to find a new military agreement. The prime minister of Niger, appointed by the ruling military junta, Ali Lamine Zeine, and U.S. deputy secretary of state Kurt Campbell, agreed on Friday that the two nations would begin to plan the withdrawal of American troops, the U.S. State Department told The Associated Press in an email Saturday.

Next article: Attend virtual suicide prevention training

Attend virtual suicide prevention training

Source: April 22, 2024

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The American Legion has partnered with Columbia University to train and educate Legion Family and community members on how to interact and respond to a veteran in crisis. The training is to support The American Legion's Be the One mission to end veteran suicide.

The training provided is the Columbia Protocol, also known as the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, that supports suicide risk assessment through a series of simple, plain-language questions that anyone can ask. The answers help users identify whether someone is at risk for suicide, assess the severity and immediacy of that risk, and gauge the level of support that the person needs.

The American Legion Internal Affairs Division is hosting a Columbia Protocol training on April 30 at 7 p.m. Eastern for its monthly Training Tuesday session. Register for the training here

After the training, participants will be able to:

• Use the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale to determine at-risk individuals.

• Identify risk factors and warning signs

• Outline the types of suicidal ideation and four behaviors that indicate imminent risk.

• Communicate effectively with an individual who may be at risk of hurting themselves.

Members of The American Legion Family are encouraged to take part in this training and share the training with their communities. Visit legion.org/betheone for additional training dates.

Next article: SAL squadron rehabs Gold Star Family's house

SAL squadron rehabs Gold Star Family's house

Source: April 19, 2024

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The parents of an Army staff sergeant from Malden, Ill., who was killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom have a renovated home thanks to the efforts of a nearby Sons of The American Legion squadron.

For several years, Squadron 1977 in New Lenox, Ill., has hosted an annual rib cookoff each summer, with the proceeds going to help out veterans' causes.

"Last year, we raised over $20,000 and we bought Christmas presents for the veterans in (the Veterans' Home at Manteno, Ill.)," said squadron historian Richard McGuire. "Plus we do a grocery run with Caring Patriots. … All that money generated from that event goes to those types of services."

But McGuire wanted to do more.

"I've always wanted to reach out to a Gold Star Family to see if we could help out," McGuire said.

McGuire contacted Denise Williams, president of the Illinois department of American Gold Star Mothers, who connected him with the parents of Staff Sgt. Lincoln Hollinsaid.

Hollinsaid was killed April 7, 2003, when the crane he was driving was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. He was 27.

"We were able to get some volunteers together and go out there in the end of September, early October, and do the yardwork for them," McGuire said.

More work on the home was delayed over the winter, with Lincoln's parents, Dan and Nancy, gone to visit family.

"That actually was a blessing in disguise because it gave me time to figure out how I was going to get volunteers, materials, and services out there to pull this off," McGuire said.

"Right after Christmas, I thought it wasn't going to happen. But things always work out. We were able to pull it off and do what we said we were going to do."

With supplies from Home Depot and John Sales & Service Plumbing, McGuire and his group of volunteers were able to rebuild three decks, install ADA-compliant toilets and handicap assistance bars, repair a water line, trim trees and clean up landscaping at the Hollinsaid's home.

McGuire said he and the squadron are already looking for another Gold Star Family to help.

"If we find somebody that needs some assistance, we'll gladly help them again," he said.

In the meantime, Squadron 1977 will be preparing for the seventh annual rib cook-off, coming up July 13 at Post 1977.

"Through all these experiences, I've realized how lucky we are that we have people like Sgt. Hollinsaid … how important it is that we have a strong military and how important it is that we support people that are involved in the military. This is my way of giving back," McGuire said.

 

Next article: ALWS home field getting upgrades

ALWS home field getting upgrades

Source: April 19, 2024

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For two weeks in February and early March, the American Legion World Series home was crawling with trucks, graders and specialized equipment, sometimes from early morning into the evening hours.

Workers at Veterans Field at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C., literally skinned the dirt off the base paths, the pitcher's mound and home plate and replaced it with a tailored combination of sand, silt, and clay.

The result is a safer and highly playable surface that requires less maintenance than the previous soil.

DuraEdge Products Inc., of Grove City, Pa., brought in 125 tons of materials to upgrade the infield.

Installer Nolan Thomas and Co. of Oxford, N.C., spent the first eight hours measuring and entering data into a computer-aided design (CAD) system. Then they removed excess dirt and laser-graded each area before adding the corky new playing surface. They gave special attention to home plate and the pitcher's mound with additional products that prevent the formation of trenches where players dig in for their best stances.

DuraEdge Products evaluates each field for its soil content and factors in climate before recommending a tailored combination of infield mix and outlining a maintenance program to sustain it. The clay is from western Pennsylvania and proponents say it is more consistent in the way it handles moisture than clay from other locations. The maintenance program is driven by moisture management.

"This field could last 10-20 years with the proper upkeep," said Luke Yoder, senior vice president of business development for DuraEdge and a former groundskeeper for the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Diego Padres.

Since teams play at least 80 games a year on Veterans Field, Yoder recommends that it be laser graded once a year to maintain the quality.

"There are three authorized installers in your area, so maintaining positive surface drainage won't be a problem," Yoder said.

DuraEdge spent three hours teaching the maintenance guidelines to Shelby High School baseball officials, Cleveland County American Legion Baseball officials and members of the field crew for the American Legion World Series.

"Your teams are playing on a big-league surface," Yoder said. "Eighty-six percent of MLB teams play on DuraEdge. Of the 120 minor league teams, 105 play on DuraEdge. There is a lot of science behind what we do. There is nobody else in our industry that provides specific engineered soils for ballfields."

In January 2024, DuraEdge announced a partnership with Minor League Baseball that made DuraEdge the "official infield mix, mound clay, topdressing and warning track materials of MiLB."

The infield project at Keeter Stadium came in at approximately $69,000 and qualified for the specifications listed in a 2023 grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce.

In other turf news, Leif Hamrick, owner of Foothills Sportsturf Inc., reported in March that the rye grass was growing in, and he had applied fertilizer with a pre-emergent herbicide for the weeds. He had scheduled a liquid fertilizer application for late April, in time for the April 30 Wake Forest-Appalachian State game on the field.

Even with the heavy use, Hamrick believes no major work will be needed on Veterans Field for at least three years.

"Providing a safe, first-class experience for the teams making their way to Keeter Stadium from across the nation to compete in the ALWS has been and always will be our No. 1 goal," said Daniel Sherman, project coordinator for Cleveland County Schools and a dedicated member of the ALWS field crew. "The addition of the DuraEdge infield skin and clay products will not only raise the bar for safety and quality but also provide a more manageable surface for the field crew to maintain. I look forward to working with these products to provide the players with a professional experience when they earn the right to compete on Veterans Field."

 

Next article: American Legion animated stickers available on GIPHY

American Legion animated stickers available on GIPHY

Source: April 19, 2024

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The American Legion National Headquarters has published a set of animated stickers for the GIPHY app that are available on Apple Store and Google Play. The stickers are a collection of animated versions of brandmarks and wordmarks for The American Legion, Legion Riders, Sons of The American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and Be the One that can be accessed and used in texts, social media posts, and anyplace where you can access GIPHY stickers.   

Stickers can be added to reels and stories on Facebook and Instagram. Once you've created a reel or story post and uploaded an image or video, tap the "Stickers" icon (a square with a peeled back corner and a smiley face). Tap the search bar and search "American Legion" to find the entire collection. 

Stickers can also be used in Instagram and Facebook private messages and comments on posts. The stickers are also available directly from the website – giphy.com – and can be accessed for text and email via the GIPHY plug-in. 

More stickers will become available later this summer to celebrate American Legion youth programs and the 105th National Convention in New Orleans. 

Next article: Kansas post opening up to community on Legion Family Day