Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Check Out G.I. Film Festival

At the Public Relations Commission on Monday February 27th, 2012, we heard from the founders of the G.I. Film Festival.  Brandon L. Millett and Laura Law shared with the commission what they are doing to promote movies made by veterans and or films portraying veterans and the military in a proper light.

The GI Film Festival is a 501 c(3) non-profit educational organization, is the first film festival in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the service member through the medium of film.

Visit www.gifilmfestival.com for more information.

USDA and Legion team up on veteran-hiring effort


Economic Chairman Gerald Merrell listened to the USDA representative at the Economic Commission on Monday.  That meeting led up to the announcement today.






USDA and Legion team up on veteran-hiring effort

        WASHINGTON (February 28, 2012) -- American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signed a memorandum of understanding today to kick off a nationwide campaign to increase the percentage of military veterans employed by the USDA.
“This is a great day and a big step forward in The American Legion’s push to give veterans jobs when they get back home,” Wong said after signing the MOU during the 52nd American Legion Washington Conference. “We appreciate the secretary’s efforts to pull us closer together. Hopefully, we can influence the other departments to join in the same effort.”
“It’s a great match because people coming out of the military service are problem solvers,” Vilsack said. “Particularly these war vets have had to deal with very significant circumstances that require them to think quickly and clearly and to reach a solution to a problem. Plus, they are technically efficient. In their service to the country, they have learned skills that are absolutely necessary for us at USDA. There are lots of good reasons for this, apart from the fact that the country owes a debt to these folks.”
USDA opened a Veterans Employment Office in late 2009 to focus on raising the percentage of veterans employed within the department’s 17 agencies and 15 offices. Since then, the percentage of veteran employees at USDA has climbed from less than 6 percent to 12.7 percent. Vilsack has set 17 percent as a year-end target for the department, which employs approximately 97,000 workers nationwide.
Vilsack sees The American Legion, which has approximately 5,300 posts in counties with less than 40,000 population, as an ally in the effort to reach veterans in rural areas where jobs in such agencies as the U.S. Forest Service may be a good fit for those with military backgrounds. “What we want to do is make sure we know who the (American Legion) leadership is so we can communicate to them directly through our state offices and regional offices about all of our programs. We have housing programs. We have business-development programs. We have farm-loan assistance. We have beginning farmer efforts to encourage people to think about how they might get started in farming. We have the Forest Service. We have telecommunications. We have utilities. We can help returning vets.”
“We certainly will coordinate with USDA and help identify the leadership, identify the posts that can help, and have our folks join in and work together so that the veterans, when they return home, can be channeled to the proper offices and liaisons to get the process started,” Wong added.
With a current membership of 2.4-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.
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Media contact:  Joe March, (317) 748-1926, John Raughter, (317) 441-8847 or Marty Callaghan, (202)263-5758, Cell (202)515-8644.  A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr. Wong is available at www.legion.org.


The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 70,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2012 American Legion Drop Sheet in Washington DC

2012 Drop Sheet


When Legionnaires arrived on Monday Feb 27, 2012 we received a "Drop Sheet" outlining the issues the Legion feels need attention by the Congress.  For a copy of this drop sheet click here

Read the drop sheet and send letters to your representatives to highlight these issues to them.

For more information about each of these points visit www.legion.org/legislative 

2012 Michigan Legion Legislative Reception

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Michigan Legion members, Auxiliary, and SAL members came to Washington to meet with our elected representatives.  Each representative received at least 4 invitations/notices of the meeting from the Lansing office.  The delegates who came to Washington also sent requests to meet their representatives.  With all of the representatives in town, we were only visited by 2 Congressmen in person.  Congress John Dingell and Congressman Bill Huizenga (2nd District) took the time to visit and listen to the concerns we have about the VA budget and several issues concerning legislation.

Other offices sent their aides to meet with the delegation; Rep. Amash, Rep. Benishek, Rep. Upton, and Senator Stabenow. We are appreciative of the ones who came to hear from veterans in Michigan, and disappointed in those representatives who did not appear.

American Legion Winter Meeting

Legionnaires are gathered in Washington Dc. All of the Legionnaires will be marching to Capitol Hill at noon today. Our veterans and those curently serving need our support. We march for freedom and to honor those who served before us and who serve now and in the future.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Michigan Legion Update for Feb 16th, 2012


Today is Feb 16th, 2012
Welcome to the Michigan Legion Update

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday Legionnaires from all over Michigan will gather in Flint Michigan for their Annual Winter Meeting.  Friday we will welcome our Special guest for the weekend, National Commander Fang Wong at the evening’s Commanders banquet.  Commander Wong will be with us all weekend.
The President of the United States released his budget for 2013, Commander Wong had comments released by The American Legion.  Be mindful that the US Senate has not passed a budget for the over 3 years, the government has been working from continuous budget resolutions all this time. 
American Legion to DoD: Budget Breaks Promise
Pointing out that President Obama just pledged a month ago to "keep our Armed Forces the best-trained, best led, best-equipped fighting force in history," the top leader of The American Legion warned that if the administration's 2013 defense budget is enacted, America will once again return to a hollow force.
"To keep the best fighting force, you must recruit and retain the best people," National Commander Fang Wong said. "By increasing, and in some cases, quadrupling health insurance fees for military retirees, you are sending a powerful message to those in uniform and to their families that their decades of service and sacrifice are unappreciated. Moreover, most believe that the Retirement Modernization Commission that this budget recommends will lead to a 401(K)-type plan, which will encourage people to leave the military for a safer and less demanding career in the private sector. –Grandfathering' benefit cuts merely tells tomorrow's veterans that their service isn't as valuable as those who served before them."
The budget for 2013 represents an 8 percent cut from 2012. In October, the 2.4 million member American Legion passed a national resolution which called on Congress and the White House to "cease all efforts to reduce the defense budget from its current level."
Wong, a Vietnam War veteran, added that he fully understands the fiscal realities that Washington faces. "America has a debt crisis," he said. "But no debt is higher than what America owes its veterans, who already sacrificed years of service, lost family time, physical injury and the comforts of home so that the other 90 percent of Americans can continue to live in freedom. Throughout our nation's history, every time we cut defense we paid for it with American blood."
Although U.S. forces have left Iraq, Wong pointed out that Iran, North Korea and international terrorism remain as threats to American interests. "Our men and women in the military have performed magnificently over the last decade. We must not return to a pre-9/11 mentality and be victimized by their past success in defending us."
The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.
VA Budget Gets Mixed Reviews
Grateful that the Obama administration’s VA budget avoids the draconian cuts that are facing the Pentagon, the leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization called the 2013 plan for the department “better than a Valentine, but well-short of Christmas.”
“More than 1 million active-duty servicemembers will join the ranks of 22 million civilian veterans during the next five years,” American Legion National Commander Fang A.Wong said. “We must have a budget that is prepared to recognize their outstanding service by meeting their needs for health care, jobs, housing and education. For the most part, this $140.3 billion budget does that.” 

Commander Wong praised the creation of the Veterans Job Corps program, but questions the budget for construction projects in the VA system.  Several facilities are in need of repair and completion. 

Contact your representative and let them know how you feel about the budget.  Get involved and remember to register to vote for the upcoming elections.
Thank you for listening to the Michigan Legion Update for February 16th 2012


The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 70,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Michigan Legion Update - Feb 2nd, 2012



Welcome to the Michigan Legion Update
For the week of Jan 30th 2012
On Tuesday Jan 31st in a Lansing a joint committee meeting was held in the Capitol building.
Members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military and Veterans Affairs
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State Police and Military Affairs
and the Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Home land Security
Michigan National Guard Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais testified to the Joint Committee it will take a combination of federal and state programs, along with the help of veterans' service organizations, to put the growing number of servicemen and women to work after they leave active or reserve duty.
At 30 percent, Michigan's jobless veterans rate is the highest in the nation - nearly double the national rate of 16 percent.
"We gotta fix this," Vadnais said. "As I move around the state, I'm constantly engaged by industries and people who want to step up to the plate and help, but I'm also getting, 'We have jobs but can't find qualified people to fill them.' The governor talks about 68,000 jobs out there in Michigan right now. We gotta get qualified people in there."
Announced last week The National Veterans Small Business Conference will be held June 25th thru 29th at Cobo Center in Detroit.

Michigan Legions Legislative Chairman Doug Williams testified on the funding to our Veteran Service Offices and staff, how the lack of funding cuts in to service to our veterans, more of work for the remaining service officers.  Chairman Williams also highlighted that the VA Regional office in Detroit was 32,000 claim behind. One of the main sources of delay in getting benefits to our veterans.

The committees are looking for ways they can help move the State of Michigan from 53rd in the country for Gross Domestic Expenditure of Veteran Benefits and spending.

Michigan also ranks 50 out of 50 in terms of Department of Defense spending as well.  The spending reduction the DOD has to make has targeting the A-10 squadron’s in Michigan to be shut down.  If these cuts stand that will mean 1300 jobs lost and a economic impact of $52 million dollars to the State.

The Michigan Legion Legislative team has also met with Senator Moolenaar earlier in January and on Wednesday we spoke with the Speaker of the House Jase Bolger. Outlining many of the issues veterans face in the state and the obstacles brought on by funding cuts on both the State and Federal levels.

On February 8th at 5 pm the Commanders Group of Michigan, a group made up of 11 Congressionally chartered veteran organizations, will be hosting a Legislative reception for all Representatives and Senators at the Lansing Center.  Legionnaires from all over the state are encouraged to come to the reception to meet with your elected officials and make them aware of the problems facing Michigan Veterans.

If you have not already done so be sure to register for the Michigan Legion Winter Meeting being held at the Holiday Inn Gateway in Flint Michigan.  The National Commander Fang Wong will be our guest through out the weekend.  Tickets for the Friday night banquet are still available, visit www.michiganlegion.org and click the FYI button for registration and ticket information forms.

Thank you for listening to the Michigan Legion Update.



The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 70,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.