Friday, August 30, 2013

Fwd: Vet Events & Announcements 8/29 to 9/5

Listed below are the events I have for the next 7 days here in the Metro Detroit area.  I have also attached my latest event listing which has 8 new items on it!  You can also go to the Legion 328 website to download any flyer for these future events.  http://www.legionpost328.org/events.html  Clicking on "attached flyer" for each event either below or on the future listing will get you the flyer for that event.

You can get a monthly view of events by going to:
http://www.michiganveteranresources.com/Events.aspx

Happy & Safe Labor Day!

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

"Golf Outings" In the next several weeks there are numerous golf outings that support various veteran causes. If you are a golfer this is your chance to get in a few holes, meet new people, and help a veteran to boot. See regular listing below for more details on each event. Remember, hole-in-one buys!

  1. "Saturday, September 7, 2013" The GM CCA Veterans Affinity Group is assisting Piquette Square with a Golf Outing at The Jewel in Grand Blanc
  2. "Sunday, September 22, 2013" Madison Hgts VFW Post 9507 hosting their 1st golf tournament at the Selfridge Golf Course in Harrison Twp.

"Attention OIF/OEF Vets" Wayne State University is looking for Wayne County OIF/OEF vets to participate in research that will assess the barriers veterans face in seeking services, employment, etc. To help with this study contact Ellen at 313-577-0438 or see attached flyer. ALSO FOR OIF/OEF VETS, Phil Abdoo is trying to start a Veterans of Modern Warfare chapter in Macomb County with a first meeting at the Macomb Vet Center on September 18, located at 16945 E 12 Mile, Roseville, at 7PM. See attached for more information.

EVENTS

"Thursday, August 29, 2013" The American Indian Veterans of Michigan will be hosting a Steak Dinner Fundfraiser at their HQ, located at 26641 Lawrence, Center Line, from 5 to 10PM. Admission is $15 and will include steak, baked potato, salad, dessert, soft drink. For more information contact Chris at 248-210-6153 or see attached flyer.

"Thursday, August 29, 2013" The Shrine Circus is returning to the Showcase Collection, 41000 Grand River, in Novi. This day only is Veterans Day and all veterans, and their family members, are admitted free, with free parking and free rides. Please arrive by 6:30PM, runs to 9PM.

"Friday, August 30, 2013" The Folds of Honor Foundation at Treetops Resort, in Gaylord, will be hosting its 3rd annual Patriot Golf Day during the Labor Day weekend. All donations received will support scholarships for spouses and children of the fallen or wounded while serving our country. I will also be given a chance to name a $5000 scholarship in the memory of a fallen brother from my time in Iraq. All donations must be submitted by August 5, 2013. If you can find it in your heart to send a child or spouse of a fallen hero to college, clink on the link below to make a small but important donation. If you cant find the funds, I understand, just click" SHARE" and help me spread the word. Thank you in advance for your time and support.

"Sunday, September 1, 2013" The Royal Oak Arts/Beats/Eats, downtown Royal Oak, is having Veterans Day from 11AM to 11PM, with free tickets to all events, in cooperation with the Oakland County Parks & Rec. You must order your free tickets in advance by visiting their website. Also see attached flyer for more information.

And from our friends at the VFW:
  1. August 30th, Friday 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m – "SALUTE to VETERANS" – ARTS, BEATS & EATS.  S. MAIN STREET, ROYAL OAK.  Stop by ACORN POST 1669 ROYAL OAK, they would love for you to visit them while at the Arts, Beats & Eats Festival over the weekend.  They are serving Brats & Hot Dogs during the festival.  Post 1669 is located at 214 E. 4th Street in Royal Oak.  Just 2 blocks East of Downtown Main Street.
  2. August 30th, Friday 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – VFW 2645 Southfield.  "FRIDAY NIGHT FISH FRY".  COD Fish Dinner for $8, CATFISH or PERCH Dinner for $7.50, CHICKEN FINGER Dinner for $7.50, JUMBO SHRIMP Dinner for $9, WING DINGS & FRIES for $7, COMBO Dinners for $9.50, SANDWICHES for $5 and POUND CAKE per slice at $1.50.  Sides include French-Fries, Cole Slaw, Spaghetti, and Macaroni & Cheese.  Extra Sides $1.50.  Extra Fish $2.50.  Beverage is available.  Dine In or Take Out.  Call Ahead for Quicker Service at (248) 350-3529.  Come out, bring your Friends, and Enjoy a Great Meal.   OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!  Parking in rear of Post.  Post 2645 is located at 24222 W. 9 Mile Road, just West of Telegraph in Southfield.
  3. August 30th, Friday 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. – VFW 1370 Pontiac – "Burger's- $4 w/ fries $5, Devil Dog- $3 w/ fries $4; bacon wrapped "Koegel" hot dog, beans, fresco cheese, and all the fixings including devil sauce, Steak Burrito - $4; steak, rice, bean, pico de gallo, and cheese - 2 pounder! $6, Boot Camp Burrito Challenge - 3 pound version of the regular steak burrito, loaded in devil sauce and extremely spicy.  1 out of 3 contestants have been able to complete the Ghost Chili Burrito challenge so far, the first to do it was a fellow U.S. Marine, Tom LaForge.  $12 or free if you complete the challenge within 45 minutes.   This is an open challenge, so any member or guest is welcome to try.  WARNING: it is extremely spicy.  To get a good look at the difficulty feel free to pull it up on YouTube under VFW 1370 1st Annual Boot camp Burrito Challenge."  VFW 1370 is located at 791 Mae Court in Pontiac 48340.  Phone (248) 858-9501.
  4. August 30th, Friday 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. – VFW 2358 Roseville.  "Bingo with Linked – Progressive Jackpots".  Doors Open at 4:30 p.m.  Bingo starts at 6:30 p.m.  VFW 2358 is located 25671 Gratiot in Roseville, just ½ block South of Frazho.  Phone number is (586) 771-0173.  OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
  5. August 30th, Friday 9:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. – VFW 9507 Madison Heights.  KARAOKE IN THE CLUBROOM!"  No Cover Charge!  VFW 9507 Madison Heights is located at 630 E. 11 Mile Road in Madison Heights 48071.
  6. August 31st, SaturdayVFW 1669 Royal Oak – Serving Brats & Hot Dogs throughout the Arts, Beats & Eats Festival.  Stop in on your way to the festival.  Post 1669 is located at 214 E. 4th Street in Royal Oak.  Just 2 blocks East of Downtown Main Street.
  7. August 31st, Saturday 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. – VFW 2052 Romeo – "STEAK OUT & MORE".  Steak for $13, Chicken for $8, Burger for $5 and 2 Hot Dogs for $5.  Includes Side Dishes and Dessert.  OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!  Invite your Family & Friends including Children.  VFW 2052 is located at 70455 McVicar Road in Romeo.  Phone (586) 336-1011.
  8. September 1st, SundayVFW 1669 Royal Oak – Serving Brats & Hot Dogs throughout the Arts, Beats & Eats Festival.  Stop in on your way to the festival.  Post 1669 is located at 214 E. 4th Street in Royal Oak.  Just 2 blocks East of Downtown Main Street.
  9. September 1st, Sunday 6:15 p.m. – VFW 4156 White Lake – "BINGO".  VFW 4156 is located at 321 Union Lake Road in White Lake 48386.  Phone 248-698-8302.
  10. September 2nd, MondayVFW 1669 Royal Oak – Serving Brats & Hot Dogs throughout the Arts, Beats & Eats Festival.  Stop in on your way to the festival.  Post 1669 is located at 214 E. 4th Street in Royal Oak.  Just 2 blocks East of Downtown Main Street.
--   Tim Wirkus  Volunteer  Southfield Veterans' Commission  southfieldvets@prodigy.net  www.southfieldvets.org

Monday, August 26, 2013

Fwd: VA: Legion big reason for decrease in backlog

The American Legion 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VA: Legion big reason for decrease in backlog
HOUSTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is making progress in reducing its massive claims backlog, and – according to the woman in charge of overseeing benefits for VA – The American Legion has played a huge role in reducing that backlog.
Allison Hickey, VA's under secretary for benefits, told delegates to The American Legion's national convention in Houston on Aug. 24 that without the Legion's efforts, VA wouldn't be making the progress it has, including reducing the overall claims inventory and cutting into the claims backlog.
"None of that would have been done without you," Hickey said. "We're in a better place this year – though not where we want to be – than we were last year. And much of what we have been able to achieve is due in large part by the partnership that you have made with us and the work that you are doing with us every single day."
Hickey said that VA's claims inventory is down from 884,000 to 763,000, the claims backlog has been reduced from 611,000 to 478,000 in the past five months and that the Dependent Indemnity Claims backlog has been cut in half.
Quality performance is up for claims processing. The reason for that, Hickey said, is the Legion's large caseload of claims it files on behalf of veterans seeking VA benefits, as well as the organization championing the use of fully developed claims (FDCs) – the practice of servicemembers and survivors submitting all required records and documentation at the time they make their claim and certifying that they have no further evidence. Hickey said the average time for a Legion-filed FDC claim to be processed is 101.6 days – well under the average of 257.7 for non-FDCs.
"You have helped us complete more than a million claims … not three years in a row, but four years in a row," Hickey said. "You have helped us do that in ways we've never done in our history before. You're the ones who bring us most of the claims, and that's why this partnership is hugely important to me.
"Your leadership in fully developed claims has been awesome, just awesome. We have tripled, since February, the number of FDCs we have in the books here at VA. That makes a huge difference."
VA began focusing on claims older than two years old in April 2013, and Hickey said that 99.7 percent of those claims were completed within the first 60 days of the program; 70 percent of those claims have been granted. Since June 20, 47 percent of the claims pending longer than one year have been processed.
Hickey said VA's electronic filing system continues to increase in use and asked Legion service officers to use VA's eBenefits portal Veterans Benefits Management System to file claims electronically and further speed up the process. "We're not stopping," Hickey said. "We're at mandatory overtime, and we're not (stopping that). Maybe by mid-November we'll come out of mandatory overtime, but this is not normal times, so we're not going to be in normal circumstances. We're going to press forward and we're going to make it happen … with your help."
Robert Jesse, VA's principal deputy under secretary for health in the Veterans Health Administration, reinforced VA's commitment to end veterans homelessness, noting that in 2013, $1.4 billion is being spent on specific homelessness programs, while $4.4 billion is being spent on health care for homeless veterans. Jesse also noted that 1,600 new mental health professionals were hired by VA in 2013, while VA's suicide prevention hotline, the Veterans Crisis Line, increased its capacity by 50 percent.
Steve L. Muro, VA's under secretary for memorial affairs in the National Cemetery Administration, told Legionnaires that the goal is for 100 percent of the nation's veterans have burial opportunities in a national cemetery within 75 miles of their home. To reach that goal, new cemeteries are planned for the San Francisco, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Chicago, southern Colorado, western New York and New York City areas, and in Omaha, Neb.; Tallahassee, Fla.; and Scottsmoor, Fla. Cemeteries up to 10 acres in size also are planned for several rural areas as well. Muro also praised the Legion – specifically, the thousands of Legion honor guards across the country – for helping NCA receive extremely high marks in customer service surveys.
"If it wasn't for your support, we wouldn't be able to have that type of success," he said. "Without you, many veterans would be buried without honors."
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___________________________________
JOE MARCH
Director of Public Relations
The American Legion National Headquarters
Cell 317-748-1926
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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, info@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

ACO Hardware collects over $50,000 for the Wounded and Returning Warriors of Michigan!

ACO Hardware collects over $50,000 for the Wounded and Returning Warriors of Michigan!

(LANSING –AUG 13, 2013)  - This year ACO Hardware and their generous customers outdid themselves. For the fourth straight year, from Memorial Day through July 4th, ACO stores accepted donations on behalf of the American Legion and the Wounded and Returning Warrior Program that assist returning military members and their families. Pictured with the check are from left, Gary Tanner and State Commander Raymond Moore, American Legion Department of Michigan, and Cody Brigham, Store Manager, and Wayne Burns, Director of Operations from ACO . Cody and his staff at the Chelsea ACO were the top store in the chain for donations. The store received a Certificate of Appreciation Plaque from the American Legion for their outstanding effort to this cause. Congratulations to Cody and his staff!

            “The money raised helps The American Legion continue to help Michigan National Guard members, service members, their families and Veterans throughout Michigan.” Commander Moore said “The wars continue and the effects of war are long lasting and The American Legion is here to help”.  Commander Moore continued, “We want to thank all of the employees of ACO Hardware stores for supporting the Military members and veterans in Michigan.”

                “Our Michigan Returning and Wounded Warrior Program help with simple needs for families of deployed family members, like help with a heating bill or food, to helping veterans in VA Medical programs who go to the Wilwin Lodge in the Upper Peninsula for group therapy sessions with doctors, to help with PTSD treatment.” explained Gray Tanner.

The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 80,000 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.

Monday, August 19, 2013

WALTER REED DINING FACILITY Legion Issue Outline

As of Friday 4:30PM August 16th, 2013

The American Legion is looking out for our Wounded Warriors....

WALTER REED DINING FACILITY

 

This past week, The American Legion National Headquarters was contacted by several Legionnaires regarding reports that the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center had cut hours of operation of the dining facility for Wounded Warriors and they are no longer accepting the military meal cards.

 

In an effort to keep leadership informed, staff has researched and offers this email as an outline and update of the situation.

 

OUTLINE

On Thursday August 15th, Fox News published a story indicating that the military earlier this month decided to invalidate meal tickets and reduce hours for the Warrior Cafe, the sole dining facility in building 62 -- home to all multiple amputees and long-term, recovering patients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. 

 

Congressional sources with knowledge of the decision say it was based on concerns that government funds for the warrior meals were being misappropriated. They said that because the cafe is listed as a "self sustaining" business, it is not allowed to receive government subsidies, such as the meal tickets and appropriated funds.

 


ACTION

Since the story appeared, American Legion staff has been in contact with Walter Reed hospital to confirm the accuracy of the initial article, and ensure the problem is being corrected.

 

It now appears the military has reversed these changes and will continue accepting meal tickets, as well as reopen on weekends.

 

Additionally, according to an update from Fox News, an official at Walter Reed who wanted to remain anonymous said that in order to ease the burden on the patients, shuttle buses were provided for those who want to go from building 62 to a separate food trailer on the grounds. 

Staff will continue to monitor this situation and talk directly to personnel at Walter Reed to make sure no recovering troops are denied access to their dining facility.

 

Staff has also scheduled a meeting with Rep. Tierney's legislative director for September 4th, to coordinate a visit to the facility in order to ensure proper oversight is being conducted. Tierney is a minority member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and chaired the 2007 hearing on Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

 

 

 


Friday, August 16, 2013

Veteran Events & Announcements 8/15 to 8/22 - Southeast Michigan


Listed below are the events I have for the next 7 days here in the Metro Detroit area, and as you can see the next few days will be busy!  I have also attached my latest event listing which has 7 new items on it!  You can also go to the Legion 328 website to download any flyer for these future events.  http://www.legionpost328.org/events.html  Clicking on "attached flyer" for each event either below or on the future listing will get you the flyer for that event.

You can get a monthly view of events by going to:
http://www.michiganveteranresources.com/Events.aspx

ANNOUNCEMENTS!

"Golf Outings" In the next several weeks there are numerous golf outings that support various veteran causes. If you are a golfer this is your chance to get in a few holes, meet new people, and help a veteran to boot. See regular listing below for more details on each event. Remember, hole-in-one buys!

  1. "Sunday, August 18, 2013" Pontiac VVA Chapter 133 will host the 10th Annual Golf Outing Scrambles at Highland Hills Golf Club in Highland, Mi.
  2. "Friday, August 23, 2013" Michigan Veterans Task Force "Kilroy's Challenge" at Riverbank Golf Club in S Lyon.
  3. "Saturday, September 7, 2013" The GM CCA Veterans Affinity Group is assisting Piquette Square with a Golf Outing at The Jewel in Grand Blanc
  4. "Sunday, September 22, 2013" Madison Hgts VFW Post 9507 hosting their 1st golf tournament at the Selfridge Golf Course in Harrison Twp.

"Attention OIF/OEF Vets" Wayne State University is looking for Wayne County OIF/OEF vets to participate in research that will assess the barriers veterans face in seeking services, employment, etc. To help with this study contact Ellen at 313-577-0438 or see attached flyer. ALSO FOR OIF/OEF VETS, Phil Abdoo is trying to start a Veterans of Modern Warfare chapter in Macomb County with a first meeting at the Macomb Vet Center on September 18, located at 16945 E 12 Mile, Roseville, at 7PM. See attached for more information.

"Missing Marine" Look at the picture. Know this Marine who's dog tags were recently found in Vietnam.

EVENTS

"Friday, August 16, 2013" The DOVE Fund (Development of Vietnam Endeavors) will be hosting their annual dinner at the Pinnacle Banquet Center in Maumee (OH) starting with a cocktail hour at 5:30. After dinner their will be a live auction. See their website for complete information.

"Friday, August 16, 2013 (NEW)" Dearborn Hgts VFW Post 78 is hosting a free art show by and for female veterans titled "Walk a Mile in Her Boots." This is a free event and open to the public, from 5 to 8PM at the post, located at 25620 Van Born Rd, in Dearborn Hgts. For more information see attached flyer.

"Sunday, August 18, 2013" Pontiac VVA Chapter 133 will host the 10th Annual Golf Outing Scrambles at Highland Hills Golf Club in Highland, Mi. Starting time is 1 pm and cost is $60.00 per team member or $240.00 per team and includes 18 holes of golf, cart, hot dog at the turn with beverage and dinner at club house. Trophies for 1st Place, Longest Drive (men and women), Las Vegas Hole, Closest to Hole contests. Will also hold 50/50 Raffle and Skins Game. Closing date for registrations is August 10, 2013. Contact Lance Butler at 248-335-5243 for more info. Sponsors are also needed at $100.00.

"Sunday, August 18, 2013" The Michigan Military Technical & Historical Society will present "The Detroit Arsenal & Warren Tank Plant; Then and Now" by TACOM Historian Randy Talbot starting at 2PM at the Society, located at 16600 Stephens Rd, Eastpoint. Admission by donation. See attached flyer for more information.

"Monday, August 19, 2013 (NEW)" American House, located at 2251 W Auburn Hills Rd, in Rochester Hills, is hosting a classic car show, from 5 to 7PM. The event will be rockin' with oldies music, food, prizes, and lots of family fun. RSVP is requested at 248-438-8887. See flyer for more information.

"Wednesday, August 21, 2013" The Detroit VA Hospital, in cooperation with Judge Deborah Thomas of the 3rd Circuit Court, is hosting an expungement seminar at the hospital, 4646 John R, in Detroit. This seminar is open to all Veterans and VAMC staff. The purpose is to provide Veterans with information on laws and processes to apply for removal of criminal charges from legal records to assist Veterans in improving employment and housing opportunities. See attached flyer for more information.

"Wednesday, August 21, 2013 (NEW)" The Macomb County Vet Center, located at 42621 Garfield Rd, Ste 105, Clinton Twp, is hosting a Women Veterans Outreach. Find out about Vet Benefits, Student Veterans Organizations at the various local colleges/universities, women's VA health programs, etc., from 4 to 7PM.  For more information contact the center at 586-412-0107 or see attached flyer.

--   Tim Wirkus  Volunteer  Southfield Veterans' Commission  southfieldvets@prodigy.net  www.southfieldvets.org

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Help Get The Word Out About Help For Homeless Veterans - in the Detroit, MI area

Help Get The Word Out About Help For Homeless Veterans

Hi Everyone… We need your assistance to get the word out in your communities that we will have additional HUD/VASH vouchers available to house those Veterans in our 4 county catchment area (Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne). In order to qualify for priority for this program the Veterans need to meet the criteria to be considered chronically homeless: experienced homelessness for at least 1 continuous year or on at least 4 separate occasions in the last 3 years. We are trying to reach the most vulnerable Veterans who need subsidy for housing and case management services to get them and keep them off the streets. We are having no trouble identifying homeless Veterans but we are having trouble reaching those who meet the chronically homeless criteria. That is where we need your assistance.

Together we can end homelessness among Veterans by 2015.

Patricia A. Wolschon, LMSW, ACSW
Director of Homeless Programming
John D. Dingell VA Medical Center
4646 John R (11MH-HP)
Detroit, MI 48201
Phone: 313.576.1000 X 64249
Blackberry: 313.347.3230
Fax: 313.576.1091


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.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Affordable Care Act and Veterans VA Health Care - What Veterans Need to Know.

With ACA about to take effect the Veterans Administration would like to pass the word on how this will affect Veterans VA Benefits.

Visit: http://www.va.gov/health/aca/

They have put together a website to answer any questions you may have about.



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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The American Legion: Congressional Hearing seeks answers from VA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Hearing seeks answers from VA
 
House Veterans Affairs chairman and The American Legion want to know why facilities did not follow
patient-safety directives and why bonuses were awarded to executives.
 
WASHINGTON (Aug. 7, 2013) -- Nine out of 16 studied VA medical centers failed to follow policies meant to protect veteran patients from deadly Legionella bacteria, according to a report issued Aug. 1 by VA's Office of Inspector General. Top VA executives in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where mismanagement has been blamed for deaths caused by Legionella, received salary bonuses and one national award for performance during the outbreak. The combination of those factors has led U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, to call for a five-year moratorium on all VA executive bonuses.
The issue is expected to reach a crescendo Sept. 9 at the Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh when a congressional field hearing led by Miller will be conducted. Its title: "Is VA Doing All it Can to Stop Veterans from
Dying?"
"The American Legion is seriously concerned over accounts of preventable patient deaths in Pittsburgh and other locations around the country," American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz said. "We commend Chairman Miller for calling this hearing to get to the bottom of, really, two problems – preventable patient deaths and executive bonuses where they have occurred."
VA's Inspector General reported last week that training and risk assessment procedures had not been conducted at nine out of 16 facilities with a history of problems – including three in Pittsburgh – since a 2008 VA directive demanded higher safety standards. In a separate earlier report, the VA IG office reported that mismanagement and leadership breakdowns were to blame for the deaths of no fewer than five VA patients in the Pittsburgh system.
The House Committee on Veterans' Affairs reported that the purpose of the Sept. 9 hearing "is to examine whether VA has the proper management and accountability structures in place to stop the emerging pattern of preventable veteran deaths and serious patient-safety issues at VA medical centers across the country. In doing so, the committee will specifically look at VA's handling of recent events in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Buffalo, N.Y., and Jackson, Miss."
The American Legion's Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission is meeting with staff from the VA Inspector General's Office of Health Care Inspections this week to learn more about the report.
To see the full report, click here.
Performance bonuses for VA executives in states where preventable patient deaths have occurred and, in one case, where federal charges were filed over alleged financial kickbacks, has Koutz and The American Legion demanding answers as well.
"When we hear about salary bonuses or awards for VA directors in health-care systems under investigation for preventable deaths or facing FBI charges, it's easy to lose faith in their leadership," said Koutz, who leads the 2.4 million members of the nation's largest veterans service organization. "Patient care and fiscal responsibility are top priorities of VA health-care leaders. If they break down in either of those areas, they have broken a pact with our nation and our nation's veterans, who depend on the care they earned and deserve."
In addition to bonuses paid to executives in Pennsylvania and Georgia where facilities were investigated for preventable patient deaths, the former director of VA's medical center in Cleveland was recently indicted on federal charges of mail fraud, bribery, money laundering and other crimes; he received over $80,000 in bonuses from VA between 2007 and 2011.
"The American Legion cannot understand why VA would pay bonuses to senior leadership whose performance would come to warrant federal investigations," Koutz said. "Bonuses for any VA executive should have to be extremely well-justified and fully researched, especially in today's budget climate. Obviously, that did not happen in these particular cases."
Miller has called for a "top-to-bottom review" of VA's performance appraisal system. "Rewarding failure only breeds more failure," Miller said in May when calling for a five-year moratorium on VA executive bonuses, an amendment which passed unanimously in committee and awaits full consideration by the House. "Until we have complete confidence that VA is holding executives accountable – rather than rewarding them – for their mistakes, no one should get a performance bonus."
The American Legion has passed one recent resolution requiring that VA only reward bonuses to executives who have met "qualitative and quantitative performance measures developed by VA."
Koutz said, "It's clear from these preventable death investigations, and the federal indictment, that performance was not bonus-worthy, regardless how you measure it,"   Koutz said.
The chief executive of the Pittsburgh hospital, Terry Wolf, received a $12,924 bonus for 2011, and the VISN (Veterans Integrated Service Network) director, Michael Moreland, who oversees Pittsburgh and nine other VA health-care systems in Pennsylvania, received a bonus of $15,619 and a Presidential Distinguished Rank Award this year, which came with a $62,895 reward, during the Legionella outbreak. 
At the Atlanta VA Medical Center, the VA Inspector General linked three patient deaths in 2011 and 2012 to mismanagement and lengthy waiting times for mental health care. James Clark, director of the center at the time, received a $13,822 bonus in 2011. Clark retired last December.
William Montague, former director of the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in Cleveland, was arrested June 19 by the FBI. He was indicted on 36 counts and accused of accepting bribes for influencing VA decisions and development projects, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio. Montague received approximately $73,000 in bonuses between 2007 and 2010 and an additional $8,195 after he was called out of retirement to serve as interim director of the Dayton, Ohio, VA Medical Center.
Stephen Anthony, special agent in charge of the FBI's Cleveland office, said Montague "misled staff and misused his position to enrich himself and businesses pursuing contracts" with VA.
"VA has many serious challenges to deal with as the troops come home from war and the number of veterans seeking services increases," Koutz said. "VA now has work to do in order to restore confidence among our nation's veterans, and  to Congress, that executive leaders will be held accountable for the patient care and financial management they are entrusted to provide."
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Media contact: Marty Callaghan: 202-263-5758/202-215-8644, mcallaghan@legion.org. A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr. Koutz 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, info@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.
 
 
 

The National Commander visits Wilwin Lodge and 9&10 News filed this report.

Northern Michigan's News Leader


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.

Friday, August 2, 2013

American Legion convention to feature career events for veterans

American Legion convention to feature
career events for veterans
 
The country's largest wartime veterans organization meets Aug. 26-29 in Houston
 
WASHINGTON (Aug. 2, 2013) – The American Legion is featuring four career events for veterans and servicemembers during its 95th annual national convention in Houston later this month.
Three of the events will be held Aug. 26-27 at the Hilton Americas Houston Hotel:
  • The American Legion's Employment Transition Workshop will offer information and opportunities for training in a variety of careers. Companies such as General Electric, 1st Command Bank, SAP, Sallie Mae and Nextstar will participate.
  • The Women's Small Business Workshop, conducted by staff from the Small Business Administration, is specifically designed to help women veterans identify opportunities, write business plans and launch their enterprises.
  • The Legion's first Empowering Conference Career & Benefits Center aims to provide veterans with information they need to obtain careers in a variety of industries, and help them to understand their employment benefits.
 
The American Legion is also co-sponsoring a job fair with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 27 at the George Brown Convention Center downtown. The Hiring Our Heroes Transition & Benefits Job Fair is open to veterans, active-duty military, National Guard and reserve members, and eligible spouses.
All of the events are free of charge. To register, contact Jasmine Davis at (202) 263-5771 or by email: jdavis@legion.org; or register online at www.legion.org.
Besides the career events, the Legion's convention will include a variety of featured speakers, including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (18th District) and representatives from the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.
Representatives from the following organizations will also be speaking at the Legion's convention: Mercy Medical Airlift, Children's Organ Transplant Association, Joe Foss Institute, Childhood Leukemia Foundation and the American Petroleum Institute.
 
 

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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, info@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.
 
 
 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

American Legion on DoD cuts: "Bad choice either way"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Legion on DoD cuts: "Bad choice either way"
WASHINGTON (Aug. 1, 2013)  – American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz expressed frustration after Wednesday's announcement from the Pentagon that something has to give – either troop numbers or weapons development  – in the face of federal budget cuts brought on by sequestration.
"It's a bad choice either way," the leader of the nation's largest veterans service organization said. "We cannot forfeit our national security at a time of war against terrorism, and our national security depends on superior weapons as well as enough troops to operate them. A weakened military will not solve our nation's economic problem."
Automatic cuts imposed to ease the federal deficit – termed "sequestration" – call for the Department of Defense to chop $46 billion out of its budget this year. If sequestration is not lifted of modified, the defense budget would continue to be reduced by $500 billion over the next decade. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's prediction of the Pentagon having to make a choice between troop strength or modern weapons  was the result of a newly completed DoD planning exercise called the Strategic Choices and Management Review.
In meetings last fall, The American Legion National Executive Committee adopted resolutions opposing cuts to the wartime defense budget as a measure to reverse the federal deficit.
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Contacts: Marty Callaghan:202-263-5758/202-215-8644, mcallaghan@legion.org or Craig Roberts: 202-263-2982/202-406-0887, croberts@legion.org. A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr. Koutz is available at www.legion.org.
 
 
 

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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, info@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.