Chapin American Legion Post 193

American Legion News

Be the One podcast: The role of lifestyle medicine

Dr. Regan A. Stiegmann, a double board-certified physician and former active-duty flight surgeon in the Air Force where she served from 2011-2022, is this month's guest on the Be the One podcast, a special series that is part of The American Legion Tango Alpha Lima.

During her time in service she witnessed a change among military leadership to embrace her specialty.

"Lifestyle medicine in a nutshell is an evidence-based approach to preventing, treating and reversing some of the most chronic common diseases that we see," said Stiegmann, known as "Doc Stieg," who is a former elite soccer player who has been promoting health optimization with physical activity, healthy whole food choices, stress management and mindfulness. "High blood pressure, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes, diabetes, overweight, obesity and some of the diseases that are disproportionately affecting impacting our servicemembers and our veterans."

A member of American Legion Post 209 in Colorado Springs, Colo., Stiegmann talks about the six pillars of lifestyle medicine that improve overall health and wellness.

"Mental health disorders like major depressive disorder and clinical symptoms of depression can often overlap with serious medical diagnoses like diabetes or cardiovascular disease and that can further exacerbate those diseases," she said. "It's a really profound connection that is sometimes lost as we try to work with mental health issues."

Stiegmann, who has served in several national leadership roles in the American College of Preventive Medicine and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, offers tips of where to start. Among the recommendations related to diet:

• Eat higher-quality foods that are plant-based and higher in fiber. "These are the foods that are going to de-flame your body."

• Focus on the wizard brain, not the lizard brain. She recommends choosing a healthy handful of blueberries or an apple over a processed snack like chips.

"You are never too old to start," she says, alluding to the belief that people are pre-destined to get diseases later in life. "You have to intercept that thinking right now. Let today be that pivotal reflection point or recalibration point in your lives."

Through this series, The American Legion aims to further raise awareness about its Be the One mission to reduce veteran suicide by elevating the discussion and empowering everyone to be the one in the time of need for a veteran at risk. The series is  available at the Tango Alpha Lima web page. Subscribers to the main weekly podcast will automatically receive the monthly Be the One episodes.

If you missed the debut of the monthly series, you can find it here. This episode features Marine veteran Waco Hoover, who led the Be the One Symposium at The American Legion's national convention. Hoover talks about the next phase for the Be the One initiative.

"We're doing an extensive amount of research and also looking for suggestions from our community about who we should be aligned with," he said. "We have to have a conversation about this issue, this topic."

Looking for more? Check out this episode featuring Be the One host Amy Forsythe, a Marine combat veteran and current Navy reservist. In her episode, Forsythe shares how she busted a case of stolen valor.

There are more than 200 Tango Alpha Lima episodes for veterans, servicemembers and others. The next Be the One episode will drop Nov. 1. All episodes are available in both audio and video formats here. You can also download episodes on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other major podcast-hosting sites. The video version is available for viewing at the Legion's YouTube channel

Making connections, saving veterans' lives

The American Legion delivered its Be the One message during a special summit conducted by the Kansas City VA Medical Center on Sept. 29.

A dozen presenters, including The American Legion, discussed suicide prevention, mental health awareness, available resources for veterans and their families, and more. Topics included community-based solutions, Vet Centers, gun safety, the role of caregivers, women's health, family support and more.

Charlotte McCloskey is the VA Kansas City recovery coordinator for mental health and daughter of a veteran. She coordinated the KCVA Veteran Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Summit, which was attended by about 100 veterans, supporters and their family members.

"While the VA is the center, it's really about creating spokes so that we all connect," she said. "The summit is a way to connect organizations like The American Legion that all care for veterans. We want people to not only get information but to share information."

Briget Lanktree, deputy chief of the KCVA's Mental Health/Psychology unit, helped opened the summit.

"Mental health is one of the most important services and suicide prevention is the most important thing we do," Lanktree said. "We appreciate all of you for being here and working together to support our veterans, whatever that specifically means for them."

Army veteran Tom Tanner, the 5th District commander for the American Legion Department of Missouri, handed out information and engaged with other attendees. 

"We're going to talk about what we can do to help our servicemembers through some tough times," said Tanner, a member of Post 21 in Independence, Mo. "It's a big deal. We're losing approximately 22 servicemembers and veterans a day to suicide. We've got to get the word out. We've got to get the number down from 22 to zero."

As Suicide Prevention Awareness Month concludes, McCloskey sees the summit as a way to springboard the learnings into positive change.

"It takes all of us," she said. "This also means we can all lean in together as we help someone in the moment who is suffering or has experienced a loss. Together, collectively, we will do better." 



From food banks to pay advances, troops have help in a government shutdown

Credit unions and aid societies are standing by to help service members and Defense Department employees who may have to work without a paycheck if a government shutdown takes place Sunday.

Talks on Capitol Hill on Thursday failed to produce even a stopgap measure to keep the federal government running — or pay the military — until Congress can agree to a funding plan for the next fiscal year.

"It's a unique situation over here, compared to what stateside installations could be dealing with, but we're going to do our best," Yokosuka Naval Base spokesman Randall Baucom told Stars and Stripes by phone Friday. "It's not really that any of our services will be unavailable, it's just the capacity of those services may be reduced."

Many of those who do the heavy lifting will likely go without compensation.

Most service members are "excepted" during a shutdown, meaning they must work without pay; many civilian employees, such as teachers and school-level staff at on-base schools, are also excepted, according to a Defense Department shutdown contingency plan compiled in August.

Excepted service members and civilians would receive backpay once the funding crisis is resolved.

Some civilian employees will be furloughed. Others, including many at nonappropriated fund activities such as base exchanges, will continue working, with pay, according to the contingency plan.

Help available

For those who hold the line without compensation, some assistance is available to help them pay for rent and groceries.

Navy Federal Credit Union is offering paycheck advances to its eligible account holders with direct deposit, the bank announced on its website Tuesday. Active-duty service members, federal government employees and contractors "who are paid directly by the Federal government" are eligible, provided they have direct deposit with Navy Federal.

USAA is also offering a "one-time, no interest loan" equal to an eligible member's net pay — from $500 to $6,000 — to help bridge a shutdown financial gap. Eligible members must also have payday direct deposit with the credit union.

Additional resources include on-base food banks, Military OneSource, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, the Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief, Coast Guard Mutual Assistance Relief Society and the Department of the Navy Civilian Employee Assistance Program.

On Okinawa, rumors circulated that service members will be paid during a shutdown, said Marine Cpl. Joseph Fisher, a computer technician with Combat Logistics Regiment 37 at Camp Kinser.

"I had friends in the last shutdown and they still got paid," he said Friday at the Camp Foster commissary. "As far as active-duty service members, I don't think we have anything to worry about."

Congress did make sure the military was paid during the last government shutdown, the nation's longest, from December 2018 to January 2019.

Business as usual, almost

Exchanges and commissaries will stay open, along with Morale, Welfare and Recreation departments, mess halls, fitness centers and "child care activities required for readiness," according to the contingency plan.

U.S. Forces Japan did not respond Friday to an emailed request for further information on a potential shutdown.

Some services, like family and individual counseling, may be available intermittently during a shutdown, said a spokeswoman for Joint Region Marianas on Guam.

Some programs, such as military housing offices, Warfighter and Family Service Centers and counseling services, will remain open but may experience "delays or service interruptions," joint region spokeswoman Catherine Norton said by email Friday.

On Okinawa, Marine spouse Ariana Bernard said she was tired of the "back and forth" in Congress and was "a little" concerned about the looming shutdown.

"I feel like it always happens," she said. "Make a decision earlier. You know the deadline is coming. Everybody else has to make their deadlines, so why not hold them accountable?"

Stars and Stripes reporters Matthew M. Burke, Seth Robson and Alex Wilson contributed to this report.

What's affected by the government shutdown

During an anticipated government shutdown, due to start Oct. 1 unless Congress acts, critical federal government functions would continue but some important services would be paused.

Of critical importance to the nation and The American Legion is that all members of the military would continue their duties, though they would not receive paychecks. (Earlier this week American Legion National Commander Dan Seehafer demanded Congress find a solution to ensure that servicemembers would be paid during a shutdown.)

Additionally, hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Department of Defense (DoD) would be furloughed, affecting how the department manages its affairs globally. That includes recruiting new members, which has already been problematic for the service branches.

Here is an overview of how Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) services, as well as other DoD operations, would be affected — if at all — if the government shuts down.

VA services and operations

 "We at VA are preparing for all contingencies, including the possibility that a lapse in funding could occur. A lapse would mean that certain Government activities would cease due to a lack of appropriated funding, and that designated pre-notified employees of this agency would be temporarily furloughed. We've prepared a contingency plan to execute an orderly shutdown of activities that would be affected by such a lapse. After the lapse ends, furloughed and excepted employees will receive retroactive pay for the furlough period as soon as possible," according to a statement from the Deputy Secretary.

Specifically, services that will continue:

• Veteran medical care and critical services within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) will continue, as they are financed with other-than-annual appropriations.

• The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) will continue various benefit functions, such as Education Benefit Claims processing and payments, insurance processing, loan guaranty programs, Veteran Readiness and Employment payment processing, VBA National Call Centers (except for Education), Compensation and Pension Claims processing and payments, Decision Review Operations Centers and management.

• The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) will continue to inter veterans and eligible family members, schedule burials and determine eligibility, process applications for headstones and markers, and update electronic files to ensure timely termination of benefits and next of kin notification of possible entitlement to survivor benefits.

• The Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA) will continue to render appellate decisions on veterans' benefits cases and hold hearings to consider arguments and evidence related to those cases.

• VA compensation and pension benefits and education benefits are funded with other-than-annual appropriations, and the processing of appeals related to the timely and accurate payment of these entitlement benefits to or on behalf of veterans and their dependents is necessary by implication.

• The Veterans Experience Office (VEO) will maintain call center operations for MyVA411 and the PACT Act Contact Center as necessary to prevent disruption to mandatory VA benefit programs and to protect the health and safety of veterans relying on accessible health care through VHA.

Specifically, services that will be paused:

• Certain VBA functions, including the Education Call Center (the GI Bill Hotline: 888-GIBILL-1 or 888-442-4551); The Native American Veterans Direct Loan program (NADL) and the Vendee loan program which offers direct loans will cease. Veteran outreach to include Veteran Readiness and Employment (also known as Chapter 31 or VR&E) and Personalized Career Planning and Guidance (PCPG), or VA Chapter 36 will be suspended.

• Permanent headstone or marker installation by NCA employees; grounds maintenance (mowing, trimming, mulching or other landscape management); processing of new Presidential Memorial Certificates (PMC) or pre-need applications; and awarding of new grants as part of the Veterans Cemetery Grant Program.

• VA will close its public-facing regional offices. DoD personnel

The troops will continue to serve our nation but will not receive their pay unless Congress passes last-minute legislation to ensure they continue to receive a paycheck, something that has been introduced in both the House and the Senate but not yet voted on.

Essential DoD civilian employees would also have to continue working without pay. About half of the Pentagon's civilian workforce that handle areas such as recruiting and global affairs would be furloughed.

The military is automatically guaranteed pay — and would receive any backpay once a shutdown ends — but money cannot be dispersed until there is an agreed upon spending bill. If the government shuts down Oct. 1, the first payday that would be missed would be Oct. 13. Federal contractors would not receive backpay.

DoD military families

Servicemembers, especially those with young families, will face challenges if there is a shutdown. 

"A shutdown would be detrimental for the department," Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said earlier this week. "Troops would go without pay. Military families would be impacted, of course. For folks that are not getting paychecks, that impacts how and when [they] can buy groceries, child care, all of these things. We're hoping that Congress can reach a deal to avert a shutdown. But we are planning for that or taking steps to plan for that, should a shutdown occur."

Commissaries will be closed on most bases in the continental U.S. Others overseas and in certain remote U.S. locations where no other sources of food are reasonably available for military personnel would remain open.

DoD operations

While servicemembers will continue safeguarding our nation and overseas interests, military training is expected to be compromised. The Pentagon will still be able to make purchases and fund new technology to maintain defense, however, a shutdown would create a lag time in doing so.





A healing space for mothers who lost a veteran child to suicide

As a mother to two veteran sons, Michele Ladd understands the invisible wounds of war and the often-difficult transition from military to civilian life. This understanding and passion to help other veterans heal inspired her to start traveling the country six years ago in an RV that Ladd named Hero Mobile. Her travels have taken her to more than 50 American Legion posts among other veteran service organizations, and over 175,000 miles alongside her husband Randy, a Navy veteran and Legionnaire. Veterans have shared their stories with Ladd while she helped provide resource assistance.

She has heard stories from veterans about trauma, post-traumatic stress, divorce and suicide. And she has met mothers who lost their military son or daughter to suicide. The stories these grieving mothers shared with Ladd inspired her to provide healing and help to them as well. While she placed the names of their children on the back of the RV on angel wings and a suicide prevention ribbon decal, she wanted to do more to show her dedication to these mothers.  

Ladd started a faith-based private Facebook group called Mothers of Veteran Suicide that offers support and a safe space to grieve. Today, there are 160 mothers in the group.

"I believe there's no greater pain than a mother who has lost a child, but a mother who has lost a child who served our country because we cannot imagine sending our children off to war," said Ladd, whose one son served in Iraq. "He's got a great job, but he struggles and there's a reason why I do what I do."

Ladd is now touring the country in a new RV – Hope Mobile – that features butterflies with the names of veterans lost to suicide. She has also started retreats to bring moms from the Facebook group together, with a recent one held at American Legion Post 69 in Avon Park, Fla.

The American Legion spoke with Ladd about how Mothers of Veteran Suicide started, how the Facebook group provides healing, the retreats being held and how mothers can get involved.

The American Legion: Who or what inspired you to start Mothers of Veteran Suicide?

Ladd: (While traveling), I was introduced to a mother who lost her (military) son to suicide eight months prior. I reached out to her, and she said "It's too soon. I'd love to talk with you, but I just can't right now. I can't come and meet you in person." I said that's fine. We live right on the border of Georgia and Florida and come to find out, she lives in the mountains of Georgia. So I called her one day and said, honey, anytime you want to come, if you want to just come and visit me, I'll sit with you. I'll talk with you. I'll let you cry. She called me up and she said my sons one angelversary, that's what we call it, is coming up. There's no one else that I would rather be with. Can I come? And she drove nine hours (to visit Ladd). I'm going to cry just talking about it. She drove nine hours and she wanted to sleep in my hero mobile. She wanted to sleep in it because she said this is where it all happens. This is where you're trying to save veterans. That next morning was her son's one year, and I sat with her for five hours on my couch. And she just cried and cried. It was at that time I said, I need to start something for these mamas.

So I started a Facebook group, and I called it Mothers of Veteran Suicide. Before I knew it, I just had mother after mother after mother joining the group, and it's a faith-based group so I just kept trying to find prayers to put in there and I could see the moms were really starting to bond and talk to each other. Now my passion has become so deep for these moms.

Q: What do you post in this Facebook group?

A: I'm in this group every day, all day, commenting, talking to them, trying to get them help. The first thing they receive from me is a prayer blanket with their child's name on it. I want them to be wrapped in comfort. They trust me. They see what I post in the group; it's nothing but love.

Every day I look for something. If it's a something silly or something funny, or a prayer for comfort. It's about the moms bonding with each other. They feel safe in this group that they can share their grief, and so it's a bonding experience.

I don't counsel. I don't give advice. I'm not a counselor. But I try to encourage them to get counseling and I try to give them the resources. I'll look for counseling for them. I always, always refer TAPS and GriefShare (a support program) that many of the moms have gone through. 

It's a safe place that they can trust to share their grief that they can't share with family members and loved ones. They tell me, your group has saved my life. I hear it all the time, "I can't share this with my husband anymore. I can't share this with my daughter because my daughter's grieving and my daughter is suicidal. I can't tell them how much I'm grieving because I'm worried about them. So in this group, I can share my pain."

You know, every mother that comes on board says to me, Michele, I'm so sorry for your loss. They assume that I started this because I lost a child. I say to them, I haven't lost a child, I've met so many moms and I just want to do anything I can to comfort you because I can't even imagine how you feel. Because I haven't lost my son. I pray every day that that my son can just keep moving forward.

Q: What are things mothers say once they find this Facebook group?

A: I asked the mothers to share what the group has done for them. (The following are a few the many positive thoughts about the group.)

"This club we unfortunately belong to creates a very special bond. We can vent, cry, share, ask questions... all in a Christian loving compassionate atmosphere. WE GET EACH OTHERS PAIN. We uplift, pray for each other, share good and bad. I don't feel guilty for sharing with our group no matter the topic, whereas I hold back so often with others because it makes people uncomfortable. Michele Ladd, thank you for providing us a safe place to grieve openly. I often refer to you as our Fairy Godmother because of your genuine care and protection of us. And, because you are a beautiful shining beacon of love and light. This is our sisterhood."

"I'm thankful for it, for the times I'm hurting that I need extra love and prayers. For the times I just want to share a story about my child and others will join in or just know it's a day I need someone to listen. I'm thankful for you Michel Ladd, it's like God knew we all needed this and your willing to do the heavy lifting for us. I'm thankful for how strong I have become in helping others that we never knew we could be again but by being there for each other we have really grown. Love you!"

"This group has been a lifeline for me. At my lowest I could reach out and find the love and support I needed. I have found this group to be a second family I have gained so many sisters."

Q: You are bringing many of these mothers together with retreats. How did the retreats begin?

A: About a year ago I had maybe 70 moms in the group, and I said, hey, moms, anybody want to come to my house. I live about 40 minutes from Fernandina Beach (in Florida), and I can take you to the beach. Eight moms said they wanted to come. (Thanks to a generous donation), I had to get an airbnb because I couldn't fit them all in our house. We had this great experience with the moms.

Then my husband and I took a six-week tour, and we went to visit about 20 mothers around the country and their families. We're meeting the fathers. We're meeting the wives. We're meeting spouses. We're meeting the babies. One of our mamas, her name is Tammy. She had twin Army veteran boys Brandon and Bradley, and she's one of my first moms and Brandon and Bradley took their lives two months apart. And then her daughter took her life. I went to visit Tammy. I sat in her home. I held her hand. She loves me. I love her.

This year I had 17 mothers. I had to get a hotel room, and we took them to the beach. The biggest thing is for the mothers to meet each other because sadly, there's 40,000 organizations out there trying to help veterans … there's nobody helping the mamas. We're a small grassroots nonprofit, but there's no group like my group that it's only mothers whose military son or daughter died by suicide.

Q: What happened at the retreat hosted by American Legion Post 69 ?

A: (Post 69 Commander) Larry Roberts has adopted me, and the post and the (Legion) Riders. I invited four local mothers and their families to come to the post. The post was in tears meeting the moms. Some of the moms got to ride motorcycles, the children (of the fallen veterans) received the most adorable stuffed animals with their names on it, and a dog tag with their daddy's name on it. Pastor Pete offered grief counseling and prayed over every family; they got so much love. I was overwhelmed with the love that this organization gave these mommas and their families. It was so amazingly touching.

I had the mothers send me a photo of them with their child. I put it in an 8x10 frame, and we presented them to the moms. There was not a dry eye in the house. I just wanted the community there to feel what I feel when they see a mother who has lost not only a child, but a child who has served our country.

Larry said to me, you know, you're like the epitome of Be the One (The American Legion's veteran suicide prevention initiative). I was like, really? I don't know that. I just love on our veterans, and I want them to stay here with us. And then in the in all my travels, I meet these moms and I'm a mom. We're helping our veterans through the moms helping the veterans.

Q: One of the programs featured on Mothers of Veteran Suicide website is MOVS4VETS. What is this program?

A: If we come across a veteran that is struggling, we have moms that want to love on a veteran to let them know that they're not alone, so they'll give them a call and say, "hey, how are you?" Or send them a little care package, write them a letter or send them a text that says, "I'm thinking about how. How's your day going?" Or send them a little prayer if they know they're struggling a little bit.

And I ask the mothers what they know of their child's last six months because I try to get an education. So if I have a call from a veteran or a military young man or woman, I can help them and send them to the right resources.  

Q: What message do you want mothers who lost their veteran child to suicide know?

A: I think just if you are a mother of a veteran suicide to go to the Facebook group ( and request to join the group. I get request every day to join the group, but I ask very specific questions before they can join to make sure they're a mother who has lost their veteran child to suicide. Our mission is to provide hope and healing to the mothers, and they will receive that in our group. It's about the moms bonding with each other. (And visit for resources, programs, ways to help and more.)  

There's a mom that lives outside of Orlando. She just came up on her one year with her son's death and she just wanted to go to the beach. I told her, I'm going to come pick you up and I'm going to take you to the beach. It will make that moms whole year for me to do that for her. And that's what I'm going to do for our mothers.


Remembrance Bowl: more than a homecoming

A football game that never happened during World War II has kicked off a revival of honor, remembrance, education and patriotism for the entire Locust Valley, N.Y., School District – grades K-12 and beyond – in memory of soldiers who were called to fight and die in the winter of 1944. The game the troops had planned to play on Christmas Day was called off due to the Battle of the Bulge.

In recent years, however, it's been back on, played in Normandy by soldiers of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions and more recently in the first stateside Remembrance Bowl Sept. 23 at Locust Valley High School.

Organizers and school officials hope the multi-layered program that includes classroom studies, guest speakers and veterans will spread across the country, with support from local American Legion posts.

"We've ventured into these waters to create a project, a game, a curriculum – with no map, no plan – but a guiding idea that American history and love of country needed desperately to be back into schools," said Dr. Kristen Turnow, superintendent of Locust Valley Schools, during one of many gatherings in the days leading up to the Remembrance Bowl game. "The curriculum in this pilot week has been nothing short of amazing. The response of the students and the level of engagement has been remarkable."

Patton Legacy Sports – working with Operation Democracy, Amis des Veterans Americains of France, area American Legion posts and others – brought to the community much more than a pep rally ahead of the big rivalry game between the Locust Valley Falcons and the Cold Spring Harbor Seahawks.

The program gave birth to pro-America curricula – written and developed by educators with help from military-connected groups – for students of all ages.

•      For children from kindergarten to second grade, the focus was on American pride, with lessons on symbols like the U.S. flag, the bald eagle, the Statue of Liberty and red remembrance poppies, as well as the roles of the different military branches.

•      Third through fifth-grade students studied World War II and specifically the relationship between the United States (Locust Valley in this case) and France (Ste. Mere-Eglise, the first French town liberated after D-Day, which received relief from Locust Valley after the war) and how that friendship continues today.

•       Older students were offered classes that more deeply explored World War II history, including the films "Mother of Normandy" and "The Sixth of June." Both documentaries connect to the Locust Valley story and the 1947 establishment of Operation Democracy, a nonprofit organization that arose to help war-torn Ste. Mere-Eglise and was resurrected 18 years ago to pay contributing tribute to the relationship between the towns, which helped start Sister Cities International.

In the days leading up to the Sept. 23 football game, students assembled in auditoriums, classrooms, the high school gym and other locations in the community to honor veterans, military service and the community's legacy of support for those who have served in uniform.

"I'm excited about the work that we've done here to really cherish our history …" said Dr. Turnow, who has one son deployed in the U.S. Armed Forces and another getting ready for boot camp. "… just being in the classrooms and seeing all of our students from kindergarten all the way up to the 12th grade learn a little more about who we are as Americans – what brings us together, what keeps us together – and really think about the historical moments and pay tribute to all the men and women who have done so much for us, to ensure that we have our freedom."

Academics, athletics and military service were among the highest values of World War II Gen. George S. Patton, a former Olympic athlete who was in command of the camp in 1944 when the original football game – promoted as the "Champagne Bowl" because it was in Reims, heart of champagne production – had to be canceled due to the fighting.

A commemorative journal to inaugurate the first stateside Remembrance Bowl put it this way: "The athletes will represent the soldiers who would have played in the game, many of whom never made it home. The spectators, sharing this sacred duty of remembrance, will represent those who would have been there to witness this celebratory game."

Helen Patton, granddaughter of the famous four-star general, discovered a yellowed program promoting the Champagne Bowl while doing some research in 2017. "I opened it up, and it was blank inside," she told one of the crowds in Locust Valley prior to the game. "That must have been where that little white paper was supposed to go to give you all the details of the game, who was playing, where you might be eating afterwards, who to thank... well, that part didn't happen. Those guys got the green light."

She asked the football players from both teams to "be conscious of those who couldn't play."

Michelle Strauss, who leads Patton Legacy Sports for the Patton Legacy Foundation, reiterated that message to the players: "You stand in the shoes of the soldiers who could not play the game that never happened. Think for a moment about what you are doing Saturday – you're finishing their game … you're playing the game that didn't get played. What you're doing is making history."

Chloe Gavin, daughter of Lt. Gen. James Gavin, who commanded paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division in predawn jumps behind enemy lines before the beach landings on D-Day, reminded the students that the freedom they enjoy today was purchased by soldiers not much older than them.

"They were only 18, 19 or 20 years old," Gavin said. "Most of you are close to that age now. Can you imagine yourself going into combat? They couldn't either. But those young soldiers in 1944 survived because of teamwork in their lives, in combat. When they were under enemy fire in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, Holland and Sicily, they were fighting for each other. They were fighting to survive. They had to rely on each other in the middle of a firefight. No one could just quit. They survived because of determination and because of their trust in each other.

"During the past week, you've learned about the battle of Normandy. What happened matters because it changed the course of history. A lot of those 18- and 19 year-olds didn't come home ... you're living a nice life here because those young men were willing to fight in a foreign country. Some of them had to give up their lives … for you, so you could be here. All of us here tonight – players, parents, teachers, coaches, friends, myself – we owe a debt to those young men.

"Keep those players in your hearts when you play on Saturday. Take their courage and determination and teamwork and use it in what you do. You and I – all of us here – need to repay our debt to those young men. They gave us time. They gave us our lives here. We need to use the time they gave us and use it to do good in our lives."

Locust Valley Board of Education Chair Margaret Marchand described the curriculum and the project as "an overwhelming success. The most incredible response has been coming from the children." She noted that hundreds of middle school students who watched "Mother of Normandy" on Sept. 21 were rapt by the film and its story of Simone Renaud, who launched the AVA in France after World War II.  "I've never seen 11, 12 and 13-year-olds not move for 68 minutes straight. It was riveting."

Speaking to students, AVA President Maurice Renaud described the turmoil, death and destruction of the German occupation and the war into which he was born. "So, understand why we have such a great remembrance, and how grateful we are for the American soldiers who gave their lives or got wounded there, coming to a country where they did not speak the language – did not know anybody there – it's a real supreme sacrifice which we have to admire. I have to thank all the American people for what you did for us in 1944."

Speakers explained another local connection to the students. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., a founder of The American Legion, grew up in nearby Oyster Bay and is now immortalized in a Statue of Liberation in Ste. Mere-Eglise. It was there, in August 1944, where he was temporarily laid to rest after dying of a heart attack five weeks after storming Utah Beach.

As Operation Democracy has evolved over the last two decades, it has made another American Legion-involved connection with the high school: Flags for Freedom. Howard A. Van Wagner American Legion Post 962 in Locust Valley and Operation Democracy have presented a 3-by-5 cloth U.S. flag – along with a U.S. Constitution – to each graduating senior in an annual commencement day ceremony for the last several years.

"This is what I call civic pride in local history that has relevance to current events," said Cathy Soref, president emeritus of Operation Democracy. "Locust Valley High School has become the most fantastic school – an example of what education should be in the United States of America. We hope to spread this, to instill a sense of pride to our students, pride in being American."

"This is amazing," Bayville American Legion Post 1285 member Renato Spampinato said at a breakfast before the homecoming parade. "The Patton Foundation – it's unbelievable how they are supporting us. This is wonderful – a fantastic situation. The curriculum. People coming from around the country …. from around the world."

The Air Force veteran added that even he has learned a lot about the community's military history through the Remembrance Project. "It's a shame I didn't know this stuff before. The kids are asking questions (and learning that) we're not such a bad country. In fact, we're a pretty damned good country. And we happened to save the world."

Strauss announced that four students who went through the Remembrance Project curriculum and two of the football players will join the Patton Sports Legacy group in Normandy next June for the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Expecting the program to expand widely, she said Locust Valley will always be known as the origin.  "Locust Valley will always be our template. We will always connect with Locust Valley to improve the education from the curriculum. We will always be in partnership with Locust Valley, hopefully for years to come, as the project evolves."

Helen Patton agrees that this first stateside effort was a big success. "We are gathering our steam to see what is needed next … I'm so happy that the hope I had at the moment of seeing that (invitation to the Champagne Bowl) for the first time is being made good on. This is going to have legs."

Top 5: ensure troops are paid, reduce veteran suicide, help design a post-9/11 memorial

1.     Take action to ensure troops are paid in a government shutdown

With a government shutdown closing in, our servicemembers face the prospect of not being paid even as they protect us around the globe.  

Unlike the 35-day shutdown that ended in January 2019, no legislation has been passed ensuring that soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and guardians are protected during a likely shutdown.

To resolve this, Congress must pass H.R. 5641, the Pay Our Troops Act of 2023, wrote National Commander Daniel J. Seehafer. This legislation would take unappropriated Treasury funds and pay our uniformed military as well as civilian support staff in the event of a government shutdown on Oct 1. Sign up for our Grassroots Action Center so you can easily contact your representative and encourage them to support this critical legislation. 

There's more: During the previous shutdown, only the Coast Guard was not paid because they are funded through Homeland Security. H.R.2693, Pay Our Coast Guard Parity Act of 2023, would make appropriations for Coast Guard pay in the event an appropriations Act expires. Click here to support this legislation.


2.     Initiatives to reduce veteran suicide

The American Legion's Be the One mission aims to destigmatize asking for help, while empowering everyone — veterans, servicemembers and civilians — to take the appropriate action when the life of a veteran or servicemember is at risk. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a range of initiatives that are geared toward getting veterans in crisis the help they need, such as the 24/7 confidential hotline – 988 and press 1 – and the website where veterans and family members can navigate a range of resources available to help in a time of need..

As part of September's Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, VA Secretary Denis McDonough discussed his department's key initiatives, The American Legion's role and more. Read the story here.

Support Be the One Days: Sunday, Oct. 1, is the next American Legion Be the One Day. On the first day of every month, Legion Family members are encouraged to wear a Be the One item to show their commitment to reducing the stigma around mental health issues among veterans and servicemembers. And to start a conversation about what Be the One is and how to save the life of a veteran. Legion posts should also promote Be the One on the first day of every month. 


3.     Give your input on the Global War on Terrorism memorial design

The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Memorial Foundation  has a designated site and a designer for its national memorial in Washington, D.C. The foundation is asking for the public's help in designing "the most inclusive war memorial in American history."

Give your input by taking this survey from now until Oct. 17.

This is the public's chance to express what they think the memorial should look like, and the message it should send to fellow Americans and the world. The American Legion supports the memorial's construction by resolution.

Share your story: The American Legion wants to hear about your time in service. You can share at


4.     A story of Buffalo Soldiers

This week's American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast episode welcomes Ivan A. Houston, the son and grandson of Buffalo Soldiers, who finished his father's book about his triumphant return to the Italian village he helped liberate.

Ivan J. Houston, his father, was a Buffalo Soldier in the 92nd Division who served in Europe during World War II. His grandfather was also a Buffalo Soldier in the 92nd Division, who served in France during World War I. Houston's father wrote a book about a decade ago, based on his journal from World War II. "Dad was one of the few folks who talked about World War II," he said.

After the book was published, the elder Houston was regularly honored in Italy from 2012 to 2019. He decided to write a second book about those experiences. "Dad was sharp until the very end, he was on point before he passed, which was very helpful to me," he said. "He would tell me, ‘Don't forget to finish the book.'"

There's more in this episode: American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast hosts Jeff Daly and Ashley Gutermuth also discuss: if there any place more romantic than an Air Force base; where to find free career guidance for veterans; and the ocean rescue of a man who was hanging onto a plastic cooler lid, the size of a boogie board.


5.     Youth thriving thanks to Legion support

The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation (CWF) was founded in 1954 to grants to nonprofits that contribute to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual welfare of children and youth through programs, research and resources. To date CWF has awarded over $19 million dollars to assist the children of this country. Two grant recipients recently spoke how the CWF is supporting their organization's mission.

- Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation was awarded $9,450 for its project "Heads UP Pittsburgh: Baseline Concussion Testing." The grant is helping to provide baseline concussion testing and education for youth. The concussion baseline testing, known as ImPACT (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), started in 2011 and began pediatric testing in 2015. Over 30,500 tests have been administered to Pittsburgh area youth.

- American Kidney Fund of Rockville, Md., was awarded $25,000 for its project "American Kidney Fund Virtual Camp: National Camp for Pediatric Kidney Patients." This grant will help the American Kidney Fund conduct virtual camps for kids with kidney disease. "It's an opportunity for kids to connect with others who truly understand what they are going through," said Daniell Griffin, senior director of Individual Giving for the American Kidney Fund. "It provides children with a break from hospital treatment and allows them to enjoy just being a kid."

Earn the CWF banner: American Legion posts, Legion Riders chapters, Auxiliary units, Sons of The American Legion squadrons and Eight & Forty salons are eligible for the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation (CWF) 100% per capita banner for the 2023-2024 membership year. To qualify for the banner, a post, unit, squadron or salon must donate at least $1 per member based upon respective official membership total for the 2023-2024 year. Download the fillable CWF 100% per capita banner form.

What do you own?


John* and Helen have been thinking about updating their estate plan. They made an appointment with their attorney, Clara.

John and Helen updated Clara on their current family situation. They have three children who are now on their own and successfully pursuing careers. After listening to the update, Clara turned to a review of their property.

Clara: "Before we update your plan, we need to make sure we have a complete list of your property. Let's start with a few questions. Do you have a home? Are there bank or security accounts?"

John: "Well, we do have our home. It's in both our names. There is our joint checking account and a savings account. Both of us also have some other accounts. I have one savings account with myself and our son Bill. Helen has a savings account with our daughter Susan, and another one for Helen and our daughter Linda. We have some mutual funds with a large financial company. I think that's in both our names."

Clara: "That's a good start. Now, most people also have a pension or retirement plan and some life insurance. Do you have both of those?"

John: "Yes, I have a 401(k) at my work and Helen has an IRA. She had a 401(k) at one time, and we rolled it over into an IRA when she changed jobs. I have a life insurance policy and I think it pays Helen $300,000 if something happens to me."

Clara: "Do you know if it is a whole life, universal life or term insurance plan? If it is a whole life or universal life, it probably has a certain amount of cash value now."

John: "I am not real sure, but it probably is a whole life plan. We bought the policy about 10 years ago and I make payments every month."

Clara: "Is there any other real estate or other securities accounts?"

Helen: "When my dad passed away, he owned 640 acres of timberland. It was divided three ways between my brother, my sister and me. My share is still in my name. We don't get income from the timberland because we only cut enough timber to pay the property taxes."

Clara: "Thanks, Helen. That's helpful to know. What about personal possessions? You probably have automobiles, furniture, perhaps a collection of items or a recreational vehicle?"

John: "Yes, we have two cars. I think my car is in my name and Helen's car is in hers. Of course, we have furniture in all the rooms of our four-bedroom home. We also have an RV we use to take trips in the summer. I think it is in both our names."

Clara: "And are there any other types of ownership interests or business interests? Are either of you likely to receive an inheritance in the near future?"

Helen: "Yes – my mother is still living. John's parents have passed away and we received a moderate inheritance when his mom passed away. When my mother passes away, I will probably receive some additional property. When dad passed away, half of the timberland was given to the three of us and Mother has the other half. When she passes away, I would guess the three children would each receive a third of the timberland that owns."

Clara: "This is a very good list of the assets. Let's now try to estimate the values of your property. The value will not be the initial amount you paid for each property, but a general estimate of what they are worth today."

(John, Helen, and Clara spent 20 minutes estimating the value of all of their property before moving on to discuss their debts.)

Clara: "John and Helen, there is just one more part to this inventory process. While I know you both are very careful and conservative in your financial affairs, some people have debt. Do you have a home mortgage? Is there a loan on a car or your recreational vehicle? And do you have an ongoing credit card balance?"

John: "Yes, we do have a mortgage on the home. It still has a balance of $100,000. There is a loan on my car of about $3,000. Helen's car is paid off, and we pay off our credit cards each month."

Clara: "Thanks very much for patiently working through the inventory with me. This is going to be very important as we make decisions about your estate plan."

Why the Inventory Process is Important It takes time and effort to make a list of your property. However, there are several important reasons it is a crucial part of a successful plan. The list enables you to identify your assets, estimate their value, understand the best potential benefits for your children or other heirs, plan to reduce your taxes and set up goals for your children.

Identification of your property is very important. If both John and Helen pass away, the first responsibility of their executor or personal representative is to identify and list all of their assets. The inventory will be an excellent guide for the executor. Without one, some assets might be forgotten, lost or eventually abandoned and transferred to state government.

Valuation is important. The values are estimates, but frequently the total value is significantly larger than you may realize. If Helen inherits added timberland from her mother, at that time the value of her one-third interest could be $1 million. Values also need to reflect the potential reductions for liabilities. Most families are similar to John and Helen in that they have fairly modest liabilities and quite substantial total values at the time of retirement.

Benefits For Children and Other Heirs Benefits for children and other heirs are best determined after you list all of your property values. It's also extremely important to understand how the property is owned. Some of the property in joint ownership will be transferred under state property law to the survivor. Only the property subject to the probate process is transferred by your will.

Because many people have substantial assets in their 401(k), IRA, other retirement plan or life insurance and these assets are transferred by beneficiary designation, it is essential to help your attorney know how the property is titled and who the beneficiaries are of the various retirement and insurance plans. The correct beneficiary designation enables your children or other heirs to receive benefits.

Estate taxes may be applicable for those with very large estates. Because some individuals have property that may have increased in value (the timberland owned by Helen has increased greatly in value over the past 30 years), and because there may be an inheritance that increases the estate yet further, it is important to consider the potential impact of estate taxes. A good plan can save thousands and even millions in future estate tax.

A final benefit of the inventory process is that the parents now have a much clearer picture of their assets. This enables them to make decisions that will be important for deciding the amount and type of inheritance for their children. There may be specific assets, such as family heirlooms or land, that should be transferred to one child rather than the others. Because parents frequently are interested in treating children equally, knowing the approximate values of the property enables them to make plans for transfer of some assets to specific children and to maintain overall fairness in the plan.

*Please note: The names and image above are representative of a typical donor and may or may not be an actual donor to the organization.

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 Clicking on "Learn more" will bring up an "E-newsletter" button, where you can sign up for regular information from Planned Giving.

Connecting in the great frontier

Depending on the method of transportation, the distance from Anchorage, Alaska, to Seattle varies from just under 1,500 to just under 2,500 miles – a lot of distance for a plane, car or legs to cover. But the internet can bring people together wherever in the world they are.

The American Legion's recent focus on e-gaming supports the organization's priorities on everything from suicide prevention to membership recruitment. And it's gaining traction at Legion posts in Alaska. Below, Laura Dean, former adjutant of Jack Henry Post 1 in Anchorage, talks about how her post and others are establishing a new culture for a new age.

Where did the inspiration for taking this on come from? How much pre-existing gaming enthusiasm was there in your post family? The initial idea came from California's Ronald Reagan-Palisades Post 283 and Andre Andrews, who a couple of our post members met as well as visiting the Regiment Gaming booth, at the national convention in 2021. We were all Persian Gulf and post-9/11 veterans, and the discussion had already been started about things Alaska Legion posts could provide beyond a restaurant/bar. When we heard the research of how video games can help reduce suicide and depression, it became a no-brainer to champion it. We took the idea back to Post 1, wrote a resolution supporting it and creating our own Video Game Committee, and brought it to our department convention that spring. At this point, other posts in Alaska had also been looking at how to pursue gaming. For example, Post 13 in Sitka hosts weekly tabletop game nights. Post 28, which is located in Anchorage like Post 1, was also interested in video games.

Our post took our idea and started socializing with our members and community contacts to figure out how to pursue this in Alaska. Nuvision, a regional credit union, sponsors Post 1's Memorial Day BBQ and loved the idea of using video games to combat suicide, so they made a donation in support of it. Post 1 then partnered with Post 28, the Wounded Warrior Project-Alaska, Stack Up, the Stephen Cohen Clinic and University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) to host the first American Legion video game tournament in June at UAA's eSports lounge. Next, Post 28 hosted a booth for Stack Up and Regiment Gaming at their AlaskaFest event, which Post 1 volunteered to help run.

Post 1 had now received a grant from GCI, a local telecommunications company, to further the video game efforts. Along with Post 28, we plan to host more tournaments over the winter, including competitions between our local high school eSports teams and veterans. Eventually, both posts hope to have their own eSports lounges in their buildings, and to figure out a way to help Alaska posts in more austere locations participate too (particularly due to internet connectivity issues).

What is the process of getting equipment installed? What have been the costs so far? Verizon got wind of our efforts and donated a new Xbox to Post 1, which we will be installing with one of our TVs in our meeting room. A member also donated an old Nintendo Wii as well. Eventually, for our eSports lounge, we hope to install four gaming computers. We have worked with Regiment Gaming to create a gaming PC buildout that comes to approximately $2,500, including the desk and chair, and we are actively fundraising to purchase that equipment.

Post 1 has also identified that our internet infrastructure needs to be upgraded in order to support quality video gaming. In total this will cost approximately $11,000 to complete, mostly due to installing coaxial outlets throughout the building.

E-gaming naturally takes a lot of relevance out of people's physical locations. But have you found that living in a more isolated part of the country/world has made connecting online easier than it would be for someone in, say, New England?

I wouldn't say it necessarily makes it easier, but it definitely augments our connection to the world. Due to our location, Alaskans tend to have a very strong local community. E-gaming provides another venue for people to connect and, perhaps, find the support they need for whatever issues they have going on. Studies conducted by WebMD and reviewed by Dan Brennan, M.D., have proven this; video games increase the sense of community and belonging, rather than decrease it as we were told growing up.

Have you personally encountered any instances of people finding new relief from their symptoms in gaming?

Yes. One veteran has moved to a new job in an isolated part of Alaska, away from their established support network. They are using gaming for distraction, mental stimulation and connection with that support network. Another veteran uses video games as a way to check in on their nephew, who struggles with depression.

What should a post looking into this be mindful of, especially in terms of potential problems?

It's not simply installing a computer or Xbox and buying a couple of games, though that can be a good start. E-gaming and eSports are incredibly diverse, so we definitely recommend asking your membership what types of gaming they would like. For example, Sitka Post 13 found that tabletop gaming was a larger draw than video games for the time being, so they put effort there. At Post 1 it's video games, so that's what we're focusing on.

You're also going to run into issues combating the stigma that Legion posts are old, dark and dank. Consider partnering with a local eSports lounge in the beginning to draw people in (and reduce initial costs), then try bringing them into your post. Another benefit of partnering is that you don't have to provide in-house tech support too.

Finally, start creating relationships with companies and organizations that already run video game tournaments. Each game is going to be a bit different about how to run the tournament, and it gets exponentially more complex if you want to hold a geo-diverse tournament. They should already have the know-how, which will reduce headaches all around (plus the volunteer manpower!).

Are there plans to expand in Alaska, beyond Post 28?

Yes! Post 1 and Post 28 hope to figure out the "secret sauce" for Legions in Alaska so we can share that information with all our other posts. We hope to figure out how to hold tournaments so our posts can compete against each other, and we can have veterans competing all across the state! Given how big Alaska really is, this will be a super-cool feat to achieve.


Buddy Check resources: toolkit and door hanger

As American Legion Family members conduct Buddy Checks and prepare for the Department of Veterans Affairs National Buddy Check Week Oct. 16-20, The American Legion has refreshed its Buddy Check toolkit and created a new door hanger to help you show veterans that you care about their well-being. Visit to download the following tools:

Buddy Check Toolkit that explains the program, provides steps to conducting a successful Buddy Check, gives sample scripts and more. 

- Buddy Check doorhanger that is printer-friendly and can be customized as a leave-behind when Legion Family members visit a veteran who is not a home. 

Also, here is a 6-minute video  that provides useful tips for posts planning to do a Buddy Check. It's from 2019 National Legion College graduate and Maryland Legionnaire John Kilgallon, whose daughter Mary helped him create a how-to Buddy Check message with a white board as part of his Legion College homework.