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Charles E. Schmidt: Legion's first national commander from Oregon.

posted Sep 17, 2016, 11:12 AM by Donald Bons

About the National Commander


Charles E. Schmidt, National Commander of The American Legion

Charles E. Schmidt was elected national commander of the 2.2 million-member American Legion on Sept. 1, 2016, in Cincinnati during the 98th national convention of America’s largest veterans organization.

Schmidt enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1965 and served on active duty until his retirement in 1993. During that time he advanced from an administrative clerk to a distinguished graduate of the Air Force Officer Training School, earning a commission and assignments to Executive Support Officer positions at major headquarters. His Air Force assignments took him to Oregon, California, Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, England, Germany, Philippines and Vietnam. 

As an active-duty servicemember, Schmidt joined Story-Hardin Post 164 in Craig, Mo., in 1984. After his military retirement as a major, he was employed by the Air Force Total Quality Management Program at Lowry Technical Training Center in Denver.

He transferred his American Legion membership to Harney County Post 63 in Burns, Ore., when he moved to Oregon for a 15-year career at the Greater Oregon Federal Credit Union. He retired from the credit union as the executive vice president.

An American Legion Paid Up For Life member, Schmidt served as the Department of Oregon commander from 2004-2005, and he’s served at every level of the Legion, including National Executive Committeeman from 2005-2016.

While serving in the Air Force, Schmidt earned a Bronze Star, a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, a Joint Service Commendation Medal, an Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device and two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal with three oak leaf clusters, a National Defense Service Medal with a bronze star, a Vietnam Service Medal, an Air Force Overseas Short Tour Ribbon, an Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon with two oak leaf clusters, an Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon with one silver oak leaf cluster, an NCO Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon with oak leaf cluster, a Small Arms Expert Marksmanship with bronze star, an Air Force Training Ribbon with oak leaf cluster, a Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with four bronze stars.

Schmidt resides in Hines, Ore., with his wife, Linda. They have two daughters, Andria and Cori, and two sons-in-law, Peter and Anthony. They also have six grandchildren: Madeline, Alex, Adam, Raymond, Nicholas and Thomas.

Fort Wainwright soldier earns American Legion Spirit of Service award

posted Sep 17, 2016, 10:55 AM by Donald Bons   [ updated Sep 17, 2016, 11:06 AM ]


FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Cpl. Bryce Wolford joined the Army to serve his country, but it was his service to his community that earned him national recognition early in his military career. 

Wolford recently received the Spirit of Service Award from the American Legion. The 25-year-old intelligence analyst at Fort Wainwright accepted the award with members of the three other armed services on Sept. 1 at the group's annual convention in Cincinnati. 

Wolford is originally from Redmond in central Oregon, reported the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. He enlisted in the Army two years ago after earning a bachelor's degree in psychology and justice. He was assigned to Fort Wainwright as his first duty post. 

He approaches community service similar to how he approaches national service in the military. 

"I've had a lot of really good opportunities in my life," he said recently after returning from Cincinnati. "I wouldn't be who I am or where I am if hadn't had some really great privileges just from being an American." 

The Army encourages service members to volunteer in their community, but few put in as many hours as Wolford. He's helped raise money for the Red Cross, coached soccer for 7- to 8-year-olds and he drives a van for the Soldiers Against Drunk Driving program. He and his wife each mentor children through the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. 

Labor Day weekend was especially busy for Wolford's volunteer commitments. Because of the long weekend, there was more SADD work to be done and he also spent a few hours with his "little" from Big Brothers Big Sisters. In all, he volunteered about 20 hours during the long weekend. 



Spirit of Service Award
In this Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 photo, Cpl. Bryce Wolford, an intelligence analyst with Fort Wainwright's 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, speaks during an interview in Fairbanks, Alaska. Wolford recently received the American Legion 2016 Spirit of Service Award.
Photo Credit: Eric Engman/Fairbanks Daily News-Miner via AP

Wolford described the experience of receiving the Spirit of Service award as "humbling." The American Legion convention typically attracts about 9,000 people and was a campaign stop for both major U.S. presidential candidates this year. 

A highlight of the convention for Wolford was meeting Hershel Woodrow "Woody" Williams, the last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient. Wolford enjoyed meeting veterans at the convention, but found it a bit disorientating to be congratulated on the award by World War II and Vietnam War veterans. 

"Here I am, I've been in the Army just over two years, I haven't done anything super exciting, I haven't deployed. For the most part, I sit at a computer. I do a lot of work, but a lot of times, it feels like your work doesn't have a big impact," he said. "All these guys are like, 'Oh my God, thank you for your service,' and I'm like, 'What are you doing thanking me? Thank you.'" 

Wolford is proud to be in the Army, but his ambitions are to one day work in law enforcement, ideally the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He describes his interest in the FBI as a fascination with a childhood game that he kept into adulthood. 

"For me, it kind of never left me. I still like the idea of cops and robbers," he said. "I want to grow up to be the good guy." 


About Our New National Commander, Michael Helm

posted Sep 1, 2014, 12:04 PM by Donald Bons

The national commander is the chief executive officer and official spokesman of The American Legion, with full power to enforce provisions of the organization's constitution, bylaws and resolutions. Each national commander serves a one-year term, after which a new leader is elected at the national convention. Five national vice commanders who serve different regions are also elected at the national convention each year.

Michael D. Helm, National Commander of the American Legion.

Michael D. Helm of Norcatur, Kansas, was elected national commander of the 2.4 million member American Legion on Aug. 28, 2014, in Charlotte, N.C., during the 96th national convention of America's largest veterans organization.

A U.S. Army veteran during the Vietnam War, he served with the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C., and earned his Ranger tab in 1972. He has been a member of Jack Helt American Legion Post 313 at Lebanon, Neb., since 1972. Born in McCook, Neb., he grew up in Norcatur, Kansas. He is a retired U.S. Postal Service rural mail carrier with more than 33 years of service.
Helm served as commander of the Department of Nebraska from 1987 to 1988 and as a national vice commander from 2003 to 2004. He also served as the national commander's representative to the National Legislative Commission, the chairman of the National Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission and the chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission.

During his service as chairman of the VA&R Commission, Helm chaired the System Worth Saving Task Force, a team of dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers, providing in-depth and up-to-date analysis of the status of VA health care to Congress and to veterans advocates nationwide. He also served as a member of the Veterans Planning and Coordination Committee and of The American Legion Ad Hoc Committee studying the Military and Veterans Affairs response to traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder.

At the local and state levels, Helm has served as post adjutant, post commander, county commander, district commander, department area and senior vice commander, in addition to numerous committee assignments and chairmanships. He was Nebraska's first Vietnam-era veteran elected as department commander. Helm takes great pride in having been selected to serve as Nebraska's official American Legion representative at the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982.

Helm's wife, Debbie, is active in The American Legion Auxiliary, having served as District 9 president and as the Department Junior Activities chairwoman. They are the parents of five Legion Family members. Aaron and his wife, Robie, both graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; Rebecca and her husband, Jaron Cox, both graduates of Kansas State University; Jacob, a senior cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy; Matthew, an Army ROTC cadet at Kansas State University and Timothy, a student at Decatur Community High School in Oberlin, Kansas.

Legion charity ride raises $420,000 for children of fallen servicemembers

posted Sep 1, 2014, 11:38 AM by Donald Bons

More than 270 motorcycles travel from Indianapolis to Charlotte, N.C., on American Legion Legacy Run

CHARLOTTE (Aug. 21, 2014) -- More than 270 motorcycles and their 56 passengers rolled into the Charlotte, N.C., area this afternoon, bringing with them $420,000 for the children of fallen U.S. servicemembers.
        The American Legion Legacy Run, sponsored by USAA, left Indianapolis, Aug. 17, and crossed eight states, traveling more than 1,300 miles before ending up at Legion Post 155 in Kings Mountain, N.C. American Legion Riders participating in the ride raised money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, which provides college scholarships for the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001.
        More donations to the fund are expected during The American Legion’s 96th National Convention in Charlotte next week. Eight previous Legacy Runs have raised more than $4 million for the fund. 
        “This says, ‘We have your back,’ whether our servicemembers are living or dead,” said American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger, who rode on a motorcycle the entire length of the Legacy Run. “It’s our charge to take care of their children. It’s what we need to do.”
        The Legacy Run traveled through Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina before finishing up near Charlotte. Along the way, the participants battled heavy rains the first two days before sunshine and rising temperatures that hit 100 degrees this afternoon.
        “I am amazed by the dedication and commitment these men and women have,” Dellinger said. “To take the time out of their lives to raise money for the Legacy Fund, it’s awesome. I have so much respect for The American Legion Riders.”

McDonald confirmed as VA secretary

posted Aug 1, 2014, 2:47 PM by Donald Bons

July 29, 2014
 
Featured in Veterans Health Center, Veterans Benefits Center
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American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger today thanked the Senate for acting quickly today to confirm the nomination of former Procter & Gamble Chief Executive Officer Robert McDonald to become secretary of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs. “The time to act is now,” Dellinger said. “Veterans are waiting for the care they earned and deserve.”

The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs voted 14-0 July 23 in support of McDonald, 61, who would replace Eric Shinseki, who resigned in late May. Shinseki’s departure came after The American Legion called for urgent change, starting with new leadership at the top, to restore trust in the system after revelations that veterans had died waiting for VA doctor appointments that were never really scheduled and that executives received bonuses for falsified performance reports.
From McDonald, Dellinger said he looks for the kind of changes one would expect in the corporate world when a company is in trouble.

“The American Legion is confident that Robert McDonald will apply his experience leading big, complex business operations to the Department of Veterans Affairs, a complex operation that desperately needs a system-wide overhaul right now,” Dellinger said. “I am also confident Mr. McDonald will understand the importance of engaging the veteran stakeholders of the VA health-care system as reforms are adopted in the coming months.”

Dellinger said the incoming VA secretary must make patients his first priority and include them at the table as changes are planned and executed. “It’s time to put the veteran back into the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Dellinger said. “No more secret lists. No more bonuses for poor performance or unreasonably long waiting times for appointments. No more accuracy breakdowns in deciding benefits claims. In this equation, the veteran is the customer, and The American Legion represents that customer. We look forward to working with Mr. McDonald. Together, we can get VA back on track and restore trust among the patients it serves, as well as the public, which expects nothing less than timely, high-quality care for our nation’s veterans.”

- See more at: http://www.legion.org/veteranshealthcare/223608/mcdonald-confirmed-va-secretary#sthash.TSvDp2Lz.dpuf

Town of 500 Raises $70,000 to Honor Veterans

posted Aug 1, 2014, 2:41 PM by Donald Bons

Updated: 07/26/2014 10:50 PM
Created: 07/26/2014 10:46 PM KAALtv.com 
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 News) -- A town with less than 500 people managed to raise $70,000 dollars to revamp its park and build a memorial for their veterans. 
The memorial is a small layout with a marble plaque at the front, grounded with many bricks that are etched with the names of past and present veterans from Stacyville, Iowa. 

The idea was to sell bricks to the community, with each member thinking of a veteran that they would like to commemorate and add to the memorial. All they needed was 50 bricks with 50 names, at least at first. 

"The very first number that got shout out was fifty bricks, if we could sell fifty bricks, we'd be happy," said Commander Glenn Cimmigotti. 

But in Stacyville, Iowa, there's more names than that. They are names of those that have served this country, names of veterans who are gone and veterans who will go. 

It wasn't clear how many bricks would be carved with the name of a veteran before the memorial was built. 

"There's absolutely no reason that I don't think we can put that goal at 250," said Cimmigotti. 

Stacyville has a population of 468. The town's Veterans Memorial now has a total of 466 bricks. 

"I stand before you, with a ton of pride, that in our first order of bricks for this memorial there was 466 bricks," said Cimmigotti. 

A small town can have a big-family feel. 

"We've been in town for 63 years," said veteran Alex Blake. 

Blake found his brick easily, even though it was surrounded by many other names in every direction. 

"Every thing is close together, if anyone's been in the service, you know that they're very close with other comrades," said Cimmigotti. 

Close-together, that sums up the community of Stacyville. When committee members revealed the memorial to the public, the ceremony brought together a lot more people than initially expected. 

"But this memorial is not complete. It is our hope that this is a living and growing monument," said Cimmigotti. 

They will need another estimate of bricks soon, but for the tight-knit, military family of Stacyville, they will likely round up. 

American Legion national commander expresses confidence that McDonald will work closely with veterans to restore trust in VA

posted Jul 31, 2014, 8:08 AM by Donald Bons

Commander: ‘Together, we can get VA back on track’

WASHINGTON (July 29, 2014) -- American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger today thanked the Senate for acting quickly to confirm the nomination of former Procter & Gamble Chief Executive Officer Robert McDonald to become secretary of the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs. “The time to act is now,” Dellinger said. “Veterans are waiting for the care they earned and deserve.”

The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs voted 14-0 Wednesday in support of McDonald, 61, who would replace ret. Maj. Gen. Eric Shinseki, who resigned in late May. Shinseki’s departure came after The American Legion called for urgent change, starting with new leadership at the top, to restore trust in the system after revelations that veterans had died waiting for VA doctor appointments that were never really scheduled and that executives received bonuses for falsified performance reports.

From McDonald, Dellinger said he looks for the kind of changes one would expect in the corporate world when a company is in trouble.

“The American Legion is confident that Robert McDonald will apply his experience leading big, complex business operations to the Department of Veterans Affairs, a complex operation that desperately needs a system-wide overhaul right now,” Dellinger said. “I am also confident Mr. McDonald will understand the importance of engaging the veteran stakeholders of the VA health-care system as reforms are adopted in the coming months.”

Dellinger said the incoming VA secretary must make patients his first priority and include them at the table as changes are planned and executed. “It’s time to put the veteran back into the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Dellinger said. “No more secret lists. No more bonuses for poor performance or unreasonably long waiting times for appointments. No more accuracy breakdowns in deciding benefits claims. In this equation, the veteran is the customer, and The American Legion represents that customer. We look forward to working with Mr. McDonald. Together, we can get VA back on track and restore trust among the patients it serves, as well as the public, which expects nothing less than timely, high-quality care for our nation’s veterans.”

With more than 2.4 million members, The American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans service organization.

VA to help rural patients access Blue Button, HIE tools

posted Jul 25, 2014, 10:15 PM by Donald Bons

Author Name Jennifer Bresnick   |   Date July 23, 2014   |   
Tagged Blue Button, Health Information Exchange, Rural Health, Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health
  

The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a contract to Creative Computing Solutions, Inc. (CCSi) with the intention of helping rural veterans access Blue Button and other health information exchange technologies to facilitate care coordination and access to healthcare resources.  The contract, issued through the Office of Informatics and Analytics, Health Informatics Office and the Office of Rural Health, will place community coordinators in each of the 55 rural VA medical centers.

“Veterans living in rural areas are often challenged in terms of readily available access to an array of online services provided by the VA,” said Maggie Bauer, Senior Vice President, Health Services at CCSi. “CCSi shares the Office of Rural Health’s commitment to empowering health for the nation’s veterans and providing them secure, efficient and effective access to their health and benefit services.”

The community coordinators will instruct veteran patients on how to access their personal data held in the Blue Button Download system, as well as train clinicians on the benefits of Direct and other HIE tools.  The coordinators will provide both on-site and remote training to reach the highest number of stakeholders.

As the VA continues to slog through a scandal centered on incorrect usage of its scheduling system, leaving thousands of veterans without appointments and causing at least seventeen confirmed deaths at the Phoenix VA hospital, the besieged department has been taking a number of actions to quickly institute reforms.  Congress has passed legislation providing resources for the construction of new VA facilities to meet the high demand for timely care, and will also make it easier for veterans to seek appointments at civilian providers, especially in rural areas where major medical centers are few and far between.

Providers may also benefit financially from taking on rural VA patients.  “As a practice that needs to fill a calendar and see more patients, this gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the several thousand patients that could be in your area who are needing care, and therefore help your cash flow,” said Tom Giannulli, MD, MS, Chief Medical Office at Kareo. “There are a number of physicians that in the sub-specialties in the rural areas that are looking to fill their calendars. One of the key concerns we have is keeping the small practice viable.”

The CCSi initiative to provide training for veterans to access their health information through Blue Button or other means could ease coordination between VA and civilian providers in rural areas, reducing the unnecessary repetition of tests and providing critical information on a patient’s medical history.



Canyonville Pioneer Days, August 2014

posted Jul 23, 2014, 10:31 PM by Donald Bons   [ updated Sep 1, 2014, 12:16 PM ]

 The Circuit Judge

We had a great time this past weekend at the Canyonville Pioneer Days.  We enjoyed providing information about the Legion, and getting to know some great people.  All in all, a great time was had by all.  We did manage to sell $225.00 worth of tickets for our Circuit Judge, and look forward to the raffle in September at our Gold Star/Blue Star mothers event.  The poppies sold well to, and we were able to provide much needed contributions for our hard working Women's Auxiliary.  

Flags were put out on Saturday, and they looked great in the new sidewalk hole downtown. Thanks for everyone who volunteered to man the booth, and engage people about the Legion and our Post. Great Job Guys!!

Roseburg VA News of Interest

posted Jul 22, 2014, 10:44 PM by Donald Bons   [ updated Jul 23, 2014, 10:21 PM ]

Attention All Veterans

The Douglas County Veteran Service Office is coming to the VA Roseburg Healthcare System 
Roseburg Campus Every Week!  There mission is to assist Veterans with filing of claims and answering questions.  An accredited Veteran Service Officer will be available.

When: Every Thursday beginning July 3, 2014 

Time: 12:00 - 4:00 p.m.
 
Where: Building Two, First Floor, Room A103 
 
Voluntary Services Office Area 

Questions? Contact Veterans Service Officer, Jim Fitzpatrick, (541) 440-4219


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