Local Legion delegates vote for national commander

Staff report

Submitted photo

Submitted photo

CHARLOTTE — Michael D. Helm, center in photo, was elected national commander of the American Legion at its 96th National Convention Aug. 22 through Aug. 28 in Charlotte.

Attending as delegates from American Legion Post 147, Rockingham, were Jeff Joyner, left, Post 147 service officer; and Carlton Hawkins, Post 147 executive committeeman. President Barack Obama was a guest speaker at the event.

The American Legion’s largest annual meeting is the national convention. Each of the Legion’s 55 departments — the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and Philippines — is entitled to a minimum of five voting delegates to the national convention.

A department is granted one extra delegate, a member in good standing, for each 1,000 members (or major fraction thereof) 30 days before the convention. The five annually elected vice commanders round out the group of delegates present. The national convention delegates alone have the authority to approve changes to the Legion’s constitution and bylaws.

The group is also responsible for passing programs that determine the course of the Legion, setting membership dues for the upcoming year, and electing a national commander and five national vice commanders to serve until the next convention.

Distinguished Service Medal awarded

A former U.S. Air Force trauma surgeon who pioneered innovative ways to stop battlefield bleeding was presented The American Legion’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, at the 96th National Convention on Aug. 26.

Dr. Donald H. Jenkins, a retired colonel, is director of the Trauma Center at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

As a result of his work and that of other military medical pioneers, the United States has experienced a far lower combat fatality rate than that recorded in wars prior to 9/11. Jenkins and his colleagues began using a different transfusion formula while deployed to Oman in 2002, which reduced the mortality rate from 70 percent to 20 percent and re-introduced the use of tourniquets on the battlefield – which for many years was discouraged.

Dr. Donald H. Jenkins, Col. (ret)

Dr. Donald H. Jenkins, Col. (ret)

Because of his success not only in the military but in his civilian medical career, he was elected president of the National Trauma Institute, where he is one of the nation’s top experts in traumatic injury, the leading cause of death for Americans between 1 and 44.

As a leader of military medical personnel, he provided life- and limb-saving care on the battlefield, in the back of transport aircraft, at military and VA medical centers and facilities around the world. He performed emergency surgeries while serving in Iraq during the Battle of Fallujah in 2004 and retired four years later.

Thanks to the innovation and commitment of Jenkins and his fellow practitioners, mortality rates among U.S. combat casualties were reduced to 8.8 percent, compared to 16.5 percent during the Vietnam War and 22.8 percent during World War II, according to a 2010 nationwide medical conference report.

Jenkins was presented with the medal by American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger on behalf of the 2.4 million members of the Legion.

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