American Legion commander salutes DoD’s latest move to open bases for VSO support

LegionWASHINGTON D.C. — The leader of the nation’s largest veterans
service organization praised Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s recent
directives for military commanders to be more welcoming of nonprofit groups
that wish to provide support for troops and their families.

“Secretary Hagel has broken through the bureaucratic walls that Legionnaires
sometimes face when they try to access military bases so they could provide
needed support for troops and their families,” American Legion National
Commander Michael D. Helm said.

“The Legion has approximately 3,000 accredited service officers that are
eager to assist troops access the benefits they have earned. Additionally,
we have outstanding support programs such as Operation Comfort Warriors for
wounded, injured or ill troops, job placement, transition assistance, a
family support network and many other initiatives adopted by American Legion
posts throughout the United States and overseas. With frequent personnel
changes on military installations, some base commanders haven’t had the
opportunities to establish long-term relationships with the Legion and were
un-informed of our intentions and the services that we provide.  Secretary
Hagel has taken measures that re-emphasize the importance of military
installations to standardize their procedures and grant greater access
consistent with their mission requirements.”

In a letter to American Legion National Security Director John Stovall,
Hagel said, “I want to express my deep appreciation for the wise counsel and
support you and

your organization have provided during my tenure as Secretary of Defense.
Our many roundtable meetings and other engagements gave me valuable insights
and thoughtful perspectives into how our Department can best address the
needs of our Service members,  veterans and their families.”

Hagel issued two directives to each of the military services, one calling
for greater access and support services to “VA-recognized Veteran Service
and Military Service Organizations” and another calling for access and
support services to “Nonprofit Non-federal entities.”

“The American Legion exists so we can provide services and advocacy for
troops, veterans and their families,” Helm said. “With these directives,
Secretary Hagel has enhanced our ability to provide that support and show
our appreciation for those who sacrifice everyday on our behalf.”

With a current membership of 2.4-million wartime veterans, The American
Legion, www.legion.org, was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong
national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs.
Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly
14,000 posts across the nation.

Filed in: Military and Veterans

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