The Internet Observer - The American Legion Department of Colorado

The Internet Observer - The American Legion Department of Colorado

The Internet Observer

Published by The American Legion, Department of Colorado December 2012

National Commanders Message Page 2

Commander’s Call - December 2012 Page 3

Department Commande’s Guest Editoral Page 3-5

Department Sr. Vice Commander Message Page 4

Department Adjutant Message Page 5

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy Page 6

Kraft Foods Supports Post 5 Chilren’s Party Page 6

VA Paper Chase Page 8

Sweepstakes Winners Chart Veterand Day Page 9

Legion Post 44 Donates Handicap Van Page 10

Mid-Year Conference Room Reservations Page 14

FVAC Roster Information Request Page 14

Bingo Raffle Training Online Letter Page 15

Program Aids Separting Service Members Page 16-17

VA Seeks To Expand TBI Benefits Page 17

Post Reaches Out To Women Veterans Page 18

VA Should Adhere To Veterans Preference Page 19

Page 2 The American Legion Internet Observer December 2012

A Message From The National Commander

James E. Koutz, National Commander

During the holidays, we’re reminded of all for which we are

thankful. At the same time, we cannot forget those who need

our support, especially U.S. troops overseas and wounded warriors

lying in hospital beds unable to come home for the holidays.

The American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors program is my

major fundraising program this year because it is truly a gift, with

no promotional or administrative

fees attached. Every dollar donated

goes to buy products and services

that improve the lives of wounded

veterans and military personnel.

My goal is to raise $500,000 to help

provide comfort to our wounded

and sick servicemembers. I have no

doubt we can really make an impact

this holiday season after I witnessed

firsthand the generosity of members

participating in the 2012 National

Legion College.

National Commander

James E. Koutz

One Legion College group’s

presentation was about the OCW

program and raising awareness

for it. In a matter of minutes, the

students raised more than $100 for

OCW by auctioning off an OCW

hat and water bottle, along with a bobblehead doll of Past National

Commander Robert W. Spanogle. By the end of Legion College,

the 55 students had donated more than $1,000 for OCW from their

own pockets.

Also, I personally heard from a wounded warrior and Legion

College student about the positive effect comfort items have

on servicemembers. Army veteran Jim Lish of Leitchfield, Ky.,

The American Legion

Internet Observer

The American Legion Internet Observer is an official

publication of The American Legion, Department of

Colorado,and is owned exclusively by the Colorado

Department. Published Monthly at the Department

Headquarters, 7465 East 1st Ave, Ste D Denver. CO

80230. (303) 366-5201.

Send correspondence to the above address. Visit us at or e-mail to theobserver@

A Time to Give And Support

was wounded in 2004 while serving in Iraq. When he arrived at

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany with nothing but

his tattered, dirty military uniform, veterans were waiting for him

with gifts of sweatsuits, socks and toiletries. Lish thanked us –

his Legion College peers and National Headquarters staff – for

caring so much for wounded warriors who often have little more

than the clothes on their backs when they are admitted for care.

He stressed how programs like OCW take the strain off wounded

soldiers because they don’t have to worry about passing their time

in recovery wearing only military hospital pajamas.

Such support is in our DNA. In the weeks ahead, the Legion’s

National Headquarters staff will hand out gift cards and door

prizes during a holiday dinner in Washington, D.C., for wounded

warriors. Dozens of distributions are planned for the months

ahead at military medical facilities and transition units around

the world. One department recently raised more than $6,000 to

create a healing garden at a local VA facility, all because the state

commander enforced a few simple, fun rules to raise money at the

post, district and state levels. All across the country, and around the

world, Legionnaires will put on fish fries, bingo games and silent

auctions this holiday season to raise money for veterans and troops

in need, or to fulfill some other community need.

I am asking all of you – all of us – to remember Operation Comfort

Warriors ( this holiday season. Our wounded

warriors deserve the very best we have to give. So please give, and

let the men and women serving our country know how much we

care by giving them a gift with no strings attached, nothing but a

big ‘thank you’ from us, their fellow veterans, so that they might

know where our hearts are at.

Publisher/Editor-in Chief:

Charles P. Smith


The American Legion


Design and Layout and Editor:

Darrell Myers

Still Serving America

Do you have an ongoing program or

activity that serves your community?

Do you have a friend or relative that

goes above and beyond the call of duty

to help others?

Drop us a line and tell us what your

story is or how you or this person

is demonstrating that they are Still

Serving America.

In submitting your information, please

be sure to include your full name,

address and telephone number. There’s

a good chance the information you

send us will make it into The Observer.

Please send to: Still Serving America,

The American Legion, 7465 East 1st

Ave. Ste D Denver, CO 80230.

December 2012 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 3

Commanders Call

By: Jim Gates, Department Commander

There seems to be some confusion about what a Veteran’s

Service Organization is, at least among some of our members.

We often find this out when working our membership renewal

lists. One of the many excuses used when we ask our members

to please send in their membership renewals is “the Legion hasn’t

done anything for me, why should I bother renewing”!

Whoa, now - that kind of thinking gets under my skin. But, we have

to deal with it and it takes a certain amount of social psychology

to counter it. I believe, in part,

that some of that attitude may

stem from our members being

ignored at the Post level and not

being asked to get involved in

our continued mission of service

to America. Remember: the

mission is: providing service to

others. Our membership in the

Legion wasn’t designed to be


Jim Gates

Department Commander

Commander’s Call – December 2012

Is part of the attitude problem

due to being ignored and

pushed around by the powerful

Department of Veterans Affairs?

A lot of us have had to endure

it. Waiting for action on a

claim or simply waiting for an

appointment at a VA medical

facility can rub us the wrong way. But, if we can set some of that

aside for just a bit and involve ourselves in doing for others (while

we wait) then we’ll be working “The Golden Rule”!

Footnote: OUR Department of Colorado Legion Service Officers

are there for YOU to help navigate you through a lot of that VA

bureaucracy! Don’t try this at home alone, it can be frustrating and

rarely works to your expectation.

At this time of year, in particular, wouldn’t it be nice if we could

all just get into that “giving spirit” and throw everything else aside

and realize it just might be better to give than to receive?? No need

to wait for January to roll around and try to come up with some

of those New Year Resolutions that quickly disappear. NOW

would be a great time to thank God for the blessings we DO have

and stop grousing about what WE think is overdue us. Busying

one’s self with “Good of The Legion” activity could just be what’s

needed when our minds start getting cluttered up with “me” and

“I” thoughts.

During this season of spiritual renewal, we pause and reflect on

times past and perhaps what’s in store for us in the future. Some

of this can be upsetting, of course! And, while all of this renewal

is taking place, how about doing one of the best things you can

possibly do to serve the Legion (and our country): renew your

membership as soon as possible if you’re one of those on the

fence! By doing so, you WILL be serving our veterans who are less

well-off than we are. Your membership

keeps our programs up and running as

smoothly as possible. And if that’s the

only level of service you wish to offer

in the Legion (at this time) then you’ve

caught the spirit!

To all our members in Colorado, the very

best wishes for you and your families at

this time of year. Thanks for all you do!

God Bless, and until 2013, that’s my


Commander Gates’ Pin

American Legion, Department

Of Colorado Calls On DoD

To Re-Examine Policies On

Suicide Attempts By Troops

By: Jim Gates, Commander, Department of Colorado - Guest Editorial

“Help, without the preconceived notion of one’s competence

to continue their military service - without the broken soldier -

get rid of them attitude - that is currently applied to those who

seek medical assistance with their PTSD problems,” this is what

Department (State) Commander Jim Gates, an Air Force, Vietnam

Era Veteran, says is needed to stop this crazy suicidal situation that

is occurring among our combat veterans.

What is the message that the DoD is telling our military troops?

That we want to use you up in combat with deployment after

deployment! Subject you to unimaginable violence that causes

PTSD! And, once that PTSD brings on the depression, the feelings

of isolation, the rage, the avoidance of feelings and interactions

with friends and family that can become so intolerable that you

consider suicide, make the attempt and fail, that we are then going

to punish you for letting your feelings take control of your mind,

and your failure to accomplish your mission, to kill yourself. Is

that what the message is?

We might like to say that the old mental illness stigma has been destigmatized

because of the progress the military has made in this

area over the years. But, in reality, the attitude within the military

institution is still the same: it will only change when the old dogs

(who hold those attitudes so dear to their hearts) are out to pasture.

Suicides accounted for 20 percent of U.S. military deaths last year.

“This is becoming a huge problem and every one of these suicides

is a national tragedy. It is up to Congress and the

(Continued on Page 5 “See Suicides”)

Page 4 The American Legion Internet Observer December 2012

Department Sr. Vice Commander Report

“For God and Country”

By: Carol Kennedy, Department Jr. Vice Commander

We start our preamble – For God and Country. . . It does not

say for me or for my friends, “but for God and Country!”

These are the two most important things in our lives as

Legionnaires. This time of year we

find ourselves finishing a wonderful

turkey dinner, taking a nap, and then

watching football. We are scurrying

around buying gifts, and putting

together decorations and cards to

show our greetings to our friends.

BUT WAIT. . . What about God

and Country?? What about those

veterans that are hungry, living on

the streets, have no coat, no medical

care, and no family that cares if they

live or die? What about them??

Carol Kennedy

Department Sr. Vice


Whatever your relationship with

God is in your life, it is important,

but we need to be more God like and

care for our fellow veterans.

That care of veterans, is for all veterans, not just those eligible to

join our ranks. Bring them into your Post, give them a hot meal,

help find them warm clothing and get them in the right direction to

filing with the VA for medical claims or pensions and maybe even

pay their dues for this year, if they are eligible to join. It is WHO


We owe it to our comrades to make their lives better. God has

blessed us with his bounty and we should share with those that had

our back in conflict or shared an MRE on a cold desert night. You

remember the one. . .

Don’t wait for Christmas to be over, don’t wait till the next snow.

. . go out right NOW, and find those veterans and bring them into

our Legion Home, make them welcome and THANK them for

their service. Let them know that we really do live our lives for

God and Country.

The American Legion is not all about membership. . .it is for God

and Country, membership just follows.

Thanks for all you do for veterans. Keep Christ in Christmas,

Merry Christmas!!

Irish Post Helps Honor World War I Fallen

On May 21, 1922, an English ship – HMS Stillwater – arrived in

Dublin Harbor with the remains of 62 Irish men killed in action

during World War I. Their families

had requested that their loved

ones’ remains be brought to their

home soil for burial. The political

unrest in Ireland in the 1920s led

to opinion being against Irishmen

who had fought with British forces.

The men whose remains were

on Stillwater had actually fought

with the U.S. military – but no

distinction was made. So for more

than 90 years, these men lay in

unmarked graves.

That started to change about

three years ago when the board

of directors of the Mayo Peace

Park & Garden of Remembrance

(MPP) in Castlebar, County Mayo,

asked a member of the board

– Ron Howko, commander of

Commodore John Barry American

Flowers, tributes and a new bronze plaque mark the

grave of Pvt. Michael K. Holmes, who was killed

during World War I. (Photo courtesy of Mike Noone)

Legion Post IR-03 in Claremorris, County Mayo – if the post could

help with a family’s request to honor their loved one, who had served

with the U.S. Army. This request

began a series of graveside

services for the veterans. Today,

out of the 62 men, Post IR-03 has

conducted 12 services, as well

as one for a fallen World War II

soldier who spent 33 years in an

unmarked grave.

The latest service was held on

Oct. 27 in Johnstown, County

Kilkenny, for Pvt. Michael K.

Holmes. Holmes left Ireland for

the United States in 1914 and was

drafted in 1916. On Oct. 27, 1918,

he was hit by a shell while standing

next to a truck, and was never

found. He received a posthumous

Purple Heart. A frequent coconductor,

John F. Kennedy Post

IR-63 in Dublin, also participated

in the service.

December 2012 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 5

Suicides (Continued from Page 3)

President to make the changes necessary to the Uniformed Cod of

Military Justice (UCMJ) to de-criminalize this suicidial behavior

and stop overzealous military prosecutions. These service members

need a helping hand, not a slap down.”

A Message From The Department Adjutant

By Pat Smith Department Adjutant

he American Legion has a strong dedication to supporting

“Tour nation’s youth. The organization was founded on the

principle in 1919, when Children & Youth was declared one of

the Legion’s four pillars. In the years since, a number of youthoriented

programs have been developed internally. Additionally,

the Legion collaborates with outside organizations that focus on

supporting young people, The National

Commission on Children

& Youth is at the center of the Legion’s

youth-support efforts. The

commission meets annually to decide

the direction of the Children

& Youth Division, which has three

main objectives: to strengthen families,

to support quality organizations

that provide services to young

people, and to maintain well-rounded

initiatives that meet the physical,

intellectual, emotional and spiritual

needs of our nation’s youth.”

C. Pat Smith

Department Adjutant That paragraph is taken directly

from the National American Legion

Web Site article on one of the 4 pillars of the organization,

Children and Youth. Since 1919 our founders recognized that the

children of our country would be the future and that their battle in

WWI to protect our freedoms as Americans rested on the “rightful

education” of the children of our nation. From the seeds they

planted over 94 years ago has grown multiple programs to support

and educate our children.

Our Children and Youth Committee in Colorado has recognized an

immediate need to provide aid and assistance to the families of our

recently discharged veterans. Many are struggling with their basic

needs of food, clothing, rent, utilities for their families. Many of

these veterans are receiving some sort of disability payments from

Colorado Veterans Kids Fund

Commander Gates pointed out that The American Legion,

Department of Colorado is involved with TBI/PTSD studies being

conducted here, in this state, and would be happy to pass that

information on to any veterans needing that type of information.

the VA, yet that alone is not enough to keep them afloat. Almost on

a daily basis we are seeing these veterans looking to the American

Legion for help.

With that in mind the Children and Youth Committee has created

a new restricted fund to solicit money and other assets to assist

veteran’s kids in need, the “Colorado Veterans Kids Fund (CVKF).”

The Department Executive Committee has approved this new

fund and the subsequent fundraising efforts. The Committee

will kick off this new program at our midyear conference in

Colorado Springs on January 26th, 2013 at a special breakfast.

This is a joint project of the American Legion, Auxiliary and the

SAL. Everyone will be welcome at the breakfast.

The fund will be fashioned after the national Temporary Financial

Assistance program. Veterans will need to be interviewed by

designated members of the committee to assess the immediate

needs of the family. It is intended that the application process will

be quick and efficient. Gift cards from Kings Soopers and other

grocery chains will be readily available to provide immediate needs

of food and fuel while the rest of the application for assistance is

being evaluated by the committee. Once the decision is made the

funds will be provided without delay by the department staff.

How can you help? First you can write a check to the Colorado

Veterans Kids Fund. The money you donate will be tax deductable.

You can ask your friends to donate. You can approach your post to

hold a fundraising event at the post for this fund. You can ask to

be put on our special CVKF email list and redistribute any future

correspondence you receive so as to give us the widest possible

exposure to this cause.

And finally you can attend the breakfast on Saturday January 25

and join with your friends in making plans to kick off this important

milestone in service to the children and youth of this nation, one

of our Four Pillars.

Page 6 The American Legion Internet Observer December 2012

A Date Which Will Live In Infamy

By: Steven Blank, National Chaplain

On a serene Sunday morning over 70 years ago, the skies over

Pearl Harbor were darkened by the bombs of Japanese forces

in a surprise and unprovoked attack that tested the resilience of our

Armed Forces and the will of this country. As explosions sounded

and battleships burned, brave service members fought back fiercely

with everything they could find.

In the wake of this bombing and

the crippling of our Pacific Fleet,

there were those who declared

the United States had been

reduced to a third-class power.

But rather than break the spirit

of our Nation, the attack brought

Americans together and fortified

our resolve. Patriots across our

country answered the call to

defend our way of life at home

and abroad. They crossed oceans

and stormed beaches, freeing

millions from the grip of tyranny

and proving that our military

is the greatest force for liberty

and security the world has ever

known or probably ever will. Photographer unknown

On the home front, dedicated

civilians supported the war effort

by repairing wrecked battleships, working in factories, and joining

civilian defense organizations to help with salvage programs and

plant Victory gardens. At this time of great strife, we reminded

the world there is no challenge we cannot meet and there is no

challenge we cannot overcome.

On the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor President Franklin

Roosevelt in a speech to Congress stated that the bombing of Pearl

Harbor is “a date which will live in infamy”. The United States

declared war on Japan and entered World War II.

On National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, we honor more than

3,500 Americans killed or wounded during that deadly attack and

pay tribute to the heroes whose courage ensured our Nation would

recover from this vicious blow. Their tenacity helped define the

Greatest Generation and their valor fortified all who served during

World War II. As a Nation, we look to December 7, 1941, to draw

strength from the example set

by these patriots and to honor

all who have sacrificed for our


As we fight the war on terror,

their patriotism continues to

inspire a new generation of

Americans who have been called

to defend the blessings of liberty.

Like those who have gone before

them throughout our history,

our troops fighting the war on

terror are defending America

from danger and liberating the


According to some sources

every 90 seconds, a World War

II veteran dies; every day, 1,000

World War II veterans die.

The above is compiled from several different speeches given over

the last few years.

According to tradition the U.S. flag is usually flown at half-staff

from sunrise to sunset in honor of these great patriots of our fine


For God and Country,

Kraft Foods Supports Post 5 Children’s Christmas

C olorado Springs, Post 5’s PPC Gary Moody asked

for donations to support the Post 5 Children’s

Christmas Party. Linda Snowden, left, who works

for Kraft Foods is shown presenting Gary money for

use in support of that party.

December 2012 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 7

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Page 8 The American Legion Internet Observer December 2012

The Department of Veterans Affairs is transforming its processing

system for disability claims into a paperless environment in an

effort to reduce a claims backlog that has increased by about 180

percent since 2009.

Testifying before a congressional hearing on Dec. 4, Richard

Dumancas of The American Legion said paperless programs such

as the Veterans Benefit Management System (VBMS) and the

Stakeholders Enterprise Portal “do offer a glimmer of hope.”

Dumancas, the Legion’s deputy director of benefits for its Veterans

Affairs & Rehabilitation Division, testified before the House

Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability

Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

The hearing focused on the challenges of moving veterans’ records

into a paperless environment. A

key component of that process

is scanning paper records into

electronic files. Yet The American

Legion recently learned that one of

VA’s programs, Benefits Delivered

at Discharge (BDD), currently has

no contract for the scanning of its

myriad paper records.

The Legion told Congress that such

an oversight needs to be corrected

because “new claims are building

up behind this (lack of scanning)

like a tidal wave behind a log

jam.” VA also has no clear, public

plan for dealing with the scanning

component for VBMS, which the

department is relying on heavily to

help ease its backlog burden.

If claims files are not being processed because scanning contracts do

not exist, the Legion is insisting that veterans need to be made aware

of this oversight.

VA needs to improve its coordination of data and its communication

with the Department of Defense, the Legion said, if the shift away

from paper records is to succeed – especially with regard to National

Guard and reserve members.

Guard and reserve medical records (critically important for the

development of claims) often end up in several locations and can be

difficult to track down. Proper accounting of these records must be a

top priority for VA’s upcoming Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record.

“We understand that reserve members’ medical records can be split

over multiple locations,” Dumancas said. “But one would want to

believe that eventually they would meet up into one file. This process

should be measured in days, not months or years.”

Since 9/11, more than 650,000 reserve and Guard members have

deployed overseas, many of them attached to forces that are not their

home units, further complicating medical record-keeping.

VA’s Paper Chase

Photographer unknown

A paperless environment will still demand military records that are

complete, and the Legion wants VA to improve its performance in

correcting incomplete or missing records. VA’s Central Office in

Washington needs to provide more precise direction and guidance

for all of its employees, from regional office directors to entry-level


While VA has several regulations that deal with absent or incomplete

records, they seem to be applied unevenly at Regional Offices with

varying results. The Legion told Congress that VA must enhance

employee training for implementing its own records, and enforce

consistency in the way claims are processed.

In its testimony, the Legion asked why some VA Regional Offices

– Togus, Maine; St. Paul, Minn.; Fargo, N.D.; and Cheyenne, Wyo. –

had about 30 percent of their claims inventory pending more than 125

days and classified as officially

backlogged. Others – Baltimore,

Chicago, Oakland, Calif.; and

Roanoke, Va. – had between 74

and 87 percent of their claims in


The (VA) Central Office should

formulate a plan for the lowerinventory

(Regional Offices) to

mentor or provide best practices

to the higher-inventory (Regional

Offices),” Dumancas told the

subcommittee. “Central Office

needs to enforce the best practices

and highly encourage all (Regional

Offices) to follow the leaders. This

is for the veteran. All veterans

deserve the best service for their


The American Legion has long-contended that training on all levels at

an RO must be better-tailored to correct known deficiencies.

The American Legion also commented on the documentation of

military sexual trauma (MST) in its testimony. Referring to VA’s

recent guideline to concede the occurrence of stressor incidents when

a diagnosis of PTSD exists, the Legion said the same concession

should be extended to MST cases because victims have similar

challenges in establishing the occurrence of stressors.

The American Legion recognizes VA’s own regulations for dealing

with lost records as “indicative of the intent of this government to

truly work to help veterans, even when – through no fault of their

own – records are lost …. However, the implementation of these

regulations still leaves much to be desired in terms of consistency


Yet by improving training and enforcing consistency among its

Regional Offices, the Legion said that VA “could go a long way

toward helping the unfortunate veterans whose records have been lost

or destroyed.”

December 2012 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 9

Sweepstakes Winners Chart 2012 Veteran’s Day Sweeps

1 st Place Post 8 5 th Place Post 123 9 th Place Post 44

1000.00 100.00 100.00

John Lyons Michael Myers Patrick McClelland

2 nd Place Post 2 6 th Place Post 211 10 th Place Post 48

750.00 100.00 100.00

Clifford Hibpshman Gary Boldt Walter Smithlee

3 rd Place Post 37 7 th Place Post 32

500.00 100.00

Joseph Lujan Clarence Jensen

4 th Place Post 211 8 th Place Post 2

200.00 100.00

Jacob Bachicha Manny Rodriquez

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Page 10 The American Legion Internet Observer December 2012

American Legion Post 44 Donates Handicap Van

By: Jim Stanko, Adjutant, Post 44

In the spirit of the season of giving, American Legion Post#44

member Steve Frasier and his sister-in-law donated a fully

equipped handicapped Ford Van to a disabled Viet Nam veteran

living in Grand Lake, Colorado. Working through the Steamboat

American Legion Post and American Legion Post #88 in Granby,

the van was delivered last week to Michael Smith, a 31 year

resident of Grand County.

Steve Frasier had approached local post adjutant Jim Stanko in

late October that his sister- in- law, Judy Smith, (no relation to the

Smith’s that received the van), who is currently living in Florida,

had stored in his barn a 2000 Ford van that was adapted for wheel

chair access and also set up to drive with hand controls. He said

that Judy was no longer able to visit here in Steamboat Springs and

being a veteran herself wanted to donate the van to a veteran in the

region that could us it.

At the American Legion District meeting held at the end of

October, Jim Stanko announced the availability of the van and

asked Posts in the District if they possibly had a candidate for

the van. Duane Daily, Grand County Veteran Service Officer

and Granby Post Adjutant thought of the Smiths and put them in

contact with Frasier and Stanko.

Michael Smith and his wife Cathy had been struggling along with

a 1982 GMC van that had a makeshift ramp, a sputtering radiator,

a back door that needed a rope to keep it shut, an exhaust pipe

that spewed black smoke and a heater that barely worked. When

Steve and Jim pulled into the Grand County Court House parking

lot, the smiles that broke out on the Smith’s faces made the day.

Smith, a Navy veteran from the Vietnam era, and a member of

Granby’s American Legion Post, now has a way to improve his

life style with the van.

Paralyzed from below the arms, this van will give him back some

of the mobility he lost with his disability. He now can work on

getting his driving certification, which with the van will allow him

to get around to do many things on his own.

Jim Stanko, Post #44 Adjutant said “that one of the pillars of the

American Legion is to help and improve the lives of those that have

served, along with their families. And, what Steve Frasier and Judy

Smith did with the donation of their van is a perfect example of

“veterans helping veterans” and has made the Holiday’s brighter

and happier for all.”

Steve Frasier provides a little instruction to Michael Smith on how everything works on the van in the above two

pictures. Bottom left picture shows Jim Stanko, Adjutant, Post 44 signing the van over to Michael and in the below

right photo are the Legionnaires from Granby Post 88 and Steamboat Springs Post 44 that made this happen

December 2012 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 11

Page 12 The American Legion Internet Observer December 2012

December 2012 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 13

Page 14 The American Legion Internet Observer December 2012

Department Mid-Year Hotel Reservations

Crowne Plaza Hotel

2886 S Circle Dr, Colorado Springs

(719) 576-5900

January 24 - 27, 2013

Thursday January 24, 2013 - Friday January 25, 2013

Saturday January 26, 2013

Rooms are $80.00 for single and double…$90 for

triple and $100 for quad + 9.4% tax.

Check in time is 3 pm – check out is 11 am.

Cut off date for this rate is December 26, 2012.

Please mail the enclosed form or call the hotel

directly for reservations. If you are calling the

Hotel, please mention The American Legion to

receive the rates quoted above.

King Room $87.52 # of rooms _______

Double/Double $87.52 # of rooms _______

Triple Room $98.46 # of rooms _______

Quad Room $109.40 # of rooms _______

Total Enclosed: $________________

Handicapped Room: _____

Method of payment: (First nights deposit required)

Arrival date: __________ Departing date: __________

Cash ___ Credit card: Visa___ M/C ___ Discover __

American Ex __ Dinners Club __ other ___

Card # _____________________________ expires


Name: ____________________________________________

Address: __________________________________________

City: ___________________________________________


State _______________Zip: ______________

Phone Number (_____) ________-___________

Signature: ________________________________________

Attention Commanders/Adjutants

Subject:: State of Colorado Female Legionnaire Roster

Dear Commanders/Adjutants:

After the American Legion’s landmark study on women veterans

in 2011, the Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation (VA&R)

Division hired a Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator

(WVOC) to work with American Legion staff, American Legion

Departments and members as well as with external stakeholders

such as the Administration, VA and Congress to advance women

veterans outreach and benefits.

The American Legion State of Colorado’s Female Veterans

Action Committee (FVAC) is an extension of the VA&R

WVOC. In order for there to be timely dissemination of

important changes and information relating to female veterans,

it is important that the FVAC develop a contact list of female

Legionnaires in the State of Colorado.

We are asking that you forward (mail or email) a roster of your

female Legionnaires to Department. The roster should include

member ID, name and address.

Please forward to:

The American Legion

The Department of Colorado

Attn: Elaine Bock

7465 E. 1 st Ave., Ste. D

Denver, CO 80230

The initial mailing to female Legionnaires will include detailed

information about the committee, an election to opt-in/opt-out

of future mailings and a short survey.

Thank you for your assistance. If you have any additional

questions about the FVAC or this request, please contact me.


Terri L. Shelefontiuk

Chair, Female Veterans Action Committee

December 2012 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 15


Department of State Secretary of State

1700 Broadway

Suite 200 Suzanne Staiert

Denver, CO 80290 Deputy Secretary of State

News Release


October 30, 2012 Rich Coolidge

Andrew Cole

Gessler unveils bingo, raffle training online

Non-profits see increased convenience

Denver, Colo. – Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler unveiled two new initiatives aimed at

making it easier for Colorado nonprofits to raise funds through charitable gaming. Non-profit

games managers can now conduct their training and receive their certification online. Colorado

non-profits that run charitable gaming must have these trainings to become certified by the

Secretary of State’s office. In turn, these entities fundraise using bingo, raffles and pull-tabs.

The goal is to make training accessible to as many people as possible across the state,” Gessler

said. “Our non-profits remain an important part of our economy and our sense of community.

When they thrive, so does the rest of our state.”

The online trainings certify individuals from the comfort of their own homes or offices and on

their own schedule. These aspiring games managers must pass a quiz at the end of the training to

test their knowledge.

“It was so much easier than going to a class,” said Judy Murphy with the Velvet Hills Show

Chorus in Colorado Springs.

The training supplements another new offering to improve customer relationships, whereby

organizations can request in-person, one-on-one consultation meetings to complete their bingoraffle

applications. The effort aims to reduce the number of rejected filings with the program,

saving customers time and increasing efficiency within the program.

The online course is already available, and games managers can be certified for only $1. Those

looking to brush up on their games manager knowledge can take the course for free. Anybody

can sign up for the course at The Secretary of State’s Office

will continue to offer in-person classes as well. All eligible nonprofits can request consultation

services by going to


Page 16 The American Legion Internet Observer December 2012

Revamped Program Aids Separating Service Members

By: Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service

Major changes to the Transition Assistance Program will

revolutionize the way the military prepares those leaving

the services, with mandatory participation in programs throughout

their military careers to help set them up for a successful transition.

The redesigned program, called Transition Goals Planning

Success or Transition GPS, was unveiled by Defense Secretary

Leon E. Panetta and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki.

Service members from the Guard and reserve who are being

released from active duty service and have served at least 180

days are also affected by the program. The goal, said officials,

is to impart skills such as resume writing and the tools and

opportunities to be “career ready” after coming off active duty.

The revamped transition program is part of the Veterans Opportunity

to Work to Hire Heroes Act, which also makes other changes such

as calling for state governments to review their licensing laws and,

if needed, revamp those regulations to make it easier for Guard

members serving in certain fields—such as combat medics, truck

drivers, aircraft technicians and other fields—to make greater use

of their military skills in the civilian sector.

Soldiers from the Army National Guard will go through VOW Act

requirements throughout the mobilization and deployment process

while Airmen from the Air National Guard will execute those

requirements either at their home station, if it is co-located on an

active duty installation, or at the closest active duty installation.

The National Guard implementation of the VOW Act focuses on

providing Soldiers, Airmen and families with all the transition

benefits to include VA enrollment, education benefits, and

employment assistance, employment transition assistance as close

to their home communities as possible, officials said.

One of the biggest changes in the transition

program is that participation is no longer voluntary.

Based on a law that took effect Nov. 21, service members can no

longer opt out of the transition assistance program.

During phase one of the rollout, being implemented immediately,

all separating service members will receive counseling about

Department of Veterans benefits, said Susan S. Kelly, principal

director of the Defense Department’s Transition to Veterans

Program Office.

In addition, most service

members will be required

to attend newly revamped

employment workshops run by

the Department of Labor. These

workshops incorporate new

curriculum such as how to explore

career interests, use search

tools to find job opportunities,

write a resume, interview for a

position and negotiate a salary,

said John Moran, DOL’s deputy

assistant secretary for Veterans

Employment and Training


The Defense Department and

departments of Veterans Affairs

and Labor aligned their most

successful programs to deliver

better and more comprehensive

services to help make service

members “career ready” for

civilian employment, officials


While fulfilling the congressional

mandate to reach out to all

separating service members, the

interagency team went a step

beyond the law to further enhance

the effort, Kelly said. Separating

service members must now take

financial planning training, and

complete a 12-month budget that

factors in the cost of where they

December 2012 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 17

decide to live after leaving the military. They must evaluate how

their military-acquired education, training and experience translate

into civilian career qualifications and prepare an individual

transition plan.

The task force ran a pilot program last summer at seven

installations to evaluate this core curriculum, gathering

assessments from about 950 military members who participated.

“Many in the pilot programs found it eye-opening,” Kelly said.

The seven pilot sites continue to offer the DOL workshops, but the

instruction will be available service-wide by January, Moran said.

The program’s second phase, to be tested during 2013 and

implemented by the year’s end, establishes requirements for

separating service members who plan to go on to college or

technical or career training or to start their own businesses.

Those electing higher education or other training will be required

to show an acceptance letter from that institution, or have an

application filled out and ready to submit, Kelly said. They also

will be required to establish a contact with a counselor to follow

up with after leaving the military.

Also during phase two, service members who hope to become

entrepreneurs will be required to connect with the Small Business

Administration for help in drafting and evaluating their small

business plans.

The final phase of the rollout to be implemented by the end of

2014 will integrate transition preparation throughout the service

member’s military career. The idea, Kelly explained, is to begin

preparations for transition long before a service member prepares

to leave the military.

The end state that we are shooting for is to

embed this across the military lifecycle,” she said.

Each service will develop a plan designating points along a service

member’s career path for this training, Kelly said.

Danny Pummill from the VA called the Transition GPS program

an unprecedented interagency effort that ensures service members

have the time and resources to prepare for a smooth transition from

the military.

It will help the nation’s newest veterans live up to their destinies as

“the next greatest generation,” he said.“If we do this right, this is

our opportunity to once again transform America,” Pummill said.

VA Seeks To Expand TBI Benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs has published a proposed

regulation in the Federal Register that would change its rules

to add five diagnosable illnesses which are secondary to serviceconnected

traumatic brain injury.

VA proposes to add a new subsection to its adjudication regulation

by revising 38 CFR 3.310 to

state that if a veteran who has a

service-connected TBI also has

one of the five illnesses, then the

illness will be considered service

connected as secondary to the


Service connection under the

proposed rule depends in part

upon the severity of the TBI

– mild, moderate or severe –

and the period of time between

the injury and onset of the

secondary illness. However, the

proposed rule also clarifies that

it does not preclude a veteran

from establishing direct service

connection even if those time and severity standards are not met. It

also defines the terms mild, moderate and severe, consistent with

Department of Defense guidelines.

Comments on the proposed rule will be accepted over the next 60

days. A final regulation will be published after consideration of all

comments is received.

VA’s decision is based on a report by the National Academy

of Sciences, Institute of Medicine (IOM), “Gulf War and

Health, Volume 7: Long-Term

Consequences of TBI.” In its

report, the IOM’s Committee on

Gulf War and Health concluded

that “sufficient evidence of a

causal relationship” - IOM’s

highest evidentiary standard

- existed between moderate

or severe levels of TBI and

diagnosed unprovoked seizures.

The IOM found “sufficient

evidence of an association”

between moderate or severe

levels of TBI and Parkinsonism;

dementias, which VA understands

to include presenile dementia

of the Alzheimer type and posttraumatic

dementia; depression

(which also was associated with mild TBI); and diseases of

hormone deficiency that may result from hypothalamo-pituitary


Page 18 The American Legion Internet Observer December 2012

Post Reaches Out To Women Veterans

On Nov. 17, nearly 200 women veterans gathered for the 27th

annual Tribute to Women Veterans luncheon at the Christy

Banquet Center in St. Louis. American Legion St. Louis Service

Women’s Post 404 has hosted the event for the past 18 years,

honoring its members and other women veterans with door prizes,

food, musical entertainment and a guest speaker.

“Our Tribute’s focus on female veterans helps them receive the

recognition they richly deserve,” said Shirley Janes, a Post 404

Legionnaire and chairman of the Tribute committee. “It allows

women to meet some of the women who paved the way for future

generations to serve side by side with their male counterparts.”

Attendees consisted of women from all war eras, along with

staff from the St. Louis VA Women’s Clinic at John Cochran

Medical Center, Missouri

Veterans Commission and other

organizations dedicated to

supporting women veterans. They

enjoyed musical entertainment

throughout the luncheon by the

Air Force Band of Mid-America

and listened to guest speaker U.S.

Army Capt. Julie Hurst, a nurse

with the Army Reserve, share her

experiences on the battlefield and

at home.

The event is one that many

members treasure. “I never miss

this event because 98 percent

of the women here are veterans,

so we have that common bond,

that common service and

camaraderie,” said Shakeya

Calloway, a member of Post 404

and Army veteran from the Iraq

War. “They (Post 404) are always

doing something for a good cause,

and I enjoy being a part of it.”

However, the Tribute is just one of the many ways Missouri’s only

all-women veterans post is reaching out to its sister veterans in

need and increasing membership.

Chartered in 1946, Post 404 has nearly 300 members and leads

efforts in the St. Louis community for all patriotic services,

troop homecomings and women veterans events. Overall, their

participation list is endless.

Members fix dinner for residents at the St. Louis VA Medical

Center Fisher House, conduct military funeral honors, volunteer

for the VA National Veterans Gold Age Games, exhibit at veterans

career expos, and attend VA Welcome Home programs and “Stand

Up for Women Veterans” events, which focus on at-risk and

homeless women veterans. They also connect with women and

men before, during and after deployments by attending National

Guard and reserve Yellow Ribbon events.

Guest speaker U.S. Army Capt. Julie Hurst addresses

attendees at the 27th annual Tribute to Women

Veterans luncheon at Christy Hall Banquet Center in

St. Louis on Nov. 17. The St. Louis American Legion

Service Women’s Post 404 has hosted the event for

the past 18 years. Photo by Eldon Lindsay/American


“We are always there talking to the women and men, letting them

know that we are there for them and making sure they know their

benefits,” Janes said.

When Post 404 members are not participating in veteran-related

community events, they “just ask” women if they are a veteran and

invite them to a post meeting with a free lunch. “Women veterans

do not wear a baseball cap or jacket that says U.S. Army, etc.,”

Janes said. “So you don’t know who they are unless you walk up

and just ask. One of our past commanders used to say that you

can tell by the way a woman walks if she is a veteran: They stand

up straight and walk like they know where they’re going, because

they do.”

Additionally, Post Commander Gloria Barnes said, “We talk to

all these women and they are so

impressed that Post 404 is an allwomens

American Legion post. I

think that helps draw women to

us, and because we are friendly,

caring, and we help each other.”

Post 404’s doors are open for

all women veterans, even nonmembers,

in the Girlfriends

Project: Women Veterans

Helping Women Veterans.

The Girlfriends Project – a

partnership between Post 404 and

the St. Louis VA Women’s Clinic

– helps returning military women

transition back into the civilian

environment by mentoring them.

These women have a need to

just talk,” Janes said. “It’s neat

for us because if you look at our

members, we are 40 and older

– aside from a few – so these

women need the big sisters and

moms that they can talk to and

not have to dumb down their conversations with. It’s not like

talking to a civilian where you have to explain everything. With

us, they can just say it and we understand.”

Post 404 also hosts an annual Girlfriends Project baby shower for

the female veterans that they mentor. Last year, 30 women were

given baby strollers, clothes and other necessities.

As Post 404 members continue to reach out to younger women

veterans in need, they too are caring for and preserving its

members’ war-era stories. The post’s historian is recording stories

from the handful of World War II women veterans as a keepsake

for family members and Post 404.

St. Louis native Dorothy Showman joined the U.S. Coast Guard

SPAR in 1943. She attended boot camp in West Palm Beach, Fla.,

specialized as a Yeoman and returned to St. Louis to work for a

lieutenant who was in charge of the postal service. As part of her

December 2012 The American Legion Internet Observer Page 19

job, she encouraged men coming through the Ninth Naval District

to buy war bonds. She was promoted to Chief Petty Officer Acting

and “my commander was so pleased when I got that promotion

that he had a great big sign made for my desk, congratulating me,”

Showman said. “It was so nice to be appreciated.”

Wilma Nations joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1944 as a payroll

clerk. “As I tell my friends, all I can remember is a man that used

to come once a month and sit with me,” Nations said. “That was

the day of the manual typewriter, so no erasers to correct mistakes,

but his records were perfect. He was so polite, and I often wonder

to this day what happened to him.”

Barnes’ goal during her tenure as commander is to reach 300

members. “We will grow because we have something to offer

our potential members,” she said. “Our post is one of friends,

instant camaraderie and a shared sisterhood. You are accepted

immediately when you walk in the door because you’re walking

into a room of friends.”

Koutz: VA Should Adhere To Veterans Preference

federal claims court has ruled that the Department of Veter-

A ans Affairs no longer has to give contracting preference to

veteran-owned small businesses. On Nov. 27, the U.S. Federal

Claims Court in Washington ruled against a lawsuit filed by

Maryland-based Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. that claimed

VA awarded a contract for an emergency notification service

without first considering bids

from veterans.

The Government Accountability

Office (GAO) had sided with

Kingdomware in its previous

ruling, citing guidelines for veterans

preference passed by Congress

in 2006.

James Koutz, national commander

of The American

Legion, said he supports the

GAO’s interpretation. “VA must

make every effort to help veterans’

small businesses and do

whatever it takes to help them

succeed,” he said. “This is why

VA exists. This is part of its mission.”

GAO has directed VA several times to comply with veterans

preference guidelines when awarding contracts, and to identify at

least two veteran-owned businesses capable of performing work

competitively before turning to other vendors.

Koutz said federal agencies need to abide by GAO’s decision in-

stead of filing lawsuits. “Whenever GAO makes a ruling, a legal

mechanism of some kind should be in place that automatically

binds federal agencies to its decision,” he said. “They should not

have the option of simply ignoring the ruling and claiming they

do not work for GAO.

“After several protests by veteran business owners regarding this

issue, GAO and the courts have

overwhelmingly supported The

American Legion’s position that

veterans be considered first, before

any other bidder, regarding

VA contract opportunities.”

The American Legion passed a

resolution in 2011 that endorsed

VA’s efforts “to ensure that

contracts awarded pursuant to

the Veterans First Program are

awarded to companies that truly

are entitled to receive these contracting


The following year, the Legion

passed another resolution supporting legislation that would

guarantee “equal parity for all veterans in all small business

government contracting programs, thus ensuring that no veteran

procurement program is at a disadvantage in competing with any

other government procurement program established by law.”


155 Van Gordon St., Room 364

Lakewood, CO 80228

Phone: 303-914-5585 - FAX: 303-914-5588

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