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  • Thursday, November 10, 2022

    Not for the Faint of Heart

    Veterans Day Message from David R. Riley Sr., Department Commander

    David RileyVeterans Day is about honoring all of the men and women who served in the U.S. military.

    Many serve their communities as first responders, teachers, health care workers or church leaders. Some are business owners, farmers, company workers or retirees. But they are bound by one common commitment – to defend America with their life if called upon.

    Military service is not for the faint of heart. Most civilian jobs do not require risk to life or limb. Too often, however, the risk doesn’t end when servicemembers take off the uniform to become civilians again. Transitional challenges, the stress of military life and feelings of isolation all factor into a suicide rate among veterans that is more than 50 percent higher than that of nonveteran adults.

    The stigma of seeking help needs to end. Veterans value courage and it takes courage to ask for help. We must be pro-active. Ask and encourage veterans to seek help before they pass a point of no return. The bonds that we formed in the military are unlike any other. A good American Legion post fosters an environment that helps continue such bonds and create new ones.

    1VetsDay2020Z FK430 885x460 1

    (U.S. Army National Guard illustration by Spc. Rose Di Trolio)

    Very few of us are trained counselors or mental health professionals. But we are capable of listening, referring and following up. The national crisis line still works, but now there is an even shorter number. It is 9-8-8, extension 1 for veteran. Most kindergartners know what 9-1-1 is for. It’s up to us to ensure that 9-8-8 becomes just as widely known. By calling 9-8-8 now, we can prevent a 9-1-1 call later.

    The American Legion also has a Be the One website for suicide prevention. Learn from it. Spread the word about it.

    Homelessness is another tragic outcome that is too often connected to military service. It is estimated that America has 60,000 veterans who are homeless. Though veterans comprise approximately 7 percent of the U.S. population, they are 11 percent of our nation’s homeless.

    The best way to prevent a veteran from becoming homeless is to hire one. It’s not only good policy but it’s smart business for an employer who values skill, discipline and patriotism.

    When politicians lament the cost of a veterans program, it is up to us to remind them of the cost of being a veteran. Whether it’s exposure to burn pits or other toxin, many veterans today continue to pay a high price for their military service. We need to ensure access to high quality health care and benefits reflecting the thanks of a great nation.

    One hundred and four years ago, on November 11, 1918, the guns of the world fell silent. An armistice was signed and the Great War was over. Unfortunately, World War I was not the “war to end all wars,” as many had hoped.

    While we rejoice and honor the service of America’s veterans, we also remember the wise words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

    “The soldier above all other people prays for peace.”

  • Tuesday, November 01, 2022

    Check out the latest issue of Legion New York Magazine

    The autumn 2022 issue of Legion New York spotlights the American Legion’s push to combat veteran suicide and homeless. This issue also features:

    • the 104th Department Convention (awards, messages, funding to fight suicide & homelessness, and photos).
    • baseball champions and scholarships.
    • how Commander Riley promotes drive-by membership.
    • Post 861 saves a vet’s Purple Heart and gives it to his daughter.
    • Phoenix Post hosts car show.
    • Penn Yan Post supports history center mission.
    • Norfolk Riders raise funds to help vets exposed to toxins.
    • Central Square Riders donate to T2T.
    • bridge named after deceased Manhasset legionnaire.
    • Rye Post donates $15,000 to support vets at VA facility.
    • Fredonia legionnaires help honor War of 1812 vet.
    • some news from Canada legionnaires.
    • legionnaires inducted into NY Senate Hall of Fame.

    Autumn 2022

  • Monday, October 03, 2022

    Suicide Prevention Is Top Priority, State Commander Tells Local Posts

    1OriskanyLegionHall 9366a1

    A packed banquet hall at Oriskany Post 1448 greeted Department leaders during their visit to Oneida County.

    ORISKANY – During his visits to counties around New York State, Department Commander David R. Riley Sr. is identifying veteran suicide prevention as the number one priority for The American Legion.

    1DaveRiley 9429a1The latest statistics show 17 veterans taking their own lives every day, he told the packed banquet hall at Oriskany Post 1448 during his official visit to Oneida County on Sunday, Oct. 2. That veteran suicide rate “is 50 percent higher” than the rate for non-veterans, he said.

    He cited “Be the One,” an American Legion nation-wide suicide-prevention campaign, which is aimed at getting veterans and the Legion Family to contact other veterans and ask how they are doing, and to reach out to those exhibiting signs of at-risk behavior. It also encourages struggling veterans to reach out for help.

    read more »

  • Thursday, September 29, 2022

    Legion Awards Grant to Housing Coalition for Homeless Vets

    Check presentation

    Department of New York Commander David R. Riley Sr. presents a check for $24,000 to Joseph Sluszka, executive director of the Albany Housing Coalition. Flanking them are Sons of the American Legion Detachment Commander Timothy S. Van Patten II and Department Auxiliary President Nancy Babis. Photo by Frank Carletta.

    The American Legion in New York State has awarded a $24,000 grant to the Albany Housing Coalition to furnish six newly rehabilitated apartments for homeless veterans, Department of New York Commander David R. Riley Sr. announced.

    This is the third grant that the New York State American Legion has awarded since unveiling a $1.5 million fund in July to address veteran suicide and homelessness.

    read more »

  • Friday, September 16, 2022

    There’s a Reason for Our POW/MIA Empty Chair

    POWMIA flag
    By David R. Riley, Sr.

    Department Commander  

    A POW/MIA empty chair is present at all official meetings of The American Legion.

    It’s a physical symbol of the thousands and thousands of servicemembers unaccounted for.

    It’s a physical symbol of The America Legion’s commitment to achieving a full accounting of all U.S. servicemembers from all war eras who are either imprisoned or listed as missing in action.

    And it’s why the American Legion Family observes National POW/MIA Recognition Day on the third Friday of September. read more »

  • Friday, September 02, 2022

    Suicide Prevention Is Jim Troiola’s Top Priority

    Jim Troiola

    By Steven B. Brooks | The American Legion

    As the new national commander, New York Legionnaire Jim Troiola will make suicide prevention his top priority. Elected during the Legion’s 103rd National Convention in Milwaukee on Sept. 1, Troiola said his “platform and No. 1 priority” will be tackling the “toughest challenge facing veterans” — veteran suicide.

    “The American Legion is asking you to ‘Be the One’. And by you, I include every one of us, military and civilian alike. We all need to ‘Be the One’ to begin thinking, talking and acting to save just one life.”

    read more »