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  • Monday, January 23, 2017

    News Media Show Veteran Focus at Mid-Winter Conference

    “The guard may have changed in Washington, but for the American Legion, it’s business as usual.”

    That’s how Albany Times-Union reporter Robert Downen began his report on the Department of New York’s Mid-Winter Conference, held Jan. 20-22 at the Desmond Hotel in Albany.

    Legion leaders with news media

    John Sampson, department commander, and Denise Rohan, leading candidate for national commander, brief a newspaper reporter.

    “State and national leaders told the Times-Union that despite massive shifts on Capitol Hill, the Legion will continue pushing for, among other things, veteran employment and training programs. That follows a year in which Legion officials appeared before Congress 15 times, a trend officials attributed to a renewed focus on veterans’ issues.”

    Albany Time-Warner Cable News also aired a report on the gathering of veterans from all over New York State.

    Denise Rohan, leading candidate for national commander, speaks with TV news reporter.

    Department of New York Commander John Sampson and the leading candidate for national commander, Denise Rohan, spoke of the Legion’s efforts to get military training in certain specialities recognized for certification in civilian equivalent occupations, such as trucking, nursing and emergency services.

    This, they told the newspaper, will ease stresses for military members transferring into civilian life by setting up viable career opportunities and keeping families together.

    “The Legion ‘looks at it as a matter of national security,’ Sampson said, noting decades-long campaigns to ease veteran unemployment, homelessness, poverty and myriad health issues, including suicide. Previously, he said, the disjointed way in which members are relieved from the military has made preemptive training difficult.”

    The Times-Union story also noted that the American Legion would continue its push for a constitutional amendment against flag burning.

    “People say (flag burning) is free speech, but we don’t see it as free speech,” said Rohan, who is in line to become the first female national commander in the Legion’s nearly 100-year history.