neil armstrongThe American Legion Department of Pennsylvania opened applications today for the 2015 session of Keystone Boys State (KBS), a weeklong civic leadership program held at Shippensburg University. This program has grown over the last 10 years, picking up a number of Governor School students, and will approach 300 KBS citizens from across the state this year. All High School Junior Boys (incoming Seniors) are eligible.

Boys State was founded in 1935 by two Illinois Legionnaires to teach young men about the rights, privileges and responsibilities of American citizens. The program focuses on hands‐on participation in simulated city, county and state governments. Operated by students elected to various offices, KBS activities include legislative sessions, court proceedings, intramural sports, law‐enforcement presentations, a band and recreational programs. The program has produced such notable alumni as President Bill Clinton, KBS graduate Adm. Jon Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, astronaut Neil Armstrong, noted national news anchor Tom Brokaw, Michael Jordan, Robert Griffin III and entertainer Jon Bon Jovi, among others.

“KBS teaches young men to have pride in their communities and be responsible, engaged citizens. Our alumni go on to be leaders in whatever field they choose to strive in – we have alumni who are doctors, educators, military leaders, athletes, elected representatives, scientists, businessmen . . .” said KBS Director Bob Munhall.

KBS is open to all male Pennsylvania residents who have completed 11th grade and have at least one semester of high school remaining. The American Legion Department of Pennsylvania helps match successful applicants with a sponsoring Legion post so that the program is free for participants.

While the program has grown significantly in recent years, organizers and sponsors say they’re making a special effort to enable more attendance this year. The program is free to the family because the citizen receives a sponsorship/scholarship from his local American Legion Post.

“We know there’s demand beyond what we’ve been able to support in the past. A lot of people think KBS is only for guys who want to go into politics, but that’s far from the case. For one thing, there’s a lot more to the program than that. As we like to say, it’s “a week that shapes a lifetime”, said Darren Fossett, KBS Dean and 2006 alumni. “Plus, it’s just an incredibly fun time – that’s what’s kept me coming back for all these years.”

Each year, two delegates are chosen to participate in the American Legion’s Boys Nation program in Washington, DC, where they build on what they’ve learned at Boys State through participation in a simulation of the U.S. Senate and meetings with Congressmen and the President of the United States. Both delegates receive a $1,000 scholarship for college. All KBS citizens are also eligible to apply for a $20,000 scholarship sponsored by The American Legion and the Samsung Corporation.

“Seeing how the federal government works, up close and personal, was just an incredible experience and it was amazing spending a week with 97 of the most talented guys in the country. I’m still in touch with a lot of the guys I met there,” said Tony Salvatori, 2014 KBS Boys Nation delegate.

Openings are available at the 2015 KBS, which will be held June 21‐27 at Shippensburg University for 300 citizen delegates. Interested individuals can apply online through the website of the American Legion Department of Pennsylvania (http://pa‐legion.com/programs/studentprograms/keystone‐boys‐state/). Applications are due to the American Legion by May 15th.

For media inquiries, please contact KBS Media Director Lincoln Davidson (email: davidsonlincoln@gmail.com | phone: 570.541.9531)

A printer friendly version of the press release from the KBS

Keystone Boys State fillable application 2015

012915_PolarPlunge_p1As the chilly waters of the Chesapeake Bay dipped to 32 degrees, Sons of The American Legion Detachment Commander J.R. Hall from Maryland made his way to Sandy Point State park for his eighth consecutive year to take a little dip in the water to raise money for the Special Olympics of Maryland. This time was different as he and three friends were plunging fives times – once an hour for five hours to honor the men and women who have served in all five military branches.

On the fifth and final plunge they were joined by other members of the Legion family of Maryland and also Sons of The American Legion National Commander Mike Moss from Colorado. Together for the day, Team Maryland along with Commander Moss raised over $19,500 to benefit the athletes of the Special Olympics of Maryland. The water was cold, but it was the warm hearts of all of those that participated that made it bearable to get in.

This is the 19th year for the plunge. All of the funds raised goes to the Special Olympics. Throughout the day there were more than 5,300 plungers who raised $1.4 million. Several other detachments are planning to have their members plunge in the near future. Commander Moss said, “He has never seen anything like this.”

– See more at: http://www.legion.org/sons/225893/commander-moss-plunges-special-olympics?s=/sons#sthash.58TSGR14.dpuf

081914_legacy run day 3_014_0For the past nine years, members of The American Legion Family and other riders have gathered at Wayne Post 64 in Indianapolis to start a four-day journey that covers more than 1,000 miles to help children of U.S. servicemembers killed on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001. The Legacy Run raises funds for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, which provides college scholarships to the children.

After America was attacked on 9/11, The American Legion realized that there was going to be a need to help the children of our soldiers that answered the final call, and so the Legacy Scholarship Fund was formed. Children of soldiers killed while on active duty since 9/11 can apply for a college scholarship from the fund each year they are in college for undergraduate studies. More than $1 million was raised during 2014 Run and nine Legacy Runs have now raised more than $5 million for the fund.

This year, the Legacy Run will start on Aug. 23 at Post 64 and will end on Aug. 26 in Towson, Md., for the 2015 National Convention in Baltimore. While a final route is still in discussion, we know hundreds of motorcyclists will once again be riding to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help our heroes children.

Because many American Legion Riders are Sons of The American Legion members, SAL members and squadrons support Legacy Scholarship Fund. Last year the SAL raised almost $200,000 for the fund. This is my third Legacy Run and for me the ride will start in Indy, but it will end up in my backyard. I hope to see you there!

Register for the Legacy Run: www.legion.org/riders/registration

– See more at: http://www.legion.org/sons/226110/legacy-run-turns-10?s=/sons#sthash.OIFj6qaO.dpuf

commanderImagine you’re out bearing the cold Pennsylvania February weather.  The wind is howling and you’re trying to find shelter.  You have little to no friends and family to turn to.  You have no money, no job, and no home.  The nights bring on concern for where you’re going to sleep and the days are filled with hunger.  You served your country honorably.  Who would have thought you’d be homeless.  You shouldn’t be in this predicament.  You try to figure out what the steps were that brought you here.  Was it the divorce?  Did you have a hard time fitting into civilian life?  Maybe it was the economy.  No matter what was the turning point, you are homeless.

Thanks to the Pennsylvania American Legion Family, housing is being provided for men and women who bravely served their country.  The veterans work through the VA to get back on their feet while we provide them with the comforts of having a home.  An actual home with simple rooms that we take for granted; living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.  Housing for Homeless Veterans pays for the heat, water, electric, maintenance, insurance, and every other bill that comes with owning a home.

The men and women living in our homes have up to two years to live in our temporary housing, to find a job, earn an education, apply for benefits, and reconnect with family.  You make this program work for our fellow veterans who have found themselves homeless.  You help them succeed in reentering back into society, and we can’t thank you enough.

We rely on all our Legionnaires, Auxiliary, Sons, Riders, businesses and volunteers that do so much for our program, which is why your donations at the Housing for Homeless Veterans dinner is so appreciated.  Not only does your support help us pay for the everyday costs of having these 4 homes throughout the state, but hopefully it helps educate people on the ongoing problem of having veterans who are experiencing homelessness.

Thank you to all who donate to Pennsylvania American Legion Housing or Homeless Veterans through monetary donation, material donations, and donations of your time.  We greatly appreciate all of your support.

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about our programs or Housing for Homeless Veterans in general.  Thank you again for your generosity and support!

This was the 24th Annual Awards Dinner and the 27th year we’ve been serving veterans who are homeless.  We had greetings from the leaders of the PA American Legion Family; SAL Detachment Commander James Bradley, Legion Riders State President Ed Dauch, Auxiliary President Mary Ellen Switzer, Department Commander Dennis Haas and SAL National Commander Mike Moss.

Our organization has always received support from Congressman Tim Murphy, Congressman Keith Rothfus, and Allegheny County Executive Richard Fitzgerald.  Pittsburgh VA Regional Assistant Director Pat Arnold and VISN 4 Acting Director Carla Sivek also address the hundreds of people in attendance at the dinner.

Past National Commander Ron Conley was proud to hand out awards to the 2015 honorees Jon Hosfeld, Mike Stelacio, Tony Wright, Legion Riders 952, Tom Radel, Christina Lonigro, David Macpherson MD, Squadron 998 SAL, and the Pittsburgh Airport Double Tree Hotel.

Judge Mike McCarthy addressed the guests at the dinner.  He spoke of everyone sitting at a “roundtable”.  He noted that each person sitting at the roundtable has equal status, equal time, and equal responsibility.  He suggested that each person leave the roundtable to bring two more people back into the Legion Family to help fight homelessness.

Thank you for your generosity!

sonsSons of The American Legion Committee

Chairman John A. Eisler, Jr.

The Sons of The American Legion was created in 1932 as an organization within The American Legion which exists to honor the service and sacrifice of Legionnaires. Their mission: to strengthen the four pillars of The American Legion. Their 2014 membership achieved another “All-Time High” of 358,009 with a 5% increase over 2013. The renewal rate was 88.44% so their key to success is recruiting new members. They have been one of the main supporters of The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation (CWF) which reached a milestone of contributions to more than $6 million. In its 60th year CWF has awarded $566,691 in grants to 18 nonprofit organizations.

Pennsylvania holds the honor of the largest Detachment recording a membership of 59,030 for the 2013 – 2014 Legion year. National’s final Membership report dated December 31, 2014 was 60,080 with a renewal rate of 89.79%.  The proposed budget for 2015 was calculated from last year’s membership of 59,030 at $2.00 per member for a total of $118,060.00. The surplus from the 2013 years budget on December 31, 2013 was $7,567.59 as every proposed budget is calculated to the maximum payout almost guaranteeing the solvability of the program.

We need to get the word out to every post with a SAL squadron they need to file the IRS form 990 of each post to include the SAL Squadron.  The squadron is a program of the post and as such the post is responsible for reporting squadron funds on the post 990.

The SAL license plate has been approved by Penn DOT and the applications must be submitted to the American Legion Dept. of Pa with a fee of $11.00 payable to The American Legion. The plates are impressive with the colors matching the SAL emblem. The Department of Transportation is also offering a vanity plate with lettering. The plates are not pre-printed they are manufactured on a as need basis.

I would like to thank Commander Haas for the opportunity to serve on the committee. I would also like to thank Adjutant Kit Watson and our staff, vice-chairman; Ray Woof, Manuel Griffin, John Amole, Brad Simpson, Roger Pospisil and Leonard Clawson.

indexHelm: New Defense Secretary Faces Enormous Challenges

“The biggest challenges since the end of the cold war,” is how American Legion National Commander Michael D. Helm described the tasks facing new Defense Secretary Ash Carter.  “I congratulate Secretary Carter on his recent confirmation.  It is crucial that Congress and the president give Secretary Carter everything he needs to succeed. That means funding the military at a level needed to completely destroy the Islamic State and other like-minded terrorist organizations that are increasing in both activity and depravity.  Every day we hear about ISIS gaining new territory. Moreover, our elected officials must be reminded that protecting America is “Job One,” and that includes providing a high quality of life needed to field a strong volunteer force. The American Legion is eager to support Secretary Carter as he faces these daunting challenges.”

indexNational Commanders Tour

National Commander Michael Helm will be visiting Pennsylvania March 9 – 11th.  This is a great opportunity to show our Pennsylvania Proud for the National Commander and Department Commander Dennis Haas.

Monday, March 9th, we will be honoring these two great commanders at the American Legion Post 34 in Lancaster.  The donation for tickets for the dinner is $35 and the deadline to get your tickets is March 2nd.  Dinner choices are chicken or roast beef. Get the form here.

The next stop will find the National and Department Commanders at American Legion Post 272 in Linglestown, PA.  The deadline for these tickets is February 28th and the donation for each ticket is $30.  You will get a choice of prime rib or crab cakes.  Get the form here.

The final dinner on this tour will be at American Legion Post 701 in White Oak, PA.  Your choices for dinner include chicken or fish and the donation for tickets is $30 a ticket.  The deadline for tickets is March 5th. Get the form here.

Let’s join together and celebrate our two commanders

IMG_1009 (640x426)Please plan to attend Memorial Ride in May 

It’s the Annual Memorial Ride to Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery on Saturday, May 23, 2015.  The event will be at the PA Monument in the Cemetery.  We are encouraging others to set up a ride from the place of their choice and be at the Cemetery by 12:00 Noon.  The short ceremony consists of the National Anthem; Invocation; memorial addresses; ending with the playing of Taps.  The ride to visit the graves of our soldiers at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery is very important to us all.  We need to get the word out so that others will attend and make this a truly memorable event.  The souls of our troops buried there will be eternally grateful for our remembrance of them and their deeds.

May 23rd, 2015 Memorial Ride – meeting times and places

  • From your own or group location to Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery (must arrive by 12:00 Noon)
  • Giant Plaza, Newport (behind gas pumps) Meet 10:00 am – Leaving at 10:30 for Fort Hunter Park, Harrisburg.
  • Fort Hunter Park, Harrisburg (parking area) – Leaving 1:00 am sharp
  • Arrival at Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery – 12:00 Noon
  • Gather at PA Monument for a memorial service in honor of all who served our state and nation in times of war and peace – past, present, and future.

All motorcyclists, veterans, family and friends of veterans are welcome!

They served with honor, now we honor them.  For more information, contact Mike Gher 717-275-6969

Printer friendly version of ride

youth-achievement-dinner-blog18th Annual Youth Achievement Dinner

The Annual Youth Achievement Dinner for the American Legion Allegheny County is scheduled for Sunday, April 19tt.  The event will be held at Soldiers & Sailors National Military Museum and Memorial Hall in Oakland.  The address is 4141 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA  15213.

We encourage all of our Legion family to attend and pay tribute to these fine young men and women.

The tickets are $25 per person for the event.  You can also purchase an ad and they are broken down as $100 for a full page ad, $75 for a half of a page, and $30 for a quarter page.  Donations, ads and tickets are all tax deductible.  Please make your checks payable to PA American Legion – Allegheny County and mail to:  Russell Pontow, 104 Sunny Drive, Pittsburgh, PA  15236.  Phone number is 412-653-6705.

Doors open at 3 pm for viewing memorial exhibits at Soldiers & Sailors National Military Museum, social hour begins at 4 pm and dinner will be served at 5 pm.  Deadline for tickets and ads is March 15th.  We hope to see you there.

Click here for a printer friendly form

American Legion National Comlincolnmander Michael D. Helm, Sons of the American Legion National Commander Mike Moss and Auxiliary National President Janet Jefford observed the birthday of the nation’s 16th president in Springfield, Ill., last Thursday during the 81st annual National American Legion Pilgrimage to the Tomb of Abraham Lincoln.