Ronald F. Conley of Pennsylvania will never forget the moment during the Vietnam War when he encountered a wounded soldier on Guam. “His story always stuck with me,” Conley says in his newly posted PNC Perspectives video interview. “He got shrapnel in his eyes. He was going to go blind within a year… he said, ‘I don’t know who is going to take care of me.’ I figured, I can do something to help, maybe not him, but help the other guys coming back wounded. That’s what got me into wanting to do something to help guys who were in the service.”
Soon after his discharge, Conley joined The American Legion. He was mentored by Pittsburgh-area, Department of Pennsylvania and national Legionnaires in the years that followed. In the 1980s, his passion turned to helping homeless veterans and wrote the resolution that created American Legion Housing for Homeless, Inc., which ultimately purchased homes for veterans in need in four Pennsylvania cities. In the years that followed, Conley became a fierce advocate for improved VA health care and services and spent his year as leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization visiting VA health-care systems throughout the country, looking at their strengths and challenges, following a checklist of key issues at the time, foremost of which was waiting times for primary care appointments. Thus was born the System Worth Saving program and task force, which continues to provide insights for VA, Congress and the White House today. In the years that followed, he became a leading national voice in the fight to identify and gain acceptance of effective treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. He is now chairman of the American Legion TBI/PTSD Committee.
View PNC Perspectives video interviews with other past national commanders on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHMR9MmnivfPSXg7BMJj1U57QBMXb_n2q
A former Army captain and veteran of the Iraq war, Manuel Martinez has slept outside before. This time, however, it is different. Martinez, 40, is not deployed and he is not homeless.
The member of Monseratte Padilla American Legion Post 47 in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, has been sleeping on his front lawn along with his parents as a safety precaution. The earthquake and frequent aftershocks that have plagued Puerto Rico over the last month have dangerously impacted the structure of his house in Yauco.
“It’s just too dangerous to be inside,” Martinez said. “There are cracks throughout the structure and nobody wants to have a cement roof collapse on them.”
Puerto Rico is in need of assistance, according to American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford, who visited the island earlier this month. “People there are hurting,” Oxford said. “They were just beginning to recover from Hurricane Maria when the earthquakes hit. The people there are resilient, but I am asking that The American Legion Family once again provide support for those in need. We also have Legionnaires living in the Philippines and Australia that could be impacted by volcanic activity and devastating wildfires. Our national staff has reached out to department leadership for those respective areas to offer National Emergency Fund assistance to those eligible. We have not yet heard from any Legionnaires impacted outside of Puerto Rico at this time, but it’s just another reminder that we have to keep our NEF fully funded and prepared. Large natural disasters can happen at any time and in any place.”
Department of Puerto Rico Adjutant Juan Cruz-Rodriguez said residents in parts of the island are feeling about five tremors a day. On Jan. 21, the website earthquaketrack.com reported 2,104 earthquakes of a magnitude of 1.5 or greater have hit Puerto Rico over the past 30 days. A large 6.4 magnitude quake struck on Jan. 7 and caused damages that are estimated to exceed $110 million.
While the National Emergency Fund provides grants to cover lodging, food and clothing for impacted Legionnaires, members of the Sons of the American Legion and damaged American Legion post homes, Cruz-Rodriguez said residents are also in need of supplies such as bottled water, diapers, toys, clothes and hygiene items. Tents are also needed by those who, like Martinez, wish to sleep near their damaged homes.
Donated items can be sent to The American Legion Department of Puerto Rico, 1700 Jesus T. Piῇero Ave., Los Lomas Professional Center, Suite 11, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 00921.
Tax-deductible financial contributions can be made online at www.legion.org/nef or by mailing checks to The American Legion National Emergency Fund, Donation Processing, PO Box 361626, Indianapolis, IN 46236-1626.
Since the NEF’s inception, nearly $9 million has been provided in financial assistance. Eligible individuals can receive grants of up to $3,000, and posts can receive up to $10,000.
“Little by little, each one of these quakes takes its toll,” Rodriguez-Cruz said. “We’ve been fortunate in San Juan, but there are other parts of Puerto Rico that have been badly affected. We’ve been reaching out to posts throughout the department (and) offering to assist.”
Though Puerto Ricans are grateful that the Jan. 7 earthquake wasn’t even more devastating, the follow-up earthquakes are a constant frustration to those who wish to start the long process of rebuilding.
“I’ve seen people who are upbeat, but I’ve also seen a lot of fear. People are scared about their future,” Martinez said. “They don’t have a clue about what to expect tomorrow. There is a feeling that all they have is each other.”
The American Legion has received a generous contribution from GreatCall, a leader in connected health for solutions for older adults and their family caregivers. The gift will support the welfare and care of veterans and children through The American Legion Veterans and Children Foundation. The foundation provides temporary financial assistance to eligible active-duty servicemembers and American Legion members with children in the home. It also supports more than 2,500 accredited American Legion service officers who provide free assistance to veterans and their families.
"The American Legion Veterans and Children Foundation provides support to our nation's veterans and their families when they are in need of help and also ensures they receive the benefits they earned through their service to our country," American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford said. "We are pleased that GreatCall, an organization that helps aging consumers live independent lives through use of innovative and easy-to-use mobile technology, has come on board as a supporter and ally."
As a part of the relationship, a series of television ads are airing that feature an American Legion member.
"Support for our nation's veterans is a responsibility – and a privilege – we all share and partnering with The American Legion enables us to make a difference," said David Inns, CEO of GreatCall. "Our country's veterans need our support now more than ever, especially those who are aging. Our technology is easier for aging adults to use, and products like Lively medical alert devices and Jitterbug phones with 5Star Urgent Response Service put safety at the fingertips of nearly 2 million American Legion members."
Since its creation in 1925, The American Legion Veterans & Children Foundation – formerly known as the American Legion Endowment Fund – has delivered over $30 million in financial assistance for disabled veterans, military families and young people.
Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie
Having great answers to standard interview questions is a terrific way to have an outstanding interview even if you are nervous. The ten standard interview answers will reinforce other skill sets listed on your resume.
1. How does your background make you the ideal candidate for this position?
2. Provide an example of how you led a team to success on a project?
3. Provide an example of how you taught a group or groups a new skill? How did you measure the outcome?
4. Describe an instance where your first project plan was not successful? What did you do to change the outcome?
5. Give a detailed description of how you created an innovation and how did you convince others it was a promising idea? Why was it innovative?
6. Describe an instance where you saved money or reduced cost for an organization. How did you go about implementing the change?
7. How have you dealt with an unhappy customer? What did you do to make that customer happy and retain their business?
8. Illustrate an instance where you had to deliver unwelcome news to your boss. How did you do it, what was the outcome, and what did you learn?
9. Provide an example of how your military training will make you successful in this position. How do your military skills help make you an ideal candidate?
10. What are three things that you would tell a candidate interested in this company about our products? How do our products make us superior to our competitors?
My name is Lee Wilson Jr., and I am the historian for Owen Coffman American Legion Post 519 in Palm Springs, Calif. On the 72nd anniversary of the opening of Post 519, we dedicated a new historic plaque to replace our old one (which was stolen). Many local officials and dignitaries participated in the event. We received several proclamations for our event, including one from the city, the California State Senate and the office of Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz.
Founded in 1934, Post 519's own War Memorial Building was dedicated on Jan. 3, 1948. Our post was designed by legendary Palm Springs architects John Clark and Albert Frey, well known for their "Modern" architecture around Palm Springs. Moreover, from 1948-1954, during the twilight era of radio, dozens of the biggest names in Hollywood played our stage to nationally broadcast shows on the CBS and NBC networks including Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna, Al Jolson, Doris Day, Judy Garland, Groucho Marx, Cary Grant, Jack Benny, Cary Grant and many others. Afterwards, we held an "open house" showing off our legendary architecture, stage and fully restored radio room. Our long-term goal is to fully restore our post to its 1948 glory with a USO theme from the 1940s. This will take time and lots of money, but by opening up more to our community and showing off what we have to offer, we hope that this will become a reality. Please visit us, and stay tuned.
See more images from the event on Legiontown.
Readers of the “Flashbacks” comic strip in their Sunday newspaper – which brings history to life in multi-paneled cartoons – may be interested to know that the artist is a 50-plus-year Pennsylvania Legionnaire.
Patrick Reynolds is a life member of William P. Duffy American Legion Post 544 in Minersville. He graduated from the prestigious Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, went to work as an art director, then enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War as an intelligence officer. He is a retired lieutenant colonel of the Army Reserve.
Growing up, he was inspired by comic books and the historical comics found in Boy Scout and Boys’ Life publications. He once used an original comic as a résumé for a state tourism job – but didn’t get it. He is still in possession of rejection letters from Atlas Comics, later Marvel, and creator Stan Lee. Later, as a teacher, he created comic-strip stories on history and current events for his young classes, which led down the road to the several ongoing projects that can be seen on his website, redrosestudio.com. In addition to “Flashbacks,” there are comics on New York, Pennsylvania and Texas history, portraits, caricatures and more. The purpose of the comics, according to Reynolds, is to “tell someone something in their backyard that they didn’t know about.”
He is a fan of the “Lore of the Legion” cartoon series that can be read in The American Legion Magazine, as he is of the rise in popularity – and respectability – of graphic novels. The last few years have brought a “rise in seeing them as literature,” he comments, and he is “delighted they’re coming to the forefront and getting the attention they deserve.” Of his membership in the Legion, Reynolds says that “I find it’s a tremendous voice to accomplish things in Washington … it’s nice to know that as a member I’m part of that.”
Leadership from the American Legion Department of Wisconsin recently presented a generous donation toward the upcoming National Veteran Golden Age Games (NVGAG).
The $25,000 American Legion Operation Comfort Warrior (OCW) grant will support the 34th annual National Veteran Golden Age Games, which will be held in Madison, Wis., June 22-27.
NVGAG Coordinator Joe Naylor proudly accepted the check from Department of Wisconsin Commander David Wischer, National Vice Commander David Gough and Department Hospital Committee Chairman Joe Hogenson.
The 2020 games will mark the first time the event has been held in Wisconsin since NVGAG's beginning in1985 in Albany, Ga. The National Veteran Golden Age Games provide veterans ages 55 or older who receive health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs an opportunity to participate in rehabilitative sport and recreation competition. Nearly 800 participants compete in eight age groups and three divisions (ambulatory, visually impaired and wheelchair) for a variety of competition events such as badminton, basketball, blind disc golf, bowling, cycling, air pistol and air rifle, golf, swimming, table tennis, track and more.
Learn more about the NVGAG here.
This grant to NVGAG is one of many that The American Legion OCW program presents each year to provide comfort items and rehabilitation equipment to wounded servicemembers and veterans recovering at VA medical facilities and warrior transition units. Every dollar that is donated to OCW goes toward purchasing items for the recovering servicemembers and veterans. Help continue these OCW events, by making a donation online at www.legion.org/donate.
It’s fun to talk about Space Force uniforms and blasting troops into orbit, but the first priority for the new service branch is getting capabilities to warfighters, a top Space Force enlisted leader said.
Chief Master Sgt. John Bentivegna, senior noncommissioned officer for Combined Force Space Component Command and Space Operations Command at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., spoke to U.S. and Japanese service members Tuesday during a “Space Symposium” at Yokota, home of U.S. Forces Japan in western Tokyo.
Service members working for the Space Force, which was created in December by designating the Air Force Space Command as its own service branch, are airmen who will eventually become something else, said Bentivegna, who wore a shiny space operations occupational badge.
A photo of the first Space Force name tape on a camouflage uniform on social media recently provoked a slew of snarky comments from people saying the camo wouldn’t blend well with the stars.
“Members will look like their joint counterparts they’ll be working with, on the ground,” the Space Force wrote in a tweet.
Space Force officials will meet with President Donald Trump to talk about logos, naming conventions and ranks for the new force, Bentivegna said.
There’s been talk about what the culture of the new service should be, he added.
“We are trying to get that right but what’s more important is the organizational structure and how we, as an operational service, provide capabilities to the warfighter,” he said in an interview after the symposium. “How do we organize, train and equip space professionals? That’s one of the major reasons we started up the Space Force.”
Enlisted personnel fly satellites and send commands to keep them in the right orbit. They keep satellite batteries charged and analyze the data they send back before passing it on to other organizations, Bentivegna said.
“Enlisted operators are integrated across all aspects of space operations,” he said, noting that they’re doing things that only officers were authorized to do a few years ago.
Bentivegna’s 22-year career in space operations has included work in ground- and space-based missile warning as well as space surveillance with the National Reconnaissance Office.
“With the establishment of the Space Force we are looking to transition from being very broad based but not very deep to growing professionals who have deep understanding of the mission they are in,” he said.
A priority is building relationships with friends and allies, he said.
Japan will establish a space defense unit within its Air Self-Defense Force this spring, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, according to a transcript of a speech he gave Monday in the Diet.
“We will drastically strengthen our capability and structure in the new domain, such as cyber and electromagnetic waves, in order to ensure superiority,” Abe said.
Japan’s Space Domain Mission Unit starts work in April with its first 20 personnel at Fuchu Air Base in Tokyo, not far from Yokota, Sky News reported Monday.
The Yokota meeting was aimed at helping Japan’s military develop its own space professionals and helping them integrate and collaborate with the U.S. Space Force, Bentivegna said.
“Japan’s main focus is space situational awareness — knowing what’s up there and being able to protect their satellites and being able to exploit the information they get so they aren’t vulnerable,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick, the 5th Air Force command chief, who also participated in the symposium.
There is a space operator on the 5th Air Force Staff liaising with the Japanese and U.S. military payloads are flying on Japanese satellites, he said.
Could some of the first Space Force service members float in space?
It won’t happen soon, Bentivegna said.
“In 50 years, space travel may be as common as air travel,” he said. “When you look at the Navy’s role in patrolling the sea … what is the Space Force’s role when there is going to be commercial traffic through space?”
Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.
Members of The American Legion can receive 50 percent discounts on annual subscriptions to the Stars and Stripes digital platform of exclusive military news, topics of interest to veterans, special features, photos and other content, including the daily e-newspaper, job listings and history. American Legion members can subscribe for $19.99 a year by visiting legion.stripes.com and using the coupon code LEGIONSTRONG when filling out the online form.
At age 9, Greg Attaway – already playing catcher on his Little League team – also umpired his very first game in the National City (Calif.) Little League. A little less than 59 years later, and Attaway is on the verge of making baseball history.
When the American Legion Rider and Sons of The American Legion longtime member gets behind home plate to call a Pecos League of Professional Baseball game in June, the 68-year-old Attaway will become what is believed to be the oldest professional baseball umpire in history.
“It’s just being in the right place at the right time,” said Attaway, who has been a Sons member for 20-plus years and currently is the Legion Riders director at American Legion Post 24 in Tombstone, Ariz. “(Umpiring) is a passion. I’ve done every level: Little League, adult ball, travel ball – you name it, I’ve done it.”
Attaway made his way through the umpire ranks officiating at the high school level in California and Arizona, including a state championship game in California and several playoff games in Arizona. He’s also stood behind the plate for summer college baseball games and believes he may have umpired some American Legion Baseball games, though that was “a long time ago,” Attaway said.
“When I got down here to Arizona and started (umpiring) at the high school level and summer college baseball, one of the guys I got hooked up with was working with the Pecos League as an administrator,” Attaway said. “At the end of the (Pecos League) season that year they were running short of umpires because a lot of their umpires also did college baseball. (It was) mentioned to me, and I said ‘let’s go do it.’”
Attaway began umpiring for the Pecos League – an independent baseball league which operates in cities in desert mountain regions throughout California, New Mexico, Southern Arizona, Kansas, West Texas and Southern Colorado – on June 23, 2016. Attaway said he ended up doing a four-game series, “and the rest is history.”
What started as a fill-in role has resulted in what Attaway says is at least 20 games in the Pecos League since his initial appearance. When the league starts up play in June and Attaway lines up behind the catcher, he will be 68 years and six months – around four months older than the previous oldest professional umpire, Baseball Hall of Famer Hank O’Day, who umpired in 10 World Series before retiring at 68 years and two months.
“This guy that I’m replacing can’t be replaced,” Attaway said of supplanting O’Day in the record book. “I haven’t done it on the professional level even close to what he has. So yeah, I know it’s a record of sorts. But I’m not quite sure how to think about it yet.”
Veterans, military spouses, servicemembers and others can receive career planning assistance at a hiring event in conjunction with The American Legion’s Washington Conference in March.
Registration is open for the event sponsored by the Legion and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program. The event is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 5 at the Washington Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC.
The agenda includes:
A resume-building workshop from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.;
A financial literacy workshop from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.:
A networking lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.;
And a hiring fair from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
This free professional development event is open to active-duty servicemembers, National Guard members, military reservists, veterans, military spouses and military caregivers. For more information and to register, click here.