Veterans Memorial Post 347

1st VICE-COMMANDER-Tina Burgess

Is it really May already?  This year is going by so fast.  It is my pleasure to announce our Volunteer of the Month Winner Barbars Kyle!  A dual member of the Legion and Auxiliary Unit 347, we all benefit from the countless hours Barbara devotes to Veterans Memorial.  Whether hosting the Legion’s Thursday/Saturday Trivia games, answering phones and taking care of our customers in the front office, laminating membership cards and cashing winning pull-tabs on Tuesday, selling Queen of Hearts tickets on Friday, calling BINGO several times a month, or helping with our Saturday Breakfasts, Barbara’s hard work and dependability have proven time and again there is no task too small or too big for her to handle.  Barbara’s generous nature is greatly appreciated by all of us at American Legion Post 347!            

Speaking of Volunteers, I want to send special thanks to all the Volunteers who helped with American Legion Family and Veterans Outreach Day.  We did not bring in the numbers we wanted, but we have a good foundation for similar events in the future.  That said, if you have ideas on how we can improve our Veteran Outreach events, please let me know.  I would like to prepare an after- action report and would love to hear from anyone with improvement ideas!

Our Post Membership is slowly creeping closer to 100 percent and is currently at 98.5 percent.  A second round of personal thanks go out to our Buddy Call volunteers who spent hours on the phone reaching out to our members who haven’t renewed their dues for 2024.

In April, we were fortunate to welcome 31 new members to our Post.  As always, their experiences and military careers leave me in awe…an Air Force Veteran who served from Vietnam through the Gulf War whose job made me look up the responsibilities of an Aircraft Pneudtaulics System Craftsman; an Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment Commander; an Army Special Forces Ranger who served through four campaigns during service in Vietnam; a C-130 Load Master who founded Veteran Ranch and Rescue Center in Webster, FL; a Strategic Air Command Radar Navigator awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, who also became an Optometrist; a Naval Command Master Chief and F-14 System Organizational Maintenance Technician; an Army Military Police NCO and recently retired Police Chief; a 42-year Legion Member transferring in from New Jersey; a Navy E-4 born in 1995 and now our Post’s youngest member; and a Naval Submarine Nuclear Propulsion Maintenance Welder and Diver. As always, please help me welcome our newest members. 

Thank you for trusting me to be your “fill-in” First Vice Commander over the past eight months.  When I accepted Commander Musser’s offer to fill the vacancy, I had no idea how much I would enjoy this new role.  I look forward to another year of working for you!  Lastly, I’d like to wish all Mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day.  If you still have your Mom in your life, cherish every second.

MAY 2024

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I begin this newsletter on March 29th!  A day for honoring Vietnam Veterans.  This day was chosen to be observed in perpetuity as March 29, 1973, was the day United States Military Assistance Command, Vietnam was disestablished and also the day the last U.S. combat troops departed Vietnam.  As the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran who succumbed to complications from Agent Orange, I honor our Vietnam Veterans and Welcome You Home!  Last month, we welcomed 60 new and transferring members, 37 of those new members are Vietnam Veterans!  Our Viet Nam Veterans are the heart of our Post membership!

Membership continues to go well. Veterans Memorial surpassed 95 percent.  We have a team of volunteers that will begin making calls to non-renewed members in early April.  Our goal of 100 percent membership is within reach.  You can help by conducting buddy checks, especially with those members you haven’t seen so far this year.  Some of us are healthy enough to get around.  Some of us, not so much. If you know someone like that, please call them occasionally, if only to check up on them. Check to see if they need anything from the store, a ride to an appointment, or just a simple five-minute conversation. Buddy Checks are so important.  We need to take care of each other!   

 

Back to those amazing new members!  Along with welcoming 37 Vietnam Veterans, help me in welcoming not one, but two Army Distinguished Flying Cross recipients.  One is also a twice awarded Bronze Star recipient with 24 years of active-duty service and the second is a twice awarded Purple Heart recipient!  We also welcome a Drill Sergeant, a Military Policeman who went onto to serve as a Deputy U.S. Marshall, a 20-year Military Policeman whose path to retirement led him to The Department of the Army’s Inspector General’s Office, an Army Nuclear Weapons Artillery Officer, and a Sergeant who spent his entire military and civilian career as a Law Enforcement Officer!  I see a theme!

I hope you all had a Blessed and enjoyable Easter!  I look forward to seeing you after the Post re-opens!

APRIL 2024

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I can’t believe it is March already!  As of this writing, Post 347 is at 95 percent for membership renewals, approximately 800 more renewals to reach 100 percent!  

This month, the Commander will announce our first Volunteer of the Month!  We have received several nominations and the competition is tight.  Nomination forms and rules are available in the front office and any member can nominate a volunteer, so keep those nominations coming for April. 

I would also like to pass on the following tips to all veterans to help maximize their benefits and ease the access to information they need to know:

Sign up at ID.ME for an account.  This is a government approved site that verifies your eligibility as a veteran at government and non-government sites.  It gives you single sign on capability at the IRS.gov, VA.GOVmyhealthva.gov, and numerous other sites. 

Sign into MILITARYONESOURCE.MIL with your ID.ME account.  Explore all options here.  There are many resources and benefits available to you here.  These include free tax preparation (for some), space-a travel information, access to the DoD MWR on-line libraries and discounts on a variety of items.  Start by selecting retiree/veteran (as applicable) under the “I am a….” tab and explore the areas listed under that section.

Explore VA.GOV.  Use your ID.ME to login.   File for disability compensation and track its status, get your VA medical records, and find information about the many programs and benefits available to you.

Check out MYHEALTH.VA.GOV  using your ID.ME login (Option 1 on the site).  Site provides access to your VA health records, doctor, appointments, pharmacy (refills) and a whole host of resources to help you whether you receive health care from the VA or not.  My HealtheVet features will move to My HealtheVet on VA.gov in a series of phases through October 2024.  Some of the capabilities are on VA.gov now.  You can use the My HealtheVet patient portal you are using currently until the transition is complete later this year.

GET YOUR VETERAN STATUS ON YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE.   To add Veteran status to a license or ID card, veterans can visit any local DMV service center.  Replacement driver licenses are free to veterans only adding the “Veteran” designation.  Bring your DD-214 or equivalent that shows your honorable discharge from active duty.  Having this on your license or ID card will verify your veteran status for discounts at Home Depot, Lowes and any other business giving discounts to veterans.

Missing your DD-214?  A copy of your DD-214 or equivalent separation document can be  obtained from www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/ .  You can also request replacement medals, medical records and your Official Military Personnel File on this site.

On a final note, last month we welcomed 80 new members into our Post!  Be on the lookout for our newest members and always make them feel welcome.  This group is most impressive; a Purple Heart recipient from Viet Nam, three members who served 30 years of active duty service, a Marine F-4 pilot, a Submarine Nuclear Plant Operator, an Optometrist, a CT02 who served on the USS Midway, a Combat Engineer, a Civil Engineer, a UH-60 Aeromedical Evacuation Officer, and an Army Ranger Parachutist with Special Ops Underwater Operations experience.  I can go on, but you get the picture.  We are a remarkable group of Veterans and I love welcoming more to our ranks! I hope you do too! 

MARCH 2024

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Our 2024 post membership numbers are still going strong!  We are 89.79% of our goal, which means we are very close to achieving our March Membership goals of 90%.  Let’s continue to do our Buddy Checks and remind our fellow members to renew as soon as possible!

A bit of news regarding future membership options, the American Legion is now allowing a multi-year membership when you renew for 2025.  If you renewed for the 2024 American Legion membership year prior to the new multi-year rollout on December 4, you can now take advantage of a three-year membership starting with the 2025 membership year.  You can visit legion.org/renew for the multiyear membership of 2025, 2026, and 2027.  Legionnaires still needing to renew for 2024 or veterans joining the organization for the first time can also lock-in a three-year membership (2024, 2025 and 2026) by visiting legion.org/renew or legion.org/join.

Please keep in mind that multi-year membership sign-up is only available on the national American Legion website, legion.org/renew or legion.org/join.  Current or potential members cannot renew or join for a three-year membership at the post level or through MyLegion.  Payment for the three-year membership will be up front, there is no discounted rate with the three-year membership, membership cards will be sent annually by Legion posts, and those who sign up for a multi-year membership will not receive a renewal notice during the time they have signed up for the multiyear membership.

Lastly, in our efforts to serve our fellow Veterans, your American Legion Post will be hosting a company called Optum Serve, which will include a 25 foot mobile examination trailer, Feb 3 to Feb 10 2024. Please keep in mind that we do not book appointments, Optum Serve contracts directly with the VA.  We are simply providing the parking spaces required

FEBRUARY 2024

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Happy New Year!  I have great news on our 2024 Post Membership numbers!  As of this writing, we have achieved our membership goal for February!  You read that correctly!  We have met our February goal of 85 percent!  Let's keep it going by continuing to do our Buddy Checks and reminding our fellow members to renew if they have not done so already.  I would like to thank Harriett, Peggy, Peter, Marie, and Rob for volunteering to help process several hundred online membership renewals.  You stepped up when the Commander and I needed you the most and we are grateful for your support.  

On a personal note, in mid-December, I attended the Department of Florida's American Legion College.  Going in, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Coming out, I have a clearer vision of what I want my role to be as your First Vice Commander.  I never imagined that processing new and transferring memberhsip applications would be so rewarding.  When an application crosses my desk, I take the time to read every line and every entry.  We have some remakrable people joining our post and I encourage all of you to get to know them and most importantly, make them feel welcome.

Rob and I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating with many of you at the post on New Year's Eve.  It was awesome to see our Legion Family come together and so much fun sharing appetizers and dessers throuhout the evening.  Rob and I wish you a year filled with new hoped, new joys, and new beginnings!

January 2024

 

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It is hard to believe 2023 is coming to a close and with that, so is our 2024 American Legion renewal season.  At the time of this writing, Post 347 is at 72 percent of our goal, which equates to approximately 2,000 more membership renewals to go!  If you haven’t renewed your membership yet, please do so by visiting our front office Monday-Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. If you know of someone who has not renewed their membership, please encourage them to do so.

On another note, our Post continues to welcome new members and transfers on a daily basis.  Since becoming your First Vice in October, I have processed 100 new member and transfer applications.  I do my best to make each new member feel welcome, but that shouldn’t stop with me. It is important for all of us to make our new members feel welcome.  Encourage them to attend our Post meetings and functions.  Find out his/her areas of interest and encourage them to become involved through volunteering.  There are ample opportunities throughout the post to make a difference!

One new volunteer endeavor is our upcoming Oratorical Scholarship Program: A Constitutional Speech Contest to be held at the Post in January!  We need about 20 volunteers to support this prestigious event, such as escorts, timers, and score tabulators.  If you are interested in supporting this event, please let me know and I will pass on your name to our Committee Chairman, Steve Thomas.

As we begin December, Rob and I hope this holiday season brings peace and joy for you and your family that will last throughout the coming year.

DECEMBER 2023

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As your new First Vice Commander, I am honored to have been selected by the Post’s Executive Committee to fulfill the remaining 2023-2024 term. Although I was not seeking a leadership position, I was asked, and I will answer the call. I joined Post 347 in 2019 and have remained active through volunteering. I am also the Historian for our American Legion Auxiliary. Yes, my plate is full, but my commitment to our success will not waver. I appreciate your support and trust as I learn my new responsibilities.

Our 2024 new memberships and renewals are going strong. To date, our Post has over 3,000 members renewed, representing over 60 percent of our total. Please renew your membership if you have not done so already and remind your family and friends to renew their memberships as well. And, If you renew before November 11th, you will be eligible to attend our Early Bird dinner, a delicious spaghetti and meatball dinner prepared by our fabulous Auxiliary members. Dinner will be on November 19th. You can guarantee your spot at the table by visiting the front office from 9 to 4 pm beginning Thursday, October 26th to renew your membership.

Please know we value you and your membership. If you have the time and inclination to get fully involved, we can always use your help. 

Be sure to take the time this Veterans Day to show support and appreciation to all Veterans! I would like to wish all Post 347 members and their families a Happy Thanksgiving!

NOVEMBER 2023

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