Behling Kutchera Post 296, Brookfield, WI


American Legion News

Palou, Lundqvist bounce back on Day 2 of Iowa doubleheader

Source: July 15, 2024

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After a tough opening day at the Iowa Speedway, Chip Ganassi Racing's (CGR) Alex Palou and rookie Linus Lundqvist both battled back to strong showings in Sunday's Hy-Vee One Step 250.

Palou, driving the No. 10 DHL Honda featuring American Legion branding, finished second to Will Power by .39 seconds after the Team Penske driver overtook Palou on Lap 205 following a Palou pit stop and held him off the rest of the way. Palou, the defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, left Iowa with a 35-point lead over Power in the points race.

And CGR rookie Linus Lundqvist, driving the No. 8 American Legion Honda, ran in the top 10 part of the race – including leading Laps 206-208 – before finishing 12th.

Their showing followed a Saturday in the Hy-Vee Homefront 250 that saw rookie Linus Lundqvist retire after 209 laps because of mechanical issues and finish 21st, and NTT INDYCAR SERIES points leader Alex Palou record his worst finish (23rd) in 36 races after being forced out of the race on Lap 176 when he made contact with the outside wall on the front straightaway.

Palou came back on Sunday, starting second and taking his first lead on Lap 95. He ended up leading a race-high 103 laps; his finish also marked six podium finish and ninth top five of the 2024 season.

"It was a good weekend," Palou said. "I mean, yesterday was a terrible day for us, but the No. 10 DHL crew rebounded today. We almost got the win. I mean it was really tough to pass, I don't think anybody could pass.

"(Power) got us in the pits because they had a little bit more fuel, same as what we did to (third-place finisher Scott McLaughlin). Solid P2, looking forward to Toronto next week."

Lundqvist's finish tied for his second highest of the season in a points race and pushed his Rookie of the Year lead by 31 points over teammate Kyffin Simpson.

"The American Legion Honda was fast again. It's just a shame that we couldn't get the second lane working and passing was very tough," Lundqvist said. "It was stay behind the car in front, have no mistakes and try to get them in the pits. We tried something a little different and going a little bit longer, I think that worked out well for us.

"We ended up 12th, which is not amazing but not bad. So, (I'm) walking away where we had a little bit of speed and more confidence on the short ovals."

On Saturday, Palou qualified third and maintained that spot most of the first third of the race. But exiting out of the pits he had a mechanical issue that dropped him 16 spots to 19th. He was able to battle back to 12th before losing control of the car on Lap 176 and hitting the wall.

"Yeah, I just lost it out of Turn 4," Palou said. "Just went a bit closer to the No. 6, then yeah… just a driver mistake."

Lundqvist, meanwhile, had qualified 12th and was running ninth with 40 laps left before a gearing issue took him out of the race.

"I got stuck in gear for two laps as the team tried to work on the issue and couldn't resolve it," Lundqvist said. "I got a message to stop the car.

"I thought we were having a pretty good day. It felt good, fast, good in restarts. It's a shame. Our American Legion Honda was super-fast today."

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads northeast next weekend for Sunday's Ontario Honda Dealers Indy Toronto.

To learn more about The American Legion's Be the One suicide prevention program, click here.

Next article: A new way to Be the One: Post to use gaming to reach struggling veterans 

A new way to Be the One: Post to use gaming to reach struggling veterans 

Source: July 15, 2024

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American Legion Post 58 in Guthrie, Okla., already had embraced The American Legion's Be the One suicide prevention program by starting a successful peer-to-peer support program last fall.

But that support didn't stop there. It's now going to use gaming to provide a place for veterans struggling mentally to gather and find camaraderie and support.

On July 10, Post 58 debuted to the public its Bunker 58 E-Sports grand opening, drawing more than 100 Legion Family members, other veterans and members of the community to the event. Working with Regiment Gaming – the nation's largest veteran and military gaming community – and custom PC builder Paradox Customs, the post installed four gaming PC's, each with a mouse, keyboard, controller, headset and mouse pad.

George Shafer, chairman of Post 58's Bunker 58 E-Sports Committee, said the response to the grand opening was overwhelming and praised the committee for making it happen.

"The committee that we have is second to none," he said. "They have been sacrificial. Gracious with my mistakes with the logistical situations that happen when you're coordinating a major event. Our committee stuck it out and made it happen.

"Most of our committee members would have been ecstatic if we would have had 10-20 people show up. There were so many connections and opportunities that sprang from that event that we're still processing. We are so grateful and so humbled not only by the veterans, but also our community who showed up in droves."

The idea behind Bunker 58 had its inception around two years ago during a conversation between Shafer and two fellow relatively new Legionnaires. "We read the article in (The American Legion Magazine) about the partnership with Regiment Gaming. And our eyes just lit up.

"We began doing some initial research, minor things like how much would the proper amount of commitment cost. What types of systems would we be using. We put in the legwork and got involved with Regiment online on (social platform) Discord. We started participating in their community nights."

Shafer ended up messaging Regiment CEO and Founder Chris Earl through Discord. His interactions with Earl and Paradox Customs founder Arpit Manaktala led to praise from Shafer.

"The level of professionalism of Chris Earl and Arpit Manaktala, from start to finish, they communicated clearly with us," Shafer said. "I never went more than a day without getting a response if I sent something up to them, which is a big deal with two CEOs. They didn't treat us any less because we were a small post in a small town."

Shafer and his committee had to sell the post on the idea of investing in the gaming setup. It did, which also led to praise from Shafer. "For me, one of the big headlines was the trust that the post put into the E-Sports Committee. It's a very forward-thinking idea," he said. "But they entrusted us to do it. They showed an immense amount of patience as we learned in the process."

Members of Regiment Gaming, of which The American Legion is the official veteran service organization, were on hand to help with the setup on June 9, as were staff from custom computer builder Paradox Customs.

The next day, Post 58 hosted its grand opening. The attendance at the event impressed Earl – as was seeing Post 58 embrace gaming. "The turnout was absolutely amazing," he said. "Seeing an American Legion post launch a gaming room like this is surreal. It validates that this partnership between Regiment and The American Legion makes sense and is helping to modernize the Legion."

Shafer said the event brought in a much-needed demographic and has continued to bring potential members to the post. "One of the things I noticed was is we attracted younger members. We got younger members to sign on the dotted line to join up for the Legion," he said. "And Bunker 58 has been used every day since our event (July 11). It was used by veterans who had never stepped foot in our Legion before."

Shafer, who also serves as post chaplain, heads up Post 58's peer-to-peer (P2P) support program, which brings in veterans from the community to talk about any issues they may be dealing with, regardless of whether they are members of the post. He believes the success of that program helped pave the way for the instant success of Bunker 58, and he believes the post's gaming program can provide a similar sense of community and support.

"So much of my time was me operating as a chaplain during our grand opening," he said. "We had veterans telling me about multiple suicide attempts. More than one pulled me off to the side talking about how difficult it's been during their transition (from the military). And some of those guys are becoming members.

"For me, our post represents Be the One just for that one day. This is a program that's going to continue, that's going to grow."

Shafer points to data that he said supports the idea that gaming can provide a healthy outlet for veterans facing post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues resulting from their military service or struggles in the civilian world.

"I'm a graduate student, so I appreciate research," Shafer said. "Over the past three years the National Institute of Health has put out statistics regarding e-gaming and the benefit of e-gaming for veterans with (post-traumatic stress disorder). The statistics note that e-sports conducted in a controlled environment staved off PTSD symptomology such as generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder through camaraderie, competition and accountability.

"I think one of the key factors in being in a controlled environment is when these guys sit down in front of the screen, they kind of forget about some of the issues that they have. And they've got other veterans standing watch, keeping an eye out."

Post 58 scheduled the opening of Bunker 58 with an eye on the future. "We launched this in the summer because we wanted to get really good at it by the time the holidays roll around," Shafer said. "Because most of our committee members know somebody who (has died by suicide). And for most of us, often that happened around the holidays. That seems to be a really prime time for that depression to hit.

"So, we wanted to launch in July so that we could get really good at what we do and have a place ready and available for any veteran, whether they are in need or want to get around other veterans. We want to be there with a response."

Earl believes that what Post 58 has done is the start of what other American Legion posts will begin doing. "What we did at Post 58 is what I envision most American Legion posts will look like in the next few years," he said. "Gaming is not the ultimate answer that's going to modernize this organization, but it for sure is very important and a step in the right direction."

Shafer said seeing the idea of a gaming area at the post to what Bunker 58 has become is "humbling. It's humbling that our post would hear our vision out. It's humbling that our post would financially support it. It's humbling to know that I can reach out to a CEO of a major veterans organization and he's going to reach right back out to me.

"It has such been so powerful. We've connected with a lot of people through Regiment. But our end goal is to do everything that we can to eliminate veteran suicide."

Any American Legion posts wishing to start a gaming program through Regiment can contact Chris Earl at chris@regiment.gg.

Next article: Extreme heat and tips to stay safe

Extreme heat and tips to stay safe

Source: July 15, 2024

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I work for a county health department, where we see individuals affected from heat-related illnesses. Can you provide information on the effects of extreme heat on older adults, and what they can do to guard against this risk?

Most people do not realize that extreme heat kills more people in the United States each year than hurricanes and tornadoes combined. While it can be deadly for anyone, older adults are uniquely vulnerable due to three key factors: biological changes that occur with age, higher rates of age-related diseases, and greater use of medications that can alter the body's response to heat. Here are some tips to gauge the risk of a heat-related illness for individuals in your community.

How Heat Affects Seniors The human body has two main mechanisms to cool itself: sweating and increasing blood flow to the skin. In older adults, both of those processes are compromised. Seniors sweat less and have decreased circulation compared with younger individuals.

Chronic health conditions that are more common in older adults, most notably cardiovascular disease and diabetes, can also exacerbate these issues. A compromised heart will struggle to pump sufficient blood, further reducing blood flow to the skin. If the nerves are affected in individuals with diabetes, the body might not receive the message that it needs to start cooling itself by sweating.

As people age, their sense of thirst diminishes, leading them to drink less. In hot conditions, that can cause them to become dehydrated faster. In addition, some older adults, particularly if they have some form of dementia or cognitive decline, may not perceive temperature changes very well. As a result, they will not respond appropriately to heat, both biologically (through sweating) and behaviorally (by moving to some place cooler).

Finally, certain medications seniors may take – like diuretics and other high blood pressure drugs – can affect hydration, blood flow and the sweat response. Individuals should be encouraged to consult their doctor about the side effects of any medications they are taking.

How to Stay Safe On hot days, older adults and people with serious health conditions should limit outdoor activities like walking and gardening to cooler mornings and evenings. They should also take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water, even if they are not thirsty. If an activity starts to feel harder than normal, that is a signal to stop and find a place to cool down.

Signs of dehydration or heat exhaustion include dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, flushed face, racing heart or feeling lethargic. Low energy is especially important to watch out for in people with cognitive impairment, who may not realize how hot they are and are unable to verbalize how they feel. If heat exhaustion worsens to a heat stroke, it becomes a life-threatening emergency.

While older adults face unique challenges when it comes to heat, the ways to cool down are the same for any age. If you or a loved one start to experience any of the above symptoms, the best thing you can do is go somewhere that has air conditioning. If that is not available in the home, check for a local cooling center.

In the absence of air conditioning, water is extremely helpful in reducing the risk for heat-related injury. Rubbing an ice cube or cold compress over your skin, spraying yourself with cool water or taking a cool shower or bath can also help.

For more heat related safety tips, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at CDC.gov/extreme-heat.

"Savvy Living" is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to NBC's "Today Show." The column, and others like it, is available to read via The American Legion's Planned Giving program, a way of establishing your legacy of support for the organization while providing for your current financial needs. Consider naming The American Legion in your will or trust as a part of your personal legacy. Learn more about the process, and the variety of charitable programs you can benefit, at legion.org/plannedgiving. Clicking on "Learn more" will bring up an "E-newsletter" button, where you can sign up for regular information from Planned Giving.

Next article: Legion sends well-wishes to President Trump, condemns violence against political leaders

Legion sends well-wishes to President Trump, condemns violence against political leaders

Source: July 14, 2024

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American Legion National Commander Daniel J. Seehafer issued the following statement concerning the assassination attempt on former President Trump:

"The American Legion is deeply saddened about the attack on former President Trump and the shooting of innocent spectators. There is absolutely no justification for violence against any political leader. We are confident that an investigation will reveal any security deficiencies that have occurred but are also grateful for the quick reaction by the brave secret service agents who shielded the president to safety and neutralized the shooter. Our prayers are with President Trump and we wish him a full recovery.  We also extend our condolences and prayers to the victims and families of all who have been impacted by this heinous act."

Seehafer also added his expressed desire that Americans would unify in condemning the violence and tone down hateful rhetoric. "In addition to the shooting at the Trump rally, we have seen horrific attacks on Paul Pelosi, Rep. Steve Scalise and former Rep. Gabby Giffords. We should remind one another that political disagreements do not make us enemies. I pray that civility will become the norm in our discourse."

Next article: What's next for the PACT Act?

What's next for the PACT Act?

Source: July 12, 2024

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As the two-year anniversary of the PACT Act approaches, The American Legion held a panel discussion July 11 in the House Veterans' Affairs Committee Room on Capitol Hill evaluating the impact of the far-reaching legislation while looking ahead to ensuring that it continues to serve veterans.

President Joe Biden's signature of the bipartisan law — the Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act — ushered in the largest expansion of veterans benefits in a generation. The bill established a presumption of service connection for 23 respiratory illnesses and cancers related to burn pits, Agent Orange and other toxins.

More than 1 million PACT Act related claims have now been granted, and over 888,000 veterans and survivors are now receiving new service-connected disability benefits.

"That's an impressive accomplishment, and everyone involved with the Veterans Affairs committees deserves credit," Chanin Nuntavong, American Legion executive director for Government Affairs, said as he opened the special event. "But there is always more we can and must do to reach those still in need. Efforts are underway to efficiently triage veterans exposed to burn pits and experiencing symptoms. New and emerging FDA-approved technology can evaluate lung function more quickly and more cost effectively than traditional methods, and help streamline the process for those in need of medical care." 

A recurring topic during the panel discussion was encouraging the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Congress to establish standardized screening programs and triaging workflow. American Legion Legislative Director Julia Mathis led the discussion, kicking it off with an update on the implementation by VA.

Retired Army Col. Steve Miska, executive director of the PACT Act for VA, explained that the department's role is to work in collaboration with partners like The American Legion and screen as many veterans as possible. "We are very focused on the toxic exposure space," he said. "We're not going to stop until we get it right."

Danielle Robinson, the widow of the PACT Act's namesake, was among the panelists that offered their perspectives. Sgt. First Class Heath Robinson began fighting for his life 10 years after his deployment to Iraq in 2006. Originally, VA denied medical coverage to Heath, stating, "there was no connection between Heath's burn pit exposure and his lung cancer."

The stage 4 lung cancer "obliterated" Heath's lungs, Danielle recalled, referring to a term one of his doctor's used.

"I don't know how Heath was doing it — breathing — his last days with those lungs in his body," she said, adding that when he was first diagnosed, he was running half marathons.

The initial advice from doctors missed the mark — your body's changing since you are 30, your testosterone levels are off and others. Danielle stressed that their experience is precisely why the VA needs to incorporate such screening for all veterans who may be at risk.

"Imaging like this could have been very important to him because he went nine months without a cancer diagnosis," she said. "So if this imaging would have been there for Heath to do — who knows? — he could have been here today. It's the least we can do for our veterans today."

Army veteran Cynthia Daniels, a Burn Pits 360 advocate, discussed having to leave her career as a Wilmington (Del.) police officer due to constrictive bronchiolitis, and autonomic nervous system illnesses, which developed from her exposure to burn pits and toxic exposure during her deployment during the Iraq War.

"All of a sudden, I would get short of breath just walking upstairs," she explained. "During traffic stops, walking from one car to the other, I would have to stop and put my hand on one car, which wasn't like me at all as an avid runner. I could not figure out what was wrong."

Thankfully, a doctor diagnosed the condition but that underscores the need for all veterans to receive proper screening.

"I am very grateful for the PACT Act but more work needs to be done," she said. "I am glad that we are talking about that here today."

An issue that remains is how Congress and VA can increase the screening and ensure that care is accessible for even more veterans, especially those who live in rural areas.

Miska said options like virtual visits, mobile units and other means that bridge the distance are critical for those living long distances from VA medical centers. "Those are things that Congress can help us reach not just rural veterans but so that we can reach a lot of them."

His top priority for Congress: help us get the word out.

"PACT has really helped us make some substantial changes not just how VA delivers care but how we function as an organization," he said. "We're doing things more jointly more than ever before." 

Robinson closed by saying the PACT Act "is very personal" and reiterated the call for additional action. 

"Heath gave 110% into everything he did," she said. "The PACT Act right now is just a start. We have a long way to go to know that they are being diagnosed properly, they're being treated properly and Heath's dying wish on his death bed was that we were going to get that done. He knew it was too late for him but he knew his brothers and sisters needed to be taken care of. So, I ask you all to give 110% into this PACT Act."

Next article: 30 youth marksmen to compete in Legion air rifle championship

30 youth marksmen to compete in Legion air rifle championship

Source: July 12, 2024

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The American Legion's 33rd Junior 3-Position Air Rifle National Championship will be held July 18-20 in Hillsdale, Mich., on the campus of Hillsdale College. This is the first year the competition will be held on the historic campus of Hillsdale. The college also recently hosted the Legion's 2024 National Oratorical Contest for the first time thanks to a new relationship between The American Legion and Hillsdale College. 

During competition July 18-19, participants in both the precision and sporter categories will shoot a .177 caliber air rifle in three positions – prone, standing and kneeling – twice. The top eight competitors in both categories will advance to the finals on Saturday, July 20, where each shooter will fire 10 shots standing. The winner from each respective category will receive a $5,000 scholarship provided by The American Legion and the Sons of The American Legion. A $1,000 scholarship, provided by the American Legion Auxiliary, will be awarded to the second-place finishers in each category. 

The precision and sporter champions will also receive a trip to The American Legion's 105th National Convention in New Orleans, in August to be honored alongside the other American Legion youth program champions. 

The top 15 precision shooters are:

1. Viola Allen of Texas, Granbury High School

2. Kamdyn McFarland of Montana, Yellowstone Rifle Club

3. Emme Walrath of Wisconsin, American Legion Post 295

4. Hunter Jenkins of West Virginia, Mason Dixon Junior Rifle

5. Marcus Klemp of Montana, 10 Ring Junior Shooting Team

6. Gabriella Sprague of Pennsylvania, DuBois Rifle & Pistol Club

7. Ziva Swick of Pennsylvania, Palmyra Junior Rifle Team

8. Alison Sutherlin of Montana, Gallatin Valley Sharpshooters

9. Rhiannon Moore of New Mexico, Eldorado MCJROTC

10. Haley Wheeles of Alabama, Robertsdale HS NJROTC

11. Logan Michael of California,  Lincoln Rifle Club

12. Logan Sanchez of Colorado, American Legion Post 109

13. Samuel Adkins of Pennsylvania, Palmyra Junior Rifle Team

14. Makenzie Larson of Colorado, American Legion Post 109

15. Josephine Eichmann of South Dakota, Dakota Sharpshooters


The top 15 sporter shooters are:

1. Zoe Dissing of South Dakota, Humboldt Sharpshooters

2. Alexandra Orr of Virginia, Lafayette Gun Club

3. Elyssa Vazquez of Florida, Mariner HS AJROTC

4. Eryka Vazquez of Florida, Mariner HS AJROTC

5. Faith Clevenger of Virginia, American Legion Post 290

6. Samantha Erick of Virginia, Trigger Time

7. Sydney Beringer of Tennessee, Clarkrange HS

8. Kaitlynn Burrell of South Carolina, Walhalla HS Rifle Team

9. Zachary Higgins of Tennessee, Daniel Boone MCJROTC

10. Brooklyn Zeigler of Tennessee, Daniel Boone MCJROTC

11. Mackenzie Cole of Tennessee, Daniel Boone MCJROTC

12. Liam Conklin of Maryland, Annapolis HS NJROTC

13. Clay Crawford of South Dakota, Marshall County Sharpshooters

14. Elaine Saint of South Carolina, Walhalla HS Rifle Team

15. Tyler Dennard of Florida, Mariner HS AJROTC


Next article: Wisconsin Legion Family take strides to Be the One

Wisconsin Legion Family take strides to Be the One

Source: July 11, 2024

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Michelle Leick Leurquin found herself in a dark place many years ago following her deployment to Iraq. She called the suicide hotline, long before it was 988, only to be hung up on and then put on hold. As she drove to a remote area where her husband had a hunting cabin, her then 2-year-old chocolate Labrador Retriever crawled across the seat to put his paws in her lap and rub his head against her.

"My dog saved my life. He was an amazing, amazing dog," said Leurquin of her late dog Blue who lived 15 years. "The next day my provider at the VA actually called me, on a Saturday, and we sat on the phone for a half hour or so and talked (about what was causing the darkness). Ever since then I've struggled and had some rough times, but I always think back to Blue. I remember the feeling and the comfort that he gave me."

Leurquin, a member of Post 436 in Wrightstown, Wis., is letting other veterans know that they are not alone in their darkness by walking for Be the One – The American Legion's suicide prevention mission to save a veteran's life. Leurquin was part of the Department of Wisconsin's 2.2-mile Be the One Walk held July 10 during the department convention in Appleton, Wis., at the Hilton Paper Valley Hotel. It's the fourth suicide prevention walk that Department of Wisconsin Vice Commander Jim Johnson has organized during a department conference over the past few years.

"I'm trying to bring in exercise to increase our overall wellness, both physically and mentally," said Johnson, a member of Post 82 in Port Washington, Wis. "It breaks the stigma of all of us just sitting in a bar. It gets us out in the community, they see what we're doing, and it brings everybody together for Be the One to bring awareness to suicide."

Department of Wisconsin American Legion Family members gathered in the hotel lobby prior to the 3 p.m. walk start to sign a large Be the One banner and carry the name of a veteran. On a table sat 22 one-pound stones that represented the lives of veterans lost daily to suicide. Some of the stones were personalized with the names of veterans who died by suicide, while others featured words of remembrance.

Leurquin, who medically retired from the Army after 22 years, carried a stone that said, "I remember."

"It's important for me to carry this rock because I want everyone to remember that suicide is all around us, and as veterans every day we struggle, no matter if we look like we're struggling or not."

First Vice Commander Jarrod Coulter of Post 38 in Appleton carried a stone with a few names written on it. While he didn't know the veterans, he walked the 2.2 miles with the stone as a reminder that suicide touches the lives of so many.

"I had a family member that succumbed to suicide as a result of (military) deployments so that's why I showed up. I figured it would be good to carry the rock for someone else," said Coulter, an Army veteran who at 46 years old joined the Legion three years ago after learning about the organization's mission and advocacy efforts for veterans. "Anything that we can do to prevent soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen from taking their lives is critical. The Be the One initiative, making sure that we are doing Buddy Checks helps, shows results and hopefully makes a difference. If there is anything I can do … show up for a walk, do Buddy Checks, to help someone recognize that they are not alone, that there are other folks feeling the same and going through the same things, I'm all for it."

The Be the One walk was an out and back from the Appleton downtown hotel along sidewalks. Legion Family walk participants, that included Past National Commander Denise Rohan, were led for 2.2 miles by Department of Wisconsin Commander Karl Stuvengen, who carried an American flag, and Department of Wisconsin Historian Michelle Adams, who carried a Be the One flag.

"You are encouraged to talk to one other, maybe even find a new friend. Try to Be the One for each other," Johnson said before walkers departed the hotel. "There are conversations that we have on the walks that sometimes are deep … when you look at the stones that people put names on them, they mean something that you want to talk about. I want us to be together and try to prevent suicide. That's the piece."

Johnson served 15 years in the military between the Marines and National Guard, was an MP in Baghdad, and retired from law enforcement in Port Washington.

The first female to die in combat in Iraq was in his squad. "She was 20. I turned 42 in Iraq. The troops were like my kids," he said. "I struggled with stuff; I have PTSD. If I can help others feel better, that's what I'll do. Because The American Legion encourages us to Be the One, to talk with others about how we're feeling, ask for help when we know we need it, to know there are millions of people out there ready to help us, to know that we are not alone in our struggles."

When Legion Family members returned from the Be the One walk, the 22 stones were returned to the table followed by 22 seconds of silence and prayer. The stones will stay on the table under a Be the One pop-up banner throughout the Department of Wisconsin's conference as a reminder of the No. 1 issue facing the veteran community – suicide.

"Thank you for being the one as we raise awareness and remember those who are not with us," Johnson said in his closing remarks after the walk. "We helped our own wellness while bringing awareness to the internal struggles of our brothers and sisters. During our 2.2 for the 22 walk, each of you were being the one for each other.

"You are the one."



Next article: INDYCAR SERIES hitting oval portion of schedule

INDYCAR SERIES hitting oval portion of schedule

Source: July 11, 2024

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After seven of the first eight races of the season taking place on either street or road courses, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads into its oval-heavy schedule, kicking off with a doubleheader this weekend at the Iowa Speedway in Newton.

The Hy-Vee Homefront 250 and Hy-Vee One Stop 250, taking place on "The World's Fastest Short Track", start a stretch of six races on oval tracks over the final eight events of the season. After this weekend, ovals will be featured at World Wide Technology Raceway, the Milwaukee Mile (two races) and the season finale at the Nashville Superspeedway.

Defending INDYCAR SERIES champ Alex Palou, driving primarily the No. 10 DHL Honda with American Legion branding for Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR), continues to lead the points race again this year. He's coming off a second-place finish in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio and leads second-place Will Power by 48 points.

And driving the No. 8 American Legion Honda promoting the Be the One mission, CGR rookie Linus Lundqvist still has the lead in the Rookie of the Year race, holding a 24-point lead over Christian Rasmussen after last week's 15th-place finish. Lundqvist qualified for Mid-Ohio's Fast 12 and started the race 10th.

On Wednesday, Iowa's American Legion Riders provided an escort for Lundqvist's trailer into Newton ahead of this weekend's race schedule. Click here to see photos from the escort, and photos and video from the escort here.

Both of this weekend's races will be 250 laps and 233.5 miles on the Iowa Speedway's .875-mile tri-oval with variable banking that drives like a much bigger superspeedway and features laps under 18 seconds.

In addition to two races, the weekend also will include concert performances by Post Malone, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Combs and Eric Church This weekend's broadcast schedule (all times ET):

·         Friday, July 12 – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, 3:35-6 p.m. (Peacock).

·         Saturday, July 13 – NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifications, 3:45-4:45 p.m. (Peacock); Hy-Vee Homefront 250, 8-10 p.m. (NBC and Peacock).

·         Sunday, July 14 – Hy-Vee One Stop 250, noon-3:30 p.m. (NBC and Peacock)


·         The Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart and Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade will be the 10th and 11th races of the 2024 season. There have been six winners in nine NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season. Pato O'Ward (Streets of St. Petersburg and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course), Scott Dixon (Streets of Long Beach and Streets of Detroit), Scott McLaughlin (Barber Motorsports Park), Alex Palou (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca), Josef Newgarden (Indianapolis 500) and Will Power (Road America) have all won in 2024. The modern record (1946-present) for the most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014.

·         Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend, featuring the Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart and Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade, will be the second and third oval races of the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule. The first oval race of the season was won by Josef Newgarden (Indianapolis 500). The remaining oval races will occur Aug. 17 at World Wide Technology Raceway and Milwaukee Mile on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

·         With the introduction of the INDYCAR hybrid power unit, The Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend will mark the use of horsepower assist on an oval for the first time. Hybrid energy deployment will include unlimited activation with a maximum deployment of 105 kilojoules (kJ) per lap.

·         The Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart and Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade will be the 20th and 21st NTT INDYCAR SERIES events at Iowa Speedway. Josef Newgarden is the only entered driver to win at Iowa Speedway more than once. Newgarden has six wins (2016, 2019, 2020 Race #2, 2022 Race #1, 2023 Race #1 and 2023 Race #2). Past winner Pato O'Ward (2022 Race #2) is also entered in the event.

·         Andretti Autosport has won seven of the 19 previous races at Iowa Speedway (Dario Franchitti 2007, Tony Kanaan 2010, Marco Andretti 2011, Ryan Hunter-Reay 2012, 2014 and 2015 and James Hinchcliffe 2013). Team Penske also has seven wins (Helio Castroneves 2017, Josef Newgarden 2019, 2020 Race #2, 2022 Race #1, 2024 Race #1 and 2024 Race #2 and Simon Pagenaud 2020 Race #1). Chip Ganassi Racing has two wins (Dan Wheldon 2008 and Franchitti 2009).

·         Josef Newgarden has won nine of the last 12 oval races on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule – including three of the four races held at Iowa Speedway during Hy-Vee INDYCAR Weekend in 2022 and 2023.

·         Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dario Franchitti and Josef Newgarden are the only drivers to win at Iowa Speedway and win the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship in the same season. Newgarden accomplished the feat in 2019, Hunter-Reay in 2012 and Franchitti in 2007 and 2009.

·         Scott Dixon is the only driver to have competed in every NTT INDYCAR SERIES race at Iowa, and although he has 11 top-five finishes in his previous 19 starts on the oval, he's never won at "The World's Fastest Short Track." Twelve drivers entered have led laps at the track (Josef Newgarden 1,847, Will Power 383, Dixon 131, Pato O'Ward 97, Graham Rahal 32, Ed Carpenter 18, Felix Rosenqvist 9, Alexander Rossi 4, Marcus Ericsson 3, Scott McLaughlin 2, David Malukas 1 and Alex Palou 1).

·         Milestones: Scott Dixon will attempt to make his 332nd and 333rd consecutive starts, extending his record streak … Saturday's race will mark Dixon's 395th INDYCAR SERIES start, which will break a tie with Helio Castroneves for second on the all-time list.

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Next article: American Legion staffer presents at NATO summit

American Legion staffer presents at NATO summit

Source: July 11, 2024

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American Legion National Security Director Mario Marquez, a retired Marine Corps sergeant major, presented at the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Public Forum on July 10 in Washington, D.C.

The discussion, featuring Marquez and Canadian Lt. Col Melanie Lake, focused on their experiences while serving under NATO. Marquez, who served for 31 years, was in Kosovo under NATO forces, did four tours in Iraq and two earthquake areas in Japan. Lake, a combat engineer, served three tours in Afghanistan and commanded Canada's training mission in Ukraine.

Marquez expressed appreciation for NATO's support of the U.S. in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. "That was the only time that Article 5 has ever been invoked by NATO," he said. "We are grateful for that and we will never forget it." 

Lake noted a similar feeling in February 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine, where she had been four months earlier. "I had the feeling that we had to do everything we can do to help our Ukrainian partners as they defend their democracy — and ours." 

This year marks the 75th anniversary of NATO's formation when 12 countries signed the historic agreement in Washington, ensuring their collective defense in a volatile world.

Since then, NATO has expanded to 32 allies. They are meeting this week in Washington to make key decisions on steps to protect their one billion citizens as the world faces its most dangerous security environment since the Cold War. 

Marquez discussed his first exposure to NATO, while he was serving in Kosovo. He recalled the support from German and Austrian troops who were already there. "We seamlessly began operations like we had been operating together for years," he said. "I will never forget that. It allowed us to serve the people of Kosovo much better." 

Lake recalled when Kabul fell back into the hands of the Taliban. Like most Afghanistan veterans she questioned whether all the efforts were worth it but then found hope. 

"It was the Afghanistan women who said, ‘this gave us 20 years to pursue our education, get jobs and be a part of public life here.' And we've seen what our country can be and we're not willing to give up on that.' Right now, they are the fiercest resistance the Taliban is facing, both at home and at exile around the world."

Next article: US hypersonic weapons, Tomahawk units to be based in Germany, White House announces during NATO summit

US hypersonic weapons, Tomahawk units to be based in Germany, White House announces during NATO summit

Source: July 11, 2024

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The United States will step up the deployment of long-range artillery units to Germany in the next two years, a precursor to the permanent basing of those forces and hypersonic weapon systems under development, the White House said Wednesday.

The announcement was made during NATO's summit in Washington and is a step forward for the U.S. Army in Europe, which has made such weapon systems a top priority in its military buildup efforts.

President Joe Biden, who kicked off high-level security talks with other NATO heads of state Wednesday, said allies are making moves to fortify defenses against Russia, including efforts to enhance an industrial base that has been stretched by the effort to support Ukraine in its war against Russia.

"Today, we have to ask ourselves, what is next? How can we keep making the shield stronger?" Biden told other world leaders gathered in Washington.

Biden's statement coincided with an announcement by Germany and the United States that more forces are deploying to Europe.

The White House in a statement said the United States will begin episodic deployments of the long-range fire capabilities for its Multi-Domain Task Force in Germany in 2026. That is part of a plan to establish an "enduring stationing of these capabilities in the future," the statement said.

The plan calls for a mix of firepower.

"When fully developed, these conventional long-range fires units will include SM-6 and Tomahawk [missiles], and developmental hypersonic weapons, which have significantly longer range than current land-based fires in Europe," the statement said.

In 2021, the Army launched the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force at U.S. Army Europe and Africa headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany. The unit is designed to give the command capabilities beyond conventional ground-war tactics. During the same year, the Army also relaunched 56th Artillery Command, a mainstay in Europe during the Cold War. The command's return was part of a broader effort to reestablish long-range firepower in Europe in response to concerns about Russian aggression.

Biden said Russia is now on a "wartime footing" with respect to defense production. Moscow is ramping up its industrial base with support from China, North Korea and Iran, he said.

"We cannot in my view, we cannot allow the alliance to fall behind," Biden said.

Next article: Palou, Lundqvist bounce back on Day 2 of Iowa doubleheader