Landt-Thiel Post 470

American Legion News

N.C. post's first blood drive ‘amazingly successful'

By all accounts, the first blood drive coordinated by American Legion Post 41 in Troutman, N.C., was "amazing successful."

Before the April 4 event, all 36 donor slots were filled. Overall, 38 donors contributed 34 units of blood during a time when the American Red Cross has determined "an urgent need for blood donations" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lee McDaniel, Post 401's sergeant at arms, served as coordinator for the blood drive. He had planned the event before COVID-19 had entered the United States. But as the virus spread, the urgency grew.

"Even though it is not something I can donate to, this is the mission that I had," said McDaniel, who is unable to donate himself because he was in England in the 1980s during Mad Cow Disease. "Just being able to organize it and bring people together who are able to donate to complete the mission was very rewarding and satisfying to me. The Red Cross staffers who were there were amazed at how well our first blood drive went."

The American Legion has supported such Red Cross efforts for decades. In 1942, The American Legion launched its Blood Donor program that encourages individual blood donations and post blood drives. American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford, who donated eight gallons of blood in his lifetime, delivered that message in a video released last week.

"Please consider a blood donation to support these efforts," said Oxford, from his home in North Carolina. "Additionally, I would encourage American Legion posts to consider working with your local Red Cross to promote — or even host — a blood drive."

Amid the coronavirus, the Red Cross has instituted new safety procedures to ensure the safety of donors, volunteers and the blood being donated. Among the new protocols is checking for fevers of all potential donors before they enter the facility. In Troutman, no one failed the temperature checkpoint.

"We had a pretty good system going to ensure safety," said McDaniel, who envisions the post organizing twice-annual blood drives going forward.

He explained that a donor would first walk to the front entrance where a volunteer performed the temperature check. Once the donor passed, they would walk into the post's foyer area, which served as a waiting room for up to two people at a time. From there, donors would proceed to the main hall one at a time to the check-in area, then wait until they were called to the opposite end of the hall to complete a form about their health history. One at a time, donors would then be led to where they would give blood.

The approximately dozen or so volunteers — American Legion members, Red Cross volunteers and civilians — all wore face masks and gloves throughout the 5 ½-hour drive. Additionally, the Red Cross follows traditional safety procedures such as changing gloves frequently, disinfecting donor-touched areas and sterilizing tools before each donation.

Efforts by American Legion posts, members and others has been appreciated by the Red Cross.

"A sufficient and safe blood supply is a community responsibility to help ensure we have blood products available for patients in need," American Red Cross National Partnerships Director Donna M. Morrissey said. "The American Red Cross thanks The American Legion from the bottom of our hearts for the ongoing support. We applaud your courage and strength to give blood during this worldwide health crisis."

National Commander Coronavirus Updates

6 April 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

The American Legion firmly believes no veteran should ever be left behind. We are concerned that the recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act is too reliant on federal tax returns in identifying Americans receiving rebates. This would leave out a significant number of Americans, including many disabled veterans and their families with little incomes, who are not required to file a tax return.

I was happy to join leaders of other veteran service organizations Friday in writing a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. We pointed out that the federal government has many other ways to identify VA beneficiaries including disability compensation, pension, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and other non-taxable payments. Not only can they cross reference records that they already they have, but they also have records for Social Security recipients.

We should never let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The legislation that was passed is needed to quickly help millions of Americans who have been devastated by the economic downturn. Now it's time to improve the delivery process.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

6 April 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

They make them tough in Oregon. Various media outlets have reported that 104-year-old World War II veteran William Lapschies has recovered from COVID-19. He first showed symptoms on March 5 and was one of the first residents of the Edward C. Allworth Veterans' home in Lebanon, Ore., to test positive. But days after he experienced a spiked temperature and heavy breathing, VA spokespeople reported that he had recovered.

Fellow World War II vet Bill Kelly, 95, of McMinnville. Ore., also reportedly recovered from the virus. His granddaughter wrote on Facebook that Kelly said, "I survived the foxholes of Guam, I can get through this (coronavirus) bull----."

Well said. The American Legion salutes your service.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

3 April 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

Social distancing requirements have presented a new set of obstacles that American Legion posts have never faced during prior national emergencies and disasters. But the current crisis has proven that Legionnaires are as creative as they are tenacious.

In Dover, Mass., Post 209 has launched a food drive to benefit local agencies, a pantry and a church. Post 335 in South Gate, Calif., is providing care packages to senior citizens sheltered at home. American Legion Post 328 in Riley, Ind., will hold a free drive-thru cookout on April 4. These are just a few of the many reports that we are receiving every day of American Legion Family members serving their communities during these tough times.

As this continues, we may look back at this time as perhaps The American Legion's finest hour.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

3 April 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

During a conference call with major veteran service organizations on Wednesday afternoon, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie implored veterans who are not feeling well to call their local VA centers before coming in. Dropping in unannounced endangers the veteran and others around the veteran. While VA is seeing nonveterans in New York City, it has not had to open beds to nonveterans in other areas at this time. As the numbers rise in other cities, you may see the VA expand its fourth mission – which is to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Defense during times of national emergency or war.

Not all veterans are comfortable receiving telehealth, but it is an option that many should consider and would reduce exposure opportunities for COVID-19.

While calls to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline have understandably increased at a time like this, I was pleased to hear Secretary Wilkie say that they have also the increased the staff who answer those calls. Once again, if you are a veteran who is feeling stressed or have thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 if you're a veteran).

Bill Oxford

National Commander

2 April 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

I can think of no better way to observe Children & Youth Month , or month of hope as we have been calling it recently, than to make a donation to The American Legion Veterans & Children Foundation.

The donations are used to train our outstanding service officers and provide temporary financial assistance to Legion Family members in need with children at home. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an economic downturn, which only heightens the financial uncertainty many families face. Last year, our TFA grants provided more than $1 million of assistance to Coast Guard families that were impacted by the government shutdown. Those nonrepayable grants took their toll on the Foundation's balance, but the donations were delivered to the people who needed them. The current crisis will also test the resources of this outstanding charity.

Administrative costs for this great foundation are paid by national headquarters, so you can be sure that your entire donation will go to the stated cause. In addtion to making a donation, feel free to share my video message on social media.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

2 April 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

The COVID-19 crisis is taking its toll on America's blood supply. While many Americans are wisely staying in their homes, blood donation is considered an essential service. It is perfectly appropriate to leave your home to make a donation. We are aware of many American Legion posts that have held or are planning blood drives. But regardless of where the donation is made, if you are healthy, please do so. If you enter your zip code here , the American Red Cross will direct you to a drive in your vicinity. And you can also help get the word out by sharing this video message on your social media page or post website:

Bill Oxford

National Commander

1 April 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

Shutdowns should not be interpreted as closed for business. Your national staff of The American Legion is working remotely from the safety of their homes. The same could be said for our dedicated American Legion service officers.

While an office visit is not a safe option for the time being, if you would like to file a claim or have questions about your benefits, visit www.legion.org/serviceofficers While there may be some delays, many service officers are still responding to emails and calls.

1 April 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

April is Children & Youth month and this year it is being observed in a way that nobody could have anticipated even a month ago. While many of our programs have been postponed or cancelled, The American Legion's devotion to the current generation of young people remains steadfast.

Most schools are closed because of the COVID-19 crisis. If you are sheltered in with your children, it is a perfect time to remind them of our country's great history. Talk about how after America prevailed in the first World War this country persevered through an influenza epidemic in 1918. Talk about the Greatest Generation that battled through an economic depression before fighting the deadliest war in world history. More than 18 years ago, Americans were stunned to see New York's tallest skyscrapers levelled by hijacked airplanes. The attacks also struck the headquarters of America's military might. Yet we rebuilt, recovered and prospered.

This crisis, unique as it is, will ultimately result in a stronger, better and more prepared America when the emergency ends. Yes, there is much sadness. But from the grocer to the surgeon, we are surrounded by heroes.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

31 March 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

Lost in all of the coronavirus coverage are people who we can't afford to lose. I'm speaking of the twenty-plus veterans per day who commit suicide. Fortunately, the President's Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) has not forgotten.

The national emergency has only exacerbated feelings of isolation, economic despair and depression. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veterans Crisis Line have experienced an increase in call volume.

In addition to increasing our Buddy Checks, there is more that we can do. PREVENTS is trying to increase public awareness and perceptiveness to this problem by offering shareable materials on its Facebook page. You can follow PREVENTS on Twitter at @WeArePREVENTS and through various social media platforms using #MoreThanEverBefore.

Most important, if you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or expressing the slightest suicidal thoughts, call the Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255 (press 1 if you're a veteran).

Bill Oxford

National Commander

Coronavirus Update 31 March 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

There is never a bad time to fly the flag of our country. We saw a huge spike of Old Glory being displayed during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. We also see the flag commonly flown on patriotic holidays. It is wonderful to see Americans rally around the flag during times of national crisis or emergency – though The American Legion has always championed the patriotic display of our flag.

If you don't have an American flag, you need not leave your home to purchase one. Simply visit www.AmericanLegionFlags.com or call 1-888-453-4466. The flag can be delivered to your home and is competitively priced. Moreover, they are 100 percent made in the United States, with some of the proceeds being used to support American Legion programs which are assisting veterans and military families in your community.

If you are reading this message you clearly love your country. This is an opportunity to let your community know that you are also proud of it.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

30 March 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

Yesterday, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it was opening 50 beds in New York City for nonCOVID-19 patients who are nonveterans. The request to do this came from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will allow other hospitals to better serve the growing number of coronavirus cases.

Under normal circumstances, The American Legion would not support using VA resources for nonveterans. However, these are not normal circumstances. In fact, delegates at The American Legion National Convention in 2016 wisely anticipated emergencies such as the one we are now facing when they passed Resolution No. 188, which calls on Congress to fund VA's role as a back-up to FEMA in response to national emergencies. While The American Legion believes in a strong VA health system for veterans, we also recognize its vital "fourth mission" to serve as a back-up for FEMA and the Department of Defense in response to national emergencies.

"VA is proud to assist the City of New York while continuing its primary mission of caring for our nation's veterans." VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in an official statement.

The American Legion has been saying for years that VA offers the best healthcare anywhere. Now, other Americans will see why.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

30 March 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

Buddy Checks have been around long before the coronavirus. In fact, I could argue that Legionnaires have been checking on their fellow veterans since our founding in 1919.

But COVID-19 is a unique emergency requiring a different type of response. Social distancing is needed to protect not only the people we are trying to help but the person conducting the buddy check as well. Moreover, economic uncertainty and health concerns have added to the stress and hardships that many veterans face.

With this in mind, The American Legion is offering a new toolkit for you to download: How to Perform A Buddy Check During the Coronavirus Pandemic. Included are sample scripts, along with tips on how to organize a team. It's only five pages so it should be easy to print from your home. It's just another example of how The American Legion is a true brotherhood and sisterhood.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

27 March 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

I had a conference call with our department adjutants Wednesday afternoon. Many departments have cancelled Boys State, Oratorical Contests, American Legion Baseball games and department conventions. Others are delaying decisions and hoping that conditions improve to a point where these events can either take place or be rescheduled for a later date.

Please be understanding with those who have to make these difficult decisions. They are made with the safety of the participants and the public in mind. Please refer to your American Legion department websites frequently to learn the latest about these events.

Although American Legion departments are keeping their social distance, there is no doubt that they are very much engaged with what is occurring and anxious to continue to serve you – our American Legion Family.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

27 March 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

The American Legion was only ten years old when the stock market crashed in 1929. Although today's volatile stock market is the result of a world health crisis, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's inaugural address in 1933 included some inspirational words that still ring true today.

"Our greatest primary task is to put people to work," FDR said. "This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources."

And, of course, Roosevelt's most famous passage from that address, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

The American Legion has always been an active sponsor of job fairs and career training for transitioning veterans. Once society re-opens, you can count on your American Legion to once again be on the frontlines of this important effort.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

26 March 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

I've been hearing many great reports about The American Legion's response to COVID-19 in communities across the country.

Legionnaires in the Blue Grass State have been making people feel, well, less blue. American Legion Post 23 in Bowling Green, Ky., teamed up with our friends in the Good Deeds Club and the Marine Corps League to provide a free hot breakfast by setting up a drive-through in its parking lot earlier this week. According to a report by local station WNKY, the first 200 drivers received sausage, biscuits, coffee donuts and toilet paper. These volunteers did it once again this morning.

Feel free to share these great stories by submitting them to www.legiontown.org or jraughter@legion.org.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

26 March 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

The American Legion is full of knowledgeable experts but our organization does not offer medical advice. That is best left for your personal physician.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is including much of its response information and services on its va.gov website. Included is this piece of advice:

"If you're a Veteran seeking medical care, call your VA health facility if you have symptoms of the virus. Or sign in to My HealtheVet and send a secure message. You may be able to get diagnosed and receive care through VA telehealth without having to come in at all."

Bill Oxford

National Commander

25 March 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

Many times I have mentioned the importance of conducting Buddy Checks throughout this crisis. It is especially vital that we check on senior citizens. Legion College graduate Jennifer Gedney Havlick (Class of 2018) has brought it to a new level. A member of Post 109 in Twin Harbors, Minn., she has formulated a plan called Enhanced Buddy Checks. (click here)

It includes organizing response teams with captains, daily morale calls, and shopping for those who are self-quarantined. Even tasks such as bringing trash cans to the curb are not overlooked. Performing these tasks for others can save lives to those who may be especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

In its early stages, Buddy Checks were seen as a way to improve communication. During this national emergency, it is more important than ever before.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

25 March 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

Your national headquarters is still operating, albeit quite differently, during this national emergency. The staff is complying with local authorities and working remotely from home. Many are still learning to use recently acquired communication tools such as Vonage and Office-365, so please patient if the service and response isn't as prompt as it has been in the past.

The Emblem Sales call center is closed but customers can email emblem@legion.org and available staff will respond as quickly as possible. Orders may be placed online at emblem.legion.org but shipping delays can be expected during this time. Our printing and production shop will still process membership cards on time.

Thank you for your understanding.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

24 March 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

A review of our 101-year history offers convincing proof that The American Legion does not decide to cancel national meetings or programs lightly. We understand their importance. The meetings are used as a forum for our membership through their National Executive Committee members to set policy, agendas and vision. Our programs build character.

However, the safety and health of our participants, volunteers and staff must be our top priority. The staff at our national headquarters in Indianapolis has been complying with a directive from the state's governor to stay home. They have been working remotely so they can continue to serve our members. The same for our Washington, D.C., office.

The decision to cancel the spring meetings of the National Executive Committee is a safety measure intended to limit the exposure and spread of COVID-19. I intend to continue regular communications with the National Executive Committee and the 55 departments through telephone, email and other means.

The cancellation of the National Oratorical Finals, the Junior Shooting Sports championships and Boys Nation should not be interpreted as our assessment of how conditions will be in the coming months. It is intended to remove pressure from the departments and posts who normally conduct earlier local competitions and Boys State programs, which feed into the national programs.

We are still assessing plans for the American Legion Baseball World Series and the national convention. Rest assured that decisions for those events will not be made prematurely but only after thoughtful deliberation based on what occurs in the coming months.

We will get through this because we are The American Legion and we rise to any challenge.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

24 March 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

When a crisis faces a community, The American Legion has an amazing record of response. We've seen this in natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other tragedies. The current national emergency offers unique challenges that we have not faced in modern times. Yet, there are American Legion posts still providing support that can make a vital difference.

Post 28 in Spartanburg, S.C., has become a relief center of sorts. By providing coloring books and board games, they are helping families battle cabin fever that is likely to grow as the pandemic continues. Even more importantly, the post has a food pantry directed toward those who may have lost their jobs or incomes due to the economic shutdown.

The post isn't limiting its assistance to Legionnaires or even veterans. "If you have a need, we'll feed you," Mike Fowler, the activities and chef for Post 28 told the Spartanburg Herald Journal.

We live in an amazing country. And I am humbled to lead an amazing organization.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

23 March 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

As you may have heard, The American Legion has cancelled its 2020 National Oratorical Contest. Cancelling such a great and worthy program is difficult but when it comes to the safety of the competitors, volunteers and staff, it is a no-brainer.

Today, the Indiana governor recommended all non-essential personnel "stay home." Many other states are operating under similar orders.

If you are able, please donate blood. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, "You can still go out and give blood. We're worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement."

President Trump has compared this pandemic to a war. Given the seriousness, it seems appropriate. Giving blood is another way for American Legion Family members to contribute to the war effort.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

23 March 20, Morning

Dear American Legion Family,

Late last week Congress passed emergency legislation ensuring the continuation of GI Bill benefits through the current COVID-19 crisis. The temporary shutdown of schools does not mean that the needs of the student veteran are also suspended. These veterans will still need to eat. Rent will still need to be paid along with other essential living expenses. Online learning will still occur at many of the traditional universities and colleges.

It was The American Legion that created the original GI Bill and we have championed all of the later versions that have occurred in the 76 years since the Servicemen's Readjustment Act. While the original was widely credited for helping America prosper following the Great Depression and World War II, the current generation of veterans may also rely heavily on this benefit due to the economic hardships that are already being inflicted as a result of this global pandemic.

Many of our fellow Americans will face financial difficulties in the coming weeks and months. Our programs will be needed but even those funds have limits. Small gestures help. I often hear about posts that have helped pick-up the dues for struggling members. Some do so for World War II veterans. Others award complimentary memberships to active-duty military. Resources may be limited, but the generosity of our American Legion Family is always in abundant supply. It's just another example of why I am proud to be a Legionnaire.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

20 March 20, Afternoon

Dear American Legion Family,

Your Washington-based staff has been communicating regularly with the Department of Veterans Affairs. During a conference call yesterday, VA reported that screening is happening at its facilities and patients are limited to one visitor. No visitors under age 18 allowed. These rules might be difficult for families to accept but they are necessary for the safety of all concerned.

VA also says it has the capacity to meet demand for increased testing. The estimated period to obtain results is two-to-eight days.

The American Legion repeatedly says VA offers great care. During this crisis, VA will be tested like never before. I believe Americans will have a new appreciation for this System Worth Saving.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

20 March 20, morning

Dear American Legion Family,

I saw an interesting Facebook meme that reminds people that not all heroes wear capes. Many don't even wear uniforms. They wear scrubs. I couldn't agree more.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

19 March 20, morning

Dear American Legion Family,

Despite some notable and well-publicized exceptions, The American Legion has long-believed that the Department of Veterans Affairs offers the "best health care anywhere."

Under normal circumstances, VA is for veterans. However, during this national emergency, VA is a crucial player in our nation's ability to respond to the coronavirus. Delegates to our 2016 National Convention in Cincinnati wisely passed a resolution urging Congress to provide VA with the necessary funding to enhance its ability to respond to national emergencies.

Media outlets report that VA is preparing to request more than $16 billion in new funding to respond to the threat. Given the stakes, we hope the request is given serious consideration.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

19 March 20, morning

Dear American Legion Family,

In a Department of Defense COVID-19 Update provided early yesterday, the military reported 49 cases of coronavirus among its uniformed members. By the time you read this, it has undoubtedly gone up. Maybe by a lot.

National Guardsmen were providing support to civil authorities in 22 states. These citizen-soldiers do amazing work on our behalf through every major crisis, disaster and emergency. As do the personnel on Navy hospital ships, which are deploying on both of our coasts. Remember that members of every branch have family at home that they also care deeply about and are as much at risk as the rest of the general public. But yet, our servicemembers still continue on with mission. Just as they always have, throughout our history.

Pray for our military. They are America's true treasure.

18 March 20, afternoon

The American Legion believes there is strength in numbers. We emphasize growth in membership and participation in our great programs.

However, public safety requires the opposite approach for now. Our numbers must continue to grow, but our gatherings should not. President Trump and his team of health care experts are advising Americans to avoid crowds of more than 10 people. Let's be smart about this. Video-conferencing and telephones are options for us to continue meeting and bonding as Legion Family members. Our comradeship will continue even if there is some social distancing required. And just like every other crisis that our world has faced, this too shall pass.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

18 March 20, morning

Dear American Legion Family,

Channeling the late Mr. Rogers, actor Tom Hanks recently tweeted about "helpers," the people who are assisting others as we all face this global crisis.

Our organization is full of helpers. A recent Instagram message from Raymond Bernucho, a Legionnaire from Post 38 in Baton Rouge, La., caught my attention. It stated, "I'm a long haul driver with U.S. Express working (a) dedicated route for Walmart. Since this crisis has begun all of the drivers delivering to all the stores, no matter what type of store…Walmart, Target, etc., have been working to keep up with the demands of the people of this country so that (it) can survive and make it thru this world pandemic.

"I feel as though I'm back in the Army, serving this country once and again and it truly feels good for me to be of service not only to my fellow Legionnaires but to the people of this country. So let's take some time out to get on our knees and pray for all of this to be taken away by God's mercy. Let us also take time to go help our elderly brothers and sisters who are not able to get…food, medicine or need a ride to their doctor."

Raymond, I couldn't have said it better. Thank you helper.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

17 March 20, afternoon

Buddy Checks. This outreach program intended to check on the wellbeing of our fellow veterans is more important now than ever before. Health officials tell us that seniors are the most vulnerable to the harmful effects of the coronavirus. They also remain some of the toughest Legionnaires that I have known. Some of them survived the Great Depression and World War II. They should be first on our list of buddies to check on.

We have to be creative. Nursing homes have wisely stopped visitation. Talk to administrators about whether they are assisting patients so they have access to Facetime, Skype or other video-calling technology. Even a simple phone call will do. American Legion Post 330 in Hayfield, Minn., for instance, has collected toilet paper for the elderly. There are many other posts that are stepping up during this crisis. That's what we in The American Legion do.

--Bill Oxford

National Commander

17 March 20, morning

Dear American Legion Family,

You will be receiving many regular updates from me throughout the coronavirus crisis. I previously announced that The American Legion has suspended all official travel of our national officers and staff through the month of April. Though I am home in North Carolina, I am still actively engaged and plan to communicate with you regularly.

National Headquarters has received numerous requests from American Legion departments and posts who are concerned about closures and curfews. My advice: be patient. Mistakes will be made, but your safety is what is motivating national and local authorities to take these measures. The Preamble to The American Legion Constitution includes the pledge, "to maintain law and order." We are a law-abiding organization.

It will be tough, but we will get through this. If you need motivation, think about our World War II veterans. They were tough as nails and survived the Great Depression. I will have more to say about them later. We will talk soon.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

March Impact Report: Legion steps up in the face of pandemic

American Legion National Commander Edward N. Scheiberling observed in 1945, as World War II was grinding into its final months, that The American Legion has "demonstrated to the world … the power of the American people when they face a grave emergency." Seventy-five years later, The American Legion is demonstrating that power again.

Posts worldwide have been actively checking on veterans, feeding children, buying supplies and assisting in hundreds of ways as their communities endure the difficulties of sheltering at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and the deadly COVID-19 infection.

Meanwhile, The American Legion National Headquarters has continued to fulfill its core mission by representing veterans in their VA appeals cases, providing Temporary Financial Assistance grants to military and veteran families with minor children at home and helping veterans find jobs.

Click here to see the March 2020 American Legion Membership Impact Report, as well as reports from past months.

COVID-19 stimulus bill provides nearly $20B to VA

The United States Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion relief package designed to alleviate some of the impact of the economic fallout resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"This will deliver urgently needed relief," President Donald Trump said as he signed the bill into law.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) will provide direct payments to Americans, expansion of unemployment insurance, aid to large and small businesses, and significant funding for the healthcare industry.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will receive $19.6 billion in additional funding to fight the pandemic. The majority of the money allocated to VA will go directly to the Veterans Health Administration. This funding will provide essential medical services, including vital medical and protective equipment, testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical supplies to support growing demand for health-care services at VA facilities and through telehealth services. Provisions in the bill require VA to provide PPE to all home health-care workers serving veterans at home and in the community. To support VA staff working overtime during the COVID-19 pandemic, the CARES Act waives pay caps for VA staff so they can be fully compensated for hours served.

The funding provided by the CARES Act will ensure VA is able to provide additional care and support for the most vulnerable veterans, including through programs assisting those who are homeless or at-risk of homelessnes, as well as within VA-run nursing homes and community living centers.

The most notable change in how veterans are able to receive VA health care during the pandemic is the expansion of telehealth services. Funds to bolster telehealth capabilities through increased telework and call center capabilities will deliver health care and mental health services while helping mitigate the risk of virus transmission. VA is also authorized to enter into agreements with telecommunications companies in order to provide broadband services for veterans so they can receive tele-mental healthcare.

To do your part in flattening the curve in the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Practice social distancing

  • Get a flu shot

  • Keep your hands clean by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

  • Avoid people who are sick

  • Stay home and away from others when sick

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues or your arm/sleeve. Dispose of tissues in the trash.

  • Keep surfaces clean using disinfecting wipes

  • Check the CDC advisories prior to planning travel

 

For the latest VA updates on coronavirus and common-sense tips on preventing the spread of disease, visit www.publichealth.va.gov/n-coronavirus/.

Stay informed on message from American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford and other news stories regarding the coronavirus at www.legion.org/coronavirus.

Legion launches first podcast

The American Legion has launched its first episode of the Tango Alpha Lima podcast.

The twice-monthly podcast features three post-9/11 veterans who discuss news, information and quirky stories of interest to the military community. American Legion staff member Mark Seavey joins Legionnaires Jeff Daly, a member of Hollywood Post 43, and Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado, of Post 180 in Vienna, Va.

In the first episode, the co-hosts talk about Medal of Honor recipients, Seavey scorns a Purell pandemic profiteer and Gorbulja-Maldonado gives guidance on weathering the quarantine. You can listen to the podcast here and subscribe to it on iTunes, Stitcher and anywhere else you can download podcasts. Each episode will also have a video option to view available on the Legion's YouTube channel.

The initiative is part of how the Legion is connecting with today's younger veterans, Media and Communications Commission Chairman Walter Ivie said.

"I am thrilled that we were able to work through some challenges to produce the first of many engaging, informative and thoughtful podcasts," Ivie said. "Gone are the days when our only media contact with members was the monthly magazine. Today's media consumer demands information in various formats — social media, web, mobile, audio and video. With the Tango Alpha Lima podcast joining our other electronic media platforms, we are fulfilling that desire."

 

 

Your guide to starting and making Buddy Checks

Executive Committee members of American Legion Post 826 in Woodland Hills, Calif., are reaching out to the post's World War II and Korean veterans to check on their needs as they are homebound during the coronavirus pandemic. The phone calls by the committee members resulted in the need for grocery pickup, food donations and over the counter medication needs.

Leland Thompson American Legion Post 647 in Alameda, Calif., recently emailed – and mailed members without emails on file – the April issue of its newsletter. In his column, Post Commander Greg Owens addressed the temporary closures of businesses, restaurants and social establishments to help prevent the risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus. Even though Post 647 is part of these closures, Owens reminded members in his message that they are not alone and if a need arises – grocery shopping, prescription pickup, travel needs, etc. – a group of dedicated post members are available to help. "Our goal is to keep you healthy and see you through the ‘shelter in place' request," Owens wrote. His message concluded with a contact number to call for assistance.

Department of Oklahoma Commander Ronald L. Gott distributed to Legionnaires statewide a "Call Two Action" letter. He asked for members to call two people in their phone contact each day to check in, whether that's family, friends or veterans. If they speak with a veteran, Gott asked them to say, "Thank you and your family for your service to our country. Is there anything The American Legion can do to help you?"

The time to check on the well-being of veterans is now with COVID-19 affecting everyone. That contact can be made through Buddy Checks, whether it's a message in your newsletter, like Post 647, a phone call or a postcard via mail. Veterans may not always need food or other daily assistance; just hearing a voice on the phone or a written message of hope is a reminder that they are not forgotten.

Checking on veterans in your community, whether their membership is paid up, expired or they're a potential new member, allows The American Legion to reach out to ensure basic needs are met. And these Buddy Checks are not about membership. Department of Alabama Adjutant Greg Akers said when his Post 216 members are making calls, that they do not discuss membership unless it is brought up and then they need to be prepared to answer. "This tactic is VITAL in this effort a Buddy Check is NOT a membership drive," he said.

Buddy Checks: How to get started

- Create a team to make the calls. Akers said four members from Post 216, including Post Commander Luther McAnally, are calling weekly on all active, expired and DMS members. Akers said one person can make about 70 calls in three to four hours depending on conversation lengths. "All of our members, expired or not, will hear from four different people in the post. This reinforces that the entire post cares about their well-being and not just one person," Akers said.

- Access a list of current and former members at www.mylegion.org. One team member can save those names in a spreadsheet, or copy and paste into a Word file, and distribute among the team members via email.

- Make a list of local resources and phone numbers of services such as pharmacies with drive-thru windows, restaurants that are now providing order-ahead takeout and meal delivery vendors. Post 216 has its county service officer's contacts and all emergency contacts for the VA available.

- Ask the veteran how they are doing and if they need anything. Post 216 callers ask anything from mowing the lawn to picking up groceries. On a spreadsheet identify those who may need a follow up or additional assistance.

- Leave contact information in case the call doesn't get answered so you can be reached.

Download the Buddy Check guide

The new "How to Perform a Buddy Check During the Coronavirus Pandemic" is available to download here.

JSSP Legion team wins state championship, breaks scoring record

Nine award ribbons were up for taking at the Indiana State Rifle and Pistol Association (ISRPA) 's 3-Position Junior Postal Championships in Ft. Wayne, Ind., early last month. The Junior Shooting Sports Program of American Legion Post 173 in Versailles took home six of those ribbons.

But that's not all.

Post 173's youth participants secured their state championship title for the second year and broke their 2019 state scoring record by 61 points for a new state record of 2225.

"I tell the kids the reason you're good is because we're a team," said Coach Jerry Hewitt, a life member of Post 173. "Assistant Coach Steve (Scoggins) and I could not be more proud of these young men and women."

Post 173's shooting sports program is fairly new – started in 2015 – yet, for the past two years they have won every air rifle championship in Indiana for the sporter class. "People can't believe how well we've done in such a short amount of time," Hewitt said. He credits support from community members and businesses that helped get the shooting sports program running, the parents and the program's youth participants.

"We have such good support from our parents – they are our most valuable player," Hewitt said.

The program's nine youth marksmen all shoot in the sporter class for 3-position: prone, standing and kneeling. They practice on Monday's inside the education building at the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association in the nearby town Friendship.

As the air rifle program's coaches, both Hewitt and Scoggins have experience in the field from their military service. Hewitt, a Vietnam War era veteran, was on the U.S. Army's brim grade rifle team. And Scoggins, a Post 173 life member, worked at a firing range during his time in the Marine Corps. Another big help and supporter of Post 173's Junior Shooting Sports Program is Bill Jordan with ISRPA. Hewitt said Jordan has helped the young shooters with position and aim skills, and provided coaching knowledge to Hewitt and Scoggins. "He taught us and the kids the right way to do it. He is our secret sauce," Hewitt said.

As Post 173's air rifle team travels around the state to compete, the competitors are wearing gear with The American Legion and Post 173 shooting sports emblem on it. "People are starting to know where Versailles American Legion is now because of them," Hewitt said. "I couldn't ask for better kids."

'It's my way of letting them know I care'

Minnesota Legionnaire Jennifer Havlick had perhaps a somewhat unique perspective when the coronavirus pandemic started. And it's that perspective that led to Havlick, a member of American Legion Post 109 in Two Harbors, Minn., to not only take on making Buddy Checks on fellow veterans, but expanding those efforts – both in terms of services and the forum for those Buddy Checks.

In addition to devising an Enhanced Buddy Checks program that includes setting up Legion Family Response Teams that both reach out to veterans and offer services such as grocery shopping and pickup, Havlick also started setting up nightly Zoom video conference meetings for Minnesota Legionnaires looking to talk with a fellow veteran.

The ideas came from background in disaster response, where Havlick said she learned to look at those persons most vulnerable or in the most danger. "Here in the Eighth District 51 percent of our Legionnaires are Vietnam War veterans or older. That puts us right in the demographic of ‘uh oh. What are we going to do?' These are our (most vulnerable). Vietnam veterans have an assortment of illnesses that could not go well with this virus."

Havlick lives in a town with a population of 3,900, of which 250-plus are members of Post 109. Havlick holds multiple positions at the Eighth District level, including membership director, and when the coronavirus pandemic started to accelerate, she began calling the posts in the district to see how they were doing "and encourage them to call their members and see how they are doing," she said. "I thought who would be more well-equipped to know and deal with our veterans who can't leave home? I thought that some of these guys or girls are going to get to a point where they can't leave home. What should we do to make sure – especially if they don't have family – that we're taking care of them? We want to make sure they have food. (Doing) something as easy as going to the pharmacy picking up meds for them, just so they don't have to come out in the middle of this."

Havlick and a small group of Minnesota Legionnaires also started doing Facebook chats, but when Havlick wanted to expand the outreach someone in the group suggested using Zoom. A past district and department vice commander, and U.S. Army veteran, Havlick said there were eight Legionnaires taking part in the first Zoom chat and four the second night.

"I think it depends on what is on TV and what people are working on. That's why I set it for every day at the same time … there's always the next day to do it," she said. "I told everybody ‘I'm going to be here at 7 o'clock CST until we get through this,' just so people know they have somewhere to go and talk to people – even if it's just me. It's somebody out of your wheelhouse because you can't go anywhere."

Havlick also serves on the Department of Minnesota's Strategic Planning Committee and hopes to work with the committee to fine-tune a process that would provide Buddy Checks and outreach to members in future emergency situations such as the current pandemic.

But Havlick said the COVID-19 outbreak hasn't just brought about a need for Buddy Checks on veterans. "We need to help our active-duty (military), reservists and National Guard because … they're being deployed," she said. "Who's going to take care of their families while they're gone? That's supposed to be our job."

Havlick's efforts in Minnesota are part of a nationwide effort by American Legion posts and individual Legionnaires to reach out to fellow veterans via Buddy Checks during this difficult time. The following a handful of examples of posts and individuals taking on this critical task.

And for those wishing to start Buddy Checks during the coronavirus pandemic, we've created a downloadable toolkit to assist those efforts.

California

• At Riverside Post 289, Post Commander "Irish" Mike Buchner is reaching out to members of the post to ensure they have whatever they need and offer support. Buchner said he's also asking other members to "to pay it forward and contact five members once they have been contacted. Our elders are our most prized possession, and we will do all that we can to ensure they're safe and comfortable. No member should feel alone".

• In Woodland Hills, American Legion Post 826's Executive Committee has formed a team to reach out to the post's World War II and Korean War veterans. The aim is to check on needs of these older veterans during this COVID-19 driven stay-at-home period and provide services to those in need. The post is making a contact list using its electronic roster and contacting those veterans. Via Legiontown.org, Post Adjutant Larry Van Kuran said those making the phone calls are noting if a veteran is in need of help with grocery shopping, prescription pick-up and other amenities and food donations.

Illinois

In Springfield, Post 32 member and National Convention Commission Chairman Mike Walton used the media to get the word out about Buddy Checks. Walton's press release appeared broadcast and print media outlets and stated the Post 32 would be conducting Buddy Checks on local veterans.

"As many of you know with PTSD and other problems, having to stay in and not have contact with others and the outside world could seriously affect the mental health of many of our brother and sister veterans," wrote Walton, "so please, do as The American Legion is doing nationwide and call a veteran and make sure they are doing ok."

Kansas

Fort Scott Thompson-Harkey Post 25 is "pushing" Buddy Checks during the coronavirus outbreak, Post 25 Commander Carl Jowers said. "Several post officers are reaching out to our members who do not use email and are checking on them."

Maryland

Members of American Legion Post 156 in Ellicott City already were discussing Buddy Checks before the coronavirus pandemic took off and have turned their discussions into actions. Twelve members have volunteered to regularly stay in contact with the post's 450-plus members during the state's stay-at-home mandate. "We are a resource for our members should they have any needs arising during the coronavirus emergency," Post 156 First Vice Commander Vance Blakely said. "We are also asking our members to provide a self-assessment in three categories: their physical, their mental and spiritual well-being. We want to know how our members are adjusting to the social isolation that many of them are experiencing. To alleviate that, we are encouraging them to also contact us if they simply need someone to talk with."

Ohio

American Legion Paschall Post 164 in Grove City conducted a mass Buddy Check, contacting nearly 330 member through the efforts of Post Commander 164 Jefferey Shipley and his executive board. "(The) American Legion has a sacred responsibility to look out for and to support fellow veterans within their local communities" said Jermaine Ferguson, the Department of Ohio's Veteran Affairs & Rehabilitation and National Security Coordinator. "Veterans who need assistance may not know where to go or who to ask, especially in times of crisis."

Pennsylvania

Mark Eldridge, commander of Post 283 in Sayre, said by March 23 his post had distributed more than 24 essential items packs to its most at-risk members, encouraging those members to shelter. The post also was gearing up for phone wellness checks on its members.

South Carolina

District 20 Commander David Mills posted on Facebook that in between breaks of working outside, he came into the house and "called and checked on veterans and their families, most that are shut in and some that have been sick. They really get a kick being remembered and thought of. So remember this, you may be stuck home and bored, but there are … worse situations. A friendly call and well check make a big difference to those that think they are all alone. Take a moment and let them know they are not forgotten."

Wisconsin

Virginia Russell, commander of Post 539 in Green Bay and the Brown County commander, is sending emails to the 72 post members with email addresses, sending cards to those members who are in nursing homes and are unable to be visited in person, and making calls to those without an email address. Russell also sends out birthday cards each month to members celebrating a birthday.

"I even have sent to those who have not renewed just to let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers," Russell said. "I do this once a week. It's my way of letting them know I care about them."

American Legion Family members continue to serve despite COVID-19

As the coronavirus pandemic moved into California and Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order for the state's residents, American Legion Post 289 in Riverside was going to have to close down its normal operations. But for Post Commander "Irish" Mike Buchner, that didn't mean the post was going to be completely closed for business.

Buchner assembled a team of American Legion Family members that included Robert Rodriguez, Steve "Captain America" Rodgers Jr., Monique Clemons, Steve "Fingers" Dodson, Kathy Strickland, Trina Contreras and Amber O'Brien to assist other veterans in the post.

Buchner said the group created a menu and prepared meals for lunch and dinner that were available to Post 289 members for either carryout or delivery. The team also is going grocery shopping for its members, as well as providing much-needed – but safe – socialization opportunities.

"Some members that are having a hard time coping with the isolation and/or PTSD are welcome to come to their post and have a meal or just to talk to someone," Buchner said, noting that 95 percent of the post's chairs have been removed in order to practice "safe social distancing."

Buchner said Riverside Police Chief Larry Gonzalez and a city council member even visited the post on March 26 to check out what Post 289 was doing. "They were very pleased with (the) efforts and were quite impressed with (the) passion displayed to be there for their (Legion Family) members and have encouraged (the post) to keep up the great work," Buchner said. "The police chief has offered to send donations (to the post) to help cover costs of goods."

Buchner said the post also has contacted the Red Cross to organize a blood drive at the post, something that is being urged by American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford nationwide.

In Georgia, American Legion Sylvester Post 335 further showed how valuable it is to its community by assisting the Worth County School District and area churches in distributing breakfast and lunch items to local children.

"Many of the families in our area are in low income homes. Being out of school due to the (coronavirus) pandemic puts these children at risk of going hungry," said Post 335 Commander Ray Humphrey, who also serves as Georgia's 12th District commander. "During the week we help to distribute 1,000 meal packages a day."

Humphrey said each meal package consisted of a bag lunch for that day, breakfast for the next day, and an assortment of milk, fresh fruit, fruit juice and snacks. On Fridays Post 335 also helps distribute an additional 250 backpack bags of healthy food items for the most at-need students to take home for the weekends.

"When all the students have been fed we hand-deliver any remaining food packages to the elderly veterans and at-risk members of our community," Humphrey said. "We are partnered and working with great local churches and the leadership of a dedicated school system. Being an active member of our community, we were asked to help with this project. It remains our mission to continue to do so until this situation has passed."

The following are a few more example of American Legion posts and Legion Family members delivering assistance in one way, shape or form to its members, veterans in the area and their communities.

California

• In South Gate, American Legion Post 335 is providing care packages to senior citizens sheltering at home. The care packages consist of a weekly supply of toilet paper, soap and food. South Gate city officials have set up a call center for seniors to use to request assistance. "We have close to almost 12,000 seniors in South Gate right now," Post 335 Vice Commander Robert Montalvo told ABC7. "Just from speaking to them the past week, the majority don't have anybody to help them out. They don't have family or friends. And they are very isolated in their homes and scared."

• Newport Harbor Post 291 is offering takeout food service via drive-thru from noon-6 p.m. daily. The goals of the program, Post 291 Commander Jon Reynolds said, are to provide affordable meals to the community, keep some Post 291 staff employed, and "serve a vital membership and community need."

Indiana

American Legion Post 328 in Riley is offering a free drive-thru cookout on April 4 to members of the community. The post will served pulled pork and sides.

Iowa

After Iowa Boys State was cancelled, Montezuma American Legion Post 169 took the $500 it had set aside to sponsor two high school students in the program and donated it to a project created to battle the coronavirus pandemic. Michael DeJong was one of the students chosen to participate in Boys State; now he and his sister are creating face shield using a 3D printer and are donating them to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Kentucky

When a group of veterans staying at the Fort Thomas, Ky., Division of the Cincinnati VA Medical Center had to leave the facility in order to make room for COVID-19 patients, Elks Lodge 314 in nearby Florence, Ky., wanted to find a way to assist the veterans.

According to WCPO, Elks member Maddy Cummins reached out to American Legion Boone Post 4 in Florence. "In less than three days, we had $10,000," Cummins told WCPO.

The money was used to provide food to the veterans, who were able to relocate to Joseph House in Over-the-Rhine. Area restaurants pitched in to assist as well; enough money has been raised to provide meals until May.

Louisiana

When business shutdowns kept the vending machines at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home in Reserve, four American Legion posts pooled their resources to provide snacks and drinks for the home's residents. The home reached out to American Legion Post 383 Commander Allan Reynaud in LaPlace, who then contacted Post 396 in Metairie, Post 377 in Kenner and Post 565 in Vacherie. All agreed to help, and the four posts combined to purchase 25 cases of soft drinks and a shopping cart full of snacks.

"These residents can't see family right now. They can't have visitors, and it makes it really tough for them," Reynaud told L'Observateur. "These are the most vulnerable of our population because almost all of these people have underlying health issues. Just being able to make life a little more comfortable and a little brighter for them is more than worth the effort."

Maryland

• In Ellicott City, Adams, Hanna, Moore Memorial Post 156 is working with the Howard County General Hospital and restaurants still operating in the area to deliver meals to the hospital staff. The post has volunteers lined up with appropriate vehicles to make deliveries to the hospitals from the various restaurants. Post 156 First Vice Commander Vance Blakely said once the protocols are worked out "we expect to hear soon that we can begin making deliveries of up to 900 meals per day."

• In Dundalk, Md., Post 38 and its honor guard have offered to pick up and deliver groceries for veterans and spouses ages 65 and over, and disabled veterans or veterans with health problems in the area. The post will either pick up the groceries after the veteran has ordered them online, or actually shop for the veteran. The post and honor guard plan to offer the service until after the coronavirus pandemic is over.

Massachusetts

In Dover, George B. Preston Post 209 has launched a food drive to benefit local food agencies, including St. Thomas Church in Millis and the Norwood Food Pantry. The post is collecting non-perishable food items and toiletries, and the effort will go on "indefinitely," organizer Lauren Dutton told Wicked Local. "There is always a need to help families that need it."

Ohio

American Legion Paschall Post 164 in Grove City coordinated with M.A.S.H. Pantry and Resource Center of Central Ohio to distribute fresh produce to veterans in need. Post 164 Commander Jefferey Shipley identified members who were in need of fresh produce and arranged times for veterans to pick up or for produce to be delivered to their place of residence.

Pennsylvania

• In State College, American Legion Post 245 has been providing free hots meals for children in the area. Weekdays from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. families have been pulling into the post parking lot to pick up lunches that include chicken tenders or grilled cheese, French fries and green beans. "I have two kids of my own… and it's nice for us to be able to do this for everybody else that has the same thing going on," Post 245 Legionnaire Katie Snyder said. "So we figured we'd step up and do the free kids meals."

• In Wrightsville, American Legion Post 469 has been handing out free lunches on weekends, supported by local businesses. "This is what the American Legion does," Post 469 member Joe Taney told Fox 43. "We contribute to the community. Everything we do is geared toward the community and the veterans, so that's what we're about and that's why we're doing this."

South Carolina

American Legion Posts 156 (Swansea) Post 12 (St. Matthews), Post 101 (Pelion) and Post 4 (Orangeburg) teamed up with Winner's Edge Worship Center to provide enough food donations to feed 48 families.

Wisconsin

• In Wausau, American Legion Post 10 and Bunkers at Tribute Golf Course have teamed up to deliver two-person meals to 50 veterans every Wednesday in the area. Veterans can request a meal by calling before 4 p.m. each Tuesday. Post 10 Legionnaire Thom Passow said the goal is to increase the number of meals in the future.

• In Sheboygan, the Camo Quilt Project – most of whom are American Legion Family members – has temporarily switched from making quilts for deployed servicemembers and veterans in nursing homes to making hospital masks.

Seven military museums you can visit virtually

Many museums today – military and veterans museums included – incorporate virtual components and rotating exhibits to complement their physical locations. With the coronavirus pandemic spreading, forcing museums to close and people to stay indoors, now would be a perfect time to see what some museums have to offer online … and maybe make plans for a future visit.

National WWI Museum and Memorial, Kansas City, Mo.: current online exhibitions include "The Rise of Giving: American Philanthropy and WWI," "War Fare: From the Homefront to the Frontlines" about the effects of food on the war, and "Curator's Tour," a "narrated, immersive tour of the galleries." The museum also offers an online collections database, and educational resources. And its bimonthly program "Mrs. Wilson's Knitting Circle" will go virtual on April 4. Along with the knitting, public program specialist Camille Kulig will discuss the rise of modern art in the 1910s and 1920s. RSVPs by knitters and the general public are encouraged at my.theworldwar.org/6006.

National World War II Museum, New Orleans: Among the options are "Road to Tokyo," the U.S. Merchant Marine Gallery and "The D-Day Invasion of Normandy." Educator resources are available, and distance learning for all ages.

National Veterans Memorial and Museum, Columbus, Ohio: A gallery of this newer museum is on offer. The education section offers curriculums for grades PK-8.

National Museum of the U.S. Navy, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.: Exhibits that cover the whole of the Navy's long history include "The Forgotten Wars of the Nineteenth Century," "Steel Navy" and "Covert Submarine Operations." Distance learning options include school curriculums.

Pritzker Military Museum and Library, Chicago: A virtual tour of the museum is available (must have, or download, Adobe Flash Player 9/10 or higher). Pritzker offers many ways to explore military history - from past exhibits, to digital archives, to reading lists curated by the five service branches and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Cold War Museum, Warrenton, Va.: Although somewhat off the beaten path, this museum offers a host of online exhibits, including "Patches Collection" to "Cold War Artwork" to "KGB/Stasi Prison."

Meanwhile, the Emil A. Blackmore Museum at American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis is entering a new phase of its online offerings. The first exhibit on the Omeka platform, "For My Country: The Life and Service of Franklin D'Olier," tells the story of the Legion's first national commander. More exhibits, including an updated virtual tour, are scheduled for future release.

Be sure to keep up with the museums on social media for the latest on new and ongoing virtual options.