INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 13, 2013) -- American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz responded to President Obama's State of the Union Address Tuesday with a word of welcome to 34,000 troops the president said would be coming home from Afghanistan this year.
"American Legion service officers stand ready to support our men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and help them understand their VA benefits. American Legion-sponsored job fairs and business workshops await their return, offering opportunities to convert military experience into successful careers. American Legion posts and individual members are available for those who come home wondering where to turn for camaraderie and support. That is what we do. It is who we are."
Koutz said he looks forward to meeting with President Obama later this month to discuss specific ways The American Legion can help DoD, VA, veterans and their families make the adjustment to postwar lives.
"No one does more than The American Legion to help returning veterans," Koutz said. "This organization was built on that very concept. As the president has said in past speeches, there is no reason the returning veterans of the Global War on Terrorism cannot drive the U.S. economy forward, as it did after the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 -- which The American Legion authored as World War II was ending -- and build another half-century of U.S. economic prosperity."
Veterans can and will be essential to the U.S. economic recovery, Koutz explained. "There was no doubt from the State of the Union Address that our nation's highest priority is the improvement of our economy. Veterans have proven in the past that they can be the catalysts.
"The American Legion is dedicated to convincing employers, many of whom already know, that veterans can once again lead our nation to a new era of economic performance and hope. We look forward to working with VA and DoD to ease the transition process, provide our newest generation of veterans with the support they need, and rebuild our economy as a nation. It is really the least we can do for those who have stood strong against the threat of terrorism and kept it from our shores for over a decade."

WASHINGTON, (July 30, 2009) - As veterans start the new academic year, the leader of The American Legion said he is happy to see that they will be able to enjoy the benefits of the new GI Bill.

"August 1st will be a proud day for us," said David K. Rehbein, national commander of the nation's largest veterans service organization. "That's when the educational benefits in the Post -9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Act take effect -benefits that The American Legion worked hard to bring about."

In fact, The American Legion was so instrumental in the passage of the most sweeping veterans benefit in generations that U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards said at the time, "Passing this historic new GI Bill into law could not have happened without the dedicated efforts of The American Legion."

The Legion's role in the formulation of the new GI Bill has deep historical roots. Members of The American Legion drafted the original Servicemen's Readjustment Act, popularly known as the GI Bill, in 1944. It was written in longhand on hotel stationery by American Legion Past National Commander Harry Colmery. The GI Bill is widely considered the greatest domestic legislation ever passed by Congress.

The largest scholarship program in U.S. history, the GI Bill also made home ownership a possibility for a new generation of Americans, transforming the American economy and creating the middle class.

The American Legion continued its staunch advocacy for veterans, playing a key role in every readjustment legislation since 1944. While some of the successors to the GI Bill fell short of what The American Legion hoped for, the organization worked closely with then-U.S. Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery on the improved "Montgomery GI Bill," which benefited peacetime veterans.

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While The American Legion has never stopped pushing for a comprehensive benefit to cover all education costs for veterans, the organization went clearly on the record at its 1992 National Convention in Chicago. Delegates there unanimously passed Resolution 3, which called for the establishment of "a benefit package commensurate with those provided veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam."

As the Global War on Terrorism progressed, it became clear that National Guard and Reserve veterans, who were serving in large numbers during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, were not being compensated as generously as their active-duty counterparts.

It was time for a new GI Bill. The American Legion and Congress, among others, set about creating one. A longtime Legionnaire, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., built a bipartisan coalition in the Senate. The final bill included a provision that allowed for the transferability of benefits to family members, an additional benefit supported by The American Legion.  The bill was signed by President George W. Bush on June 30, 2008.

The new GI Bill does not replace existing education programs for veterans, but augments them. Depending upon individual needs and eligibilities, benefits of the older Montgomery GI Bill, the Montgomery GI Bill/Selected Reserve, and the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP) are still available as well.

The American Legion explains veterans educational benefits in great detail at

"The new GI Bill is a bill worthy of its name," Rehbein said. "While we believe this is a great benefit to America's veterans and their families, The American Legion will monitor the administration of it and ensure that the benefits that these veterans so richly deserve are not diminished. If any veteran has difficulty accessing their GI Bill benefits, we at The American Legion want to know about it. All they need to do is contact The American Legion."

With a current membership of 2.5 million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and the mentoring of youth. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.



INDIANAPOLIS  (July  21, 2009) - The American Legion family is calling on all Americans to help purchase comfort items for troops recovering in U.S. military hospitals and warrior transition units around the world through its Operation Comfort Warriors campaign.

"The government does a good job of providing the essentials," said American Legion National Commander David K. Rehbein. "Through Operation Comfort Warriors we have been able to provide items that usually don't appear in the budget, such as personal sweat suits, I-Pods, DVDs, phone calling cards and other comfort items. The American Legion family is challenging its members, friends and, in fact, all people, to give to those who have already given us so much. These gifts provide welcome distractions to the tediousness that often accompanies prolonged hospital stays."

The American Legion family has already raised nearly $165,000 for Operation Comfort Warriors since its inception in December. Donors can make online contributions by visiting or by sending a check to Operation Comfort Warriors, PO Box 1055, Indianapolis, IN 46206. Administrative and promotional costs for Operation Comfort Warriors are paid by The American Legion, allowing 100 percent of the donations to be spent directly on the troops.

The American Legion also plans to operate a donations booth at its 91st Annual National Convention in Louisville.

With a current membership of 2.6-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and patriotic youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.

Contact:; Joe March or John Raughter - (317) 630-1253, Craig Roberts - (202) 263-2982.