From the Headquarters Team

 

COVID-19 Resources and Help

REMINDER: ALL CAMP OPERATIONS are closed for the 2020 season. This includes ALL CABIN RENTALS. If you have rented out your cabins, you will need to contact your renters and cancel the reservation. There are no exceptions to this.

Camp American Legion is in need of supplies. The Camp wish list can be found on Amazon.com. Click the link, order, pay and the items ship directly to Camp. Immediate needs are Cleaning Supplies, Toilet Paper and Paper Towel.

From Commander Wischer:

Forward – Together 

Greetings Wisconsin, American Legion Family; 

   I hope that everyone is remaining healthy and safe as we continue with our daily challenges.
The battle with the Covid-19 virus is one that we will not lose. As Wisconsin starts to re-open, and as we try to regain some sort of normalcy in our lives, “We” need to proceed in an orderly fashion. 
   The programs of our organization have suffered major interruptions (cancelations) that were needed in order to provide a safe environment for participants, and volunteers alike. Camp American Legion will remain closed. 
   While our programs may have taken a hit, “We” need to ensure that our Department rebounds
in a positive fashion. 
   We can do this by moving Forward – Together. 
   So what does the two words above mean? Forward: This is the direction ahead of you, the word implies progress. A forward-thinking person thinks about what will happen in the future.
    Together: With or in proximity to another person or people. 
    The definitions of the above words do not include, looking back or behind, and not being alone.
“We”, The American Legion Family, needs to embrace these words. “Our” Communities and Nation needs us, and will rely on us to provide guidance and structure. 
    We are a strong Family and We will continue Our mission by providing assistance to our fellow
Veterans, their families and the youth of Our Nation. 
    While many of our events that provide us with a great amount of exposure have been canceled,
this is an opportunity for us to launch our Department as we fine tune everything. 
    With the help and foresight of our new Department Adjutant Nate, and the Headquarters Team,
this Department will continue providing new exciting ways to regain that exposure. 
    I want to ask everyone to assist in two upcoming events within the Department that will increase
our exposure.
    First, is the Engage 22 Run – Walk. This event was scheduled for Convention, but because of the
cancellation, it has now become a “Virtual” event. I encourage everyone to join in this event,
which will help provide a better awareness concerning Veteran’s Suicide. You can register on line at the wilegion.org. Don’t forget to invite your family members and neighbors to join us.  Let’s be creative on how you can participate.  
    The second event that I want to bring up is the Annual Celebration of Freedom. This event benefits the Department’s Foundation, which will help provide future funding of our Department’s programs. 
    The event last year was a big success in not only raising funds, but also awareness of The American Legion. This year the event will have additional music along with additional activities for those in attendance. 
    The event is a Department event. This is not a Headquarters or Portage Post event. Please visit https://wilegion.org/2020-celebration-of-freedom/ for further information. 
     We are in need of corporate sponsors for the event which helps offset expenses and provide seed money. The Foundation challenged each District to set a goal of $10,000 in Corporate Sponsors; each District has people with connections. Use these Sponsorship Packets to approach potential sponsors. The packet includes a cover letter about the past and current COF, a document describing who we are and what we do and the sponsorship forms. Please use these documents so all are spreading the same unified message, and let Headquarters know who you have contacted so efforts are not being repeated. 
    So there you have it, without our normal program activities taking place, this should provide
plenty of opportunities for everyone to spend sometime at Our Annual event. Sign up now to volunteer for a period time, enter into the Chili Cook-off, or join in one of the other scheduled events.
 
Everyone stay safe and stay healthy.
 
Very Respectfully; 
David Wischer
Department Commander

Through this uncertain time, we will be sending you weekly updates, cancellations and changes. Watch the www.wilegion.org calendar for updates as they come in. 

Headquarters/Service Office:
  • The Headquarter Team will be back working in the office on June 1, 2020, however there will be very limited access to the building. Please contact Headquarters ahead of any visits if you have a need to come to the office.
  • Department Service Office continues to work remotely until all plans are in place for a safe return. Due to their location, the VA controls this date.
  • The VA is restarting in-person compensation and pension examinations.  This will be a phased in process.  Wisconsin is not listed on the first phase and the VA has not announced who will be on the second phase.
     
    The VA Board of Veteran Appeals has begun to reschedule postponed video hearings.  For the Milwaukee Regional Office, the docket dates include June 22, 23, 25, and 26.
Paul Fisk, Interim Adjutant ~ adjutant@wilegion.org ~ Office 608-745-0335
Angie Chappell, Events ~ angela@wilegion.org ~ Office 608-745-0340 ~ Cell 608-712-1255 
Chris Shmidt, Membership ~ chris@wilegion.org ~ Office 608-745-0336  
Carol Swanson, Admin ~ info@wilegion.org ~ Office 608-745-1090
Jen Swenson, Programs ~ jen@wilegion.org ~ Office 608-745-0338
Sheri Hicks, Programs ~ sheri@wilegion.org ~ Office 608-745-0341
Lee Roundy, Finance ~ finance@wilegion.org ~ Office 608-745-0337
James Fialkowski ~ james.fialkowski@va.gov ~ 414-902-5722
Meet your New Department Adjutant : 

Hello Friends, Family and Legionnaires,  I am truly blessed and honored to be selected as The American Legion, Department of Wisconsin, Department Adjutant. I will be joining your remarkable Headquarters| Service Office| Camp Legion Team on June 15th to begin my duties and responsibilities as Department Adjutant. Currently, I am completing my final military service obligation for Active Guard Reserve time in the Wisconsin Army National Guard. My past 26 years of military service to this great nation has given me so many extraordinary friendships, experiences, and leadership that will continue to develop as I transition full time into the largest Veterans organization. I look forward to hearing and working with you in the future. It is important during these uncertain times to continue The American Legion legacy of hard work supporting our Veterans from past and present. Together, we are strong and will continue to move forward!   

Stay Vigilant,
Nathan Gear

Calls To Action:

Senator Tester introduced a bill called the Veterans Claim Transparency Act of 2020. This legislation will require VA to reinstate the 48-hour rule and ensure that representatives have time to review disability claims before VA makes a final determination. This review period is a vital step in the VA claims process and ensures that veterans do not fall victim to bureaucratic oversight. Please contact your Senator and urge them to support S. 3761 Veterans Claim Transparency Act of 2020. 
Tammy Baldwin's Offices: Eau Claire (715) 832-8424; Green Bay (920) 498-2668; La Crosse (608) 796-0045; Madison (608) 264-5338
Ron Johnson's Offices: Milwaukee (414) 276-7282; Oshkosh (920) 230-7250; Madison (608) 240-9629

From your Department Service Office:
The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) was created to provide financial support to military spouses and/or children when a military member dies while on active duty or after retirement.  Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monetary benefit offered by the Veteran Affairs (VA) for a surviving dependent of a veteran whose death was connected to their military service.
 
In the past and currently, Spouse SBP annuitants, in most circumstances, cannot receive full SBP and DIC at the same time.  When Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) is informed by the VA that a spouse annuitant is receiving DIC, the law requires that DFAS deduct the amount of DIC received from the amount of SBP payable and pay the remaining amount of the SBP to the annuitant. This is called the SBP/DIC offset.
 
For example, if an annuitant receives a monthly SBP annuity of $1500 from DFAS and becomes eligible to receive a monthly DIC award of $1400 from the VA, DFAS will deduct the $1400 DIC from the $1500 SBP and pay the remaining $100 to the annuitant
 
The American Legion has lobbied for years to correct the unfair taxation of SBP caused by DIC.  A law was finally passed in December 2019 to allow concurrent receipt of SBP and DIC.  This law calls for a three-phase reduction of the DIC offset starting in 2021.  A change in SBP payments due to the offset reduction may take time for some annuitants.  (From DFAS 2020), “It is possible that if your Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) payments are currently less than two-thirds of the amount of Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC), you may not see an increase in 2021.  For example, if you currently receive $1,500 from VA for DIC, but your gross SBP before offset is only $800, you would not see an increase in 2021 other than the normal annual cost of living adjustment (COLA).  This is because your SBP amount, $800, is still less than the amount of DIC that would be subject to offset, which in this example would be $1,000 (i.e., $1,000 is two-thirds of the $1,500 DIC).  Eventually, though, you will see an increase as the SBP-DIC offset is further reduced in 2022 and then completely eliminated in 2023.”
 
Further, there will be no retroactive benefits and those annuities that were directed to a child rather than a surviving spouse will automatically revert to the surviving spouse, if he or she is still eligible, on January 1, 2023.
 
For further information call our office (414) 902-5722 or here is the link to the DFAS SBP-DIC Offset Phased Elimination News:
https://www.dfas.mil/retiredmilitary/survivors/SBP-DIC-News/#When%20will%20the%20change 

Cancellations/Postponements:

  • The Sons of The American Legion, by attached resolution, have cancelled their 2020 Convention.
  • By Resolution approved and the Finance Committee, Camp American Legion Committee and the Department Executive Committee, Camp American Legion will not have a 2020 Season. See Attached Resolution. NOTE: This is the entire Camp, including the rental cabins which fall under the rules of the Camp through the privilege use agreement. The Camp Director, along with the Camp Committee, will come up with contingency plans for work groups, if and when it is safe to do so.
  • The Wisconsin American Legion Baseball Association met on May 6, 2020 and by motion of the Board chose to cancel the 2020 Legion Baseball Season. This decision was confirmed by the Department Executive Committee on May 9, 2020 in regular Meeting. See Attached Press Release.
  • 2020 Legion Wisconsin Department Convention Has Been Cancelled per Resolution passed. View the Resolution Here.
  • EXCITING THINGS STILL HAPPENING! The Commander's Engage22 walk/run is now a virtual event and the 2020 Spring Sweepstakes is in the mail. For more on these 2 great events go to https://wilegion.org/conferences-conventions/ 
  • Annual Bowling Tournament- Cancelled
  • Annual King Day- Cancelled
  • Legion College Courses in Little Chute- Postponed at this time
  • 1st District Spring Conference- CANCELLED
  • 3rd District Spring Conference- CANCELLED
  • 4th District Spring Conference- CANCELLED
  • 5th District Spring Conference- CANCELLED
  • 6th District Spring Conference- Moved to June 21, will remain in Green Lake
  • 7th District Spring Conference- Moved to June 6th 
  • 8th District Spring Conference- Moved to June 20th 
  • 9th District Spring Conference- Postponed at this time
  • 10th District Spring Conference- CANCELLED
  • 11th District Spring Conference- Moved to May 16th
  • 12th District Spring Conference - CANCELLED
  • Legion Baseball is still taking registrations, any future information will be shared when available
  • National Oratorical Finals cancelled
  • National Spring Meetings cancelled
  • National Junior Shooting Sports competition cancelled
  • National Boys Nation cancelled
  • Badger Girls State - Cancelled
  • Badger Boys State - Cancelled - Letter from Chairman of the Board - Letter to Donors
  • Wisconsin American Legion Law Enforcement Career Academy - Cancelled - Letter from Director
  • May Wisconsin American Legion Riders meeting at Headquarters - Cancelled
  • National Veterans Golden Age Games scheduled for June 22-27, 2020 - Cancelled
  • 2020 American Legion Baseball national tournaments, inclusive of all eight 2020 Regional Tournaments and the 2020 American Legion World Series. 
  • The awarding of American Legion Baseball scholarships and Samsung American Legion Scholarships for 2020 have also been completely suspended (Samsung American Legion Scholarships awarded in years prior to 2020 will continue to be paid out to students upon their requests to receive their funds). 
  • Per Resolution #3- Cancellation of the 2020 National Convention and awarding of National Convention 2026, passed unanimously by the NEC, the 2020 National Convention is cancelled. ATTN: District Commanders and Adjutants. You recently received your National Convention Pre-planning packet, please disregard.
  • 2020 American Legion Legacy Run
  • All travel through September 30 has been cancelled for: National Commander; NVCs; National officers; land national headquarters employees
  • All Department Commander travels have been suspended until June 1, 2020

Misc. Information:

  • Post Excellence Awards can still be submitted. Please make sure they go to your District Commander's for proper certification. Current due date on the form is May 1st. This is to ensure that we get the awards back from National in time for Department Convention. With the cancellation of Convention, that deadline is no longer relevant. Please make sure you are using the current year's forms, as there were changes from National that went into effect for the 2019/2020 year.
  • Department Standing Committees and the Department Executive Committee completed the Department Spring Meetings via video conferencing this week. Some results that came out of the meetings were the 2019 award winners. They are as follows:
    • Edward J. Ormsby Law & Order Award- Jacob Chihak of West Bend- submitted by the 2nd District
    • Firefighter of the Year- Joseph Deboer of Port Washington- submitted by the 2nd District
    • EMT of the Year- Derrick J Pinnow of Brodhead- submitted by the 3rd District
    • National Guard/Reservist of the Year- Jeremy Bonikowske- submitted by the 8th District
  •  
  • GOOD NEWS our 2019 Edward J Ormsby Law & Order Award Winner Robert Berg Jr, of the DeForest Police Department has been selected as the 2020 National Law Officer of the Year. Since the National Convention is cancelled, we will be recognizing Sergeant Berg on Stage at the 2020 Celebration of Freedom on September 12, 2020.
  • MORE GOOD NEWS speaking of Celebrations of Freedom.... The dedication and hard work put into the 1st Annual Celebration of Freedom raised over $40,000 for our Programs, but that is not all... We found out this past week that the Celebration of Freedom has won the LIT Innovation Award, presented to a Department Event showing the most innovation in Public Relations and Membership. They presented us with a check for $11,500. Thank you to all of those who supported this great event, it truly honored our veterans and put a fresh face on The American Legion, Department of Wisconsin.
  • The Summer Sweepstakes "Inspire Patriotism and Purpose" will hit the mail the 2nd week in May. The drawing this year will be a Facebook Live event on July 3, 2020.
  • All 3 WDVA Homes are accepting homemade cotton masks for their members to use while interacting with others. This is a recommended precaution of the CDC. masks can be sent to each home individually. 
  • DAV COVID-19 Relief Fund
  • Kwik Trip Scrip Fundraiser for Posts
  • Information on Small Business Guide for Emergency Loans - Fact Sheet
  • Census Workers needed
  • REMINDER TO ALL POSTS: While many of us are at a standstill, now would be a great time to get the CPR reports submitted online via myLegion.org. This information is vital to the organization as it is used to show congress our relevancy as a
  • Badger Boys State- All sponsors received an email with the following options regarding your donated funds:
      • Invest in a 2021 Badger Boys State Citizen. With the increase in participation costs expected for next year, your donation this year will go toward a participant next year, lessening the amount needed for a full sponsorship. 
      • Request a Refund. In these times of uncertainty, we understand if you would no longer wish to donate money to Badger Boys State. Please consider us again with any future philanthropic donations you may make.
      • Invest in Badger Boys State. As our participant cost has increased, so has our need to invest in our sustainability in ensuring a multi-generational program.
      • Please provide your feedback to info@badgerboysstate.com in regards to your wishes.
    •  
  • Please visit their website for updated information. Headquarters has fielded many calls regarding Post, County and District Events. When making your determination regarding cancellation/postponement please adhere to all local, state and national requirements in regards to the orders they come out with. It is hard for the Department to have a policy on how to handle your upcoming event, as the orders and requirements are changing so often. You will also want to look at any contract you have for your event. Many should have a ‘force majeure clause’ that protects you from cancellations due to unforeseeable circumstances.

Posts Answering The Call:

Post 121 Commander Thad Hague has been sending bi-weekly updates and notes of encouragement via email to the 407 members for whom we have email addresses. Chaplain Davidson doing likewise for members in nursing homes.

On the 29th of April the American Legion Post 187 Wisconsin Dells will be handing out hamburgers or hotdogs and a bag of chips to the Wisconsin Dells community to help out during this time of need. The time will be 11-1pm at the American Legion parking lot. Don't have to get out of your car!

Navy Veteran and Black Earth Post 313 Legion Member Nick Roberson...Still Serving America! Thank you for seeing a need and doing your best to fill that need! Click here for the news clipping from Channel 3 in Madison.

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.”

Wausau Post 10 is running a project at this difficult time called "Fighting For Those Who Fought For Us"- Delivering Comfort Meals to Veterans. They are providing free meals, prepared by Bunkers Restaurant to ALL veterans. They have a hotline those requesting a meal can call by 4pm each Tuesday. Once a week, 6-8 volunteers deliver the meals to a dedicated location at each home of Wausau area veterans. They are funding the project through donations. 


Please verify any rumors you hear with us at Headquarters before sending information. 

Now is the perfect time for Buddy Checks. A 5 minute phone call can make someone's day and alter their spirits as they continue to isolate. If you are able to safely help, offer to go purchase food or other needs for them, make sure they are mentally good and just engage in good conversation. 

Resources:

Attached are some resources to help get through these difficult times. Please use them and share them. Thank you to Military OneSource for some of the information provided.

Please share this information with your Post, County and District. If you know someone who would benefit from this information and is not already recieving it, they can register at https://wilegion.org/contact-signup/. All they need is their email and first and last name.

GOVERNOR SUSPENDS EVICTION AND FORECLOSURES
In Emergency Order # 15, Governor Evers and DHS Secretary-designee Palm are prohibiting landlords from serving eviction notices or starting civil action with limited exceptions. Mortgagees are also now prohibited from foreclosing on real estate. The order goes into effect today and remains in effect for 60 days.

National COVID-19 Resource Guide - Includes guidance for Post, County, Districts and Departments, Buddy Check information including sample scripts, types of calls and how to handle them, emergency numbers and type of numbers to log that you may need to help the caller.

Part of the buddy check is to make sure we have the correct/best contact information for the veterans.  You can go to www.Legion.org/update which allows you to update the information immediately without going through mylegion.org.   

Now is a good time to make sure your post is on mylegion.org. It is a Secure website that requires the adjutant or commander to register. You can make many changes (addresses, phone, members status, etc.) on this site, search for current and expired members, generate rosters and submit the CPR to name a few. If myLegion assistance is needed, you can call their new contact number between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM (EST) at 833-253-9995 or email them at mylegion@legion.org

National Emergency Fund Update

WE GET MORE DONE TOGETHER.

OUR COMMITMENT TO YOU.
It's our mission to enhance the lives of our Veterans and their families, inspire the next generation of Wisconsin leaders, and promote the principles of The Legion in every community across the Badger State.

Together, we can accomplish so much for those who need us. We welcome you to our Legion Family.

CONTACT US

Sign up today for weekly department updates, good news, events, and cancellations!
wilegion.org/contact-signup/
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