American Legion National Commander Visits Queens
The Tenth District of the American Legion recently held its annual dinner at Antuns for the American Legion National Commander Ronald F. Conley.
The Master of Ceremonies was John P. Tipping, PNC, and the dinner chairman was James Casey, Queens County Commander and Past Tenth District Commander. The current Tenth District Commander is George Wilson.
Members from Legion posts from the eight downstate counties, as well as representatives from the Ladies Auxiliary and the Sons of the Legion, gave the National Commander a standing ovation as he entered the hall with the New York State Commander Fang A. Wong. Following the invocation and the salute to the Flag, Past Commander Tipping introduced the National Commander, who addressed the veterans.
Tipping said that he was greatly concerned by the treatment veterans are receiving at Veterans Administration (V.A.) hospitals around the country. Statistics show that waiting times are increasing in all V.A. facilities for veterans waiting to see a doctor or seeking treatment. He noted that the waiting time at the Portland Maine V.A. Hospital is now up to two and a half years.
Conley noted that on Memorial Day Americans will gather to honor the U.S. service members killed in the line of duty, "America is very good at remembering those who died, but too often, it forgets about those who lived. All the veterans returning from our wars come home changed, some with visible scars, others with hidden scars that still hurt. Our country has a moral obligation to these men and women; an unwritten contract pledging you put your life on the line for this country; now this country will be there for you."
George Custance, QCC American Legion Public Relations Chairman, said, "The veterans of the Vietnam War, on their return home, were harassed by Americans who never fully understood the U.S. involvement in that war and their sacrifices were lost in the politics of the era. Besides their psychological scars, many of those returning veterans suffered various diseases as a result of their exposure to Agent Orange, symptoms which would manifest only years later."
Our government denied these diseases were caused by Agent Orange, until the American Legion and the Columbia University Vietnam Veterans Study released findings in 1986 showing links between the cancer-causing dioxin herbicide Agent Orange and the veteran’s diseases.
Many believe that the Persian Gulf veterans are also developing diseases due to their exposure to chemicals during that war but the government has not established any links, so many of the suffering veterans go untreated.
"Somewhere along the line the contract with our veterans has been forgotten, as society moved on to other priorities. The benefits they earned and deserve fell by the wayside. Approximately 700,000 veterans are waiting to have the V.A. adjudicate their claims. Money was not an issue when they were called to duty, and it shouldn’t be when the time comes to repay them for their service," noted Custance.
The Tenth District of the American Legion includes Queens County, Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk.