Monday, April 29, 2013


National Commander James "Jim" Koutz

Koutz said Legion posts across the country struggle in reaching out to younger veterans, specifically those who have served since Sept. 11, 2001.

He recommended that posts reach out to the news media for events, as well as modernizing their buildings to better cater to younger veterans. He suggested posts begin by equipping each building with wireless Internet.

“We’ve been going far too long the other way,” Koutz said.


On April 23rd the Department of Veterans affairs (VA) announced the launching of a new hotline for women veterans to inquire about VA health care and benefits. The hotline 1-855-VA-Women (1-855-829-6636) was established to receive and respond to questions from veterans, families, and caregivers about many of the VA services and resources VA has available to women veterans.

To repeat: hotline 1-855-VA-Women (1-855-829-6636).



 The head table for this year's dinner included (from left to right): Oswego County Legion Chaplain Michael Bardin, Oswego County Vice Commander Grover Britton, County Boys State Chairman Shawn Mills, Oswego County Girls State Chairman Betty Rowlee, Oswego County Auxiliary President Elaine Johnson and Oswego County Auxiliary Chaplain Rose Gilbert. (Not shown in this photo was 5th District Vice Commander James Ellis.)

Empire Girls State attendees for 2012 were Jonmarie Fravor (sponsored by Oswego County Auxiliary and Robert Edwards Unit 358, Pulaski); and Molly Downing (sponsored by Prior-Stock Unit 1552, Hannibal)

Photographs were taken before the dinner and I'll get some of them on here as soon as they are processed. David Rowlee took the pictures and is editing them for us. (Below are a couple of pictures that I took myself.) 

Jonmarie Fravor gave a report on her experience at Empire Girls State last year. She was presented with a framed certificate for taking part in the program
Molly Downing was unable to attend but called to explain she had no transportation as her mother had been called in to work. She is going to give her report at a future county auxiliary meeting.

Delegates for the 2013 Empire Girls State session were present with their parents. They are: Jessica Pastus (sponsored by Robert Edwards Unit 358, Pulaski), Kaitlyn A. Crobar (sponsored by Fuller-Taylor Unit 915, Central Square) and Ana Geli (sponsored by Raymond-Faulkner-Cook Unit 858, Cleveland.

Photos of 2013 delegates will be coming soon. 

There were nearly 150 persons at this dinner which consisted of a tossed salad, roast pork w/gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, homemade applesauce and cupcakes for dessert. This fine buffet was prepared and served by the Hastings-Gorski Auxiliary Unit 1128 of Williamstown. 

Will have more photos soon, stand by....


Friday, April 19, 2013


Oratorical participant pays it forward

Jake Bayliss filled 200 bags with toiletries for veterans at the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System. (Photo courtesy Jackie Allen / Nevada Appeal)

 Jake Bayliss from Carson City, Nev., was one of 52 contestants who qualified to participate in the 2012 American Legion High School Oratorical Scholarship Program, “A Constitutional Speech Contest,” this past April in Indianapolis. Bayliss was thankful for the experience and wanted to pay it forward to those who afforded him the opportunity to participate in the contest and more – veterans. 

Bayliss reached out Legion Post 12 in Reno, Nev.– his sponsor for the contest and for American Legion Nevada Boys State — in search of ways he could help veterans. He learned that the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System in Reno was in need of personal hygiene items for its veterans. So Bayliss began a toiletries drive, which he too used as his Eagle Scout project.

“My toiletries drive began as a way I could somehow repay veterans for what they had given to me,” Bayliss said. “I feel very strongly that I would not have the opportunities that I have today without the veterans who fought for my rights and freedom. So my toiletries drive project was an extremely small price to pay in return for something as valuable as freedom.”

Bayliss received items for his toiletry kits by seeking donations from family, friends and local businesses. He received enough hygiene items such as shampoo, razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant to fill 200 grocery bags.

“I received a significant amount of support when people heard that this was for veterans in need of assistance,” Bayliss said. “I believe that most people did not even know that this problem (lack of veteran hygiene items at Reno’s VA hospital) existed. My project was most effective at raising awareness for injustice, which far surpasses the 200 bags that I collected.”

Bayliss’ prepared oration for the Legion’s Oratorical Contest was titled, “The Reason for Treason, America’s Fight for Democracy,” which discussed the Articles of Confederation and the Compromises. He received a $1,500 scholarship for participating in the program’s quarterfinals.

“I have always been a history fanatic, so researching the process for creating our government was extremely interesting to me,” he said. “For example, we have been debating income tax for 99 years. However, they (America’s Founding Fathers) settled slavery, representation, federalism, government structure and rights in only four months.”

While his Eagle Scout project is over, Bayliss is continuing his toiletries drive as he believes his project “was most effective at spreading awareness.”

Although I will never truly be able to repay veterans, I am just ecstatic that I have the opportunity to give back to them in some way,” he said. “I believe that it is very important to repay veterans for what they have done for us.”


Watch Oratorical Contest finals live

American Legion posts and family members of the 53 contestants participating in the Legion’s National Oratorical Contest are encouraged to watch the live streaming of the championship finals on April 21 at 10 a.m. (EDT). During the finals, the top three semifinal winners will compete for a chance to be crowned the Legion’s 76th Oratorical champion and win an $18,000 scholarship. The finals will be streamed live on

The Legion’s 76th High School Oratorical Scholarship Program, "A Constitutional Speech Contest," will be held in Indianapolis, April 20-21, at the Wyndham Indianapolis West hotel. Click here for a list of the 53 contestants.