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Hopkins receives Medal of Valor

 

Pictured above are: Lieutenant Colonel Roderick A. Hosler (U.S. Army, Ret.), Mahoning County Commander; Vince Bellanca with the French Legion of Honor Medal (on right pocket); and Post 247 Commander Everett Oliver.

Post 247's Bellanca Awarded the French
Legion of Honor for World War II Service

Vince Bellanca, a Life Member of American Legion Post 247 of Lowellville, was awarded the Knight of the French Legion of Honor Medal during a Veteran's Day ceremony and program on 12 November at the Post Headquarters.

The Legion of Honor was sent to him by the French government, 69 years after Sergeant Technician 5 Vince Bellanca landed in Cherbourg, France, and fought his way across France during World War II serving with Headquarters Battery, 157th Field Artillery Battalion, 44th Infantry Division, seeing 144 days of continuous combat in Northern France, Belgium and Germany.

The Legion of Honor was presented on behalf of the French government by Lieutenant Colonel Roderick A. Hosler, U.S Army Retired, and American Legion Mahoning County Commander, who also spoke about the American Veteran.

After Colonel Hosler pinned the Legion of Honor medal on Vince's World War II uniform "Ike" jacket, he indicated that it was the custom of the French army to kiss the award recipient on both cheeks, but since he is originally from Montana, he'll just shake his hand.

Following the ceremony, Commander Everett Oliver and Auxiliary hosted dinner at Post 247. Attending the ceremony were members of Post 247, the Auxiliary, family, friends and Lowellville Mayor James Iudiciani, Sr.



VA&R: Veteran Benefit & Education Symposiums

Most of you reading this have already heard about this great event that is coming to a District near you! Upon organizing, attending, supporting, and witnessing the Post Service Officer School that was held here at Department Headquar-ters this past October, it had come to my attention that of the 569 Posts within the State of Ohio, less than a quarter of Post representation attended this event. Of the 60+ Post Service Officer's (PSO's) in attendance, there remains at least 500 posts.

Now, we realize there isn't an active PSO in every Post, but there are Legionnaires in a lot of these Posts that want to be an advocate and "in the know" so they too can help veterans in their communities.

In addition, we need to understand the dynamics that come into play to understand the complexities that surround the veterans of the Korean War, Vietnam Conflict and the Iraq/Afghanistan Wars who experience TBI, PTSD, Veteran Suicide, Veteran Homelessness, and Employment. There are resources and help within the County Veteran Service Offices and American Legion Programs that support these issues. We have accredited American Legion Department Service Officers and County Veteran Service Officers who are formally trained by our organization and the Department of Veterans Affairs. They provide intricate guidance daily regarding the difficulty of the disability claims process. This led me to the idea that there are a lot more resources out there amongst our individual veteran communities than we are aware of.

Upon touring all of the VA locations this past year, I noticed that each VA Medical Center is unique in providing special programs specific to their community. So, what does a PSO in Cleveland do with information regarding Medical Center information from Cincinnati or Chillicothe? Most likely nothing.

Merriam-Webster defines "Symposium" as a convivial party (as after a banquet in ancient Greece) with music and conversation; a social gathering at which there is free interchange of ideas; a formal meeting at which several specialists deliver short addresses on a topic or on related topics &emdash; compare colloquium; a collection of opinions on a subject; especially one published by a periodical; discussion.

What is mentioned here is exactly what the agenda will surround. We are going to hear from the VA, ODJFS, OVH, and the veterans. We are going to discuss homelessness, suicide and suicide prevention, TBI, PTSD, Employment, and most importantly, we are going to talk about the veterans in the area and what we can do to reach them and link them to these resources. We will have a veteran panel who will talk about their needs and how they believe they can help or be helped by The American Legion.

Keep in mind this is the first of all future Outreach events so it is open for suggestions, comments, and concerns. As the 10th sentence of our Preamble states "…to consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.…" When the veterans of World War I came marching home, they found the nation unprepared to care for the combat casualties of the war. The wounded, the shell-shocked, and the sick were lodged in poor houses, jails, and asylums. Folks, it's been almost 100 years and these issues still stand today, of course with progress from our Legionnaire predecessors. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: "To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan."