By Ralph P. Bozella
RLF is fortunate to have as a partner in our war on military TBI The American Legion’s Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission and its TBI/PTSD Committee. Ralph P. Bozella, Chair of that Commission, advocate for veterans, and member of the RLF Board of Advisers, has written this piece for us, commemorating the centenary of the American Legion.
A century ago, at 11:11 a.m. on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns of the Allied Forces, including the doughboys of the USA, and the Central Powers led by Germany fell silent, and the awful conditions of trench warfare ended. These forces were mired in what was called the Great War and The War to End All Wars, but became historically to be known as World War One. As we now know this war did not end all wars, but led to a more horrific global conflict in World War Two, and other wars involving US forces to include Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Gulf War One and the continuing War Against Terrorism which has been fought in Iraq and now in Afghanistan. Through the years the armistice of World War One has morphed into what we now celebrate as Veterans Day – a day to honor all those who have worn the uniform of the United States military forces.
The end of World War One, however, did bring about the beginnings of a most influential veteran service organization – The American Legion, as an American Expeditionary Force consisting of officers and enlisted men in Paris, France, organized as the first American Legion caucus.
One hundred years later The American Legion can proudly stand behind its accomplishments of advocating for creation of the U.S. Veterans Bureau, which became the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs under President Ronald Reagan in 1988. The Legion also can claim credit for drafting a document which as the GI Bill became law and can arguably be called the greatest piece of social legislation ever passed. When VA stated that Agent Orange was not the cause of cancer and other diseases in Vietnam veterans, The American Legion commissioned its own study from Columbia University to prove otherwise and the presumptive claims to Agent Orange related illnesses for Vietnam veterans was born. The American Legion has also led the fight for VA compensation for Gulf War One related illnesses and is now turning its sights to effects that military personnel are suffering due to toxins produced by the Burn Pits used on military bases today.
Along with advocating for veterans affected by environmental toxins, The American Legion is championing the signature wounds of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), through its Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation (VA&R) Commission which houses the Legion’s TBI/PTSD Committee. This committee studies the mental health issues of veterans and hosts seminars and publishes information on the subject. In 2012 The War Within: Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Findings and Recommendations was published, followed by its latest publication on the subject, The Road Home. To view these booklets and other American Legion publications online please visit https://www.legion.org/publications
As World War One ended, The American Legion began it mission of advocating for veterans, national defense, Americanism and children and youth, and is still serving America in this capacity today. For more information about The American Legion, to include membership eligibility, please see https://www.legion.org/
Ralph Bozella, Chairman National Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Commission
The American Legion