Sunday, December 30, 2012

Quilts for Soldiers in Afghanistan

By Bradd Vickers
NORWICH -- It was sad when Karen Kamsoke’s nephew Kurt Buchta, deployed to Afghanistan as a company commander of 71 soldiers, was told about 13 of his soldiers that don’t get anything from home. Kurt asked Karen if she would consider adopting the 13 soldiers by sending packages and letters, etc., and could she possibly make quilts for them. Karen, not thinking of the time frame and work, said “of course.”

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Students Help Legion Provide Food for Vets

honor students
UTICA -- Thanks to a food drive by the National Honor Society at John F. Kennedy Middle School, the American Legion's Utica Post 229 donated 14 boxes of non-perishable food to the Central New York Veterans Outreach Center in Utica on Nov. 16.

 "The students wanted to help veterans, and we know the Outreach Center works directly with homeless and jobless veterans," noted Utica Post 229 Vice Commander Jim George, who is coordinating a Legion food drive for both the Outreach Center and the Community Food Bank.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Legion Comes to Aid of Hurricane Victims

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 29, 2012) – With Hurricane Sandy/"Monster Storm" expected to cause billions of dollars in damage, Legionnaires and Sons of the American Legion may be eligible for financial assistance through the Legion’s National Emergency Fund (NEF).

National Commander Visits Western New York

National Cmdr James Koutz
Canandaigua, N.Y., Oct. 28 — During a visit Oct. 27 to the Canandaigua VA Medical Center, American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz spoke about one of the biggest issues facing veterans: employment,  the Messenger Post reported.

“When they left, they had jobs,” he said. “When they come home, there are no jobs for them. We have got to make sure they’re taken care of.”

The American Legion assists veterans in finding jobs through job fairs, with over 200 held last year.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Legion Post 150 and VFW Host Wounded Warriors

TOWN OF ULSTER — American Legion Post 150 in Kingston and the Kingston Veterans of Foreign Wars post treated 10 wounded warriors and their families to a weekend getaway in the Hudson Valley Oct. 5-7.

The Afghanistan and Iraq veterans came from Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia. The Legion and VFW together raised close to $9,000 to spend on the warriors and their families at area restaurants and attractions, the Kingston Freeman reported.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

NY Legion Commander Has Pet Peeve

New York Department leaders are making visitations around the state, sharing their vision and passion with local Legion Family members. Here's an example of such a visit -- to the 5th District's Oneida County.

Cmdr. Tim Van Patten
NEW HARTFORD -- New York Department Commander Timothy S. Van Patten has a pet peeve -- people who don't have the right perception of the Legion.

"Every once in a while someone will say, 'Do you guys do anything but sit around the bar telling war stories?'"

During a visit to Oneida County Sept. 29, Van Patten told a packed banquet hall at New Hartford Post 1376 what he says to such a question.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Buffalo's McKeever Post Donates Van to VA

Officers and members of David McKeever Post 64 in South Buffalo presented the keys to a new van to the VA Western New York Healthcare System in a ceremony this week at the Buffalo VA Medical Center.

The van will be used by the Disabled American Veterans Volunteer Transportation Network, which drives veterans to and from VA medical facilities.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mineola Post Inducts First Woman Veteran

Yuri Karaz and Carl Marchese
MINEOLA -- Word got around that Yuri Karasz was a veteran, so when Carl Marchese met her, he made a deal: If he became commander of Mineola American Legion Post 349, she would become the first female member in the post's 90-year history, reports

He did, and she did, being formally inducted in an August ceremony at the village hall. State Sen. Jack M. Martins and local VFW Commander Manny Grilo were there to congratulate Karaz, a former army captain and West Point graduate.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Fang Wong Introduces Mitt Romney at Convention

Fang Wong welcomes Mitt Romney. Photos by Doug Malin
Outgoing National Commander Fang Wong of New York got to introduce Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to the 94th American Legion Convention in Indianapolis Aug. 29.

Then, following Romney's 20-minute talk in which he pledged to make sure both veterans and the military are taken care of under his watch, Wong introduced him to Legion leaders around the stage.

National Parade Boasts Large NY Contingent

INDIANAPOLIS -- The parade that helped kick off the national American Legion Convention here Aug. 26 featured a large contingent from New York. Department Commander Tim Van Patten led the contingent, which included a swarm of Legionnaires and Legion Family members (Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion), color guards, a marching band, and even National Commander Fang Wong and his wife.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

NY Legionnaire Reacts to Romney Talk in Indy Star

After Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney left the American Legion Convention Aug. 29 to a standing ovation, Bronx, NY  Legionnaire Sean Mannion told the Indianapolis Star: “I thought he was fantastic.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rare National Honor for NY's Pedro

Richard Pedro dons national commander's cap.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Richard M. Pedro, adjutant of the Department of New York, has become only the 11th person in the history of the 93-year-old American Legion to be named “Past National Commander of The American Legion,” without actually serving a term as national commander.

Pedro joins legendary New Yorkers Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., and longtime U.S. Rep. Hamilton Fish in receiving the rare honor.

Delegates at the organization’s 94th annual national convention on Aug. 28 unanimously passed Resolution 1, which officially bestowed the office upon New York's adjutant.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Legacy Run 'Sense of Accomplishment'

Sam Reeder
By Steve B. Brooks
American Legion Multi-Media Editor

SANBORN, NY -- Department of New York Commander Tim Van Patten joined National Commander Fang Wong and Legionnaires from across the country for the American Legion Riders Legacy Run pre-run rally on Aug. 20 -- where Sam Reeder, director of Post 1451's American Legion Riders chapter in Sanborn, watched seven months of work come together.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Legionnaire Debuts Hand-Crafted Guitar

Jim George with hand-crafted guitar.
By Bob Stronach

UTICA -- The sound of an electric guitar pierced Utica Post 229 at a recent karaoke night. It wasn't a recording. Vice Commander Jim George was debuting a guitar he had spent over a year hand-crafting. He performed a number of rock and soft rock songs as people sang along.

Jim was pleased with the sound: "It screams when it's turned on."

Tournament Reached Beyond Baseball

 The recent New York Legion Baseball Championship held in Utica reached beyond baseball, according to tournament committee member Tony Camardo.

"The event started with 11 players spending time with veterans who reside at St. Luke’s Home," Camardo wrote in an op-ed piece appearing in the Aug. 18th Utica Observer-Dispatch.

"Then it shifted to the field, where it was all about baseball and veterans. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Legion Riders' Legacy Run Starts in Niagara Falls

By national PR staff

Hundreds of motorcyclists will take the concept of “veterans helping veterans” to a new level Aug. 21 when The American Legion Riders kick off the seventh annual American Legion Legacy Run in Niagara Falls to raise money for the American Legion Legacy Scholarship program.

Led by National Commander (and past New York Commander) Fang A. Wong, the riders will travel 750 miles to make possible a college education for the children of those who have died defending our freedoms since September 11, 2001.

Our Pillars, Your Platform

A resource guide for Legion Family members, outlining "our positions in relation to the 4 Pillars" of the American Legion, is now available on, announced National Legislative Chair Kenneth Governor, who is also New York Department PR chair.

Called "Our Pillars, Your Platform," "the guide is a valuable tool for voters, candidates and anyone who wants to know where we stand on the important issues of the day," he said.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

NY Champs Take Opener, Then Drop 2

New York's baseball champs, the Saratoga Stempede, rode over the Vermont champions, 3-0, in Thursday's opening game of the Legion's Northest Regional Tournament in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

But then they fell to Maine on Friday, 10-1, and lost to New Hampshire on Saturday, 3-2.

The tournament continues Sunday and Monday, Aug. 12 and 13.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Saratoga Stampede Grabs State Championship

UTICA -- Saratoga Stampede is the best Legion baseball team in New York State. 

The team scored a total of 23 runs on 22 hits in two games to win the American Legion Baseball State Championship on Aug. 5 at Murnane Field.

Friday, August 3, 2012

State Tourney Players Visit Nursing Home Vets

UTICA -- Players competing in the New York State American Legion Baseball Championship Tournament (July 31-Aug. 5) took time to visit nursing home veterans.

Before heading out to the diamond, the players joined residents at St. Luke's Home in an ice cream social on July 31, WKTV News Channel 2 reported.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Legion Unveils Tribute to Fallen Heroes

National Commander Fang Wong Thanks Famed NY Artist for Sculpture

Nat'l Commander Fang Wong and Sculptor Greg Wyatt
 WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A work by famed New York sculptor Greg Wyatt was unveiled in a July 25th ceremony at The American Legion’s Washington, D.C., office. 

The 7-foot tall cast bronze statue, "Angel and the Dying Unknown", was created as a tribute to the sacrifices of America’s fallen warriors. The sculpture depicts a guardian angel cradling a dying unknown soldier.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

94th Department Convention - Day 3

Tim Van Patten Elected New York Commander



Colorful brass band blares support for Tim Van Patten
ROCHESTER -- Timothy Van Patten is the new commander of the Department of New York. His election on July 21 for the 2012-13 term followed a rousing parade of supporters carrying campaign signs, and a colorful pinstripe-suited brass band blaring marching and patriotic tunes.

"With your help, we will have a very productive year, refueling our future," declared Van Patten, a Navy vet who served on an Oiler that refueled ships during the Vietnam War.

Press Association Honors Communicators

The New York American Legion Press Association (NYALPA) honored communicators and elected officers July 20 during the Department Convention.

Friday, July 20, 2012

94th Department Convention - Day 2

'Serve, Serve, Serve' a Strong Theme


Charles Burkes
ROCHESTER -- The charge to "serve, serve, serve" struck a chord on the second day of the Department Convention July 20.

That's how Charles Burkes put it when he accepted the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) of the Year Award. The Marine Vietnam-era veteran works out of the New York State Department of Labor's Albany office.
Edmond Torrence

Local Veterans Employment Rep (LVER) of the Year Edmond Frank Torrence, a Vietnam-era Army vet with the Labor Department's Flushing office, continued that theme as he spoke of dedicating himself to veterans and their loved ones. "This country would not be as great as it is were it not for veterans and their families."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

NY Legion Opens 94th Convention


Legion Works Tirelessly for Others, County Exec Says

Cmdr Mike Bowen & Co. Exec. Maggie Brooks
ROCHESTER -- "American Legion members are very important to us because they give countless hours (to community service)."

That's how Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks welcomed Legionnaires to Rochester during the opening session of the 94th New York Department Convention July 19.

"They work tirelessly to help others," she said, noting that veterans, "like all of you in this room," make possible what has been accomplished in our nation.

Department Commander W. Michael Bowen also pointed to the more than 500 Legion members in the room, saying: "We all served together for God and Country. All of you make a difference."