LINCOLN – On Monday, Governor Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation declaring the “Year of the American Legion” leading up to the organization’s 100th anniversary on September 16th, 2019. He was joined by Nebraska American Legion Department Commander Lyle Bartels, Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs (NDVA) Director John Hilgert, and nearly 100 American Legion members.
“This week, we kicked off a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the American Legion, which was chartered by Congress in 1919,” said Governor Ricketts. “As we celebrate the Year of the American Legion, this is an opportunity for us to thank our veterans for their service and to look for new ways to better serve them as a state.”
With a membership of 2.1 million wartime veterans, the American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation and around the world. In Nebraska, there are more than 350 American Legion posts and more the 31,000 Legionnaires.
“I’ve been a member of the American Legion for over 25 years and have seen firsthand the impact this organization has on our state’s veterans,” said NDVA Director John Hilgert. “It’s an honor to be among their ranks and an honor to celebrate the ‘Year of the American Legion’ as it approaches a century of serving veterans.”
The American Legion in Nebraska has been the sole sponsor of Cornhusker Boys’ State since its inception, helping 400 high school students to learn about our republic. The Legion conducts an annual Oratorical Scholarship Contest whereby contestants compete against one another on matters relating to the Constitution of the United States of America and provides nearly $10,000 in annual educational scholarships to high school students and students undergoing Reserve Officer Training Corps. It also maintains the nation’s third-largest American Legion baseball program in the country with roughly 300 teams participating, among many other community-centric programs.
“It’s exciting to have the governor sign this proclamation recognizing the importance of the American Legion in Nebraska Communities,” said Nebraska Department Commander Lyle Bartels. “We have a lot planned for our centennial and are encouraging all the posts in Nebraska to participate in celebrating 100 years of serving our communities.”
Throughout its first century, the American Legion built a legacy on such accomplishments as leading the way to create U.S. Flag Code, helping start the Veterans Administration, drafting and getting passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944—the GI Bill—which transformed America in the second half of the 20th century, and helping veterans receive benefits for health-care conditions based on their honorable service, including acceptance of Agent Orange exposure as service-connected. Today, The American Legion has nearly 3,000 accredited service officers worldwide who assist veterans with their benefits claims and other concerns.
GOV. RICKETTS’ RECORD OF SUPPORT FOR NEBRASKA’S MILITARY FAMILIES & VETERANS
Over the past few years, Governor Ricketts has worked with the Legislature and veterans’ groups to place a focus on supporting Nebraska’s military families and veterans. Below are a few examples of how Governor Ricketts is making Nebraska a more veteran-friendly state:
- Merging the NDVA and the Division of Veterans’ Homes to create a one-stop shop for veterans’ services in Nebraska.
- Approving a 20 percent pay increase for staff care technicians working for the NDVA.
- Expanding the hiring preference in Nebraska to include spouses of service members.
- Cutting red tape on a key property tax exemption for veterans if no change in medical condition has occurred.
- Creating five additional Military Honor License Plates to recognize the service of members of the reserves of the armed forces.
- Approving revisions to Rule 21, allowing military spouses to receive a three-year teaching permit in Nebraska with a valid out-of-state license.
- Signing LB 88e (2017) into law, which authorized the Department of Health and Human Services to issue temporary licenses for occupations regulated under the Uniform Credentialing Act to military spouses.
- Building a new state-of-the-art Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home, which will provide world-class accommodations to hundreds of Nebraska veterans.