By sheer coincidence, The American Legion commemorated its 50th Washington Conference by sending to Capitol Hill a national commander named "Hill."
Clarence Hill started his trip to Congress soon after his Commander's Call on Tuesday at the Renaissance Washington Hotel downtown, accompanied by a six-person entourage that included Steve Robertson, the Legion's Legislative director.
The commander's first stop was meeting the delegation from the Department of Michigan at the Cannon House Office Building. He shared a fine lunch spread with them, then met the Legion delegation from Florida.
While there, Hill spoke with Rep. Thomas Rooney, R-Fla., who showed up to address the Legionnaires from his state.
The commander wrapped up his Hill visit by meeting with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. She listened to Hill and Legionnaires from her state as they discussed several veterans issues, including the VA claims backlog and its new guidelines concerning service-connected illnesses of Gulf War veterans.
The group also expressed concern over the unreasonable delays - sometimes up to six months - that some veterans and their spouses in Maine have experienced before receiving benefit payments from VA.
Hill noted a recent Capitol Hill victory for Legionnaires: passage of a bill in Congress that allows advance funding for the VA health-care budget.
Many Legionnaires from across the country descended upon Capitol Hill. Delegations from many departments could be seen in the halls of the Cannon, Longworth, Dirksen and other congressional buildings.
For 50 years, The American Legion has gone to Washington, reminding Congress of its obligations to veterans, servicemembers and their families. And for 50 years, the Legion's efforts have contributed to many legislative successes on veterans issues.