On Jan. 27, 2010, Phil Riley, director of The American Legion's National Security and Foreign Relations Division, spoke to 160 servicemembers and their spouses during a Yellow Ribbon Program event at the Trump Marina Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. The event was sponsored by the 99th Regional Support Command in Fort Dix, N.J.
DoD's Yellow Ribbon Program is designed to assist soldiers and their families before, during and after a unit's mobilization. During the event, Riley discussed the roles and functions of American Legion department service officers and their value to new veterans when submitting claims for service-connected disabilities.
"Most of the people in the audience never realized they've got to provide service-connection information for their claims, or that they need to carefully review and manage their medical records if they want to succeed in making those claims," Riley said. He provided the audience with a few examples of claims that were successfully won by Jerry Johnson, who works for The American Legion at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Riley also gave the audience a handout that described Legion programs for military families and included contact information for assistance regarding the new GI Bill benefits, veterans' claims and appeals, and other related issues.
The American Legion has participated in three other recent Yellow Ribbon Program events with Navy and Marine Corps Reserve personnel in Baltimore, along with Army Reserve troops in Minneapolis and Skytop, Pa.
Active-duty, reserve and National Guard troops, who deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, are attending Yellow Ribbon Program events at off-base locations all over the country. They provide a great outreach opportunity for Legionnaires to explain what their organization does for servicemembers and their families.