National commander praises South Carolina lawmakers

South Carolina “gets it” when it comes to treatment of veterans and military families, American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan told a joint assembly of the states legislature Tuesday afternoon.

In an appearance marked with pomp and ceremony, Rohan was introduced by South Carolina Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, who led a procession of state senators into the House Chamber.

“The theme for my year as national commander is Family First,” Rohan told lawmakers. “As the wife of a retired soldier, I know firsthand that it isn’t just the veterans who serves. It is the entire family.

“Your state gets it when it comes to Family First. We welcome the governor’s proposal to fully exempt all military and first responder pensions from state taxes. This can be needed assistance to a surviving spouse, as well. Whether it’s protecting military retirement benefits or providing free hunting and fishing licenses to veterans, you see veterans as model Americans – people who earned a special status in your communities.”

Rohan payed homage to Army Spc. Javion Shavonte Sullivan, a South Carolina native who was killed in Iraq on January 8. Sullivan, she said, “not only sacrificed his life while fighting ISIS, but his wife Rayven has now lost her 24-year-old husband. And while Rayven can take comfort in understanding that she was the ‘love of his life,’ their 3-year-old daughter Mahogany will no longer have her daddy.”

On Monday, Rohan toured the VA medical center in Columbia, S.C., where she was briefed by the hospital’s director and senior staff. She also visited residents at the E. Roy Stone Jr. Veterans Pavilion, a nursing home named after the influential American Legion past national commander who hailed from the state.

“The commander was able to articluate to the legislature the needs of veterans and their families, which she saw firsthand here by visiting the VA, the nursing home and local posts,” said South Carolina Department Commander Michael Strauss. “I think her testimony was well received, especially when she recognized the historic sacrifices that this state made 100 years ago during World War I.”

Rohan concluded her remarks at the statehouse by presenting the awards for The American Legion Department of South Carolina Outstanding Members of the Legislature to Sen. Kent Williams and Rep. Michael Pitts. She plans to visit soldiers and airmen at Shaw Air Force Base before wrapping up her South Carolina visit.