The renamed Lucius D. Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden, Germany, is dedicated in a special ceremony in 2012. It will play host to a Legion visit on May 30. (Photo Credit: Karl Weisel, USAG Wiesbaden)

Legion to visit Europe military community

American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt and Washington Office Executive Director Verna Jones, along with other Legion representatives, will meet with troops, veterans and their families overseas in Europe from May 30 to June 8 to help spread the word about VA benefits and resources available for the military community.

“It’s actually two different parties going together,” said Frederick Gessner, deputy director of the Legion’s National Security Division. “There’s the national commander and his group, and then a separate group with Jones (including our media relations director, Joe Plenzler, and National Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division Director Lou Celli, who will be conducting town halls).”

Part of the itinerary includes six VA town halls to assist U.S. military personnel and veterans, all scheduled for 0900 to 1200 hours each day, at the following locations:

• Tony Bass Auditorium, Building 1043 at Lucius D. Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden, Germany (May 30)

• Armstrong Club Ballroom in Kaiserslautern, Germany (May 31)

• American Legion Post 1982 in the USAG Ansbach area of Germany (June 1)

• Patch Barracks Chapel in Stuttgart, Germany (June 1)

• Skyline Theater on Germany’s Spangdahlem Air Base (June 2)

• SHAPE Alliance Auditorium, Building 100, in Benelux, Belgium (June 7)

“The commander will stop in [to the town halls] and say a few words. Then he’s going to go onto the bases and have meetings with the commanders,” Gessner said. “He’s going to explain to them what the Legion can do for them, all the pre-benefits entitled to their troops. But also, he wants to understand what’s happening on their end … so that we can take that information back. That’s why we’re sending staff on this trip.”

Subject matter experts will also accompany Legion staff on the trip to speak about various VA benefits, including everything from the GI Bill to home loans and health care. “Jones is going to have a second mission where they’re going, to have VA town halls,” said Gessner. “That’s where they’re going to invite the military community in those areas - the veterans and the active duty, spouses and anyone who wants to come to have an opportunity to speak to the Legion. But it’s going to be more about what we can offer for them.”

Other events and stops on the itinerary for Schmidt and national staff include:

• visits to the American Legion Department of France;

• cemetery wreath-layings by The American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary, Sons of The American Legion and USAA;

• VA hospital briefings/Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) presentations;

• interviews with military media organizations;

• a visit to the plaque commemorating the birthplace of The American Legion;

• an unveiling of a monument bearing the Legion’s emblem.