President Trump Signs New Veterans Disability Bill at American Legion's National Convention
Image Ⓒ James Lint
On August 23, 2017, President Trump was a speaker at The American Legion’s 99th National Convention in Reno, NV. There were 9,000 legion members attending from across the U.S., in addition to many posts and departments in foreign countries where members reside. While presidents and candidates often speak at American Legion national events, this marks the first time a federal legislative bill was signed on stage at the event.
Trump Bill Signing at American Legion Convention Helps US Veterans
The President, in front of a packed convention floor, gave a speech and signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act (H.R. 2288). This act reforms the process by which veterans can appeal their claims for disability benefits with Veterans Affairs.
“Today’s appeals legislation was last updated in the 1930s,” stated Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David Shulkin. “The President’s signature today will help thousands of veterans receive timely action on their appeals. We have to do better and get faster decisions for our veterans.”
National Commander Charles E. Schmidt touted the legislation as an important milestone in improving services and support of the nation’s military veterans. “Today’s signing is a major victory for America’s veterans. I can think of no better place for the president to sign this bill than at the national convention of America’s largest and most influential veterans’ service organization. The legislation is a simple, fair and appropriate way to ensure that our nation’s veterans — and their families — receive their earned benefits in a timely and efficient manner,” Schmidt stated.
During President Trump’s speech, Trump discussed the history of the recently signed Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017. This act is commonly referred to as the Forever GI Bill, which removes time limits for veterans to invoke their tuition benefits, unlike previous bills. With strong bipartisan support, the new legislation enables veterans, service members and families to utilize earned education benefits over their lifetime as their career and learning needs change, rather than within a previous cap of prescribed years after separation of service.
[To learn more about degree programs serving U.S. veterans and active-duty military personnel, visit American Military University.]
Honoring National Commander Harry Colmer, Champion of Veteran Causes
During the convention, members honored the tireless work of Harry Colmery, who joined the Army in 1917 for World War I and was released from active duty in December 1919. The Kansas Historical Society states:
Harry’s years in the Army had a big impact on him and he was an advocate for veterans the rest of his life. He became involved in the American Legion at the local, state, and national levels. He served as national commander of the American Legion in 1936. In the years following World War II, the name Harry Colmery was a “household word” in his hometown of Topeka, the state of Kansas and the nation because of his support of veterans and his involvement in the American Legion.
The American Legion describes Past National Commander Harry Colmery as the first national commander to earn the Legion’s Distinguished Service Medal in 1975. His leadership was instrumental in establishing modern iterations of the GI Bill for World War II veterans. Holed up in Washington’s Mayflower Hotel for five months, Colmery handwrote the GI Bill of 1944, which granted war veterans an array of rights and later served as a pattern for programs to aid Korean War and Vietnam War veterans.
About the Author
James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in Korea supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.
Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 45th scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” a book published in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017, “Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job.”