Veteran Treatment Court Training: Mentors Boot Camp


Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts is pleased to announce Volunteer Veteran Mentor Boot Camp will be September 18-19, 2019, at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel, in Harrisburg, PA.

Hosted by Justice for Vets (, with registration here, for the first 100 veteran mentors, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Topics include the role and boundaries of a mentor, suicide prevention, active listening strategies and more.

AOPC will reimburse travel expenses; additional information on reimbursable expenses and limitations will be provided upon registration.

Community Support Required to Inspire Future Generations of Army Leaders

OPINION-EDITORIAL SUBMISSION – By Lt. Col. Christopher Duncan, Commander, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion-Harrisburg

“Thank you for your service.” As a U.S. Army Soldier living in Harrisburg, I am grateful for these words, which I hear often when wearing my uniform in this community.

What many people do not understand is that I am the one who is thankful. I am thankful for the camaraderie, the global understanding, the commitment made to me and my family, and the opportunity to dedicate every day to thepeople of this country.

I am thankful for the education and cost-free healthcare I receive, the worldwide experiences I have had, the technical skills I have learned, and the opportunity to be a leader in the most trusted organization in the nation.

I am thankful to be part of history. This week the Army celebrates 244 years of dedicated service. Generations of Soldiers have inspired professionalism, honorable service and a commitment to the common good. For this, I am proud to call myself a Soldier.

And now, I am part of the team inspiring the next great generation of Soldiers to find their place in history.That is no easy task, however, even though the majority of Americans have the highest levels of confidence in the U.S. military.

We face many challenges when searching for the right people to fill our ranks. Yes, we need infantrymen and Special Forces Soldiers, like you see in the movies, but we also need logisticians, nurses, engineers, truck drivers,and IT specialists.

About 50 percent of today’s young people admit they know little to nothing about their nation’s military – the people who work daily to protect their freedom. They don’t understand the depth of the knowledge and technicalskills they can learn in 150 different career paths. They don’t understand the degrees they can earn or that the benefits and perks often match or surpass those offered by civilian employers.

I have had many jobs in the 21 years I have served in the U.S. Army. I have done everything from jumping out of planes, to Intelligence, Cyber, working for the Director of the Army Staff as a Special Assistant to leading the state-wide staff and Army Recruiting force for PA. It has beenone of the best decisions of my life. I am a better person because of the U.S. Army and the people I have metthroughout my career.

I see amazing young people in our state desiringto serve their communities, and I believe we are doing them a disservice if we are not encouraging them to explore the military as a potential career path.
The Army invests in its people, often to the benefit of outside organizations. Veterans are more likely to vote, volunteer, and be involved in their communities. They have the maturity and self-discipline private industries are seeking.

Only 29 percent of today’s young people have the ability to meet our qualifications. We will work to find the right people, and we will compete to retain them for the good of our nation. But we need your help.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6 and the Army’s 244th birthday on June 14, the Army is activating a nationwide “Call to Service.”
I challenge leaders, parents, educators and the PA community as a whole to step forward. Inspire the young people around you to be part of something bigger, to be part of history. Inspire them to answer the call.

Lt. Col. Duncan is the commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion-Harrisburg, which is responsible for hiring new Soldiers from 52 of PA’s 67 counties this year.

Blue Water Navy Legal Battle Ends

VFW urges swift Senate passage of H.R. 299 to protect and expand benefits to thousands

WASHINGTON — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is saluting a decision by the Justice Department to not contest Procopio v. Wilkiewhich nowpaves the way for the return of veterans disability benefits to some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans.

“This is a huge victory for tens of thousands of deserving veterans who were arbitrarily stripped of their earned benefits,” said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. “Now we need the Senate to quickly pass H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs can never again interpret the intent of law differently.” The U.S. House of Representations passed H.R. 299 on May 14 by a unanimous vote of 410-0.

In Procopio v. WilkieVA Secretary Robert Wilkie was sued by Navy veteran Alfred Procopio Jr., who was denied service connection for prostate cancer and diabetes mellitus because he never stepped foot on dry land or served within Vietnam’s inland waterways. Procopio, a life member of VFW Post 6587 in Spring Lake Park, Minn., was assigned aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which was stationed inside Vietnam’s 12-mile territorial waters. Both of his illnesses are listed among the VA’s 14 presumptive diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange.

On Jan. 29, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit focused on the intent of the 1991 Agent Orange Act, which was to grant a presumption of service connection for certain diseases to veterans who “served in the Republic of Vietnam.” At issue was whether service within territorial waters constituted service “in the Republic of Vietnam.” By a 9-2 decision, the Appeals Court ruled it did.

“The VFW is very glad this case is now over,” said the VFW national commander. “Now we can focus on getting H.R. 299 passed into law to protect VA benefits for Blue Water Navy veterans and expand much needed benefits for veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange in Thailand and the Korean DMZ, as well as continue research on Gulf War illnesses.”

Department Passes 100% in Membership

Department Passes 100% in Membership for 2018-19 Program Year!

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Congratulations to the Department of Pennsylvania for surpassing the 100% in membership goal for the 2018-19 program year! State Commander Tom Hanzes, his leadership team and the State HQ staff, thank all VFW leaders at the local Post and District level for their outstanding recruiting and retention efforts. Thanks also to all individual VFW members who recruited one or two members, and who helped show their comrades why keeping their memberships active is critical to the VFW’s ability to effectively keep working its vital mission.

“It took a real team effort at every level to make this achievement possible, and we celebrate this as a team,” said Commander Hanzes, who has visited 200 VFW Posts and all 24 PA Districts. “We can do this year after year if we continue to work as a team to serve, support and assist veterans of all ages and military families. Getting out into the community and telling the VFW’s remarkable story is critical to our future. Veterans and our communities will support the VFW if they know what we stand for and all we do to help others.”

As of Monday, Department membership stands at 100.06% and climbing.

PA VFW Participating in Pocono Raceway NASCAR Events

PR to donate portion of ticket sales to VFW for veterans assistance.

The Pennsylvania VFW continues to increase its outreach to veterans of all ages by participating in a wide variety of events. This weekend, the State VFW will receive plenty of attention as an exhibitor at Pocono Raceway for numerous racing events:

– May 31: General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200- ARCA Menards Series
– June 1: Pocono Green 250 Recycled by J.P. Mascaro & Sons – NASCAR Xfinity Series
– June 2: Pocono 400 – Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Pocono Raceway will make a 20% donation of ticket sales to the VFW for veterans assistance when tickets are purchased through this link,

Make sure that the Promo Code “PAVFW” shows up to initiate the donation.

State HQ encourages all VFW Posts to participate in a variety of community programs to “tell the VFW story” and explain why our VFW can proudly claim, “No One Does More for Veterans.” Get out, shake veterans’ hands, ask them about their service and explain some of the ways that the VFW improves lives every day through our programs and services.

Tell Congress to Axe Widows Tax

America must honor military survivors NOT tax them

May 01, 2019

More than 65,000 surviving military spouses and dependents are unjustly penalized because their loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Similar to life insurance, the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) is purchased through DOD by military retirees to ensure their surviving loved ones can maintain a modest standard of living. When service members or veterans die from injuries or illnesses related to their military service, survivors are eligible for VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Despite the two payments being paid for two different reasons from two different federal departments, all monthly SBP retirement payments are reduced by $1,319 –– the current payout for DIC benefits.

For many survivors, this offset completely eliminates their SBP payments and threatens their financial security. The recent tax law makes this situation worse by doubling the tax on dependents to whom parents transferred SBP benefits to avoid having to forfeit DIC benefits.

The VFW needs you to take action now!

Contact your members of Congress and urge them to end the injustice now! The message these aptly termed “Widow’s Tax” and “Kiddie Tax” sends to service members, veterans, and their families is that our government salutes their service while in uniform, but they cost too much if they die on active duty or from service-connected conditions.

PA Teacher Wins Nat’l VFW Award

Carlisle Post 477 Sponsors Top Educator

News Release – For Immediate Distribution

Carlisle PA Teacher Receives VFW’s National Education Award – Wagner will be honored during the VFW’s 120th National Convention in July

KANSAS CITY, MO/National VFW Headquarters – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is pleased to announce Kevin Wagner, an advanced placement history teacher at Carlisle high School in Carlisle, Pa., has been selected for its 2019 Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award at the high school level.

Kevin Wagner, an advanced placement history teacher at Carlisle High School in Carlisle, Penn., was chosen to represent the high school level for his dedication to honoring the memory of America’s veterans. Through his “Silent Heroes” project, students explore the life and service of a local World War II veteran killed at Normandy and create a webpage preserving their legacy.

Last year Wagner’s project expanded to identify local Vietnam War veterans, leading to the construction of a Vietnam Wall of Honor which displays the names of more than 213 veterans and 10 flag cases in honor of the former students killed during the war. VFW Post 477 and its Auxiliary in Carlisle, Pa., sponsored Wagner.

“Students who are lucky enough to have teachers like Kevin develop a deep sense of patriotism and understand the values and freedoms upon which our nation was founded,” said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. “The VFW is honored to recognize the vital role America’s educators play in nurturing and encouraging the civic-minded leaders of tomorrow.”

Post 477 Commander Rick Olson noted that the Post is extremely proud of Kevin for his dedication to generate patriotism and a growing appreciation among students for freedom.

Co-sponsored by past VFW National Commander John Smart and retired VFW Quartermaster General Larry Maher, the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award was established in 1999 to recognize three exceptional teachers for their outstanding commitment to teach Americanism and patriotism to their students.

Each of the three national recipients will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Orlando, Fla., where they will each be presented with a $1,000 award for professional development and $1,000 for their school during the 120th VFW National Convention, July 20-24.

Secretary Position Candidates Sought by State HQ

VFW State HQ Job Announcement:

JOB SUMMARY: Secretary under supervision of the Department Adjutant, position located at State HQ.
Individual must have excellent written and oral communication skills. Responsible for Commander and Adjutant’s correspondence as well as VFW program support as determined by the Adjutant. Possess outstanding organizational skills and work independently, effectively, and a part of a team in a challenging and fast paced work environment. Person must conduct multiple projects simultaneously and maintain knowledge for all Veterans of Foreign Wars programs.
Candidates are encouraged to be an active participant in programs involving communities, Military Troops, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Strong typing/computer skills are necessary to interact daily with multiple audiences in a professional manner. Respond to inquiries by voice and e-mail.

– Maintain computer filing system that is user friendly and networked to all stations.
– Ensure all tasks directed by the Adjutant are processed quickly, accurately and keep file area current to reflect recent work.
– Maintain an efficient flow of correspondence by reviewing, planning, and prioritizing work on a daily basis.
– Perform duties such as maintaining filing system, photo copying and collating messenger services, mailing system, and other office duties as assigned by the Adjutant.
– Limited travel to some Veterans of Foreign Wars functions as required to assist the Commander and Adjutant and to support other staff—with the Mid-Winter Conference and State Convention among the events requiring travel.
– Ability to assist the Adjutant with planning meetings, conventions, multifaceted projects, and special sessions.- Ability to use Microsoft Word or other program to design certificates used to honor participation in VFW Programs.
– The above duties are general in nature and are not intended to reflect all duties which may be required of the employee.

1) Computer skills
– Demonstrated proficiency in:
– Word, Outlook, Excel, Access, Power Point- Veterans of Foreign Wars Member Information System (database)- Internet Resources
2) Clerical Skills
– Efficient and accurate typing
– Ability to write concise, grammatically correct and easy to understand documents
– Calculating and compiling data, manually and by computer programs
– Transcribe minutes/notes from digital files and audio tapes
– Ability to work well with and communicate with program/committee chairpersons, Department officers and staff, and external audiences
– Excellent clerical qualifications by knowledge and experience
– Reliability and flexibility
– Ability to work while maintaining strict confidentiality
– Ability to work well with Military Units and Military Family Groups
– All other duties as assigned

WORK WEEK: Work week up to 35 hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (1/2 hour lunch)

SALARY: To be negotiated during the interview process. An increase may be offered after 90 days, provided the work performed and other job measures are satisfactory.

Applications are being accepted now.

Send your cover letter, resume, business writing samples and contact information to State Adjutant at [email protected] or mail it PA VFW State HQ, 4002 Fenton Ave., Harrisburg PA 17109-5943.

If you have questions about this position, please call (717) 234-7927 and ask for the State Adjutant.

PA State Winner Takes Nat’l VFW VOD $30k Scholarship

Congratulations to Christine A. Troll for winning the National VFW Voice of Democracy first-place award of $30,000, which follows her receiving a $5,000 prize from the PA Department for winning the State VFW VOD contest during our Mid-Winter Conference in January. Here’s the video of the National VFW VOD Awards reception in Washington. Her winning address appears near the end of the video file. Way to go Christine A. Troll and congratulations to Post 554 and District 23 for sponsoring the national VOD champion!

State Cmdr. Announces Spring Membership Contests

All Posts that reach 100% in membership by June 30, 2019 will be entered into a drawing for one (1) of fifteen (15) life memberships.  The drawing will be held in early July and the Post will be notified by mail.  It will be the choice of the Post who will receive the life membership.

All Posts that recruit three (3) new or reinstated members from March 15th to May 15th will be entered into a drawing for one (1) of three (3) $100 awards.


All Posts that meet the All State Mandatory Criteria by April 30, 2019, the Post Commander and Quartermaster will receive their cap, pin, and special recognition at the Department Convention in Erie, June 12-15, 2019.

Any Post that meets the All State Mandatory Criteria between May 1, 2019 and June 30, 2019, the Post Commander and Quartermaster will receive their cap and pin at the OTI in their area.


All District Commanders who reach 100% in membership by June 30, 2019 will receive a special gift from State Commander Hanzes.  Also, the District will receive $100.00 from State Commander Hanzes.