Dingell, Peters, Stabenow Announce Enactment of Bill to Rename Ann Arbor VA Facility after Lt. Colonel Charles S. Kettles
Lt. Colonel Kettles Received Medal of Honor in 2016 for Heroic Service During Vietnam War
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced that President Donald Trump signed their legislation to rename the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Ann Arbor after Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Kettles. Lieutenant Colonel Kettles, a lifelong resident of Ypsilanti who passed away in January of 2019, served in the Vietnam War as an Army helicopter commander and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2016 for leading a rescue operation that saved 44 soldiers. The lawmakers’ legislation passed the House of Representatives in October and the United States Senate earlier this month.
“LTC Charles Kettles never asked for recognition or sought the spotlight for his selfless service and courage. But by engraving his name above the Ann Arbor VAMC, we will ensure his story is told for generations and his legacy cherished by all who seek care within those walls,” said Congresswoman Dingell. "He was a hero, a mentor, and a friend, and I will forever be grateful for the time I was able to share with him"
“LTC Kettles’ bravery, selflessness and commitment to his fellow servicemembers embodied the values that make our military – and nation – so strong,” said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.“I’m proud our bill is now law, recognizing LTC Kettles for his contributions to Michigan and our nation. As Michiganders, we are forever proud to call him a native son – and his exemplary service will continue to inspire generations to come.”
“Decades ago, Lieutenant Colonel Kettles courageously went back into enemy territory to save the lives of 44 of his fellow servicemen. With the renaming of the Ann Arbor VA, Lieutenant Colonel Kettle’s story will now be known and honored for generations. We are forever grateful for his service to our country,” said Senator Stabenow.
In May of 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Kettles led three rescue flights into enemy territory to deliver supplies, reinforcements and to evacuate wounded airborne soldiers who had been ambushed by Northern Vietnamese forces. After Kettles was informed during the middle of his final flight that eight soldiers remained on the ground, he immediately returned without any support to rescue the remaining men. All told, his actions saved the lives of 40 soldiers and 4 crewmembers from the 176th Aviation Company. In 2015, Dingell led legislation to waive time limitations that deemed Lieutenant Colonel Kettles ineligible for consideration of the Medal of Honor. Finally, after the bill was enacted, President Obama awarded Kettles the Medal of Honor on July 18, 2016, nearly 50 years after his heroic actions.
Food Gatherers Receives Post 46 Donation
Post 46 donated another sizeable check to Food Gatherers today, January 19 to help them help the community within Washtenaw County. Their website says that for every five dollars received they can provide fifteen meals. Serving the community is one of the four pillars of the American Legion. In the photo are Commander Dave Draper, Food Gatherers Financial Director Jen Wahley, Food Gatherers Volunteer Coordinator Joanna, two Air National Gurardmen from Selfridge AFB, and a young lady member of the Army National Guard. The military personnel were there to volunteer with Food Gatherers.
Fisher House Ann Arbor Shuttle Cart Arrives
Today, January 19, 2021 Fisher House Ann Arbor took possession of their new shuttle cart. The cart will be used to transport family members of veterans who are extende care patients at the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center. Ann Arbor American Legion Post 46 was a financial donor for purchasing the cart. Shown left is Post 46 Commander Dave Draper and right is Fisher House Ann Arbor Director April LaRock. Both are displaying the donor sticker that will be applied to the hood.
Reward for Great Work
Post 46 Commander Draper presents Mrs. Karen Keezer with a check and a Certificate of Appreciation. Mrs. Keezer hand made 40 afghans and 100 scarves which she donated to the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center. Post 46 wanted to support her by helping pay for supplies, and showing our appreciation for her support of our veteran men and women.
Wreaths Across America
On Wednesday, December 16 Ann Arbor Post 46 American Legion member Chris Campbell and Commander Dave Draper traveled to Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, Michigan to participate in the annual Wreaths Across America event. Their mission was to lay wreaths at six gravesites and three columbarium sites to honor our veteran members, relatives of members, and friends of members. As in past years, it was very cold that day, but it did not dampen the members' spirits. They honored the deceased by coming to attention, saluting, reading their name, and ordered arms. Our pledge is to never forget our fallen veterans.
Two Legion-Backed Bills Addressing Veteran Suicide Become Law
On Oct. 17, President Trump signed S. 785, the “Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019” and S. 2661, the “National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020” into law. The legislation was supported by The American Legion.
“A heartbreaking truth of veteran suicide is that nearly every veteran has been touched by it in some form or fashion,” said Katie Purswell, deputy director of Health Policy for The American Legion, in her testimony Sept. 9 before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (SVAC) on S. 785. “The things that we have done and seen are now a part of us and affect us in ways we can have trouble understanding. From complications with assimilation into civilian life to reliving past traumatic experiences, we struggle at times to find a way to cope.”
S. 785 is named in honor of retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. John Scott Hannon, who served his country for 23 years as a leader of SEAL Team Two, a member of SEAL Team Six, and Special Operations and policy staff officer at U.S. Special Operations Command. Six years after he retired from the Navy, Hannon died by suicide on Feb. 25, 2018.
VA estimates that around 20 veterans die by suicide each day.
The law includes provisions that specifically target women veterans, as well as ones addressing the need to provide veterans with access to alternative and complementary health-care programs and expand telehealth services. The American Legion was the only major veterans service organization to testify before the SVAC on S. 785.
“Our organization understands mental health care does not have a one-size-fits-all solution in preventing suicide. It is a complex problem that needs to be treated at an individual level as each veteran’s situation is unique," Purswell said. “As a Legion member, and as a veteran who has been touched by this tragedy, I am proud to say The American Legion supports this bill in its entirety."
S. 2661, the “National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020,” designates 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number of the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system. Advocates believe that designating a three-digit telephone number can transform access to mental health care.
In addition to the 9-8-8 designation, the law includes a provision for the Veterans Crisis Line. By dialing 9-8-8, veterans will have fast and easy access to veteran-specific mental health support. S. 2661 is supported by American Legion Resolution No. 377.
Hope Clinic Receives A Donation From Post 46
Hope Clinic provides food and services to the underprivileged in Washtenaw County, Michigan. Along with food distribution, they provide free medical, mental, dental, and vision. While there, the Director of Development Patti Radzik took us on a tour of their very modern and clean facility.
Post 46 Donates To Fisher House Ann Arbor Cart
Fisher House Michigan Director Kate Melcher accepts a $2,000 donation from Post 46 Commander Dave Draper. The donation will go towards the purchase of a new cart that will be used to transport Fisher House guests from the House to the VA and back.
Packaging Event Recipients
Troops in Bahrain receive donation boxes from Michigan and enjoy their content. The VVA Chapter 310, located in Ann Arbor, and WACU (Warriors And Caregivers United) sponsored a packaging event a couple of weeks ago where they packaged 129 boxes to be sent to several overseas bases. The scarves the troops have around their necks were hand made. These packaging events typically happen a couple of times a year.
Guitars For Vets
The Ann Arbor Guitars for Vets is a national organization that helps veterans with PTSD cope through music. Students meet once a week for ten weeks to learn the art of playing a guitar. At the end of the ten weeks, the students receive a free acoustic guitar. The organization normally meets at the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center but because of COVID, they are currently meeting at the Ann Arbor VFW Post 423. Click on the logo at the left to see more pictures.
Space Force veterans and active-duty military now welcome in the American Legion
When the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act was signed by the president in 2019 and became Public Law 116-92, the Space Force was added to Section 101(a)(4) of Title 10, which now reads: "(4) The term 'armed forces' means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, and Coast Guard. "Since Section 21703 stipulates only "Armed Forces" and U.S. Code now includes the Space Force in its definition, no actions are required by The American Legion to accept Space Force servicemembers into the organization.
(From The American Legion Magazine)
Check out a unique look at Veterans Memorial Park in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here is presented a "birdseye" view of the flag and flagpole that was installed last year. The project was financed by American Legion Post 46, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 423, and the City of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Department.
Ann Arbor VA Medical Center a step closer to being renamed in honor of Medal of Honor Recipient LTC Kettles. Click HERE to see a press release by Senator Peters' office on a bill being introduced.
Need food in these trying times. No one should go hungry as we deal with this COVID virus. Click HERE to see a list of food pantries in Washtenaw County. This list is provided by Food Gatherers in Ann Arbor.
VA News Releases
12/31/2019 03:03 PM EST
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will begin deciding claims for the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 at 12:01 a.m., Philippine Standard Time, Jan. 1, 2020. The Philippines is the farthest east VA regional benefits office.
Landmark Presidential Signing of the POW-MIA Flag Act
Law now requires the POW/MIA flag to be displayed whenever the American flag is displayed on prominent federal properties, including the White House, U.S. Capitol, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, every national cemetery, the buildings containing the official offices of the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, Office of the Director of the Selective Service System, each major military installation, each Department of Veterans Affairs medical center, and each U.S. Postal Service post office.
Read more here POW/MIA Flag Act
Congress Approves LEGION Act
7/23: The U.S. House passed the bipartisan LEGION Act on Tuesday, extending the recognized wartime era back to Dec. 7, 1941.
The LEGION Act — Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service Act — fills in the gaps of war eras and redefines The American Legion’s membership eligibility dates, beginning with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and continuing until it is determined the United States is no longer in a state of war.
President Trump is expected to sign Senate bill S.504 into law later this week. When it becomes law, the legislation opens the door for hundreds of thousands of veterans to access American Legion programs and benefits for which they previously had not been eligible.
Today, April 20, 2020, the Ann Arbor Fisher House has officially opened.
Because of the COVID virus, the facility is temporarily being used to house medical staff and family members who are spending their final moments with palliative care patients.
June 14th Fisher House broke ground for a new Fisher House at the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center. It is the first Fisher House to be built in Michigan. See pictures from the Ceremony.
Comments From The Ann Arbor Legion Post 46 Commander Dave Draper
Another year is fast coming to a close and we are still dealing with the COVID virus. For the last couple of months, we have been able to hold meetings inside the Post, although recent spikes in the virus may put an end to that. As the Marine Corps motto goes, we have to modify, adapt, and overcome to deal with challenges we are presented with.
We have been a little busier over the last few months with increasing events. We have donated to, and held a food drive, for Food Gatherers where we were able to collect over 775 pounds of goods that will be distributed to the needy. We've also donated to Hope Clinic and are in the process of assessing what we can do through volunteering. We recently began the implementation of Phase II at Veterans Memorial Park, where we are installing a couple of benches, and six branch-of-service medallions. Our Post, along with Ann Arbor's VFW Post 423 have opened the Post Hall on Wednesdays and Saturdays to veterans who want to come out and socialize with other veterans, drink a little coffee, play some pool and darts and watch football on a big-screen TV. Each week it gains popularity. Previously, the Hall was only open for meetings.
We have also been busy fielding calls for direction and support. We've helped a veteran get his vehicle fixed, given direction to vets needing help getting services from the VA, helped a vet who recently was homeless but found housing, but needed a few tools so he could start a new job, and we're helping a homeless woman who is currently living in her vehicle.
Our post has also provided scholarships to the University of Michigan ROTC cadets, financially supported the Boys State program, sponsored a Poppy Drive to raise money for an organization that helps veterans and their caregivers with PTSD, sponsored fifteen wreaths which will be placed on gravesites by us at Great Lakes National Cemetery during Wreaths Across America week (if not canceled because of COVID), began the process to start a Jr. Air Rifle program, and annually we participate in the Walk and Roll 22 awareness walk put on by WACU.
We are always looking to find more ways to serve our veterans, active-duty military, and our local community. We hope you will feel inspired to join us and help us to serve. Recently passed legislation allows all honorably discharged veterans to join our organization- whether you served in a combat zone or was a desk clerk at a stateside base. You served a purpose and helped keep our Nation safe, no matter how large or small your part.
American Legion Post 46
Ann Arbor, Michigan