Legion reps offer support to Guardsmen in Bosnia
July 7, 2003
EAGLE BASE, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Representatives of the American Legion told U.S. troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina during a July 4 visit that they have the Legion’s support during — and after — their deployment to the Balkans.
The three officials — Ronald Conley, the national commander; Michael Murphy, the national sergeant at arms; and Nola Maloney, commander of the French Department — arrived in Bosnia after visiting Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo.
They spent the day with National Guard troops, watching sporting events, eating dinner and answering questions.
The delegation members said they were impressed by the troops’ morale despite the amount of time they are spending on peacekeeping deployments.
“These guys are being activated for longer periods of time, which puts stress on their families and their employers,” Conley said of the Guardsmen.
“They need to increase the numbers of regular military.”
Conley said the Legion has been working to support the families and employers of citizen soldiers by making sure the government does all they should for the troops.
Troops at Eagle Base did not express any specific problems, but wondered about health care and military benefits, he said. He said the Legion is trying to improve disability benefits for military members.
The Legion is also fighting for improved health care. There are 300,000 veterans who have been waiting for up to two years to see a doctor, Conley said.
“If we don’t help veterans, we may find that we will not have enough [soldiers] some day to take care of our own national security,” Maloney said.
The American Legion was chartered in 1919 and calls itself the world’s largest veterans organization. It has nearly 3 million members.