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September 18. 2013 11:56PM

Commander of American Legion tours the state


American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger speaks during an interview at the New Hampshire Union Leader. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — The national commander of The American Legion said the organization remains committed to caring for veterans and the unique medical and psychological wounds of war today's military men and women endure.

"We are here to serve those who have worn the uniform in defense of our great nation. We're here to make sure they're taken care of," said Daniel M. Dellinger, national commander of The American Legion.

Dellinger and other American Legion leaders toured New Hampshire Sept. 10-13 to listen to veterans' concerns and issues.

The American Legion is the nation's largest veterans service organization with 2.4 million members. It celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2018.

The Legion's mission is to take care of veterans, children and youth, promote Americanism and national defense.

Post-traumatic stress syndrome and brain injury are the two most significant injuries military men and women suffer when they return from battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dellinger said.

Mental health issues and unemployment also are critical issues facing veterans, he said.

"Suicide is a big concern facing us. We need to be there for our brothers and sisters," Dellinger added.

Unemployment among male veterans ages 18-24 is 22 percent upon their return home compared to more than 7 percent for the nation as a whole, he said.

Backlogs in processing veterans health care claims also looms as a major issue, Dellinger said.

Progress was made in the last six months to reduce claims by about 200,000; still there about 600,000 still to be processed, he said.

Dellinger said he raised these issues when he testified before the Joint House and Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs in Washington Sept. 10.

The New Hampshire visit is part of a nationwide tour to learn veterans concerns and assure them The American Legion will continue to be there for them.

"We are there to help them and their children," said Maurice J. Anderson, department commander for New Hampshire.

For more information, visit www.legion.com.


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