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St. Paul's American Legion Post 145

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American Legion News

Precision, sporter air rifle champions crowned

Source: July 20, 2024

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The American Legion crowned its 2024 Junior 3-Position Air Rifle National Championship precision and sporter winners Saturday, July 20, in Hillsdale, Mich. The top eight in both classes competed in the Margot Biermann Athletic Center on the campus of Hillsdale College for the finals after two previous days of back-to-back tournament matches.

The precision champion is Emme Walrath of Kenosha, Wis., and second-place finisher is Kamdyn McFarland of Billings, Mont. Sporter champion is Alexandra Orr of Poquoson, Va., and second-place finisher is Zachary Higgins of Gray, Tenn. Walrath and Orr will receive a $5,000 scholarship provided by The American Legion and Sons of The American Legion, along with a trip to The American Legion's 105th national convention in New Orleans in August to be honored. McFarland and Higgins will receive a $1,000 scholarship provided by the American Legion Auxiliary. 

First on the firing line for the finals were the top eight sporters, standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Both the precision and sporter top eight competitors fired 10 individual shots for a total possible score of 109.

Walrath and Orr held their first-place positions to win.  

"It was very exciting. I started crying a little bit when I found out," Orr said of winning sporter with a score of 91.9 "It was definitely a lot of work. It was very stressful for the finals knowing one shot and you could be down too many points to catch up. I knew I had to keep my heartrate down, so between every shot I was taking deep breaths, just trying to calm down so I wouldn't be super shaky while I was shooting."

Higgins was in third position coming into the finals for sporter and took second place after the fourth shot and held on to it.

"This is my last match and I wanted to go out with a bang, and I feel like I accomplished it. It feels really good and honestly, I'm kind of shocked because I expected to not do as well as I thought in the finals," said Higgins, who shot an 85.1 "The whole competition is like any competition I have done before. Especially for my last one, it's super great. The caliber of people I'm shooting with … it's top 30 precision and sporter in the nation. It was just an honor getting to be here. The way the whole thing was run was just fantastic. I loved this competition."

Higgins, who recently graduated from Daniel Boone High School, grew up hunting and shooting with his dad, which inspired him to get into air rifle.  

"I love the competitiveness and just growing up shooting, it felt like me. It was literally the best thing about my high school career probably, last four years of my life, has been the (Daniel Boone MCJROTC) rifle team."  

McFarland headed in the finals for precision in third position with Mackenzie Larson of Colorado in second. After a close final match, McFarland claimed a second-place finish with a score of 102.7.

"It feels really good," McFarland said of her second-place finish. "Every I took I would look over at Mackenzie and we just kept taking the same shots. But I stayed pretty calm; I was trying to have fun and stay relaxed. It's been a great match."

The focus heading into the finals for precision champion Walrath was to have fun.

"It's my very last final before college so I just wanted to have fun with it," said Walrath, who shot a 104.6. "Being the champion for this match, I feel very good about it. I have been just working as hard as possible for the last few weeks. I just came back from the CMP Nationals as well, and I did struggle quite a bit over there, especially in the finals. And I lost my first-place position there. So coming out here and being able to do as well as what I would hope here and be able to maintain that is rewarding. This match is a good end to my final high school matches.

"I would like to thank The American Legion so much for allowing me the opportunity to come out here, and for allowing me to earn the scholarship because it really will help in college (Georgia Southern University)."

Walrath loves the sport of air rifle because of the competitiveness but also because of the friendships built and encouragement shared during competition.

"We get competitive sometimes with each other but we're all having fun with each other while we're competing," she said. "We are not against each other; we always congratulate ourselves and each other whenever we reach a personal record and that kind of stuff. We are always so interconnected, and we're always celebrating with each other. I really love that about this sport.

"I want to thank (The American Legion) for also allowing all of us to grow the friendships that we have out of this competition."

Results for top eight precision:

1. 2,495.6 – Emme Walrath of Wisconsin, American Legion Post 295

2. 2,483.7 – Kamdyn McFarland of Montana, Yellowstone Rifle Club

2. 2,483.4 – Makenzie Larson of Colorado, American Legion Post 109

4. 2,476.6 – Samuel Adkins of Pennsylvania, Palmyra Junior Rifle Team

5. 2,476.2 – Hunter Jenkins of West Virginia, Mason Dixon Junior Rifle

6. 2,467.6 – Logan Michael of California,  Lincoln Rifle Club

7. 2,465.9 – Ziva Swick of Pennsylvania, Palmyra Junior Rifle Team

8. 2,461.4 – Gabriella Sprague of Pennsylvania, DuBois Rifle & Pistol Club

Results for top eight sporter:

1.     2,308.1 – Alexandra Orr of Virginia, Lafayette Gun Club

2.     2,297.1 – Zachary Higgins of Tennessee, Daniel Boone MCJROTC

3.     2,291.3 – Elaine Saint of South Carolina, Walhalla HS Rifle Team

4.     2,282.1 – Brooklyn Zeigler of Tennessee, Daniel Boone MCJROTC

5.     2,279.0 – Clay Crawford of South Dakota, Marshall County Sharpshooters

6.     2,277.9 – Kaitlynn Burrell of South Carolina, Walhalla HS Rifle Team

7.     2,277.8 – Zoe Dissing of South Dakota, Humboldt Sharpshooters

8.     2,271.7 – Elyssa Vazquez of Florida, Mariner HS AJROTC

Next article: Legion air rifle top 16 to compete in finals

Legion air rifle top 16 to compete in finals

Source: July 19, 2024

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The American Legion's Junior 3-Position Air Rifle National Championship finals Saturday morning will see the top eight precision and sporter high school marksmen competing for a championship title in their respective categories. Since Thursday morning, the 30 competitors from across the country have been shooting on the campus of Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Mich., vying for a spot in the finals. They competed in two back-to-back matches Thursday and Friday, firing a total of 240 shots in three positions – prone, standing and kneeling.

The top 16 will fire 10 shots in the standing position for the finals at 9 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, July 20. Follow the results at this link

Kamdyn McFarland of Billings, Mont., is heading into the finals in third position for precision. The 16-year-old high school junior who has been shooting since she was seven is looking forward to the standing position for finals because it's her favorite to shoot in.

"I like standing the most because it came to me the easiest, and I have to practice the least to be good at it. It's just so fun," she said, adding that tomorrow will be her second finals to ever compete in. "I'm going to try to stay calm and not get messed up when everyone is screaming and cheering. With shooting, you have to think that after the shot's down the range there's nothing you can do about it. Think one shot at a time, don't worry about your score or what other people are shooting. This one shot can make a match, or you can lose the match with one shot. So you have to focus. I'm hoping to at least shoot one 10."

When Emme Walrath of Kenosha, Wis., stands on the firing line tomorrow in first position for precision, she's going to remind herself "that I'm just proud and so honored that I can be here and whatever happens, happens. And live in the moment. I will also tell myself to have fun and to let things be what they are. And just let the process take over. I tell myself that beforehand, so I don't have that stress buildup. You just keep on doing what muscle memory does."

Walrath will be an incoming freshman at Georgia Southern University and on the NCAA Division I rifle team. She started air rifle shooting in 2019 and "got better in 2020 because of a lot of practice and my support system ... my mom and dad, and my coaches (Jon Speck and Lucas Kozeniesky, a 2020 Tokyo Olympic silver medalist). And a lot of the success also comes from the mental state. Because this sport doesn't move as much, it's much more of you doing your best to stay still. But while you're staying still a lot of thoughts can go through your head, and it's very hard to keep your mind completely blank and not thinking of anything. It's always a challenge to keep on getting your mental state into that right place and pushing past those mental blocks that you set for yourself. So it's always a constant battle with your own brain in this sport."

It will be the second time for Elaine Saint of Walhalla, S.C., to compete in the Legion's air rifle finals for sporter. She placed fourth in 2022. Now, she heads into the finals in second position.  

Competing in the Legion's Junior 3-Position Air Rifle National Championships two years ago "was one of the coolest experiences that I will always remember," Saint said. "It opened my world up to the whole shooting sports network and that I could go to college for it."

Air rifle never would have happened for Saint if she didn't give it a second chance four years ago as a freshman in high school. She did not want to come back after her first air rifle practice on a then all-girls team. "It was new to me, and I was really shy. I got in the car at the end of practice, and I said, ‘Mom, I don't think I can do this.' She said, ‘Go back the next day and see how you feel.' My coach was so kind, and he helped me get into that comfortable setting with shooting and the girls were very accepting."

Saint did not think she would place as high as second position coming into the Legion's competition because she did a practice match of the whole tournament beforehand and "I did not do very well. But my coach really strives to teach us how to be confident with ourselves. Rifle has so much mental training that it helps me be more confident with myself and it's helped me with my anxiety because I took all the things I learned from camps, from my coach and I put it out in real life. Now instead of trying to reach my personal best in rifle, I'm trying to do that in my entire life. It really taught me to reach for the stars."

Elyssa Vazquez of Cape Coral, Fla., is heading into the finals in eighth position for sporter with a goal "to do the best I can because previous competitions I'm always worried about the score or adding it up. I just really want to relax in this competition because this is my last shooting competition for the summer before the beginning of school (at Mariner High School). I just want to have a new start on a good ending."

Elyssa is at the Legion air rifle championship competing alongside her sister Eryka and teammate Tyler Dennard. The three shoot for Mariner High School AJROTC and recently won the Civilian Marksmanship Program JROTC Nationals, breaking "an 11-year streak of the Army not winning," Eryka said.   

Eryka has graduated high school and is headed into the National Guard while Elyssa will be a junior. For Elyssa with air rifle, "there is a big mental aspect that I still struggle with, but I stick with the sport because it helps me as a person. And a quote I like says something along the lines that just because you won doesn't mean it's over. You'll stay exactly where you are if you don't put in the work you need to do to become the best person you can be."

 

The top eight precision shooters for Saturday's finals and their aggregate score:

1. 2,391 – Emme Walrath of Wisconsin, American Legion Post 295

2. 2,383 – Makenzie Larson of Colorado, American Legion Post 109

3. 2,381 – Kamdyn McFarland of Montana, Yellowstone Rifle Club

4. 2,377 – Hunter Jenkins of West Virginia, Mason Dixon Junior Rifle

5. 2,374 – Samuel Adkins of Pennsylvania, Palmyra Junior Rifle Team

6. 2,367 – Logan Michael of California,  Lincoln Rifle Club

7. 2,364 – Ziva Swick of Pennsylvania, Palmyra Junior Rifle Team

8. 2,360 – Gabriella Sprague of Pennsylvania, DuBois Rifle & Pistol Club

 

The top eight sporter shooters for Saturday's finals and their aggregate score:

1.     2,217.74– Alexandra Orr of Virginia, Lafayette Gun Club

2.     2,213.77 – Elaine Saint of South Carolina, Walhalla HS Rifle Team

3.     2,212.77 – Zachary Higgins of Tennessee, Daniel Boone MCJROTC

4.     2,194.75 – Clay Crawford of South Dakota, Marshall County Sharpshooters

5.     2,193.78 – Zoe Dissing of South Dakota, Humboldt Sharpshooters

6.     2,190.75 – Kaitlynn Burrell of South Carolina, Walhalla HS Rifle Team

7.     2,190.71 – Brooklyn Zeigler of Tennessee, Daniel Boone MCJROTC

8.     2,189.66 – Elyssa Vazquez of Florida, Mariner HS AJROTC

Next article: Arizona Legion post helps distribute 250,000 pounds of fresh produce over 12-month span

Arizona Legion post helps distribute 250,000 pounds of fresh produce over 12-month span

Source: July 18, 2024

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Around the same time that he was checking out getting involved with a local food redistribution program, John J. Morris Post 62 Historian Dwight Amery came across an article in The American Legion Magazine about food insecurity.

The combination of the two helped the Peoria, Ariz., post on the way to passing out nearly a quarter of a million pounds of fresh produce over the past year for pennies per pound.

For the past 12 months, Post 62 has teamed with Borderlands Produce On Wheels With-Out Waste for monthly distributions of fresh fruit and vegetables. Borderlands is Arizona's largest food redistribution program and teams with dozens of nonprofits throughout the state to provide the produce to be distributed in local communities.

Amery said he saw Borderlands posting on Facebook the different locations where its produce would be distributed, which caused him to reach out to the organization to get more information about the post possibly becoming involved with its efforts.

He brought it up with the post membership, which he said had "a lot of interest, because it was doing community outreach. And it was right around the time (immediate Past National Commander Jim) Troiola talked in (The American Legion Magazine) about food insecurity. So when I brought it up, I was holding the magazine up – ‘Right here, the national commander says we should be helping address food insecurity.'"

Amery and then-Post 62 Commander Tom McClain then attended an orientation put on by Borderlands, paving the way for the post to begin distributions.

A semi-truck delivers the food to the post, usually between 3 and 4 a.m. on the day of the distribution. Legion Family volunteers show up after that and began setting up tables and prepping the produce for pick-up.   

The distribution is done via a drive-thru line, with recipients never leaving their cars. Some will pre-buy ahead of time; others had food delivered through DoorDash. Those who receive the produce pay just $15 for up to 70 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables.

"After the first one we did, we all went inside (the post) and collapsed," Amery said. "We said, I've never been so sore, and I've never had this much fun, helping all those people. (The recipients) were like, ‘God bless you. Thank you.'"

More than 250,000 pounds of food distributed over the course of 12 months, with approximately 250-350 cars going through the line each time, some coming from as far away as 40 miles. The post's last distribution effort, on June 29, drew more than 400 vehicles and resulted in traffic into the post being backed up more than two miles.

Amery said the post also would also fill a few tables within the post with boxes of produce for local veterans to pick up. "It's funny. You can tell these guys (are veterans)," he said. "They'd walk over and take three tomatoes and a watermelon. And we'd say, ‘You can take more.' And it was, ‘No, I need to leave some for the next guy to walk in.' It's the brotherhood."

Next article: Riders chapter delivers recognition, RED shirts to aging veterans in retirement home

Riders chapter delivers recognition, RED shirts to aging veterans in retirement home

Source: July 18, 2024

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On Fridays, Ohio American Legion Rider Mike Schrull and his fellow members of ALR Chapter 211 in Avon Lake wear their RED shirts in order to "Remember Everyone Deployed" in the military.

Schrull, the director of Chapter 62 and adjutant of the same post, said his Aunt Vivian saw pictures of he and his wife, Patricia, and others wearing the RED shirts on Facebook and told Mike she'd like to have one of the shirts.

Mike obliged, buying her one of the shirts so she could wear it at Rose Senior Living Retirement Home, where she lives. Vivian began wearing the shirt on Fridays. And now, thanks to Chapter 211, she's not alone in wearing the shirts there.

Recently, the chapter's Legion Riders made a delivery of RED shirts to the more than dozen veterans living at the facility. A contingent of Riders rode to the home, presenting the shirts and saluting those veterans receiving them. The veterans also were presented challenge coins by the chapter.

"When (Vivian) said a lot of people were asking her about (the shirts) and that they'd like to buy them, we just came up with the idea: ‘Why don't we just go over there to honor all the vets and give them shirts,'" Schrull said. "It just kind of blossomed from there. I asked my aunt if she could give us the names and shirt sizes of all the veterans there, and she did.

"We ordered shirts, the Riders paid for them, and the rest is history. Those are the kind of things we really enjoy doing."

When the Riders delivered the shirts, they did so with a message. "When we said we were giving them out, we said, ‘We wanted you to remember that you're not forgotten. We thank you for what you did'," Schrull said. "One of the Marines even yelled out ‘We can still kick a$$.'

"They were so excited. Right away they were putting (the shirts) on. Any time you do something like that … the veteran just so appreciates it. I think it just brings back their excitement that they're remembered."

Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient Dennis Reikowski was one of the residents on the receiving end of the shirts and recognition. "Anytime now that we're acknowledged — it's touching," he said. "It means a lot to us, not just me, but every Vietnam vet."

But the impact of the shirts has spread beyond the veterans at the home. Women whose husbands were veterans also have asked to order shirts, as have other non-veteran residents.

Chapter 211 stays busy, having recently sent care packages to a deployed United States Air Force unit. In the past the chapter also has provided a Santa Claus and gifts to nursing home residents.  

"I think that the reason that I enjoy (serving as chapter director) so much is that we do have a chapter where everybody is excited about doing these things," Schrull said. "It's just such a joy to not have to prod people. I'm honored to lead the group that I have. They are who we are.

"I have a catchphrase that I end every one of our missions with: You can have been anywhere, but you were here. That's what I tell every one of my Riders when we end something."

Next article: VA projects $15B shortfall driven by costs for veterans benefits, prescription drugs and a bigger workforce

VA projects $15B shortfall driven by costs for veterans benefits, prescription drugs and a bigger workforce

Source: July 18, 2024

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is anticipating a $3 billion budget shortfall through fiscal 2024 from an increase in veterans benefits, and a $12 billion spending gap in 2025 driven by higher costs for prescription drugs and the hiring of more workers.

VA chief financial officers from the Veterans Benefits Administration and Veterans Health Administration informed the House Veterans' Affairs Committee on Monday of budget shortfalls projected through fiscal 2025.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., chairman of the House VA Committee, blasted VA Secretary Denis McDonough and other VA leaders on Wednesday, accusing them of mismanaging the VA budget and misleading lawmakers in testimony at budget hearings in the spring.

"This represents by far the largest budget shortfall that VA has experienced under any administration," Bost said, referring to the total $15 billion. "This is not just fiscal mismanagement. It is strategic whiplash."

Terrence Hayes, the VA press secretary, described the miscalculations as a result of historic demand for veterans benefits and health care services that has exceeded projections. He said the monthly average disability compensation payment for veterans has increased by nearly 8% since the start of fiscal 2024.

"These results are life-changing for veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors, and VA will continue push to make sure that they get the care and benefits they deserve," Hayes said.

He said the agency is working closely with lawmakers and the Office of Management and Budget to close the spending gaps without creating any "adverse impacts on veterans."

But Bost sent a letter Wednesday to McDonough, citing statements the VA secretary made at budget hearings saying the agency was able to adequately cover the surge in claims for VA disability compensation and had plans to reduce its workforce by 10,000.

McDonough previously described the VA's 2025 proposed spending plan, which totals $370 billion, as a "maintenance budget." It represents a $33 billion increase from the VA's budget for fiscal 2024, which ends Sept. 30.

Bost said the VA should have estimated more accurately increased costs to deliver health care services and disability under the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics Act, known as the PACT Act, which offers disability compensation to tens of thousands of veterans exposed to hazardous substances while on active duty. About 1.5 million claims for toxic exposure have been filed since the PACT Act was signed into law in August 2022. More than 694,000 veterans and survivors have been awarded benefits, according to the VA.

Bost criticized the VA for promoting the PACT Act without effectively budgeting for its costs.

"I question how VA could have failed to budget for increased health care and benefits costs resulting from the PACT Act that we all knew were coming, and I have major doubts about some of the department's excuses," he wrote in the letter.

The PACT Act provides medical care and monthly disability compensation to veterans diagnosed with diseases connected to toxic exposures from burn pits, radiation at weapons testing sites, and aerial spraying of Agent Orange and other herbicides.

Bost wrote in the letter that he felt McDonough misled lawmakers when he testified the VA planned to impose hiring restrictions and reduce the full-time workforce after increasing the ranks to help process a windfall of claims from veterans seeking benefits.

The VA employes more than 400,000 workers. The agency now projects an increase of more than 22,000 full-time employees to its workforce through 2025.

Bost also criticized VA leaders for not calculating higher costs for community care as more veterans seek referrals to see private doctors close to home when VA care is not available in a timely manner. He also accused the VA of shifting expenses into different funds rather than being transparent about rising expenses in some budget areas, an accusation he first made at a budget hearing earlier this year.

Bost said it appears the VA is shifting dollars from regular VA expenses to the toxic exposures fund that compensates disabled veterans under the PACT Act. The fund is projected to provide $24.5 billion in benefits in 2025, up $4 billion from this year.

The congressman also sought clarity for the reasons for higher drug costs, saying "speculation" from VA leaders about greater demand for Ozempic and other popular prescription diet drugs does not hold weight with lawmakers. Bost requested McDonough respond to his letter by July 26 and more fully explain the budget shortfall.

He also indicated the committee could subpoena the VA secretary if the panel does not receive a complete response by the requested deadline.

Next article: INDYCAR heads back to street course this weekend

INDYCAR heads back to street course this weekend

Source: July 18, 2024

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After an ovals doubleheader last weekend, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads back to a street course this weekend with the Ontario Honda Dealers Indy Toronto. It's one of just two remaining non-oval races in the series.

 Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) driver Linus Lundqvist, driving the No. 8 American Legion Honda featuring the Be the One message, is coming off one of his best finishes of the season. His 12th place in the Hy-Vee One Step 250 tied for his second-best showing in his rookie year with CGR.

Lundqvist led three laps of the race in pushing his Rookie of the Year lead to 31 points over teammate Kyffin Simpson.

And defending series champ Alex Palou, driving the No. 10 DHL Honda featuring American Legion branding, rallied from a 23rd-place finish last Saturday after hitting the wall to earn a P2 on Sunday, finishing just .39 seconds behind Will Power. Palou led a race-high 103 laps and heads into this weekend with a 35-point lead over Power in the points race.

The Indy Toronto's tight 11-turn, 1.786-mile Exhibition Place street circuit offers great views of downtown Toronto and often leads to cars attempting to squeeze past each other in turns. Many times, only one car makes it out unscathed. The long frontstretch leading into the Princes' Gate at Turn 1 and the Lakeshore Boulevard straight leading into a hard 90-degree right-hander at Turn 3 are the best places for overtaking.

This weekend's broadcast schedule:

·       Friday, July 19 – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 1, 3-4:15 p.m.

·       Saturday, July 20 – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice 2, 10:30-11:30 a.m.; NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifications, 2:45-4:15 p.m. (All Peacock).

·       Sunday, July 21  NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, 10-10:30 a.m.; Ontario Honda Dealers Indy Toronto, 1-4 p.m. (both Peacock).

Ontario Honda Dealers Indy Toronto notes:

·       The Ontario Honda Dealers Indy Toronto will be the 12th race of the 2024 season. There have been six different winners in 11 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season. Pato O'Ward (Streets of St. Petersburg and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course), Scott Dixon (Streets of Long Beach and Streets of Detroit), Scott McLaughlin (Barber Motorsports Park and Iowa Speedway-1), Alex Palou (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca), Will Power (Road America and Iowa Speedway-2) and Josef Newgarden (Indianapolis 500) have all won in 2024.

·       The Ontario Honda Dealers Indy Toronto will be the 38th INDYCAR SERIES race held on the streets of Toronto's Exhibition Place. Christian Lundgaard earned his first INDYCAR SERIES win in 2023 on the streets of Toronto.

·       Scott Dixon is the winningest active INDYCAR SERIES driver at Toronto with four victories (Dixon won both races in 2013, the 2018 race and the 2022 race). Michael Andretti has the most wins at the track with seven. Dixon, three-time Toronto winner Will Power (2007, 2010, 2016), Josef Newgarden (2015, 2017) and Christian Lundgaard (2023) are previous race winners entered this year.

·       Drivers who have won poles at Toronto entered in this year's race are Will Power (2011, 2015), Scott Dixon (2013 Race 2, 2016), Josef Newgarden (2018), Colton Herta (2022) and Christian Lundgaard (2023). The polesitter has won the race eight times since the first race in 1986, most recently by Lundgaard last season.

·       From 2009-19, the eventual NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion won the Toronto race six times. Dario Franchitti won in 2009 and in 2011. Ryan Hunter-Reay won in 2012, Scott Dixon swept both races in 2013 and won the single race in 2018, and Josef Newgarden won in 2017. Seven other drivers have claimed the INDYCAR SERIES championship in the same season they won at Toronto: Bobby Rahal (1986), Al Unser Jr. (1990), Michael Andretti (1991), Alex Zanardi (1998), Cristiano da Matta (2002), Paul Tracy (2003) and Sebastien Bourdais (2004).

·       Twenty drivers entered in the event have competed in past INDYCAR SERIES races at Exhibition Place. Scott Dixon and Will Power (17) have made the most starts at Toronto among the entered drivers. Eleven entered drivers have led laps at the track (Dixon 242, Power 162, Josef Newgarden 120, Christian Lundgaard 54, Graham Rahal 29, Scott McLaughlin 28, Rinus VeeKay 18, Colton Herta 17, Pato O'Ward 3, Marcus Ericsson 1 and Felix Rosenqvist 1).

·       Chip Ganassi Racing has won eight times at Toronto: Michael Andretti (1994), Alex Zanardi (1998), Dario Franchitti (2009, 2011) and Scott Dixon (2013 both races, 2018, 2022). Team Penske has five wins at the track: Paul Tracy (1993), Will Power (2010, 2016), Josef Newgarden (2017) and Simon Pagenaud (2019). Team Penske has 10 pole positions at the track: Danny Sullivan (1988, 1990), Emerson Fittipaldi (1993), Helio Castroneves (2000), Gil de Ferran (2001), Will Power (2011, 2015), Simon Pagenaud (2017, 2019) and Josef Newgarden (2018).

·       Scott Dixon has finished on the podium in six of his last 13 starts at Toronto and has 11 consecutive top-10 finishes. He has 11 top-five finishes in his 17 Toronto races … Will Power has finished on the podium in five of his 17 Toronto starts.

·       Milestones: Scott Dixon will attempt to make his 334th consecutive start, extending his record streak.

To learn more about The American Legion's Be the One veteran suicide prevention program, click here.

Next article: Legion Family invited to NFL showdown during national convention

Legion Family invited to NFL showdown during national convention

Source: July 18, 2024

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The New Orleans Saints have extended a discounted ticket offer to American Legion Family members, family and friends in town for the 105th National Convention. They will battle the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Aug. 25, at 1 p.m. at the downtown Caesars Superdome. Current ticket prices start at $35 for the lowest level (Plaza), and $70 for the highest level (Terrace). Tickets are limited; find more details, and contact information, here

Make plans to have fun The official website of New Orleans & Company, neworleans.com, is a one-stop shop to find food, music, culture, attractions and more while attending the national convention. One notable feature includes "itineraries by interest." 

 

Next article: Follow live scoring of Legion air rifle championship

Follow live scoring of Legion air rifle championship

Source: July 18, 2024

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Live scoring of The American Legion's 33rd Junior 3-Position Air Rifle National Championships will be available through the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). Follow along at this link.

The Legion's air rifle championships get underway Thursday in Hillsdale, Mich., on the campus of Hillsdale College. The 15 competitors in both the precision and sporter categories will compete July 18-19 by shooting a .177 caliber rifle in three positions – prone, standing and kneeling – twice each day. The top eight in both precision and sporter will advance to the finals on Saturday, July 20, at 9 a.m. Eastern time where each shooter will fire 10 shots in standing position. A champion from each category will be named. Scores for each competition will be available through the CMP link

See the top 15 competitors in both precision and sporter here

Next article: Gift tax not the greatest surprise

Gift tax not the greatest surprise

Source: July 17, 2024

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LEARN HOW YOUR PLANNED GIFT CAN HELP THE AMERICAN LEGION

Bill*: "Every year I pay income tax. And when I pass away, my estate will owe tax. But I was absolutely stunned today to hear that I might even have to pay a gift tax! Do you mean that if I give this land to my children, there is yet another tax?"

CPA Carol: "Yes, Bill, there could be. You can make small gifts, like birthday gifts, without tax. But if you give a large property to your children during your lifetime, there could be a gift tax. And it may be as much as 40% of the value."

Why Did Congress Pass a Gift Tax? Following the passage of the estate tax, Congress realized that a gift tax is also necessary. If there were none, creative CPAs and estate attorneys would urge their clients to make deathbed gifts; the transfer tax could be entirely avoided.

As a result, Congress determined that it needed to pass a gift tax to make the estate tax effective. Now, even if a person makes gifts on their deathbed, the tax will be payable on the transfer to children.

How Does Gift Tax Work? A person who makes gifts to children, grandchildren or other heirs will be taxed on the fair market value of the gift. The first part of the gift is allocated to the annual exclusion. But if it is more than that amount, the cumulative gifts over the donor's lifetime are added up and compared with the lifetime gift exemption. If your total gifts (over annual exclusions) during your lifetime exceed the gift exemption, you must pay gift tax.

What is the Annual Exclusion? When the gift tax was first created, Congress understood that parents give birthday and other small gifts to children, grandchildren and other heirs. As a result, the body decided that there would need to be an exclusion for these smaller gifts. The exclusion was $3,000 for many years, then $10,000 and now has increased in value to $18,000. It is adjusted up for inflation about every three years by another $1,000.

How Many Annual Exclusions Can I Use? First, the annual exclusion must be a present interest gift. This means that the child or other recipient must be able to use the property or spend the money.

Each person is permitted one gift exclusion per recipient per year. For example, a mother could give her daughter $18,000 under the gift exclusion in 2024. A mother and father could give a son and daughter-in-law $72,000, because there are two donors, times two recipients, times the $18,000 exclusion.

A grandmother and grandfather with 10 grandchildren could make quite large gifts. If each gives $18,000 to the 10, the total gifts under the exclusion amounts would be $360,000 in one year. Assume they made that same gift every year for 10 years, for a total of $3.6 million. If the grandchildren retain and invest the gifts, at the end of 10 years the appreciated value could be over $4 million – and all with zero gift tax and no use of their lifetime gift exemption.

How Much is the Lifetime Exemption? Donors will typically first use their available annual exclusions. However, large gifts such as the ranch Bill contemplates giving to his children may involve use of the gift exemption. The exemption is $13.61 million per person in 2024. After making use of the $18,000 annual exclusion, Bill and his wife, Helen, can each then give $13.61 million in value ($27.22 million total) to children using their lifetime gift exemption.

While there is no tax cost now for using the exemption, it does affect the estate. In future years, there will be a reduced estate exemption. If Bill uses $1 million of his gift exemption, that reduces the future available estate exemption by $1 million.

Are There Gift Deductions? There are potential gift deductions for marital gifts, charitable gifts, and gifts for medical expenses and tuition.

There is an unlimited gift exclusion for transfers to a spouse. The gifts could be outright or in a qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trust. This is a special marital deduction trust. The spouse receives all the income from the trust, and the trust principal can be invaded only for the benefit of the spouse.

A second deduction is for gifts to charity. The donor receives an income tax deduction, but there is also a gift tax deduction, so the donor does not have to pay any gift tax on the transfer to charity. Once again, this deduction is unlimited.

A transfer to charity also may be a qualified split-interest transfer. A donor may create a charitable remainder unitrust, charitable remainder annuity trust or pooled income fund gift. The charitable deduction value qualifies for both the income and the gift tax deduction.

Parents and grandparents, on occasion, will pay the medical bills of a child or grandchild. These gifts are not subject to the gift tax provided the payment is made directly to the medical institution.

Finally, if a parent or grandparent makes tuition payments for a student, those amounts are also not subject to the gift tax.

*Please note: The name and image above are representative of a typical donor and may or may not be an actual donor to our organization. Since your unitrust benefits may be different, you may want to click here to view a color example of your benefits.

The American Legion's Planned Giving program is a way of establishing your legacy of support for the organization while providing for your current financial needs. Learn more about the process, and the variety of charitable programs you can benefit, at legion.org/plannedgiving. Clicking on "Learn more" will bring up an "E-newsletter" button, where you can sign up for regular information from Planned Giving.

Next article: Protect our Afghan allies, Legion tells Senate

Protect our Afghan allies, Legion tells Senate

Source: July 17, 2024

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Senators must include an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2025 that would protect America's Afghanistan allies who have fled or are fleeing the Taliban, according to The American Legion.

Two years ago, U.S. servicemembers led the evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghan interpreters, soldiers and other allies who fought with us against the Taliban. Since then, more than 70,000 at-risk Afghans have been relocated to the United States, where they have been in legal limbo.

However, the Afghanistan allies have no direct pathway to lawful permanent residency in the U.S.  Congress can change that with pending legislation. Visit our Grassroots Action Alert and tell your members of Congress to establish a path to permanent legal residency for Afghan allies who supported American troops during the war in Afghanistan.

Last week, American Legion National Commander Daniel Seehafer weighed in, sending a letter to Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

"As a nation that values loyalty and honor, the United States has a moral obligation to protect those who fought by our side," Seehafer wrote in part. "We made a promise to stand by the Afghan men and women who risked their lives for our mission; it is up to Congress to uphold this commitment."

American Legion Resolution No. 16, approved by the National Executive Committee in 2018, supports this initiative.

The American Legion has long supported providing a safe harbor for our Afghanistan allies.

Just over six months ago, The American Legion and other veterans service organizations (VSOs) held a press conference calling on senators to forge a solution to protect up to 15,000 Afghan allies.

"The American Legion stands firmly, shoulder to shoulder with Sen. Klobuchar, Sen. Moran, Sen. Coons and Sen. Blumenthal, calling on their congressional colleagues to pass legislation that would right a wrong, and bring our Afghan allies to the United States today," American Legion National Security Commission Chairman Matthew Shuman said during the press conference.

 

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