SecAF thanks American Legion for care of Airmen, veterans

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Amaani Lyle
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
The secretary of the Air Force addressed thousands of Legionnaires at the American Legion's 92nd National Convention here Sept. 1 to thank them for their devotion to Airmen and veterans.

In his speech to the nation's largest veterans service organization, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said the Air Force will continue to provide for the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual well-being of Airmen and their families because the service recognizes it "is not only the right thing to do for our Airmen, it is the smart thing to do for our Air Force."

"We owe a debt of gratitude to the American Legion for 92 years of unwavering support of veterans, by veterans," Secretary Donley said. "Your steadfast support of a strong national defense ... has made a difference to the United States Air Force."

Citing the legion's commitment to community youth programs, advocacy of patriotism and honor, and promotion of strong national security, Secretary Donley said the organization helped build a supportive American public and set the example for the next "greatest generation."

He also thanked the American Legion for helping to elevate the Veterans Affairs to cabinet status in 1989.

"That effort led to better access to care for vets, better funding, a GI bill for the new century and rehabilitation and healing from both the physical and psychological wounds of war," Secretary Donley said. "That is caring for Airmen."

As an example of the organization's support to returning Airmen, Secretary Donley related the Legion's familial treatment of Air Force Capt. Kyle Deem, who was wounded in action June 19 when his helicopter was struck with small arms fire. The captain suffered fragmentation and gunshot wounds to both legs.

"When he came home to New Kensington, (Pa.), in July, he was greeted by American Legion Post 868," Secretary Donley said. "That is caring for Airmen."

The secretary expressed gratitude for the American Legion's contributions across the spectrum of age, rank and status, from youth to veterans.

"You continue to lay the foundations for America's future, instilling in our youth the values of patriotism, good citizenship and public service," Secretary Donley said. "That work will bring us future Airmen."