By Selina Kanowitz and Gary Ginsburg

Israel was magical, mystical, and enchanting! From April 20-30, we were honored to participate in the Jewish War Veterans 33rd Allied Mission to Israel with 41 other people.

Ginsburg and Kanowitz in the Dead Sea.

We had beautiful weather for our trip to the Dead Sea on Saturday, April 22. Many of us got to walk, talk, float, and splash around in the water at the lowest point on earth. This is probably the closest point on earth to hell. The bottom of the Dead Sea is very muddy in places, and we needed to be careful not to slip and fall.

Later that same day, we stopped at Masada where we were transported to the top by cable car. We were told that it would take several hours to climb to the top of Masada on the pathway. The view of the various camps in the ground and surrounding sights were incredible. Our guide Ronit told us about the various archeological structures and events which took place at Masada.
On Sunday we saw the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

“One of the many great points about the JWV Allied Mission to Israel is that we have access to sights and to Israelis that the average tourist does not,” said Past National Commander Harvey Weiner. In Latrun, we visited the Jewish WWII Museum of Heroes, which was not yet open to the public. We had a special tour led by the museum’s CEO, Retired Brigadier General Tzvika Kantor. The museum was still under construction when we had our tour, but it opened to the public in May.

NC Mellitz and Poppe placing memorial wreath.

On Monday, at our hotel, we received an outstanding unclassified briefing from U.S. Army Colonel Phil Messer, our military official assigned to the embassy. This presentation laser focused on the military relationship between the United States and Israel.

We also visited the National Memorial Museum for Israeli Fallen, which honors both military members and civilians.

Our next stop was Yad Vashem. We saw the children’s memorial which has been added to this memorial in Jerusalem. It is a room filled with stars symbolizing the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered in the 1930s and 1940s.

In the evening, we attended the Jewish National Fund (JNF) Yom Hazikaron Ceremony at Ammunition Hill, where we learned about the tactical battle there which led to the unification of Jerusalem in June of 1967. We met Tina Lamm, originally from Long Island, New York, whose husband works with Project Benjamin. Michael Levine, who runs the Lone Soldier Program, also spoke at the ceremony. His program supports about 1,800 IDF personnel who have enlisted from places around the world, but whose family has not officially relocated to Israel.

On Tuesday, we attended a memorial ceremony at the National Memorial Museum in Latrun. As part of the ceremony, National Commander Nelson Mellitz and JWV Massachusetts trip guest, retired Col. Cheryl Poppe laid a wreath at the wall which lists the names of fallen Israeli armor soldiers.

NC Mellitz and Gary Glick planting trees in the Lavi Forest.

At the start of Israel’s 75th Anniversary celebration on Tuesday night, we saw, felt, and heard the all-night party on the beachfront in Tel Aviv. There were quiet fireworks and children spraying silly string throughout the parks to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut.

The Yom HaAtzmaut celebrations continued Wednesday. “Watching the Independence Day flyover by the Israeli Defense Forces on the beach in Tel Aviv was a thrill for me, being a U.S. Air Force veteran,” said trip participant Robert Newell of the American Legion. Newell went on the trip as a guest of the Department of New Jersey.

We took a bus tour to Jaffa to see many biblical sites, as well as a magnificent view of Tel Aviv.

JWV Members who participated in previous Sar-El Missions held a reunion overlooking the Seaport of Haifa, Israel. From left: NC Mellitz, Kathy Brill, PNC Harvey Weiner, and NVC Barry Lischinsky.

Thursday started with a visit to Tzevet, which is an Israeli veterans organization. The organization has approximately 40,000 members but is really for former career IDF personnel. We received a briefing from IDF General Ephraim Lapid (Israeli Intelligence) and his staff.

In Galilee, we planted trees in the Lavi Forest and were blessed that there was no rain at that special moment or 43 people would have been in the mud. This was a modest but positive contribution to the future of the modern state of Israel.

Friday saw our group in the Golan Heights. We learned about and saw evidence of the serious combat operations and armored warfare of the October 1973 conflict.

We arrived in Netanya on Saturday and visited Kibbutz Misgav Am, which is the northernmost Kibbutz in Israel. It was almost close enough to spit or urinate into Lebanon, but you need to check the wind direction first.

We visited the Bahai Gardens in Haifa and stopped in the ancient city of Akko, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“COVID-19 delayed the 33rd JWV Mission to Israel for several years, but… it was worth the wait,” said Past National Commander Jeff Sacks. “I didn’t think that we could cover so much ground and experience as many things as we in fact did.”

JWV’s Allied Mission Trip to Israel is an unforgettable 10-day journey through the Jewish homeland that none of the participants will ever forget. We encourage all members, and members of our veteran community who are not Jewish to join us next time.

Volume 77. Number 2. 2023

By Richard Goldenberg

One of JWV Post 105’s deployed members is carrying a unique item for a Jewish veteran serving overseas – a Christian crucifix.

The Kilmer crucifix, belonging to the famous poet Alfred Joyce Kilmer, is a historical artifact now in Africa with the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment, of the New York National Guard. The battalion is on a nine-month overseas deployment to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa.

New York Army National Guard Lt. Col. Shawn Tabankin, the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry Regiment Commander carries the Kilmer crucifix.

“The Kilmer cross is one of the legends of the 69th,” Tabankin, a Clifton Park, New York resident said. “It is part of our history and part of our lineage.”

Kilmer rose to prominence as a writer and poet in the early 1900s. Kilmer enlisted in 1917 and served in the 69th during World War I.

On March 7, 1918, the 69th trench line positions in France were hit by German artillery, resulting in the collapse of a bunker. The attack buried 21 men and killed 19.

Kilmer memorialized the event with his now famous “Rouge Bouquet.” To this day the poem is read at every 69th Regiment memorial service.

On July 30, 1918, Kilmer was killed in action near the village of Seringes-et-Nesles, France during the Second Battle of the Marne. “Rouge Bouquet” was read aloud at his graveside service.
According to legend, Maj. William Donovan, then commander of the regiment, removed the crucifix from Kilmer after his death and carried it for the remainder of the war.

It is revered as one of the army unit’s most important relics.

Though the Kilmer crucifix is usually tucked safely inside a display case, the crucifix accompanies the unit on deployments overseas and is worn by the commander during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and other key ceremonies.

While deployed to the Horn of Africa, Tabankin said he makes sure wherever a 69th Soldier was stationed, the Kilmer crucifix went there as well.

“It is important for us to maintain our traditions to the greatest extent possible, even while deployed,” Tabankin said. “Whenever I travel to any of the outstations, it comes with me. I’ll wear it again when we have our St. Patrick’s Day parade here in Djibouti.”

While Tabankin and his battalion were absent for their traditional leading spot in this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City, his unit mirrored the celebration overseas at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, where the unit is currently headquartered.

Tabankin, an in-service member of the Jewish War Veterans Albany Post 105, realizes that while the demographics of the unit have changed over the years, its commitment to tradition hasn’t wavered.

“The 69th Infantry was formed by Irish immigrants who were predominantly Roman Catholic,” Tabankin said. “That was probably the dominant religion in the regiment for decades.”

“Today, we are obviously much more diverse and reflect the population of New York City,” he said.

Volume 77. Number 2. 2023

By Greg Lee

The Jewish War Veterans Department of California partnered with the American Legion and the Los Angeles County Department of Mil-Vet Affairs to host an event honoring Medal of Honor recipients at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall on April 11.

The featured guest was Medal of Honor recipient, Colonel Jack Jacobs, a JWV life member.

The event began with a roundtable featuring Jacobs, JWV National Commander Nelson Mellitz, and others from the military and veteran communities. They discussed the needs of minority and female veterans and the challenge of homeless veterans.

Dr. Shad Meshad, founder of the National Veterans Foundation and the VA Vet Centers said, “Despite other factors including substance abuse and mental health, the one common denominator among homeless veterans is the lack of affordable housing.”

Dr. Steve Braverman, the Director of the VA’s Greater Los Angeles Veterans Medical Center said that when it comes to female veterans, “We have created dedicated women’s clinics, separate waiting areas, and even separate entrances to our facilities. We do not tolerate harassment of any of our patients, especially our women veterans.”

Mellitz spoke about the Jewish War Veterans and its fight against both bigotry and antisemitism.

After the roundtable, there was a ceremony honoring both Jacobs and another Medal of Honor recipient, Captain Ben Salomon. Jacobs unveiled a painting by artist David Schwartz which featured Salomon. The painting is the latest addition to a collection called “True Honor,” which features Jewish Medal of Honor recipients.

Congressman Brad Sherman presented Mellitz and Jacobs with American flags that were flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

One highlight of the day was Jacobs administering the Oath of Enlistment to a new Army Recruit.

The positive response generated from this event has provided inspiration for similar events in selected cities across America.

Volume 77. Number 2. 2023

By NC Nelson Mellitz

At the start of World War II, U.S. labor leaders recognized there would be a great shortage of labor needed to meet the demand for production of war materials. While American men served overseas, womens support of the war effort was essential, and the most striking image advocating for women to join the war effort was Rosie the Riveter.

The Rosie of Norman Rockwell’s 1943 painting “Rosie the Riveter” has become a well-known symbol of women strength. That painting later became a poster, often accompanied by the statement, “We Can Do It!” Rockwell’s Rosie is a statuesque and powerful woman. Rosie is wearing denim coveralls and safety equipment used in her dangerous work. In real life, “Rosies” worked day and night shifts to meet the war needs and goals established by the generally male industrial plant supervisors and managers. Almost every civilian at the time knew a real-life Rosie and could identify with her commitment in manning the production lines.

Rockwell considered the Rosie in his portrait an idealized female war worker, painting her with bright red hair, carrying a heavy lunch pail while flexing her muscles. In 1943, the “Saturday Evening Post” magazine used the Rockwell painting on its cover. That solidified Rosie as a domestic icon in many American homes. Production effectiveness studies performed in 1943 and 1944 are often compared to after the war studies in 1946 and 1947 and they show that “Rosie/women were more productive than male counterparts in spite of her smaller stature.” “That little frail can do/More than a male can do.” However, after World War II, “Rosies” were told to return home, and men returning from the war replaced them on the production line. Thousands of women resisted, and by doing, may have led to the start of the second wave of the feminist movement.

Americans were reluctant to take sides in World War II until after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Jewish Americans were less likely to be isolationist, especially as news of Nazi atrocities became public. After Pearl Harbor, popular culture focused on winning the war and women were encouraged to abandon the domestic roles and get to work in factories, mostly in manufacturing munitions and other supplies crucial to sustaining the war.

Jacob Moritz Loeb was a prominent Jewish businessman and philanthropist in Chicago. Loeb was a founder of the Chicago Hebrew Institute and served as vice-president of the Jewish Welfare Board (JWB), an organization that has met the needs of Jewish service members and veterans since the start of World War I and continuing today. His son, John Jacob Loeb, was an up-and-coming song writer and wrote “Rosie the Riveter’s” with his partner Redd Evans in 1942, which has an upbeat melody and lyrics. The Rosie the Riveter’s song would have been an unquestionable top 10 hit, if they had such a best seller listing at the time.

The Rosie the Riveter melody and lyrics does not reflect the fear American Jews and others had felt of Naziism, especially compared to the dire wartime works of Jewish artists like Ben Shahn and Arthur Szyk. Loeb made his depiction of Rosie in song lighthearted, but she is still out to crush the Axis. After the war, John Jacob Loeb continued to write songs, often co-authored with Carmen Lombardo, including “Seems Like Old Times” in 1945, which was revived by Diane Keaton in Woody Allen’s “Annie Hall.”

Rosie never retired in the minds of many Americans old and young. Today, when Rosie the Riveter is mentioned and her iconic picture is shown, it evokes an emotional recall to an era when Americans were fighting to preserve freedom and women were carving out a new role in the U.S. industrial factories. When Norman Rockwell decided to name his painting after Loeb and Evans song “Rosie the Riveter,” it was a tribute to the tough working girl.

Volume 77. Number 2. 2023

By Miranda Bass, Post 1

One of the aspects of my time in the Army that I value most was my exposure to different types of people. Even though my hometown of New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world, the Army enabled me to forge deep, meaningful relationships and lifelong friendships with people I otherwise had little in common with and would never have met. Many veterans reflect on this feeling of brother and sisterhood as a unique aspect of their time in the service, and I feel lucky to have had this opportunity from the age of 17.

It was not until I left the Army years later that I realized how unusual this experience was of living, training, and becoming friends with people so different from me. In civilian life, most of us are naturally surrounded by people we choose based on shared values or common interests, and this is a good thing. It allows us to foster community and feel grounded and safe. But in recent years, the pandemic and political climate have created a vicious cycle of polarization and isolation, keeping us away not only from our chosen communities, but creating even more distance from those with whom we disagree or don’t have much in common.

Recently, I was privileged to be a Mahloket Matters Fellow at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies based in Jerusalem. Mahloket is a Hebrew word meaning disagreement, specifically, disagreement that is generative and deepens our understanding of ourselves and others, as opposed to disagreement that is reductive, destructive, and isolating. The program used sources from the Tanakh up through the present day to illustrate how our Jewish tradition values Mahloket, how we can foster it in our lives, and the potential it has to help heal some of our culture’s deep wounds.

The Mahloket Matters curriculum is incredibly rich, too much so to do it justice in a brief article, but perhaps the most powerful idea I learned from Mahloket Matters is the 49-49 conversation. In Jewish texts, the number 50 often represents an idea of wholeness and completion, that everything is encompassed and contained. The Talmud teaches us in a story that even our great sages, the early rabbis, could only achieve 49 in their learning and knowledge. It is impossible for a human being to know and contain all the wisdom and perspectives on a given matter, and so we need to live and disagree with a profound humility. This humility does not mean that we cannot advocate for and defend our beliefs. On the contrary, the premise of a 49-49 conversation is that we are already doing just that! What it means is that we need a level of openness in the conversation to truly hear and understand not just the differing opinions or beliefs someone else holds, but why they feel that way, the context in which they came to hold their beliefs, and our common humanity. The goal is not to win an argument, but to deepen our understanding of others and ourselves.

A 49-49 conversation is also predicated on mutual respect and safety in order to be vulnerable enough to share our beliefs and receive others that may be directly opposed. If all parties can muster that basic respect and feel safe enough, Mahloket has the potential to transcend disagreement and turn into real learning and even healing.

Nowhere have I seen Mahloket in action in my life more than in the Army. Units, barracks living, duty assignments, training, deployments, and more, all put us on intimate terms with every other type of American out there. For much of my career, I spent every waking moment around people with whom I strongly differed and disagreed. This resulted in funny, frustrating, and even painful misunderstandings and disagreements, but through them I learned that relationships can survive and become stronger through disagreement, and that there can actually be fun, joy, and incredible learning in seeing Mahloket through, and becoming true friends with someone with whom you disagree. Military life has much to teach us about the value and practice of Mahloket and how we can not just coexist, but live well with people with whom we disagree.

Volume 77. Number 2. 2023

By PNC Carl Singer

Like many other JWV posts, Essex-Preiskel-Miller-Glassberg Post 47 in Northern New Jersey helps maintain veterans’ graves at several cemeteries. Each year, with the help of volunteers from nearby synagogues, we refresh weather beaten flags and JWV markers prior to Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

The largest cemetery in our area is King Solomon Cemetery with over 55,000 graves. We replace as many as 500 flags there each year. Additionally, throughout the year when a family contacts the cemetery to request a new or replacement flag we do so.

On Friday, August 20, I drove out to King Solomon Cemetery to place a single flag after receiving a family’s request. While walking back to my car I noticed a headstone with neither a flag nor marker.
Private Ralph Silverstein, barely 20 years old, was killed in action on September 22, 1944. I cleaned up the headstone and placed a JWV marker and flag there.

I then noticed that his yahrzeit date was on the 5th of Tishrei – less than two weeks away. I contacted my friend and fellow Post 47 member Chaplain Ira Kronenberg to ensure Private Silverstein’s yahrzeit would be properly observed with kaddish.

Volume 77. Number 2. 2023

By Cara Rinkoff, Programs and Public Relations Director

On March 8, JWV National Commander Nelson Mellitz testified before a joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees. Mellitz testified alongside leaders of eight other organizations.

Several members of JWV were at the hearing to show support for Mellitz, including Vice Commander Barry Lischinsky, Chief of Staff Larry Rosenthal, Department of New Jersey Commander Selina Kanowitz, and New York Senior Vice Commander Gary Ginsburg.

Here is the statement he delivered:

Chairmen Tester and Bost, Ranking Members Moran and Takano, veterans in the audience, veterans sitting in Congress, veterans at this table. It’s my honor to serve, and sir, I’ve heard you say that before and I 100% agree, we serve not only in the military, we serve as veterans.

I have served 32 years in the United States Air Force, enlisted and as an officer. I enlisted in 1970, served Vietnam through Iraq, 2005-2006 in Iraq. It was my last assignment. The reason I say this is not to make myself sound good, but when I left the military originally, after the Vietnam War, I went to the VA, I didn’t go back a second time for a lot of years. The VA has improved, has substantially improved, they’re wonderful now in many areas. It’s because of what the VSOs have done, what you have done in Congress. Thank you for that.

I have the privilege and the honor to represent the Jewish War Veterans as the 93rd, sorry, 91st National Commander. The Jewish War Veterans is the oldest national veterans organization in the United States. We were formed in 1896 by a few veterans from the Civil War. The reason we were formed is because of antisemitism. Again, we’re the longest serving veterans service organization. We advocate for all veterans, not just Jewish veterans, but for all veterans, for benefits and services and we’ve been doing that for at least 127 years. In fact, we’ll be celebrating our 127th anniversary next week on March 15.

Our mission is strong and clear. Fighting for military and veterans benefits and services, advocating on behalf of Jewish veterans, Catholic, women, African Americans, Asians, all veterans… We oppose all forms of discrimination, but we concentrate especially and we’re outspoken on antisemitism…. We will defend the right of everybody in this United States and we will continue to do so… As antisemitism continues to grow in the United States, JWV asks you, Congress members, to specifically help defend our country’s freedoms and go forward and fight antisemitism and all forms of hate and bigotry wherever it exists. Key to that, in our opinion, and at JWV is educating the U.S. citizens.

We have priorities for the 118th Congress… I will emphasize a few things that are important not only to JWV but to you and we haven’t really mentioned them to the extent I think is necessary.

We know the PACT Act was instrumental when you passed it. It took a lot of pressure. It didn’t just take one year for the VSOs to put the pressure on Congress members, it took many years. Please keep that in mind for future efforts. But with the PACT Act we also know that VA started working on hiring people, organizing to address the 3.5 million new claims that they estimate will be filed. But yet, it’s not enough. I know there are some bills going through Congress right now that say give more money to doctors, nurses, administrators at VA. We need to push those bills through the system because if we don’t have those people in place, claims will increase and then the appeals will increase continuously.

Yes, we addressed toxic exposure by the PACT Act, do all the veterans out there know about their benefits? The VSOs and Congress have to stand out. Make sure they know those benefits, know that they can apply for the benefits, put claims in. You addressed in a previous meeting the predator lawyers. Yes, JWV agrees with Veterans of Foreign Wars, penalties should be applied to those people. But there should also be incentives for additional veteran service officers to come out, to be employed by the organizations like the Jewish War Veterans. Yes, we’re increasing our program and trying to recruit as many VSOs as possible to process those claims and we will do that.

Suicide prevention and mental health. We obviously know more must be done. We know that one veteran, one military member taking their life is too much. But everything I’ve heard over all these many panels, all these many hearings, didn’t address what happens in the military before you get to the veterans side. I think, from day one that you join the military, you should be addressing, in the military, mental health. When you go through basic training, that is extremely important to address it. I think maybe even before that, and we work with an organization called Our Community Salutes, who actually works with the families of the veterans, of the military members rather that are going into the military directly out of high school…

Supporting women veterans. The fastest growing group of veterans, as you know, is women. It’s haphazard. I visited many veterans locations, many veterans affairs medical centers, and some are great. The one that I go to in Philadelphia is fantastic at addressing women’s needs. That might be because the director is a woman. I don’t know. I’ve gone to others and that’s not the case. It needs to be looked at not as a total VA package, but individual centers.

Expanding service to veterans and caregivers. Again, we know this is important. One area we want to stress is, JWV urges Congress to remove the regulatory requirement for the 70 percent disability rating to be eligible for this program. That’s ridiculous. And that’s my words. Take it out. It wasn’t there before. Take it out.

Major Richard Star Act. Committee Chairman Tester, thank you for heading up that effort. And there are others. In New Jersey where I come from, we have gone to all our Senators, all our Congresspeople, and they have signed on. We have encouraged all the JWV members to go to the 50 states and territories and get their Senators and Congresspeople to also sign on. It impacts over 50,000 combat injured veterans.

Ending veterans’ homelessness. We’ve made progress. Between 2020 and 2022, 11 percent of the veterans that were on the street are no longer homeless. The best we’ve done in five years. The problem is that’s not good enough. JWV has submitted to many of you members just last week steps that we should take that you haven’t really discussed before. I don’t have time in my short period of time here to go over them, but I encourage you to look at that, I’d be happy during the questions and answers to answer some questions.

Fixing the electronic system, and I’ll be very quick with this, I know we have one other item after this. I worked for the IRS for 11 years during the period of time they put their new tax base database in place. We did a better job than VA’s doing. What’s going on here? Less money. Yes, we made some mistakes at first, but we now have tax returns coming in from more than 65 million taxpayers. What’s VA talking about? A maximum of 12 million with the new PACT Act. Please do oversight on this. I don’t know what the problem is, we don’t need any more research, we need implementation. And go back to DoD like was said by VFW. You need to start the process with DoD and not just be isolated. And I know there’s committees that talk to each other between VA and DoD, but they’re not doing what we need.

Conclusion. We started out in the military. Most of us volunteered. We served out country. Now we’re veterans and we’re still volunteering. Everybody on this table is a volunteer. Many of you are volunteers and veterans service organizations. We continue to serve. Call on us. We can help you. And we love this nation. G-d bless the United States of America. Thank you.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Mike Bost (R-IL) recognized Mellitz for a question on veteran suicide, and Rep. Morgan Luttrell (R-TX) said he agreed with Mellitz when he called for mental health treatment to begin at the start of basic training.

You can watch Mellitz’s testimony on our website or find the entire hearing on the YouTube channel of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Volume 77. Number 1. 2023

By Stewart Mednick, Department of Minnesota Vice Commander

USAA worked with the Jewish War Veterans to award Marine and Army veteran Bruce Legan with a free trip to the Super Bowl.

Can a veteran ask for a better surprise than to have Super Bowl tickets given by the Minnesota Vikings record-breaking wide receiver Justin Jefferson?
“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me!” said Legan.

Legan enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1975. He was stationed in Camp Lejeune until the Vietnam War ended. Legan was honorably discharged as a Lance Corporal. In 1987, Legan reenlisted in the U.S. Army working as a track vehicle repairman and vehicle dispatcher based in Kansas. He eventually became a heavy equipment operator in Louisiana. Legan continued his service until 1995 when he was honorably discharged at the rank of Specialist.

Now a resident of St. Paul, 70-year-old Bruce Legan is an active member of the Jewish War Veterans, is involved in the Fort Snelling Memorial Rifle Squad, and works at the VA Medical Center in Minneapolis.

“It’s a special honor to team up with USAA and the Jewish War Veterans to honor Bruce, who continues to serve his fellow veterans,” said Jefferson.

“All expenses paid. Leave your wallet at home!” exclaimed Jefferson when he presented the two oversized foam-board tickets. Legan and his brother, who he was allowed to take along as his guest, were given plane tickets, hotel rooms, meals, and access to all the Super Bowl events.

So how did this dream come true for Legan?

I received a call from JWV National Executive Director Ken Greenberg. In strict confidence, he explained that he would like me to be the point of contact for the USAA, JWV, and the Jewish Community Center (JCC) in St. Paul where the staged ruse took place. Yes, a ruse to have Legan show up under the guise of an interview by USAA to talk about his military experience.

The Friday of the video shoot came upon us quickly, and early in the morning we were all setting up. I had been in contact with Legan to firm up the schedule of events. The trick was to have Legan show up before Jefferson did, so they wouldn’t see each other before the reveal.

During the middle of Bruce’s interview, Jefferson walked in from behind where Legan was sitting with the two oversized Super Bowl Tickets in hand. I had a chill run down my spine as Jefferson presented the tickets to Legan’s elation and surprise.

I cannot say enough about the USAA organization and how much they have provided for all veterans. This was an enjoyable experience and I hope JWV collaborates with USAA again soon.

As a proud Life Member of JWV, this epitomizes the efforts and passion of how JWV and all Veterans Service Organizations can change a person’s life with a simple act of kindness.

Volume 77. Number 1. 2023

By Bob Jacobs and Jerry Alperstein

On January 18, 2023, approximately 40 members of JWV and the Ladies Auxiliary gathered at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

JWV’s Vietnam Veterans Committee sponsored the event. Committee Chairman Bob Jacobs welcomed everyone who attended the event and issued a special welcome home for the Vietnam veterans in attendance. Jerry Alperstein played the national anthem on his bugle.

Jacobs reflected on the problems faced by veterans when they returned from service in Vietnam. He noted that the public did not separate their distaste for the war from those who were forced to fight in it.

National Commander Nelson Mellitz spoke about how Jews have stepped up to serve in every conflict in this country since the Revolutionary War. He also talked about his memories of anti-Vietnam veteran protests. He said Vietnam veterans pledged to “leave no one behind” and to make sure that later veterans would not be similarly mistreated. He pledged that he and future JWV National Commanders will continue to protect all veterans.

General Edward Chrystal, the head of Taskforce 23, which is overseeing the official Vietnam War 50th anniversary commemoration on the National Mall this May spoke to the assembled group as well.

The General thanked the work done by Vietnam vets, which helped ensure that later veterans would not be mistreated following their return. He also spoke about the role JWV plays in helping all veterans.

Jacobs, Mellitz, Chrystal, and Alperstein ended the remembrance ceremony by placing a wreath at the site.

Volume 77. Number 1. 2023

By Steve Fixler, Veteran Service Officer

I know this has been brought up before, but I am still getting questions about it, and I thought it would be good to reiterate.

There are a lot of commercials on TV and radio from attorneys asking to represent veterans and civilians who were at Camp LeJeune between 1953 and 1987.  The lawsuit is based on drinking contaminated water at the site during that time.

One commercial says filing a lawsuit will not affect any VA benefits that the veteran is receiving.  That is not true.  Yes, the veteran will not lose any VA benefits, but any money the veteran receives from the lawsuit will be offset by any VA benefits received based on drinking the water.

Filing a VA claim for drinking the contaminated water is different from filing a lawsuit.

If a veteran is already receiving VA Service-Connected Disability Compensation for drinking the contaminated water at Camp LeJeune and that veteran files and wins a lawsuit, the award will be offset by any money or payments made in connection with health care or disability compensation payments related to the contaminated water for any VA, Medicare, or Medicaid program.  You cannot be paid twice from the government for the same issue.

For example, if a veteran is receiving VA disability payments and wins a lawsuit:

Lawsuit Settlement: $200,000
An Offset: $100,000
Legal Fee (40%):  $80,000
Net to Veteran:  $20,000

In other words, if a veteran received money from the VA for drinking the water, they will subtract the amount of money the veteran received from the VA from the amount of money that the veteran gets from the lawsuit.

If you want to file a lawsuit against the government, make sure that it’s financially the right thing for you to do.  Do not just let the attorney tell you that you should do it and join all the other veterans that are doing it.  (There may not be a lot of veterans doing it.)  Check out all your options on whether you should file the lawsuit and how it will impact your VA disability payments and hospital care.

As of this date, I do not know any veteran who has filed a lawsuit.  I know they have filed VA claims.  I am not saying it is wrong to file a lawsuit, but I just do not know of any veteran who has filed a lawsuit.

Another thing is that this is not just for Marines.  If an Army, Navy, or Air Force veteran, or National Guard or Reservist was at Camp LeJeune, they also could be eligible for compensation.

Civilians and spouses of veterans filing a claim would not be affected by any VA benefits, but I do not know how that works if they are receiving any federal aid like Medicare.  They need to check how that affects anything they’re receiving from the federal government.

Veterans also must watch out for scammers – not only to file a VA claim for drinking the water, but for any type of VA benefit.  Last week, I had a wife of a veteran call me and say that she is working with an organization that will help her file for VA Aid and Attendance.  The organization said that it will cost her $1,000.00.  I told her no one ever has to pay to file a VA claim.  She gave me his name and I have heard of him, but I always contact the Illinois Attorney General’s Office of Veteran and Military Affairs and report him.  Like I said, no one ever has to pay to file a VA claim.  Not only that, but they cannot guarantee that you will be approved for the claim and many times, they send you to a Veteran Service Officer who will actually send the paperwork to the VA.

Volume 77. Number 1. 2023