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Legion National Commander Testifies at South Carolina Statehouse

March 3, 2016

Legion National Commander Testifies at South Carolina Statehouse

Sen. Tom Young, Rep. MaryGail Douglas named outstanding lawmakers

The head of the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization delivered an address before a joint session of the South Carolina legislature today and welcomed a proposal to exempt military pensions from state taxes.

“It is not uncommon for a military retiree to be as young as age 38, having served 20 years in the military. Most of these young men and women begin second careers. By exempting military pensions, they would find re-settling in a state like South Carolina to be a very attractive option,” National Commander of The American Legion Dale Barnett said. “By taxing income from their new careers and their property, the state would be able to receive not just a patriotic new resident, but additional revenue as well.”

Barnett’s testimony capped a three day visit to the Palmetto state, which included visits to the Army Training Center, Fort Jackson, tours of the VA hospitals in Columbia and Charleston, and visits to the Veterans Victory House in Walterboro and several American Legion posts throughout the state. He was joined at the statehouse by American Legion Auxiliary National President Sharon Conatser, of Champaign, Ill.. During his remarks, Barnett lamented military budget cuts made in Washington.
“Throughout America’s history, every military drawdown was later followed by horrific war. We cannot rely on the good intentions of rogue states such as North Korea or Iran,” he told legislators. Barnett, a West Point graduate and retired Army officer, reiterated his organization’s call to bring accountability to the VA.

“I would like to categorically correct any misconception that The American Legion is somehow antagonistic toward or opposed to the Department of Veterans Affairs,” he said. “We care deeply about the VA, which is why we want it to correct deficiencies.”

Barnett, who was an Atlanta-area high school teacher and coach after retiring from the Army, pointed out that The American Legion serves local interests. “In addition to influencing policy in Washington, The American Legion is right here in your communities,” he told legislators before listing ways various American Legion programs. “Sponsoring Boy Scout troops, conducting programs like American Legion Baseball, Boys State, Girls State by our Auxiliary, volunteering at VA hospitals and many other ways that improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians.”

He presented State Sen. Tom Young, R-Aiken, and State Rep. MaryGail Douglas, D-Fairfield, with plaques designating them “Outstanding Members of the Legislature for 2016,” as selected by The American Legion Department of South Carolina.

The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly 14,000 posts across the nation.


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