Department Executive Committee approves 2 resolutions

By Tim Engstrom
American Legion 4th District Vice Commander Jon Haworth speaks at the Department Executive Committee meeting on March 2.

One resolution calls for income from a non-married partner to be considered in VA loans

Minnesota American Legion Riders Director Jody Hassing describes how the ALR in Minnesota is setting up its constitution and bylaws.

MONTGOMERY — Commander Paul Hassing said, when a member becomes department commander, they often think they are going to do all kinds of things, change what it means to be department commander, change the world. Hassing has traveled much of the state during his term.

“Then you get in the position, and you go, ‘Wow! They don’t tell you, and they can’t tell you, how much it is,” Hassing said.

The commander led the Department Executive Committee held March 2 at Montgomery Post 79. The committee approved two resolutions to be forwarded to the 105th American Legion National Convention Aug. 23-29 in New Orleans.

Resolution 2024-7 calls for legislation governing VA loans to broaden eligibility to include partners and co-habitants of veterans. This would allow their incomes to be considered in the loan application.

The resolution was brought forth by Department Service Officer Ray Kane and went to the 104th National Convention in Charlotte. There, the National VA&R Committee asked for a few minor changes and asked for its return this year.

Committee chairmen Mike Ash and Dennis DeLong share a laugh during the DEC meeting March 2 at Montgomery Post 79.

Real estate agent Jon Haworth, a 4th District vice commander, assisted in bringing the original resolution. He said the resolution brings VA loans to be in line with the Minnesota Fair Housing Act and the laws of several states where it is illegal to discriminate against marital status.

“It is mainly about treating unmarried couples like married couples,” Haworth said.

He told the story of how an unmarried couple using a VA loan had to come up with an additional $47,000 because of marital status.

The resolution notes: “A substantial number of veterans are in committed relationships or cohabitate with individuals who, while not legally recognized as spouses, play a critical role in maintaining the household’s economic well-being.”

Resolution 2024-6, written by Kane, calls on The American Legion to urge Congress to amend the Johnny Isakson and David P. Moe Veterans Health Care & Benefits Improvement Act of 2020. A change to that law could preserve burial benefits for veterans opting for a plaque or urn. Presently, they lose the options of a headstone or marker.

Department Service Officer Ray Kane addresses the DEC on March 2 in Montgomery.

Kane gave a report on the Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund. He said the fund has provided $350,000 in assistance during its existence, with about $2,348 per case on average. He thanked Assistant DSO Janet Lorenzo for her strength.

“Minnesota Veterans Assistance Fund is more than just a grant. It’s a promise and a commitment to engage and embrace our veterans and a part of our community, a part of what I know now as family,” Kane said.

He said it is critical that posts have connections to their county veteran service officers.

In the effort to prevent veteran suicides, he and Lorenzo hope to have the VA S.A.V.E. training in all 10 districts of the Minnesota American Legion in 2024.

Candidates for Department of Minnesota office stood and introduced themselves:

• Commander: Carl Moon of Zimmerman Post 560.

• Vice commander for 2nd & 7th districts: Randy Olson of Winnebago Post 82.

• Vice commander for 2nd & 7th districts: Pam Krill of Fairmont Post 36.

• Vice commander for 6th & 9th districts: Veronica Fernlund of Waite Park Post 428.

• Historian: Christopher Anderson of Hastings Post 47.

Two others have announced that they are running:

• Historian: Karen O’Bar of Bertha Post 366.

• Sergeant-at-Arms: Betty Jass of Sleepy Eye Post 7.

Adjutant Mike Maxa gives his report to the DEC on March 2 at Montgomery Post 79. He is a member of Post 79, too.

National Vice Commander Raymond Vail of Kansas attended the DEC meeting. He saved his comments for the Appreciation Rally later the same day.

The DEC accepted the charter turn-in for St. Bonifacius Post 396.

Right after, Hassing announced National HQ has issued a charter for Post 1918 in Moose Lake. The DEC will need to approve the permanent charter application when it is received.

“It’s very exciting to have a new post,” Past National Commander Dan Ludwig said.

The post number appears to be a reference to the historic Fires of 1918.

American Legion Riders Director Jody Hassing said the Minnesota ALR is working on a constitution and a set of bylaws to replace a standard operating procedure set up in 2015. She has worked with Department Judge Advocate Greg Colby on it.

The DEC meeting normally slated for the evening of Wednesday, July 10, right before the Department of Minnesota Convention in Willmar, could be moved to the morning of Thursday, July 11, to save time and money, said Department of Minnesota Adjutant Mike Maxa in his report. No decision has been made.

He noted the change would not preclude department standing committees from meeting Wednesday, if they desire. The convention committees, he said, could meet at their usual times.

Maxa said the department has received calls on whether the Gopher Legion Honor Guard patch it sells will change designs, in lieu of the fact that the Minnesota state seal and flag are changing.

“I’ve been telling them no. One of the biggest reasons is we have 2 1/2 cases of these patches,” he said.

Maxa scouted the National Convention site in New Orleans. He said the hotel, SpringHill Marriott, is smaller than the one Minnesota was assigned for Charlotte, but it is only two blocks from the convention center. However, the convention center is so large that, once inside, people will walk another four blocks to reach the convention hall.

He said the 934th Airlift Wing at Fort Snelling thanked The American Legion for its support for the Family Day event last August.

Finance Committee Chairman Dennis DeLong said department revenue exceeded expenditures for fiscal year $346,614 as of Feb. 29. The prior year, at the end of February, the same benchmark was at $550,361, and the previous year it was at $257,008.

Commander Paul Hassing greets members of the Department Executive Committee on March 2 at Montgomery Post 79.

NECman Bill Barbknecht reported on the Washington Conference, which took place in late February. He praised Legislative Committee Chairwoman Kristy Janigo for “an outstanding job.” He said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was very appreciative of an award she received from The American Legion.

He urged members to see National Commander Daniel J. Seehafer on the National Commander’s Tour of Minnesota and went over the schedule, including the final stop — Veterans Day on the Hill at the St. Paul Armory.

“This is the first time ever the national commander of The American Legion is going to be the speaker over at the armory,” Barbknecht said.

He spoke about The American Legion’s new partnership with the Wellcare insurance company, and he said it could affect Legionnaire Insurance Trust.

Janigo then gave her report. She urged members to visit and visit the Grassroots Action Center to send messages to lawmakers on veterans’ issues.

“All you have to do is press a couple of buttons,” she said. “It will generate an email for you, and it knows already who your representative is based on your address.”

She said the Minnesota Legionnaires who visited D.C. spoke on supporting Afghan allies, supporting Gold Star spouses, support the expansion of Arlington Cemetery, paying the Coast Guard during government shutdowns, standing with veteran caregivers and stopping claim sharks.

Janigo noted Klobuchar was in an upbeat mood when receiving the award.

“She tends to be a very task-oriented lawmaker,” Janigo said. “She was very happy, kind of jovial, joking with us, and just really appreciating being in the presence of Minnesota Legionnaires prior to getting nationally recognized.”

At the state level, Janigo has been in the negotiations on charitable gambling, with hopes of delivering meaningful tax relief. She also mentioned a legislative networking event on Feb. 6 at Mancini’s was well-attended.

“We had lawmakers from both sides of the aisle come visit us,” she said.

Legionville President Carl Moon said he has a wish list of items the camp needs.

Legionville President Carl Moon speaks to the DEC on March 2.

“We still need a couple of hot water heaters installed before camp gets on this year. Faucets and drains, we need to put some new ones in to the tune of about $2,000. We’re going to put up a swing gate instead of a rolling gate that we have, which freezes up every year, approximately $600 for that. A bagger system is needed for the lawnmower, $2,700.”

He noted that Legionville will have six sessions this summer. Normally, it’s been seven. Sessions begin June 16 and end Aug. 2.

“We would like to see a lot more kids this year,” Moon said.

Registration is available at and at

He added that Work & Play Weekend is May 16-19. Volunteers from across the Legion Family are sought to working and cleaning at the camp.

Moon discovered in Washington that one of Sen. Tina Smith’s aides had attended Legionville in 2008.

“She said it was the most fun she had at any camp,” Alternate NECman Peggy Moon added.