Brett P. Reistad: November 1, 2018

The Nation’s Largest Veterans Organization Observing 100th Birthday

Commander Discusses Veterans Day 2018, Issues Facing America’s Heroes


Brett P. Reistad

National Commander of the American Legion


U.S. Army veteran Brett P. Reistad (rye STAD) was elected the 100th National Commander of The American Legion during the organization’s 100th National Convention on August 30, 2018.

A retired lieutenant with the Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department, Reistad was a U.S. Army infantryman from 1974 to 1978 and served with the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at historic Fort Myer, Va. He participated in the Inaugural ceremony for President Carter and other high-profile events.

A member of American Legion Post 270 in McLean, Va., he will lead the nation’s largest veteran’s organization through its centennial. The American Legion was founded in March 1919 by a group of American World War I veterans in Paris, France.

“Veteran’s Day is always a time to celebrate the sacrifice and service of those who have defended America since our nation’s founding,” Reistad said. “Veterans Day 2018 is particularly significant because it marks 100 years since the signing of an armistice, one that ended a horrific war that was unprecedented in prior world history. Unfortunately, it was not the ‘war to end all wars’ as people had hoped. But from that war came an organization that was founded on the four pillars of a strong national defense, care for veterans, patriotic youth programs and Americanism. That organization is The American Legion and we are still dedicated to serving this great nation.”

Among issues that The American Legion hopes people will focus on:

  • This year marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice which ended World War I. Following the war, The American Legion was founded by a group of World War I veterans in Paris and dedicated itself to the four pillars of providing a strong national defense; care and rehabilitative programs for veterans; patriotic programs for young people; and Americanism.
  • The American Legion Family is playing a vital role in helping communities recover from the devastation caused by recent hurricanes and other natural disasters. Families inside and outside The American Legion desperately need assistance. The American Legion has many assistance programs but public unity and attention are essential in this rebuilding effort.
  • Thousands of veterans struggle daily to overcome the hardships inflicted by traumatic brain injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other signature wounds of war.
  • The American Legion strongly believes that the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has problems, is a system worth saving and must be strengthened. Treatment for veterans is the cost of not only war, but of maintaining a strong defense during peacetime. America has an obligation to treat these veterans in the health care system that was built specifically to address their unique needs rather than voucher their care to a private ‘for-profit’ system.
  • The Harry W Colmery “Forever” GI Bill has many improved benefits that eligible veterans may not be aware of. The American Legion played a crucial role in the crafting of this and earlier versions of this landmark legislation.
  • Reforming the VA health care system is not just a task, but a continuing process that will only improve if Americans hold their elected officials accountable and demand that veterans be treated with the dignity and respect that they have earned.
  • The best way for employers to thank a veteran is to hire one. By providing jobs, employers can help eliminate veteran homelessness.
  • To maintain a strong volunteer military, America should provide a high quality of life for military members and their families, and the training, technology and weapons needed to prevail against any enemy.
  • Veterans are a vital part of communities across the nation.  American Legion programs such as Operation Comfort Warriors, Boys State, Boys Nation, American Legion Baseball, Oratorical Scholarship contests, blood donations and the National Emergency Fund benefit and touch countless lives.

The American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans’ service organization, with about two million members and nearly 13,000 posts worldwide, whose members are involved in community-based support of veterans, service members and their families. The American Legion is strongly committed to helping veterans and military families with its outreach programs and lobbying efforts, as a new generation of returning veterans reintegrate into the community.


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Brett P. Reistad (pronounced rye STAD) was elected national commander of the nearly 2 million-member American Legion on August 30, 2018 in Minneapolis, during the organization’s 100th national convention. He has been a member of the nation’s largest veterans organization since 1981.

A resident of Manassas, Virginia, Reistad is a life member and past commander of Post 270 in McLean. The Department of Virginia reached an all-time high in membership, while he served as department (state) commander from 2005 to 2006. He retired as a lieutenant with the Fairfax County Police Department after twenty-six years of service and began a second career as a law enforcement services coordinator for the Regional Organized Crime Information Center of the Regional Information Sharing Systems Program, a congressionally funded law enforcement investigative assistance program of the U.S. Department of Justice.  He holds a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from Virginia’s Bluefield College.

He is a past Legionnaire of the Year from Post 270 and a member of the Sons of The American Legion Squadron 10 in Manassas. His wife, Jessica, and his family, are proud members of The American Legion Family. His theme as national commander is “Celebrating Our Legacy,” with special emphasis on the organization’s centennial.

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