Denise H. Rohan: April 24, 2018

AMERICAN LEGION First Female National Commander

U.S. Army veteran Denise H. Rohan promotes ‘Family First’ agenda





Denise H. Rohan

National Commander of the American Legion



U.S. Army veteran Denise H. Rohan made history on Aug. 24, 2017, when she became the first woman to be elected to the top position of the nation’s largest veteran’s organization during The American Legion’s 99th National Convention. The theme for her year: “Family First!”

“It is time to invite our communities into American Legion post homes to show America what we are all about,” she said. “There are families of deployed service members across the nation. There are Gold Star families who wonder if anyone truly understands their sacrifice. And there are young people in need of strong educational and patriotic programs. The American Legion Family is ready to assist and lead in all these areas. We call on Washington to support caregivers of disabled veterans. Often times the family members caring for these heroes have their own physical, emotional and financial needs, which go unanswered. America must show its gratitude to these family members who also make a tremendous sacrifice on our behalf.”

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

  • This year marks the 100th anniversary of American participation in 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 last year’s massive 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.
  • “Veterans didn’t fight for Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They fought for the Red, White and Blue,” National Commander Rohan said. “America sent them to war. These heroes deserve more than a private voucher and a thank you. They deserve a health care system that was built specifically for their needs.”
  • 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 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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Denise H. Rohan was elected national commander of the two million-member American Legion on Aug. 24, 2017 in Reno, Nev., during the 99th national convention of the nation’s largest veterans organization.

Rohan enlisted in the U.S. Army on a two-year contract in 1974 and served on active-duty at Fort McClellan, Ala. and Fort Lee, Va. A retired assistant bursar of student loans at the University of Wisconsin Madison, she served as a civilian volunteer with the Family Readiness Group of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the 1-105th Cavalry Squadron and the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard.  She is a past department (state) commander of the Wisconsin American Legion and Post 333 in Sun Prairie, Wis. She and her husband, Mike, have been married since 1976. They have a son, Nicholas; a daughter-in-law, Angie; and two grandchildren, Sawyer and Isla.

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