James W. “Bill” Oxford: November 7, 2019

The Nation’s Largest Veterans Organization Looks to its Second Century as America’s Most Influential Voice for Veterans

James W. “Bill” Oxford

The American Legion National Commander

In the aftermath of another Election day, American Legion National Commander Bill Oxford is hoping that Americans will pause to remember just who it is that makes it possible to freely choose our elected officials.

“It is fitting that Veteran’s Day is just a few days after Americans traditionally go to the polls,” Oxford said. “It is, after all, the veteran who protects our freedom and ensures that our constitutional republic is protected from tyrannical regimes and terrorists who hate our way of life. The American Legion was founded one hundred years ago by World War I veterans concerned about their wounded comrades and the sacrifices that were made to defend freedom. As we begin our second century of service, we remain committed to this great country. We are nonpartisan but we strongly believe that all of our elected officials should ensure that veterans, members of our military and their families feel the gratitude of a nation that truly appreciates and values their service and sacrifice. Congress and the White House still have some unfinished business that we would like to see them address expeditiously.”

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

  • Congress still has not passed the Pay Our Coast Guard Act. When the federal government shut down earlier this year, the Coast Guard was the only military branch to experience an interruption in their payroll.  During that period, The American Legion provided more than one million dollars in grants to junior-ranking Coast Guard members who had children at home. Unlike the other military branches, the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security. Legislation in Congress would ensure that Coast Guard funds are appropriated in advance, like the military branches in the DoD, and that members of Coast Guard would be paid on time in the unfortunate event of future government shutdowns.
  • 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. “Choice” has an important role, but it should not be funded in a manner that will diminish the VA system. The American Legion will work closely with VA to ensure smooth implementation of the VA Mission Act
  • 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.

For more information go to: www.legion.org




Vietnam War veteran James W. “Bill” Oxford was elected national commander of the nearly 2 million-member American Legion on August 29, 2019 in Indianapolis, during the organization’s 101st national convention. He has been a member of the nation’s largest veterans organization since 1986.

A native of Lenoir, N.C., Oxford is a paid-up-for- life member and past commander of Post 29 in Lenoir. He served as department (state) commander of the North Carolina American Legion from 2010 to 2011. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Oxford was an aviation electronic technician for the A-6 Intruder and served in Vietnam during his initial enlistment. After being discharged as a sergeant in 1970, Oxford joined the North Carolina National Guard.  He subsequently attended officer’s candidate school and transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve, where he ultimately retired as a colonel after more than 34 years of military service.

An active volunteer with several organizations, Oxford is a member of Masonic lodge-York and Scottish Rite. His theme as national commander of The American Legion is “a foundation for the future,” as the organization enters its second century of service.

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