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Top American Legion officials wrap up tour of Taiwan, leave with honors

By L. J. Lamb--James E. Koutz, National Commander of The American Legion, and Peggy Thomas, National President of The American Legion Auxiliary, have just completed their annual visit to Taiwan at the invitation of General Tseng Jing-ling, Minister of Veterans Affairs of the Republic of China.

In recognition of outstanding contributions supporting the exchange of experience regarding veterans' services between the R.O.C. and the U.S., Minister Tseng presented the Veterans Affairs Commission Medal of Honor with cravat to the distinguished guests.

The American Legion officials, who represent the largest veterans organization in the U.S. with a combined membership of over 3 million, visited cultural, economic, and veterans facilities to gain a greater understanding of Taiwan's current situation, especially in the areas of veterans benefits, economics, and national defense.

Commander Koutz and his party were received at the Presidential Office by President Ma Ying-jeou, who thanked the National Commander for the continuing support of the Republic of China.

President Ma noted that The American Legion concentrates on national defense and foreign policy issues, as well as veterans' benefits. The Legion is a strong political force in the United States, especially in view of its large and active membership.

The president commented that resolutions previously passed by The American Legion made note of the strong relations between the two countries during World War II in fighting Japanese militarism and in the Cold War fighting against communism.

President Ma expressed his appreciation to The American Legion for speaking on behalf of the R.O.C. on a number of other issues, including the sale of advanced weapons.

At its National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana in August of this year, The American Legion passed a resolution supporting “the sale of the latest American weapon systems, including naval vessels, submarines, military aircraft, high-tech electronics, communications equipment and air-defense missile systems to the Republic of China of such quality and in such quantities so as to enable the Government of the Republic of China to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”

The National Commander often meets with the U.S. president, during which time the two discuss veterans' assistance programs, national defense and foreign relations policy. The National Commander also presents the U.S. president with The American Legion's National Convention Resolutions, which support the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act and sales of advanced weapons to the Republic of China.

The American Legion and the Veterans Affairs Commission (VAC) have maintained an outstanding relationship for almost 50 years. Each year representatives of The American Legion and the VAC exchange visits and representatives of the VAC attend The American Legion National Convention, which is also attended by high-ranking U.S. government officials, including the U.S. president.

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James E. Koutz, National Commander of The American Legion, left, General Tseng Jing-ling, Minister of Veterans Affairs, center, and Peggy Thomas, National President of The American Legion Auxiliary.(Photo by L. J. Lamb)

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