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Legion Condemns Governor's Non-Response to ISSCH Proposal As 'Slap In The Face'

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The State Commander of the Indiana American Legion reacted angrily today to what he called a "slap in the face" to supporters of the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Children's Home by Governor Mitch Daniels.

"At his (Governor Daniels') request to our Department Adjutant, The American Legion devoted its resources to identifying an alternative to simply shutting down the Home, and what do we get in return? The same lame, ill-conceived explanation from the Indiana State Department of Health that we have received twice before, re-packaged and re-stated, but identical to their original position," said Commander Ralph Tolan.

"The Department of Health did not ask for alternatives - the Governor did. We did not expect to change their minds, but we certainly had reason to expect the governor to at least read our proposal. I seriously doubt that he did. He didn't even favor us with an acknowledgement, let alone a response.

"That, to me, is a real slap in the face.

"It appears to me that this decision was made a long time ago and no one ever seriously planned to consider alternatives," Tolan said.

The Legion delivered a preliminary proposal to the Governor February 10, 2009, outlining a plan that would restore funding for the home to the 2009-2010 biennial state budget; authorize a professional and detailed study of the Home with recommendations for all aspects of the facility; and assign responsibility for the study to a joint commission of interested parties.

The ISDH response, signed by State Health Commissioner Judy Monroe, M.D. and James Payne, Director of the Indiana Department of Child Services, restates the original arguments for closing the home, many of which have been refuted or identified as misleading.

"In setting forth its alternatives to continuing to operate the home, Monroe and Payne have described a series of costly, time-consuming and continuing alternatives, without providing estimates of the total cost or comparing it to the cost of operating the home -- or answering the critical questions posed by The American Legion," said Tolan, such as

"How can returning at-risk youngsters to the environments, schools and communities that have already failed them benefit these youngsters? How will costly, tired social programs benefit youngsters whose Service-member parents are deployed?"

The Commander also vowed to continue to fight plans to summarily close the home.

"We have a position endorsed by more than 200,000 Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion members, which authorizes me to take all appropriate action. We have no option now but to proceed with our plans to fight this out in the General Assembly."

NOTE: Copies of The American Legion alternative proposal, the response from the Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Department of Child Services, and the earlier correspondence from the ISDH setting forth its arguments for closing the facility will be made available to news organizations on request.

SOURCE The American Legion Department of Indiana
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