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John F. Sommer, Jr.

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John F. Sommer, Jr. retired as the Senior Executive Director of The American Legion National Headquarters December 15, 2009. Prior to his appointment as Senior Executive Director in April 2009, he served as Executive Director of the Washington Headquarters Office. Appointed to that position in January 1991, he was responsible for overseeing the activities of the nation’s largest veterans’ organization in its dealings with the White House, Congress and federal agencies such as the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense and State. Before his appointment as Executive Director, Mr. Sommer was a staff member of the Legion’s Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division where he served his fellow veterans in positions ranging from Claims Representative in 1974 to Division Director from 1988 through 1990. Previous to joining Legion’s national staff, Sommer was The Ohio American Legion State Director of Rehabilitation and Service.

Born in Columbus Ohio, Sommer was educated in Grove City public schools. He graduated from Franklin University in Columbus with a BS in Business Administration in 1972. He also attended Bowling Green State University. Sommer’s service as a U.S. Army combat medic included a tour of duty in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division where he served as a Platoon Medic, Senior Company Medic and the NCO-in-charge of a battalion aid station. His service awards include the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Medical Badge, and Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm. Since 1991, Mr. Sommer has traveled to Vietnam numerous times and met with officials in other Southeast Asia countries regarding missing American servicemen. He has represented The American Legion on presidential delegations to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Sommer served as chairman of the Ad Hoc Working Group on POW/MIAs, which consisted of representatives from over 20 nationwide veterans groups and family organizations.

Mr. Sommer has co-edited a handbook on post-traumatic therapy, plus a book, Simple and Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Strategies for Comprehensive Treatment in Clinical Practice. Sommer, in collaboration with Drs. Jeanne and Steven Stellman developed “The American Legion and Columbia University Vietnam Veterans Study,” a broad-based epidemiological study of Vietnam veterans, which was published in 1988. He has done a considerable amount of advocacy work on the issues of PTSD and Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam.

John Sommer has served and held offices on various committees and boards, both national and local, in government and the private sector. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Aleethia Foundation and the Department of Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee on the Readjustment of Veterans. He is also a long-time member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

In addition to being a life member of The American Legion, Sommer belongs to the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada, US Unit; Returned & Services League of Australia, Washington, DC Sub-Branch; Veterans of Foreign Wars, National 4th Infantry Division Association and the American Legion Riders. He is a life member of Save the Montagnard People and an honorary member of Rolling Thunder First Amendment Demonstration Run, Washington, DC, Inc.

The Sommer family resides in Annandale, Virginia.

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