During his address, Koutz shared information on Operation Comfort Warriors, which is designed to provide nonesstial items that help wounded warriors' recovery.
"Operation Comfort Warriors is for wounded soldiers who are coming back home," said Koutz. "They receive their medical treatment free, but we are trying to get comfort items to donate to them, like sweatsuits, radios and televisions."
According to the American Legion website, the Army has estimated that up to 20 percent of the men and women who served in Afghanistan or Iraq have suffered traumatic brain injuries. Many others are impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder.
Due to the fact that most military medical centers are not equipped to store large quantities of care packages, Koutz is working to raise $500,000 for the new Operation Comfort Warriors program. Funds are used to purchase and deliver items to service men and women.
Community members can donate to the program online at www.legion.org/operationcomfortwarriors/....
Donations can also be mailed to: Operation Comfort Warriors, The American Legion, PO Box 1055, Indianapolis, IN 46206.
Koutz also spoke about the American Legion's new Women's Veterans Coordinator position. Women who are selected to fill the state leadership positions will be responsible for determining the needs of women veterans.
"The only way we are going to find out what women veterans' needs are is by hearing from them," said Koutz. "Today, over 20 percent of our veterans are women."
Koutz' tour of southwest Missouri also included stops at Goad-Ballinger Post #69 and Vietnam War Memorial Post #639, both in Springfield, the Springfield Veterans Cemetery, Darris S. Schalk Post #322 in Webb City, William C. Andrew Post #331 in St. Robert, St. James Missouri Veterans Home Post #607, Charles L. King Post #128 in Mansfield, Whiteman Air Force Base, Matthew Crawford Post #131 in Warrensburg, the Warrensburg Veterans Home, French Post #604 in Lowry City and Howard S. Keeling Post #138 in Bolivar.
American Legion members traveling with Koutz were: Arther Wilson, department commander; Kenny Goth, alternate national executive committeeman; Thomas Goodin, department senior vice; Paul Bennett, department historian; Steve Short, national commander's aide; Charley Goodin, national executive committeeman; Frank Prosser, department adjutant; and Mick Dunn, zone three vice commander.
Koutz, who is from Boonville, Ind., was elected national commander of the 2.4 million-member American Legion during the 94th national convention in Indianapolis, Ind., on Aug. 30.