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Veterans Benefits Information

Major League Baseball honors military during All-Star Week

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As former American Legion Baseball players were among the game’s greats participating in the 2018 Major League Baseball All-Star Week events in Washington, D.C., MLB showed tremendous support for the military.

Prior to the start of the All-Star Game on July 17, 30 Medal of Honor recipients were honored on the field in front of a sellout crowd and a national television audience. Five of the recipients have notable connections to American Legion Baseball.

The first pitch was thrown out by Medal of Honor recipient James McCloughan, a 35-year Legion Baseball coach, a 24-year member of American Legion Post 49 in South Haven, Mich., and Post 49's second vice commander. Prior to McCloughan’s moment, the Medal of Honor recipient names were read and the heroes received thunderous applause from a grateful crowd as the collection of All-Stars rushed to meet them.

Four of the Medal of Honor recipients recognized have been honored guests at the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C.

Donald “Doc” Ballard was a guest in Shelby last year before addressing The American Legion's national convention in Reno, Nev.

Shelby’s 2016 guest, James A. Taylor, was an American Legion Baseball player for Arcata, Calif., Post 274 before entering the service. He is now a lifetime member of Post 274 and uses his medal to inspire young people.

Michael J. Fitzmaurice was an honored guest of the 2015 American Legion World Series and the Legionnaire’s name adorns a South Dakota veterans home with capacity for 100 veterans.

Walter “Joe” Marm, who attended the American Legion World Series in 2013, shared his story with The American Legion.

“Bringing in Medal of Honor recipients each year to Shelby is so important,” said Daniel Dellinger, past national commander of The American Legion, who attended the week’s festivities with American Legion Baseball national staff. “It gives the players something to look up to. Those gentlemen who are the recipients of the Medal of Honor are important role models and this year, with James McCloughan coming in with experience with American Legion Baseball, I think is just phenomenal.”

The All-Star pregame ceremony was just part of an overwhelming tribute to military over the course of the week. The week started with the first-ever Armed Services Classic, a softball tournament featuring all five branches. The Air Force took a 9-2 victory over the Army in the title game to lift the trophy, but Army Staff Sgt. Jacob Hensal went on to win the Armed Forces Home Run Derby.

Prior to the Home Run Derby on Monday, 45 members of the Air Force District of Washington were told they were going to a watch party, only to find themselves on the field being celebrated by the crowd.

The pregame ceremony also featured the Navy honoring America with a garrison flag in the outfield and a flyover.

During the Home Run Derby, over $1 million was raised for military charities in an event won by American Legion Baseball alum Bryce Harper, who was decked out in American flag attire with his American flag bat.

The All-Star Game pre-game reception was hosted at the Navy Yard and pregame festivities included another flyover.

During the All-Star Game, Air Force Sgt. Cole Condiff was reunited with his surprised pregnant wife and daughter for the first time in six months.

“Baseball helps create leadership qualities and what Major League Baseball is doing here is just fantastic,” Dellinger said. “It is a great opportunity to work with Major League Baseball as we continue to push our children and youth programs, with baseball, and hopefully here soon, softball. Whatever we can do to engage the young men and women in bat and ball sports.”

“It has just been a phenomenal week,” Dellinger continued. “Major League Baseball has done everything possible to highlight the military and it is great.”


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American Legion Baseball represented at MLB All-Star Week

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Considering the strong connection between the military and Major League Baseball (MLB) at MLB All-Star Week, it was only appropriate that former American Legion Baseball players took center stage in Washington, D.C.

New Mexico Legion alum Alex Bregman, who won the 2017 World Baseball Classic with Team USA and the 2017 World Series with the Astros, made his first appearance in the All-Star Game and made an impact, hitting a tiebreaking home run in the 10th inning on his way to earning the All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player award.

The third baseman helped hand an 8-6 extra-inning victory to the American League and the team’s manager AJ Hinch, who played Legion Baseball for Midwest City Post 170 in Oklahoma.

Two other former American Legion players, both from the hometown Washington Nationals, also headlined the event.

For the second straight year, Max Scherzer, formerly of Legion Baseball Creve Coeur Post 397 in Missouri, got the start on the mound for the National League. The right-hander led all pitchers with four strikeouts in the contest.

Fan-favorite Bryce Harper, who played Legion Baseball out of his hometown of Las Vegas, won a thrilling Home Run Derby in walk-off fashion to the enjoyment of his team’s supporters in attendance. The record-setting event featured 221 home runs, including six from Harper in the final 29 seconds of the final round. Harper defeated seven foes, including Bregman, who just came a few feet short of a tying homer in his first matchup.

This is Harper's sixth All-Star selection and fifth start in just seven MLB seasons.

Jacob deGrom of Florida and Brad Hand of Minnesota both got work out of the National League bullpen, while Justin Verlander of Virginia and Craig Kimbrel of Alabama were both selected to the American League team.

Also included in the week’s festivities was the Futures Game, which was played on July 15 prior to the All-Star Game to showcase upcoming talent.

Two pitchers, Yankee prospect Justus Sheffield of Legion Baseball Tullahoma Post 43 in Tennessee, and Brave prospect Kyle Wright of Huntsville, Ala., represented Legion Baseball at that event.

At the celebrity softball event, Hall of Famer Tim Raines, who played Legion Baseball for Sanford Post 53 in Florida, was one of the event’s headliners.


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Bring your TRICARE benefit questions to July 26 webinar

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Have questions about your TRICARE benefit? Here’s your chance to get some answers. Join TRICARE on Thursday, July 26, from 1 to 2 p.m. ET for the “Ask TRICARE” webinar. The Q&A webinar will include a panel of subject matter experts to answer your questions about TRICARE health care, pharmacy, and dental programs.

Our panelists include representatives from major TRICARE offices and programs, including:

The July 26 webinar is one of many TRICARE resources to help you get answers to your questions about your TRICARE benefits. Visit TRICARE Publications for a look at more resources, from handbooks and brochures to fact sheets and newsletters.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to ask questions directly to TRICARE experts. Bring your questions and register to join us on July 26. Registration is limited.

You must be registered and in the webinar platform to submit a question electronically. If you call in by phone, you’ll only be able to listen to the webinar.


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Register for digital media training workshop

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During the 100th National Convention in Minneapolis, staff members from The American Legion’s Media and Communications Division will provide media training.

The interactive session has been refined from previous years, adding a session on promoting your post through public relations. The media workshop this year will also include topics on website management, e-newsletter marketing, and social media best practices.

The Digital Media Training Workshop will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a break for lunch in Room 102, Sections E & F, Level One in the Minneapolis Convention Center.

All Legion Family members are welcome to attend, and National American Legion Press Association members are strongly encouraged to participate in at least one of the sessions.

Register for the Digital Media Training Workshop at www.legion.org/register.


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Idaho Legionnaire has bell cast from 1,500 U.S. flag grommets

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Matthew Wrobel realized that many of the grommets attached to U.S. flags were made of brass. After retiring nearly 3,000 flags in less than two years, Wrobel had 22 pounds of brass and an idea.

He had a bell cast from the grommets and presented it to Department of Idaho leadership during its100th convention.

"It was very emotional to see my idea come to life. But the greatest gift I was given in this was hearing the bell ring when the gavel struck it," said Wrobel, Department of Idaho membership chairman and commander of Post 113 in Meridian. "My heart filled with pride and my eyes filled with tears of joy to see something so beautiful rise from the ashes of our flag disposals."

Wrobel presented a bell cast from the grommets of 1,500 American flags to Department Commander George Woodman on July 13; also present were National Commander Denise H. Rohan, Past National Commander Alan G. Lance and National Judge Advocate Kevin Bartlett.

Another bell was cast from the remaining grommets and given to Wrobel by the company in Indiana who made it.

"Every time I look across my living room and see the bell it gives me goosebumps. It also brings memories of the different flag disposals that we performed to collect the material to create it," Wrobel said.


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