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Veterans Benefits Information

Donations to TFA needed to continue providing help

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The American Legion’s Temporary Financial Assistance program has provided nearly $600,000 in grants to active-duty U.S. Coast Guard members with minor children in the home who missed a paycheck last week as a result of the current government shutdown.

As thousands of TFA requests have come in to National Headquarters from Coast Guard families, and more arrive daily as the shutdown continues, additional funds are needed now to continue providing help.

Meagen Sweet, TFA program director, shared with WISH-TV of Indianapolis how The American Legion has been supporting Coast Guard members with minor children in the home through Legion TFA grants, which are made possible through donations to The American Legion Veterans and Children Foundation.

"We get 'thank yous' every day," Sweet told WISH-TV. The letters say "it helps put gas in the car because they're still having to go to work and their kids don't have groceries right now. So, it helps them a lot."

Donations to The American Legion Veterans and Children Foundation are tax deductible and can be made online here. Donations to the foundation will provide American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance during this crisis and the next.

Retired Coast Guard Vice Adm. Terry Cross told WISH-TV that the typical Coast Guard third class petty officer earns a base pay of about $600 per week. "When they miss a paycheck, it's a big deal," Cross told WISH-TV. "If they miss two paychecks, it could be a disaster for a family in terms of rent payment, mortgage payments, just putting food on the table."

TFA provides one-time grants of up to $1,500 that are made available to eligible active-duty military and American Legion members in need, who have minor children in the home, to help to meet the cost of shelter, food, utilities and health expenses to keep their children in a stable environment during a time of hardship. American Legion National Headquarters has authorized the use of an abbreviated TFA application for use with active duty Coast Guard members only with minor children in the home, and only for the duration of the current government shutdown.

To request TFA support, please click here.


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New law will help veteran entrepreneurs

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Veteran entrepreneurs will benefit from a new law aimed at helping them grow their small businesses, create jobs and expand economic opportunity.

The Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act was signed into law by President Trump earlier this month. The legislation adds veterans to the list of eligible recipients for federal surplus personal property, such as office equipment and furniture to specialized apparatuses including scientific devices and heavy machinery.

Veteran small business owners now join women and minority small business owners and veterans service organizations (VSOs) as eligible recipients for federal surplus personal property.

The American Legion and other VSOs, including VFW and Paralyzed Veterans of America, supported the legislation. The Legion’s National Executive Committee passed Resolution 21 at the 2018 Fall Meetings to support legislation ensuring parity for veterans in all state and federal small business programs.

In a press release touting the legislation, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who introduced the bill with co-sponsors Sens. John Kennedy, R-La., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said “When our veterans return home from their service, they deserve our full support as they transition back into civilian life, and that includes supporting their efforts to build and manage a small business.”

“Countless veterans are entrepreneurs and small business owners making contributions to their communities, but many struggle with the costs of starting a new business idea,” said Durbin. “With the Veterans Small Business Enhancement Act now signed into law, veterans can access GSA’s federal surplus property program, which can help them save costs as they open new businesses and store fronts.”


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USAA Tips: Update your job description to match what you do today

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Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

Jobs tend to change with what customers, the business, industry trends, and business leaders need. That is the nature of business and leadership to your customers: adapt your actions to what the market and customers need. However, what does your boss and their boss think and believe that you do? Time to re-write your job description!

Follow these six steps to review and re-write your job description:

1. Find & Analyze Your Current Job Description. The job description for the job you were hired to do may have changed over time. Find the most recent job posting for your job and break it down into three parts:

  • Outcomes and business results your job should produce;

  • Major areas of responsibility for your job; and

  • Major skill sets required to succeed at your job.

2. Make a List of Your Business Outcomes with Results Over the Last Two Years. Look at your resume and performance reviews from the last two years. Make a top to bottom list with the outcomes your job results have produced and compare it to the outcomes that your job should produce. Highlight any major additions that you perform on an annual basis.

3. List Your Major Areas of Responsibility with Meetings, Projects & Documents. Look at the last 6-12 months of projects, documents, meeting hours, and travel. Align these results and time spent with your responsibilities. Create a spreadsheet that lists your responsibility with documents produced, hours of meetings, and travel. Next, rank order your responsibilities in your current job description with what you do. Highlight any major differences in your responsibilities and re-prioritize them in order.

4. Do A Comparison & Contrast Between Your Current & New Job Description. Perform a side-by-side comparison of your outcomes, major areas of responsibility, and skill sets that you were hired to do against the performance evidence you gathered that demonstrates what you do in your job. Ensure that you update any new technology, software, business skill sets, quantitative skills, and soft skills that make your job performance possible. If your job is at least 20% different in what you do versus what you were hired to do, then write a complete new job description.

5. Bring Your Boss Up to Date. Schedule at least a 60-minute meeting with your boss and present your analysis of your results produced, documents created, meeting time, and major skill sets employed to produce the results. Use a compare/contrast method to show how your job is like and how it is different than what you were hired to do.

6. Ask for a Mid-Year Salary & Title Review. At the end of your meeting with your boss, ask for a mid-year salary and job title review for the additional work that you perform against what you were hired to do. Even if you get a “no” the act of understanding how you contribute to the organization’s results and the power of your skill sets to bring those outcomes is a reward in and of itself.

The creation of an analysis of what you do on your job versus what you were hired to do is a great way to start a new year and to demonstrate all that you do for an employer. Ensure that your boss recognizes not only the results you achieve, but all the time, analysis, and skill sets that you bring to a job to make it successful.


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Job hunters should do this critical thing before applying for a job

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From Military.com | By Lida Citroën

When was the last time you posted to LinkedIn? Are you as active with your Facebook friends today as you were when you first connected? Do you still have an old MySpace account lurking on the Internet?

Recruiters and hiring managers will most certainly look at your digital footprint to complete their assessment of your viability as a job candidate. Take the time today to start cleaning up what they'll find online about you.

Here are suggestions to clean up your online presence:

  1. Sweep for consistency. Do you show up as the same person on LinkedIn as on Facebook? It's OK to be more social on Facebook since it's a more social platform. But if your language, comments, photos, and tone reflect a very different persona than I'd find on another platform -- or in person -- it can be confusing.

  2. Do a sweep of your contacts. Are they still in your life today? Sometimes, we connect with colleagues or friends we make in previous jobs (i.e. your military service) who we don't want to be connected to for our future pursuits. If this is the case, purge these people from your contacts. If you know them well and need to remove them because they post content that's not consistent with your values, contact them and let them know in advance.

  3. Delete posts or comments that show you in a negative light. Sure, this doesn't remove them from the Internet forever, but it would be hard for a recruiter to find a negative comment or offensive joke you made two years ago ... if you remove it today.

  4. Update your LinkedIn profile. Be sure it includes your current job, with a bulleted list of your key responsibilities and achievements. You also want to update your volunteer activities and any certifications or training you've received since your last update.

  5. Review your headline and summary sections on LinkedIn. Do they reflect who you are today and the job you're looking for? Are you using the right keywords to attract desired employers?

  6. Update your profile photo on all platforms, if needed. Particularly on LinkedIn, you should reflect a current and polished appearance. On Facebook, Instagram and other platforms, strive to show consistency in your image while highlighting the more social side of your personality.

  7. Look through the recommendations you've received on LinkedIn. Are they current or 10 years old? Do they speak to your roles in the military or other aspects of your career? Make sure all recommendations are relevant to the jobs you want and include keywords to get you noticed.

  8. If you don't have any (or many) recommendations, ask for some. Offer to provide a draft copy that the recommender can modify and personalize. This way, you can include keywords and drive the narrative the way it suits you best.

  9. Take inventory of what you're posting and how often. Posting too many times per day on LinkedIn, for instance, can be intrusive. Posting once a month on Facebook gets you forgotten. Look over the past few months of your posts -- what number of posts gets you the most interactions (likes, comments, shares) and set a goal to continue that.

Social media is like any part of a marketing plan. You have to assess and re-work the plan from time to time to keep it current and relevant. Particularly when it comes to a job seeker's digital footprint, the more current, timely and relevant you make online profiles to what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for, the better.


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More than $574,000 distributed to Coast Guard families via TFA

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Requests for temporary financial assistance through The American Legion are pouring in from U.S. Coast Guard personnel across the country affected by the government shutdown. The annual operating budget for The American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance program is approximately $700,000. As of Jan. 20, the organization has distributed $574,000 in grants, a mere 21 days into 2019. The American Legion is calling on the public, corporations and charitable foundations to donate to help fulfill more than 1,500 additional requests.

"These are grants, not loans," American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad said. "We know this furlough is creating hardship, and we don't want the brave members of our Coast Guard, who are risking their lives defending us daily, to worry about putting food on the table. Most importantly, we don't want to have to turn away anyone who needs help."

The American Legion distributes one-time grants of up to $1,500 to eligible active-duty military and American Legion members in need. Grantees must have minor children in the home and the funds are designed to help meet the cost of shelter, food, utilities and health expenses so that children have a stable environment during a time of hardship.

The American Legion is calling on all Americans, corporations and foundations that are not financially affected by the furlough to make a gift today. The American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance program is funded through the generosity of donations made by American Legion members and the public to The American Legion Veterans and Children Foundation. All donations are tax deductible and can be made online at legion.org.

"If we are going to provide for all the families who need assistance during this crisis, and have financial resources available for the remainder of the year, we are going to need some help," Reistad added. "We have staff working to process these applications as quickly as possible to get checks to the families in need."

Any U.S. Coast Guard personnel interested in applying for The American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance program should go to legion.org for more information.


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