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Veterans Benefits Information

A Black Paratrooper’s First Veterans Day, and His Last

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A long struggle to remove the stigma of a questionable Army discharge comes to a close.

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The E.P.A. and a Threat to Clean Air and Water

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A reader decries a proposed rule that would limit the research used to determine environmental regulations. Also: Endless wars; electric scooters in New York; Elizabeth Warren’s corporate law experience.

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Veterans honored inside Indiana War Memorial

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A forecast for freezing temperatures and snow prompted the cancellation of Indianapolis’ annual Veterans Day Parade and forced the Veterans Day service from outside on the steps of the Indiana War Memorial to the Pershing Auditorium inside.

The event still drew a substantial crowd of veterans, families and dignitaries to commemorate the day.

“I can’t think of a better venue than here … to honor those who wore that uniform,” said Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, himself a Navy veteran.

“On behalf of our great patriotic state, thank you to every Hoosier veteran who served, and to their families who spent so much time apart so that we don’t have to,” Holcomb added.

Keynote speaker Robert Spanogle, past national commander and past national adjutant of The American Legion, noted the painting of General John “Black Jack” Pershing looming behind him.

“I’m going to stand at attention a little bit; I understand he was a kind of by-the-book commander,” Spanogle said of Pershing, himself named honorary national commander of the Legion at the 1926 national convention.

Spanogle, Indiana’s Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, paused briefly before beginning his speech, an appropriate action as “silence” was a key term of his address.

“(This day) once was a celebration of silencing the cannons of World War I. Now it’s a day when nations around the world pause in a moment of silence, with solemn pride in remembrance of the heroism of those who have served, those who are currently serving, and those who died in our country’s service,” Spanogle said. “Our world is not a silent world; it’s not a peaceful world either. Just as we struggle to be silent, to be still for a moment, our world struggles with wars, strife, injustice, hunger, disease, and it cries out in need. … Our servicemembers heeded that call.”

Spanogle noted that Veterans Day isn’t just a holiday for those who served and their families. “For many veterans, it’s just another day of memories that drive them to live their lives each day as best as they possibly can," he said. "For our troops, it’s another day in harm’s way. For their families, this is another day to feel the absence of a loved one and be concerned for their safety. For our wounded warriors, it’s another day of slow and arduous recovery, and for others, it’s another day when the grief of a loss is still fresh. …

“Let’s remember those who are deployed in the service of our country. Let’s remember those who, because they paid the ultimate sacrifice, cannot be with us today."

Stewart Goodwin, the executive director of the Indiana War Memorial and the emcee for the service, encouraged those attending to remember that “every day is Veterans Day.”

“We must remember our veterans every day,” Goodwin said.


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Checking on our buddies

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Dear American Legion Family and Friends,

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Veterans Day weekend, taking time to celebrate with comrades, family members, friends and others. While I believe that every day should be Veterans Day, the brotherhood and sisterhood we find every Nov. 11 is truly special.

For American Legion posts that performed Buddy Checks in the days leading up to Veterans Day, you have my gratitude. I’m sure there are stories about helping fellow veterans receive some help they needed, or reconnecting with a long-lost friend, or other heart-warming tales.

And that’s why we do Buddy Checks. Our goal is to make sure our comrades are doing well and connect them with any resources they require. Some veterans might need guidance from a trained American Legion service officer. Others might qualify for but not be aware of American Legion programs that can provide resources like Temporary Financial Assistance or Operation Comfort Warriors. Still others might just need a fellow veteran to show that he or she cares.

The Media and Communications staff is collecting stories to help other posts learn from your successes. To share your post’s Buddy Check story, email social media manager Steve Brooks, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

While the National Executive Committee authorized Resolution 18 during Spring Meetings in 2019, which called for twice-annual Buddy Checks, I believe that they can — and should — be conducted year-round.

As we head into the joyous holiday season, it’s a perfect time to reach out to our veterans. Make sure they are being cared for properly. Ensure that they know they are welcome to attend your post’s holiday meals and special events. For those living in cold climates, these checks can be critical for veterans who might struggle with paying heating bills or getting to the grocery store when severe weather hits.

There are resources available to get you started, including this helpful kit.

Additionally, I want to point you to this wonderful resource via Maryland Legionnaire John Kilgallon and his 19-year-old daughter Mary. They put together a video message about how his post conducted Buddy Checks.

Whether you follow their lead, use the media kit previously mentioned or create your own method, what’s important is that we check on our buddies. No matter the date.


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USAA Tips: Online safety tips for Cyber Monday

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Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Angela Caban

Cyber Monday is perhaps the biggest online shopping day of the year, but it is also a day when the risks of online shopping are higher due to online scammers knowing there will be many shopping.

In preparation for a busy day of online purchases, here are 6 online safety tips to follow.

1. Stay away from pop-up ads. Many times those pop-up ads show amazing deals, savings and even coupon codes. Unless they are coming directly from a trusted retailer site, do not click on them as there are many scams that capture information.

2. Be aware of Facebook ad scams. You will see what looks like legitimate ads for products in your newsfeed, or perhaps a link sent via private message. Be cautious as many of those sites and coupons are not real and are cross-site scripting attacks.

3. Make sure the site is secure. When you are shopping on a site, ensure that there is a padlock icon on the left of the URL. This means that any information coming from your browser to the site you are on stays private.

4. Do not use debit cards. If there is one thing you want to keep safe it should be your bank account. Be safe and use a credit card if necessary or PayPal works in a pinch with your debit card.

5. Don’t ever shop while on public Wi-Fi. It can be tempting to grab your laptop and head to the coffee shop, but this is one very unsafe move. If your connection is open, so is everything you are doing on that computer. Play it safe and wait until you are on a secure connection at home.

6. Update your security software. Is everything up to date on your computer? Ensure that you are running the latest version of your anti-virus software and that your computer has been through a recent scan.


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Did you know?

A veteran’s family must request a United States flag.

A flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran. Generally, the flag is given to the next of kin. Only one flag may be provided per veteran. Upon the request of the family, an “Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes” (VA Form 21-2008) must be submitted along with a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. Flags may be obtained from VA regional offices and most U.S. Post Offices.