Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Former Legion Baseball players shine at MLB All-Star Week

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Baseball’s biggest stars gathered in Cleveland this week for MLB All-Star Week and the events were full of former American Legion Baseball products.

Last year’s All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, Alex Bregman, got the starting nod at third base for the victorious American League in the All-Star Game. The New Mexico Legion Baseball alum scored the first run of the game. Bregman also participated in Monday’s record-setting Home Run Derby.

Powhatan Post 201 (Va.) product Justin Verlander started for the victorious side, pitching a scoreless top of the first inning and Jacob deGrom, a product of DeLand (Fla.) Post 6 had a perfect inning in relief for the National League.

Las Vegas (Nev.) Kris Bryant and Midwest City (Okla. Post 170) JT Realmuto also appeared for the National League. Realmuto was the 2010 American Legion Baseball Mid-South Regional Most Valuable Player.

Other notable appearances included Minnesota Legion Baseball’s Brad Hand and Mississippi Legion Baseball’s Brandon Woodruff, both of whom came on in relief.

Max Scherzer, formerly of Legion Baseball Creve Coeur Post 397, was in contention to play a pivotal role on the mound but sat due to injury.

Sunday’s Futures Game ended in a 2-2 tie and the top performing Legion alum was Whiteville Post 137 (N.C.) alum MacKenzie Gore, who allowed no hits in a scoreless inning in relief.

Daulton Varsho, who played in the 2014 Great Lakes Regional for Marshfield (Wis.), was the designated hitter for the American League. Daulton's father, Gary, also played for the Blue Devils of Post 54 before reaching the majors.

Two-way sensation and Golden Spikes winner Brandon McKay of Beaver Falls (Pa.) Blackhawk Legion Baseball made the roster but did not play.

In the celebrity softball game, Hall of Famer Jim Thome headlined Team Cleveland. Thome, who played Legion Baseball for Post 979 in Bartonville, Ill., reflected on his Legion experience, saying, “That was the fun part of summer ball with Legion. We just played. At that stage everything was so pure. I would 100 percent recommend it.”

Additionally, several former Legion Baseball players were guests as MLB All-Star Legends, including Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Tim Raines, Dave Winfield and Rollie Fingers.

Verlander, Thome, Alomar, Winfield and Fingers are all finalists on the Fan-Voted American Legion Baseball All-Centennial Team, which will honor the greatest players from the first 100 years of The American Legion.

Fans can vote for their favorite players at

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Legion Centennial Ride to bisect the heart of America

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The American Legion’s 100th anniversary will be celebrated with an 1,875-mile motorcycle trek through the heart of the nation July 31-Aug. 4. The ride is organized and sponsored by six American Legion state departments between the Canada and Mexico borders, the American Legion Centennial Ride has 60 scheduled stops before the rendezvous point Aug. 4 in Great Bend, Kan.

The ride traverses U.S. Highway 281, which in 1960 was designated as the national American Legion Memorial Highway, passing through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

Two 30-rider teams will travel toward each other from the international borders with Mexico and Canada. Team Vision will bring one half of a centennial banner north from Pharr, Texas, beginning the afternoon of July 31 and Team Legacy will start its journey from the International Peace Park at the U.S. Canada border near Dunseith, N.D., the morning of Aug. 1.

On Aug. 4, the two halves of the banner will be fastened together in a ceremony at Great Bend, Kan. The assembled banner will be presented onstage at the 101st American Legion National Convention in late August in Indianapolis.

Along the way, the 30-member Centennial Ride teams – led by American Legion National Vice Commanders Jim Wallace from the north and Steve Sweet from the south – will visit posts and collect signatures from commanders on the route, as well as local government proclamations, resolutions and greetings from American Legion Family members. In Elgin, Okla., centennial riders will stop at Fort Sill National Cemetery to place a wreath to honor the fallen who are laid to rest there.

Live video updates will appear in American Legion national social media under the hashtag #centennialride2019 and on the organization’s national website at during the ride.

American Legion Family members from along the U.S. 281 corridor are invited to meet the riders at their stops along the way. The schedule of stops, subject to change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances, is as follows:

TEAM VISION (Texas-Oklahoma-Kansas)

July 31 (Pharr and Donna, Texas)

3 p.m. – Vermund G. Hanson Post 101, Pharr, Texas

4:10 p.m. – Border Post 107, Donna, Texas

Aug. 1 (Pharr to Blanco)

11:45 a.m. – Live Oak County Post 413, Three Rivers, Texas

2:15 p.m. – Post 375, San Antonio, Texas

3:45 p.m. – Memorial Highway Post 352, Blanco, Texas

Aug. 2 (Blanco to Wichita Falls)

10 a.m. – Lampasas Post 277, at Stripes, 105 S. Key Ave., Lampasas, Texas

11:30 a.m. – Cunningham Post 22, Hamilton, Texas

12:45 p.m. – Turnbow-Higgs Post 240, Stephenville, Texas

2:50 p.m. – Farris Anderson Post 75, Mineral Wells Post 75, Texas

4:50 p.m. – Pat Carrigan Post 120, Wichita Falls; Thomas Fowler Post 169, Wichita Falls; Green-Pierce Post 202, Wichita Falls; Smith-Alvis Post 584, Wichita Falls, Texas

Aug. 3 (Wichita Falls, Texas, to Alva, Okla.)

8:20 a.m. – Frye-Vaughn Post 264, Burkburnett, Texas

10:15 a.m. – Fort Sill National Cemetery, wreath-laying ceremony, Elgin, Okla.

11:30 a.m. – Anadarko Heritage Museum, 311 E. Main Street, Anadarko, Okla.

12:30 p.m. – Gilbert-Fossett Post 230, Hinton, Okla.

2:15 p.m. – Philip Clark Ashby Post 125, Watonga, Okla.

6 p.m. – Cherokee Strip Museum, Meyer-Sheil Post 92, Alva, Okla.

Aug. 4 (Hardtner, Kan., to Great Bend, Kan.)

9 a.m. – State Line Post 175, Hardtner, Kan.

10 a.m. – Barber County Post 69, Medicine Lodge, Kan.

11:10 a.m. – Cedric H. Shaw Post 86, Pratt, Kan.

12:10 p.m. – Courtney M. Long Post 53, St. John, Kan.

1:45 p.m. – Argonne Post 180, Great Bend, Kan., for rendezvous ceremony

TEAM LEGACY (North Dakota-South Dakota-Nebraska-Kansas)

Aug. 1 (Dunseith, N.D., to Ellendale, N.D.)

8:45 a.m. – International Peace Park

9 a.m. – Archie Jardine Post 185, Dunseith, N.D.

10:10 a.m. – Lilley Dionne Post 262, Belcourt, N.D.

12:05 p.m. – Hal Parker Post 79 in Cando. N.D.

2:10 p.m. – Gunnerud-Dietrich Post 86 in Minnewaukan, N.D.

3:10 p.m. – Raymond B. Thorn Post 30 in New Rockford, N.D.

4 p.m. – John Raymond O’Hara Post 25 in Carrington. N.D.

5:15 p.m. – Ernest DeNault Robertson Post 14 in Jamestown, N.D.

7:25 p.m. – Henry Parthie Post 146 in Edgeley, N.D.

8:25 p.m. – Herman-Schlinker Post 137 in Ellendale. N.D.

Aug. 2 (Frederick, S.D., to the Nebraska state line)

8:09 a.m. – Lynn G. Peterson Post 273 in Frederick, S.D.

9:08 a.m. – Sidney L. Smith Post 24 in Aberdeen. S.D.

9:53 a.m. – Rieck-Morgan Post 137 in Warner. S.D.

10:57 a.m. – Clay Kiser Post 92 in Redfield. S.D.

12:10 p.m. – Martin and Earl Hofemann Post 292, Tulare, S.D.

1:06 p.m. – Hershman-Gordon Post 59, Wolsey, S.D.

1:50 p.m. – Schmidt-Barnes Post 268, Virgil, S.D.

2:48 p.m. – John Willman Post 14, Wessington Springs, S.D.

3:54 p.m. – Goeres-Woods Post 5, Plankinton, S.D.

5:08 p.m. – Dittrick-Barrows-Noldner Post 26, Stickney, S.D.

5:51 p.m. – Everson-Beukelman Post 274, Corsica, S.D.

6:36 p.m. – McGrath-Ferguson Post 52, Armour, S.D.

7:36 p.m. – Fort Randall-Castle Post 282, Pickstown, S.D.

Aug. 3 (Spencer, Neb., to Red Cloud, Neb.)

9:15 a.m. – Luther Whidden Post 78, Spencer, Neb.

11:20 a.m. – Holt County Courthouse, Simonson Post 93, O’Neill, Neb.

12:20 p.m. – Wheeler County Courthouse, Post 107, Bartlett, Neb.

1:05 p.m. – Charles E. Martin Post 186, Greeley, Neb.

1:55 p.m. – Carl Mogensen Post 119, St. Paul, Neb.

3:50 p.m. – Grand Island Post 53, Grand Island, Neb.

4:35 p.m. – Doniphan Post 300, Doniphan, Neb.

5:25 p.m. – Hastings Post 11, Hastings, Neb.

6:20 p.m. – Central State Bank, Blue Hill, A.L. Shirley Post 176, Blue Hill, Neb.

7:15 p.m. – Red Cloud Community Center, Red Cloud Post 238, Red Cloud, Neb.

Aug. 4 (Nebraska border to Great Bend, Kan.)

8:30 a.m. – Gordon M. Brown Post 185, Lebanon, Kan.

9:45 a.m. – Osborne Post 49, Osborne, Kan.

10:40 a.m. – Rouner Post 309, Luray, Kan.

11:50 a.m. – William Roe Post 99, Russell, Kan.

1:20 p.m. – Hoisington Post 286, Hoisington, Kan.

2:05 p.m. – Argonne Post 180, Great Bend, Kan., for rendezvous ceremony

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Helping to end homelessness at the post level

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When Superstorm Sandy left parts of American Legion Post 107 in Hoboken, N.J., under more than six feet of water in 2012, the post’s members never doubted they’d somehow find a way to rebuild. But rebuilding turned into much more, starting as a vision and becoming a reality on July 8.

On that day, Tom Kennedy Post 107 members were joined by Legionnaires from all over New Jersey, local and national politicians and members of the community for the ribbon-cutting of what now is a new post home and six apartments for homeless veterans in Hoboken.

Thanks to donations, grants and other forms of support, a $3.2 million facility that houses Post 107’s facilities on the second floor will also include both fully furnished one-bedroom and studio apartments on Floors 3-5 that will house homeless veterans through vouchers provided through The Department of Housing and Urban Development. Each unit features a full kitchen and bathroom, and will be completely furnished.

“I think people appreciate the fact that there shouldn’t be veterans (who are) homeless,” Post 107 Commander John Carey said. “I’m very proud of what we did.”

Carey said that even right after Sandy “there was never a thought that we wouldn’t rebuild.” The problem was figuring out how to do it. Then we heard there was money out there for homeless veterans. Then we said ‘let’s explore that. Let’s take it and run with it.’ We ran it by the (post) members, and all the members were supportive. And we’re here today.”

The money Carey referenced was available through Monarch Housing Associates, a nonprofit that, among other missions, works with consumers, providers and family organizations to develop, manage and operate permanent, affordable and supportive housing for the homeless.

That money, along with more than $1 million raised through other sources, helped make the homeless veteran facility a reality. Helping lead the fundraising effort was Post 107 Finance Officer Mark Villamar, a Vietnam War Army veteran who has a background in development and accounting. Villamar was “the perfect candidate to head up the construction project,” Carey said.

“We’ve been working on this thing every day, month after month, year after year,” Villamar said. “It took a long time and a lot of people put in a lot of effort. Not only was there the construction side, but there’s the financial side of raising the money. We got money from the state, from the county, from cities, from individuals. We had to do all kinds of fundraising efforts to make the budget. And we have.”

The Hoboken Shelter will work with Post 107 to provide supportive services to apartments’ residents, with the goal of eventually moving them to their own housing situations. The shelter also will provide counseling, referrals to appropriate agencies, independent living skills training, employment and job readiness programming and other services.

Veterans will be charged a maximum of 30 percent of their income to live in the units in a city where the average apartment rent is $3,469, according to The facility was built with flood mitigation in mind so that a repeat of 2012 won’t happen.

Dozens showed up for the July 8 ribbon-cutting, during which Carey stressed the need to take care of those who choose to join the military once they return home.

“More than two dozen homeless veterans can be found here in Hoboken, searching for a place in the bitter winter or the driving rain. There will be six less homeless veterans on the benches of Hoboken,” Carey said. “Veterans have given us freedom, security and the greatest nation on earth. The least we can do is give them a roof over their heads. These men and women served our country and shouldn’t be on the streets. We have an obligation to take care of our veterans. It’s the least we can do.”

Carey took time to praise his post’s namesake, Marine veteran, longtime police officer and former Hoboken Director of Public Safety Tom Kennedy. “Tom was the glue that held this post together during the difficult years in Hoboken’s history,” he said. “I know Tom would be proud of the accomplishments the post has made in developing these six housing units for our homeless brothers and sisters.”

Carey also praised former Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer for her support, as well as representatives from Monarch Housing, the Hoboken Rotary and others. He also thanked Richard Turner, for 29 years the mayor of nearby Weehawken, for a $200,000 grant toward the project.

“I was asked why Weehawken would donate $200,000,” Turner said. “It’s because homelessness in general is not just one municipality’s problem and, in particular, veteran homelessness is not one municipality’s problem.”

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla was praised by Carey for his cooperation with the project – “We were able to save thousands of dollars because of his commitment to this project” – and for Hoboken officials involved with the project.

Bhalla said making the post’s vision a possibility happened because of cooperation. “The grand opening of The American Legion is the perfect example of what can happen when various levels of government really work together in partnership for a common and a noble cause,” he said. “I couldn’t think of a more noble cause than supporting our veterans. This was truly a partnership at all levels of government.”

Bhalla said that what Post 107 was able to accomplish working with the government and other entities “will be a model for the rest of the state, and even the country, of a successful partnership (between) The American Legion with various public and private partners. And it is my hope that this will successfully be replicated across New Jersey.”

Also in attendance was U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, who lives less than 20 miles from Hoboken. “The completion of this new (post) … is yet another milestone for Post 107’s storied history,” he said. “It’s going to make a difference in the lives of veterans.”

American Legion National Vice Commander Paul Spedaliere praised Post 107 for taking a different approach after Sandy struck. “Instead of rebuilding as a traditional post … the members came together to rebuild a post that not only benefits their membership, but helps a growing homeless veterans population in the inner city of Hoboken,” he said. “A line in our Preamble says ‘To inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation.’ It stands true today, as posts like 107 here in Hoboken begin their journeys into the Legion’s second century. May they inspire a new vision that is … built to serve Americans yet to come.”

New Jersey National Executive Committeeman Chuck Robbins said what Post 107 has accomplished “is all about what we do in our communities, our state and nation – and, most importantly, for our veterans.” And Past Department Commander Raymond Miller – who during his 2018-2019 tenure leading the state allocated $25,000 from his commander’s special project to Post 107’s mission – made it a point to praise Carey and his team for their efforts.

“These gentleman … raised over $3.2 million,” Miller said. “You’ve done one heck of a job, and you should be proud of yourself because I know the Department of New Jersey is.”

Department of New Jersey Commander Robert Newell said Post 107’s accomplishment has made an impact beyond just helping the homeless. “They’re bring in so many new folks into this post. It’s being rejuvenated,” he said. “That’s what we need to continue to do: Get people into the posts and let them see what we’re actually doing. This is one of the prime examples.”

Villamar said he hopes what Post 107 has accomplished can be duplicated across the country. “This is a template for how other American Legion posts can expand their mission to take of care of veteran and veteran families,” he said. "We have the unique advantage of having the experience of being in combat … so that we understand the pressures and stress that these soldiers have gone through. Generally, the homeless veteran does not like to associate with the general non-veteran homeless community – primarily because they don’t feel comfortable. They don’t want to be included in that group of people. I like to think that … our members will be extraordinarily helpful in getting the residents in this building on their feet and be productive members of society.”

Carey said the 99-year-old post’s next step is securing similar vouchers for the additional homeless veterans apartments the post hopes to add on to its current building – which Carey said was built with the idea of expansion to its right in mind. The goal, Carey said, is to add 18 additional units to the facility – an idea that already is garnering support. During his remarks, Menendez said, “As the senior Democrat on the (Senate Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development), I’m ready to support you in Round 2 so we can create more housing.”

Post 107 also received similar words of support from Hudson County Freeholder Anthony Romano Jr., whose county provided an $800,000 grant to building the six new apartments. “We vow … that we will work with Sen. Menendez to continue to get Phase 2 completed. This is not the end. This is the beginning.”

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USAA Tips: 7 tips for creating a purposeful 2nd career

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Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

There are three major categories of workers in the United States: (1) Employed, (2) Unemployed, and (3) Not in Labor Force. In the United States, the unemployment rate has fallen consistently for the past several years. The unemployment rate is low for nearly all military veteran groups; however, one statistic, the Not in Labor Force, is particularly high for older military veterans.

The Not in Labor Force metric is for people that are still of working age, not in school, not retired, not working, and not looking for work. For military veterans aged 55 to 64, continuing to work in the years prior to retirement greatly aids in an effective retirement and helps military veterans remain engaged in society.

Here are 7 tips for creating a purposeful second career:

  1. Find something you enjoy which provides purpose. Most military veterans miss the sense of camaraderie, focus and purpose the military provides. The military is only one possible career avenue that provides purpose. Teaching, public safety, federal service, civil service, local government, and entrepreneurship are other areas that allow people to work effectively as older workers and instill a sense of purpose. If you are in a job that does not provide the sense of purpose, then find something that does.

  2. Don’t work for a bad boss. We have all had a bad boss. Bad bosses isolate themselves, don’t share information, take the credit for hard work, do not coach employees to success, do not protect their team from executive anger, and seek every advantage for themselves and not their team. It is really difficult to outlast a bad boss. My advice, do not try. If you have a bad boss, leave the company or leave the boss for an internal job move.

  3. Take any opportunity for new training. Staying current on skills is critical. If you are offered training in leadership, new products, new software, new technology, or a new role that will force you to learn new skills, then take the role. Education is also your own responsibility so read the newspaper, industry journals, or anything else that will help you succeed.

  4. Teach the next generation leadership. Fulfilling a spoken or unspoken role to teach new employees leadership is a great way to stay and become inspired. Take the time to listen, observe, coach, mentor, and teach a new generation how to lead.

  5. Take initiative even in small things. Find ways to take the initiative and invent new ways to perform old tasks. The process of innovation, even in a seemingly simple task, builds and maintains initiative and interest in a job. Initiative is also a great way to be recognized by bosses and peers alike.

  6. Work with and motivate other veterans. Helping veterans is a great way to find purpose, motivation, display leadership, and help someone else who needs it. Veterans need help with resumes, networking, job applications, interviewing, and translating military skills to civilian use. Even if you only meet with a veteran one time and help them, you have made a big difference.

  7. Save, invest and reduce costs. Your last working years before retirement are critical to earn, reduce your costs, and save. In a sentence, you must earn, cut costs, and save simultaneously. Working just to spend more or working to not save does nothing to help prepare for your retirement. Retirement must be a time of low costs and moderate, controlled personal spending. Prepare for retirement by cost cutting, more saving, and earning.

If you are an older worker, stay working because the country, employers, and fellow employees need you. Find work that gives you purpose and find ways to contribute, take initiative, continue to learn, and teach others how to be good leaders.

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American Legion invites Martinsburg, W.Va., veterans to discuss VA care

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The American Legion invites all Martinsburg, W.Va., area veterans and their family members to a town hall meeting to discuss their VA care.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 22, at Martinsburg Moose Lodge 120, 201 Woodbury Avenue, Martinsburg, West Virginia 25404.

The town hall is one of many such events that The American Legion will conduct around the United States this year. The American Legion hosts these events to hear feedback from veterans about the quality of health care they receive at their local VA facilities.

Staff from The American Legion National Headquarters office in Washington, D.C., and American Legion Department of West Virginia, as well as representatives from VA and members of the West Virginia congressional delegation, will be in attendance.

The American Legion is scheduled to hold these remaining System Worth Saving site visits in 2019:

Aug 5 - 7 VA Illiana Health Care System, Danville, Ill.

Sep 23 - 25 Washington, DC VA Medical Center

Oct 22 -24 Lexington, VA Medical Center, Lexington, Ky.

Nov 4 - 6 Salisbury VA Medical Center, Salisbury, N.C.

Dec 2 - 4 Central Alabama VAHCS, Montgomery, Ala.

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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.