Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Legion Baseball registration open for 2020 season

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Registration for the 2020 season of American Legion Baseball is open, along with the purchase of insurance. There is an overall decrease of 14 percent in insurance premiums from last season.

Register online at

The early deadline for registration is May 15. Teams registered after May 15 will be subject to a $200 late fee through the final deadline of June 1. Please note that each American Legion department may set an earlier deadline for registration.

Registration fees for senior teams is $50 for national registration, $35 for administrative fees and either $200 for season personal accident or $130 for year-round coverage. General liability costs is $104.

Fees for junior teams is $25 for national registration, $35 for administrative fees and either $160 for season personal accident or $110 for year-round coverage. General liability costs is $71.

State fees, if applicable, will vary by state.

To learn more about your specific department’s state fees and deadlines, contact your department chairmen.

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American Legion looking for National Oratorical Contest volunteers

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The American Legion is looking for volunteers to help with the 2020 National High School Oratorical Contest Finals in Indianapolis, April 18-19.

The contest is held is at the Wyndham Indianapolis West hotel, where more than 50 youth from across the country deliver a speech on the U.S. Constitution. The top three finalists will compete for $52,000 in scholarships.

Volunteers will be provided with specific contest details, a job responsibility and training. All expenses related to volunteering with the contest, such as travel, housing and food, are paid for by the volunteer.

To volunteer, fill out the form online here.

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Friendly wager results in donation to Child Welfare Foundation

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The offer of a friendly Twitter wager on the NFL playoffs will result in a nice donation to The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation (CWF).

In the day’s leading up to the Seattle-Green Bay game in the NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs, the American Legion Department of Washington’s Twitter account (@WALegionMembers) proposed a bet to the Department of Wisconsin’s account (@WIlegion). The losing team’s department would make a donation to the CWF, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations for projects that contribute to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual welfare of children.

Green Bay won 28-23, and the Department of Washington was good to its word, tweeting out “Our word is our bond. Even though the #Seahawks lost and @WIlegion didn't take our bet, @WALegionMembers will make a $230 ($10 per each @Seahawks points) donation to @americanlegion Child Welfare Foundation on behalf of @walegionCDR for Natl CDR Oxford.”

The department later tweeted out a picture of a check for $230 that was sent to National Headquarters. And the morning after the game, Twitter user K. Rudolph (@scientwest) responded to Washington’s account, stating that Wisconsin Legionnaires “will match your donation with $280 for the #GoPackGo win.”

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Veteran homelessness reaches 10-year low, but unused housing vouchers could help more vets

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Housing and veterans officials told House lawmakers Tuesday that the veteran homeless rate has dropped to a 10-year low as thousands of federal vouchers that could help get more veterans off the streets went unused.

“There are so many unused vouchers and so many homeless veterans remaining,” Keith Harris, the national director of clinical operations for Veterans Health Administration, said Tuesday during a House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing on veteran homelessness.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development reported last week that the homelessness rate among veterans is at a 10-year low, as overall homelessness increased across the country. Some lawmakers and Department of Veterans Affairs officials have largely credited the decrease to the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, which helps veterans with rental assistance and VA support services.

Harris said more than 800,000 veterans and their families have used the HUD-VASH program since 2010, calling it one of the “most important resources for ending veteran homelessness” and saying the collaboration between nonprofits and multiple state and federal agencies makes eliminating veteran homelessness an attainable goal.

Nationally, the homeless population is up 3%, which HUD attributes to a ballooning crisis in California where homelessness increased 21% between 2018 and 2019. But the number of homeless veterans in the United States is down to 37,000, according to HUD. This is a decrease of 2% in the last year and a 50% decrease since 2010, said Hunter Kurtz, assistant secretary for Public and Indian Housing for HUD. Last year, about 8% of the homeless population were veterans.

But the program intended to help veterans find a place to live isn’t being used by thousands of potentially eligible former service members due to a lack of VA staff and skyrocketing costs of living in some parts of the country, according to Harris.

“One homeless veteran is one too many,” Rep. Mike Levin, D-Calif., said during the hearing. “Right now we are not good enough at identifying at-risk veterans and connecting them with services before they become homeless.”

The HUD-VASH program has more than 100,000 vouchers issued nationally right now, but 11,000 are not being used by a veteran. Of the 37,000 homeless former service members, nearly one-third of them can possibly find subsidized housing.

A roadblock with vouchers for some veterans is skyrocketing costs of living in some parts of the country, specifically urban areas, according to Harris.

“All over the country the vouchers are just not enough,” said Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla. “Veterans are having a hard time because it’s just not enough and they’re having a hard time paying for things like electricity. We’re very fortunate to have nonprofits kick-in.”

Harris said HUD is working to increase the number of federal subsidized living spaces, put a ceiling on rising rents and make the vouchers more useful. He also pointed to the VA being short staffed with case managers, which the department is seeking new ways to process homeless case work such as using contractors.

“One critical strategy [to ending veteran homelessness] is increasing the number of case managers,” Harris said. “Along with the lack of affordable housing, the lack of case workers is unquestionably the great limiting factors in voucher utilization.”

Members of The American Legion can receive 50 percent discounts on annual subscriptions to the Stars and Stripes digital platform of exclusive military news, topics of interest to veterans, special features, photos and other content, including the daily e-newspaper, job listings and history. American Legion members can subscribe for $19.99 a year by visiting and using the coupon code LEGIONSTRONG when filling out the online form.

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Assistance to be offered to New Jersey veterans

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Department of New Jersey Legionnaires are conducting a district revitalization and veterans outreach effort Jan. 24-26 in and around Ocean County. Legionnaires will be on hand to discuss veterans benefits, the Legion’s legislative efforts, membership opportunities and service to the community.

The effort will take place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. all three days at George P. Vanderveer American Legion Post 129, 2025 Church Road, Toms River.

A veterans service officer will be available all three days to discuss claims and other Department of Veterans Affairs benefits-related questions.

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