Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Helping America to “Honor Veterans”

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It is well-known that U.S. servicemembers and veterans receive a great deal of satisfaction from simply being thanked for their service. But much more can be done for them than this. For decades, The American Legion has been at the forefront of helping all those who have served - including women veterans, wounded warriors, unemployed veterans and military families. And a new PR campaign will both promote to the American public at large what the Legion does, and draw that public in to help the Legion do even more.

The "Honor Veterans" initiative, which debuted to the National Executive Committee during Fall Meetings in Indianapolis earlier this month, was put together by the Public Relations staff at National Headquarters. Public service announcements (PSAs), talking about the special circumstances and needs of the four subgroups, call on viewers to visit a dedicated hub on the Legion's national website. The hub - - features information and Web links on how the Legion helps the subgroups; how members of the subgroups can help themselves, or get outside help; how the viewers can directly help the subgroups, such as by volunteering or writing to troops; and how viewers can help the Legion by donating to programs that help the subgroups, such as Operation Comfort Warriors and Temporary Financial Assistance.

Key to the success of this initiative is its wide distribution. The PSAs can be viewed on LegionTV and YouTube, and have been bundled onto the fall/winter edition of CABLEPAK, a collection of nonprofit PSAs that is distributed to many of the country's largest cable systems for airing. Legionnaires can do their part, as well. The Honor Veterans hub features embed codes for the four PSAs, enabling Legionnaires and posts to make them viewable on their own websites, those of other organizations that have given permission, and Facebook, as well as radio. The separate, complementary radio spots are directly accessible here. Each of the nine PSAs has two versions: one directing listeners to the hub, and the other with space at the end for an announcer to add a local tag line directing listeners to a local post.

Honor Veterans kits, which include instructions and the PSAs in physical form that can be given in person, are available from Public Relations. With Veterans Day coming up, post PR chairmen and all Legionnaires have a perfect opportunity to try to get the initiative introduced into every media market in the United States. Call (317) 630-1253 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information.

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2011 Veterans Day speech available

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A suggested Veterans Day speech, prepared by the Legion's Public Relations Division at National Headquarters, is available here  in PDF form, and is also available in Word format here. All patriotic-holiday speeches prepared by the PR Division are meant only as starting places, for members delivering a speech either publicly or just at the post to amend as they see fit, in whatever way they feel best relates the Legion's message to the audience.

Stay tuned for announcements of major Veterans Day events, as well as of Legion participation at these events. All posts are encouraged to upload recaps and photos of their Veterans Day celebrations, and other community activities, to the Legiontown USA blog. Legiontown is a place for Legionnaires to tell the stories of all the good they do, every day, and see how other Legionnaires across the country are doing the same.

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House passes COLA increase for qualified veterans

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The House of Representatives has passed the 2012 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for veterans receiving compensation for service-connected disabilities. The COLA also affects the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation of veterans who died as a result of service.

Although Congress has passed a COLA every year for veterans since 1976, there has not been an increase since 2009. The COLA is tied to the Consumer Price Index, which also adjusts benefits for Social Security recipients.

In May, the House passed H.R. 1407, the companion bill to S. 894, which was voted on today. The 3.6 percent COLA increase will go into effect on Dec. 1 once the legislation is signed into by law by the president.

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Supercommittee members hear from Legion

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On Nov. 2, 42 members of The American Legion met with the 12 senators and representatives who comprise the Joint Congressional Deficit Reduction Committee, commonly called the "supercommittee" to express the organization's views and concerns about the deficit reduction plan with it comes to matters of national security and veterans benefits.

"We brought their constituents to the members of the supercommittee as a lobbying force," said Tim Tetz, the Legion's Legislative Division director. "Legionnaires from each of the states represented by the committee members were here to, in effect, personalize the impact of any actions committee members might take on any of the issues that The American Legion is concerned about. These include possible cuts to the budgets of the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and any other measures that could weaken our national security."

Among the major concerns of The American Legion is the matter of "sequestration." If the bi-partisan supercommittee fails to reach agreement on the deficit reduction goals it has been charged with achieving by Nov. 23, the terms of last summer's federal budget deal require this action. It would mean, among other things, an automatic half a trillion dollars in cuts to the Defense Department alone. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently called the idea "mindless," saying sequestration would "do catastrophic damage to our military and its ability to protect the country."

Legion lobbyists agree, as former National Vice Commander William Schrier pointed out in his Washington State delegation's morning meeting with Sen. Patty Murray, the supercommittee co-chair. Schrier talked of the dramatically negative effects of sequestration, which would virtually freeze defense assets.

I know what you're concerned about," Murray responded. "If we are not able to come up with some kind of compromise, sequestration is going to be devastating. I completely understand the challenges. You know where my heart and soul is. I am fighting every day to make sure the men and women who have served us get the support and services that they deserve. You know I won't forget that."

Murray then politely excused herself to get back to her work with her supercommittee co-chair, Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas. About 90 minutes later, as Hensarling returned to his office, the Legion delegation from Texas awaited him. Past Department Commander Don Daft asked the congressman if progress was being made in negotiations among supercommittee members.

"Well, just relying on the public record," Hensarling replied. "You know that there are a number of members (who) want to make pretty strong cuts in our national defense. That's not a surprise to anybody. You've all had experience negotiating with somebody, so you know that sometimes they don't show all their cards or what their intentions are."

Daft asked if it was possible for the supercommittee to avoid a deadlock. "Oh, of course," Hensarling said. "Look, I'm not going to give up hope until midnight on the 22nd, since we have to report out on the 23rd."

Legion lobbying groups from Arizona, California, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Washington continued their Capitol Hill visits throughout the day.


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VA Receives 2011 Presidential Award for Environmentalism

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The Department of Veterans Affairs received a top award from the White House for its programs to protect the environment and conserve energy.

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Did you know?

Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request. This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family.