Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

In Your Own Words

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Over the years, The American Legion Magazine Division has received thousands of submissions from readers wishing to see their original stories and creative work published in the national magazine. Due to space limitations, the vast majority of those submissions were turned down. Now readers have a national American Legion venue to shine.

"In Your Own Words" gives readers a platform to share their personal, creative and historical work, such as books, poetry, music, personal experiences and documentaries. The forum already contains several initial submissions, including Linda McCaffery's story of an Army doctor taken prisoner by the Japanese on the Bataan Peninsula and how his faith and love of a devoted wife never faltered through nearly four years of separation.

Author John O'Brien, a member of John J. Morris American Legion Post 62 in Peoria, Ariz., wrote "The Hardest Job in the U.S. Navy Seabees," which details the time line of his two tours of duty in Vietnam. The forum also includes a heart-warming documentary about Kaziah Hancock, who has painted more than 865 portraits of fallen troops from the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and has given them as gifts to their families.

The American Legion welcomes you to visit the forum, where you can view current submissions, make comments and submit work. Also, we welcome you to submit a brief biography and photo so visitors can know who made the submission. All work - text, photos, art, poetry, etc. - must be original. Participants can include links to web sites or blogs.

Opinions stated within the forum do not necessarily reflect the positions, resolutions or policies of The American Legion or its employees. Nor is their publication an endorsement of those opinions. It is simply a forum for members and others to share their materials. The Legion is not responsible for the content of external websites linked from the forum. Submissions are subject to an editorial review process that may include length reduction, cropping or rejection of submitted material if it is unsuitable. The American Legion, by constitution, also cannot endorse any political party or candidate. Submissions that are deemed inappropriate, unnecessarily inflammatory, offensive, vulgar or pornographic in nature will be rejected. Comments about submissions will also be subject to removal if they are deemed unsuitable by our editors.

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Ride honors fallen servicemember, aids OCW

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The Fallen Soldier
Don't weep for me
O'Land of the free
When it was my time to fall
"Twas my country's call
"Twas for the land that I loved,
That I gave my all
And for the land that I loved,
I did freely give
And in her freedom
And her courage
I'll continue to live
-Inscribed on Memorial for Cpl. Zachary Nordmeyer, Speedway, Ind.

Even after making the supreme sacrifice, Cpl. Zachary Nordmeyer continues to give. More than $5,500 was raised for The American Legion's Operation Comfort Warriors Aug. 6 as a result of the third annual Zachary Nordmeyer Memorial Ride.

Organized by Speedway, Ind., Post 500 American Legion Riders, the motorcycle ride included about 75 motorcycle enthusiasts and other people who wanted to pay respects to the first Legionnaire from the post to be killed in action as a result of the global war on terrorism.

The Riders received a police escort to Nordmeyer's grave, where a tribute that included a bugler, the playing of "Taps" and bagpipes was held. Next the Riders circumvented the outer roads of Indianapolis to American Legion Post 300, in Mooresville, Ind.

The first memorial ride in Nordmeyer's honor raised money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, and last year the Post 500 Riders donated $10,000 to OCW.

"We have had some other fundraisers in Zachary's honor," said Pat Phillips, director of the Post 500 Riders. "Combined with what we raised on this ride, our goal is to present Operation Comfort Warriors with at least $10,001. In other words, beat last year."

Operation Comfort Warriors provides gifts and recreational items to wounded warriors at U.S. military hospitals and warrior transition units around the world. Zachary' father, Michael Nordmeyer, personally distributed electronics, DVDs, backpacks and other gifts to hundreds of wounded warriors during an OCW visit to Camp Pendleton and Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego earlier this year.

"We chose to support Operation Comfort Warriors because it is a nonprofit, in which there are no administration fees taken out of donations," Michael Nordmeyer said. "We wanted 100 percent of the donations to go to supporting the wounded warriors, and being that this is a Legion program, it's a no-brainer."

He added that it's the type of program that Zachary would have supported.
Zachary, 21, and two other U.S. soldiers from his unit lost their lives while being engaged in a firefight with insurgents near Balad, Iraq, on Feb. 23, 2009. They were assigned to the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division from Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Nordmeyer's high school ROTC instructor shared fond memories with The Indianapolis Star shortly after his death. "There's quiet leadership, and he was pretty strong at that early," retired Marine Lt. Col. Dave Thompson said. "But by his senior year, he kind of came out of his shell. He wasn't afraid to encourage younger students to develop as cadets and do their best."

The other soldiers who died with Nordmeyer were Spc. Micheal B. Alleman of Logan, Utah; and Cpl. Michael L. Mayne of Burlington Flats, N.Y.

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2011 World Series field set

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After winning their respective regional tournaments, the field for The American Legion Baseball World Series has been set, and the teams are on their way to Shelby, N.C.

The following are the eight American Legion World Series teams:
• Northeast Division - Bedford, N.H., sponsored by Stevens-Buswell Post 54.
• Southeast Division - Gaffney, S.C.; sponsored by Post 109.
• Central Plains Division - Eden Prairie, Minn.; sponsored by Eden Prairie Baseball Association.
• Northwest Division - Waipahu, H.I., "Mauradeurs;" sponsored by Post 56.
• Mid-Atlantic Division - Brooklawn, N.J.; sponsored by Legion Post 72.
• Great Lakes Division - Midland, Mich., Berryhill Post 165.
• Mid-South Division - Tupelo, Miss., "49ers," sponsored by Post 49.
• Western Division - Las Vegas "Titans," sponsored by Nevada Youth Baseball Association.

World Series festivities kick off Thursday with a banquet dinner, along with a concert performance by Grammy winner Ronnie Dunn and special guest Colt Ford. Once games get under way, two other highly anticipated appearances include NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the 88 National Guard Car on Aug. 15, and American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car and driver Jerick Johnson on Aug. 11.

Games swing into action at 10 a.m. EDT on Aug. 12 at Keeter Stadium in Shelby with a game between Eden Prairie, Minn., and Midland, Mich.. But before the first pitch is thrown, fallen heroes from the eight teams' regions will be announced and honored. This is just one of the many ways the military and its servicemembers will be represented during the four-day event.

Follow the 2011 Legion Baseball World Series teams in action Aug. 12-16 live, and for free, on ESPN3. Fans can quickly access ESPN3 by visiting, where a direct link to the site is available, as well as a link to track games live, including play-by-play, score and stats.

Stay tuned to throughout the World Series for daily highlights and photos of each game.

Below is the broadcast schedule for all of this year's games (all times EDT).
• Aug. 12 - 10:00 a.m., Game 1: Central Plains vs. Great Lakes; 1 p.m., Western vs. Mid-South; 5 p.m., Northwest vs. Mid-Atlantic; 8 p.m., Southeast vs. Northeast
• Aug. 13 - Games at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 (match-ups to be determined)
• Aug. 14 - Games at 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
• Aug. 15 - Games at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
• Aug. 16 - Games at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. (if necessary)


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Entrepreneur mentoring fair set for Sept. 22

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The American Legion and other organizations are teaming up with Inc. magazine and Joining Forces to conduct an entrepreneur mentoring fair for veterans, servicemembers and their families. The Inc./Joining Forces Military Entrepreneurs Program will take place Sept. 22 in Washington, D.C.

Joining Forces is a national initiative led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to support the military community. The Inc./Joining Forces Military Entrepreneurs Program will help veterans, service members and their families start, run and grow their own business.

More than 50 prominent CEOs will participate as mentors for the day, providing insights and experience to participants about creating and running a successful business. In a speed-mentoring program, participants will meet one-on-one with two different CEOS to get their questions answered about growing their existing business or just getting started.

Inc. currently is accepting applications for the fair. There is no cost to apply or, if accepted, to participate in the fair. To apply, click here. All accepted applicants will be notified in early September, when they will receive detailed information on time and location for the fair.

Those interested in attending must submit a completed application by Aug. 26.


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IDVA to host “Helping Our Hometown Heroes” veterans benefits fair August 19th in Woodstock

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CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) is hosting a free Helping Our Hometown Heroes benefits fair for veterans on Friday, August 19th in Woodstock at the Woodstock Opera House (121 W. Van Buren St., Woodstock, 60098). The fair will bring federal, state and local agencies and organizations together in one location.

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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.