Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Scouts prepare for 2013 jamboree

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Boy Scouts from across the country are anxiously counting down the days until July 15, 2013. On that day, they will embark on an outdoor adventure at The Summit Bechtel Family Reserve — the new permanent home of the National Scout Jamboree.

The Summit Bechtel Reserve, better known as "The Summit," is a former coal mining site located between Beckley and Glen Jean, W. Va., and is one of four facilities managed by the National Council of Boy Scouts of America (BSA). BSA expects nearly 40,000 Scouts and unit leaders to attend the 2013 jamboree, July 15-24, where their physical stamina will be put to the test by The Summit. BSA emphasizes to participating applicants that unlike prior jamboree locations, The Summit is a "physically demanding experience." So to ensure those attending are prepared for the rigorous challenge, they will be required to meet the jamboree’s physical fitness policy found here.

Meanwhile, for 10 days Boy Scouts’ will explore The Summit’s 10,600 acres by participating in an array of activities such as shooting sports, archery, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking and aquatics. Additionally, each Scout unit will participate in a service project held within a southern West Virginia community. The community service hours accumulated from the young men, and as many as 10,000 volunteers, is estimated to be 300,000.

For registration specifics, an overview of The Summit and extensive details about the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, visit And stay updated on jamboree news and events by becoming a fan of The Summit Bechtel Reserve Facebook page.

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California: Call for Veterans Agency Fixes Is Reversed

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A federal court on Monday reversed its demand that the Veterans Affairs Department overhaul its mental health care system.

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'Together Making a Difference'

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There was a lot of great information that came out of The American Legion Washington Conference back in February.

For the second year in a row, we had a women veterans panel in the afternoon session to discuss the many issues that female warriors deal with and male warriors do not. There were many other topics that were discussed, such as electronic access for veterans to check their benefits and health care, rural veteran’s health care, the caregivers program, the new PTS Coach phone app, the national cemeteries and veteran suicides. We are losing approximately 18 veterans a day to suicide. The veterans courts were again discussed regarding the need to have them in every state. And lastly, Laura Balun, national director for Veterans Affairs Volunteer Services (VAVS) with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spoke.

Balun spoke about all of the great work that The American Legion family does with VAVS, but that we still have a problem with what the SAL is reporting. The VA is reporting that we had less than 20,000 volunteer hours last year. We know this is incorrect because of our consolidated report forms at 35 percent stating we reported over 45,000 volunteer hours. We found a few things that could be the problem:

  1. The VA is not logging our hours in. If not, you need to check this especially if your VA is still logging hours the "old school" way, and you are signing in on paper and not on the VSS computer system. If you are logging in on a computer, is your information correct? The first time I logged in at my VAMC, my organization was listed as the VFW. So we need to make sure that the information is correct and that the organizations code is correct. The SAL code is 303 SOAL. If it is wrong, it needs to be corrected immediately.
  2. Not signing or logging in when you are volunteering.

These are just a few of the simple fixes that can be done to make sure our hours are getting reported.

In the middle of March, we went to Charleston, S.C., for the National Advisory Committee Meeting. The Sons are a voting member of this committee and the recommendations that are passed go directly to Secretary Shinseki for his endorsement. Some of the recommendations are that:

  • All national representatives/departments have email
  • The VA replaces the VSS
  • National representatives/departments have access to read-only reports
  • AJR’s form the VA’s VAVS website
  • The VA develops an online registration that will allow volunteers to register as a VAVS volunteer through an online system.

There were also many workshops this year, along with a representative/department training session. If your detachments can afford to send one of your reps or even your detachment VAR chairman, there is a lot of info that they can bring back to your state.

As we enter into May, we have the fifth annual National Veterans Assistance Day on May 19th. Based on our consolidated report form, our numbers keep going up in veterans and families assisted, and the hours and monies donated.

At the end of May, we have Memorial Day, the day when we Americans remember and honor those that served and died for this great country of ours. Traditional observance of Memorial Day has diminished over the years. Many Americans nowadays have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day. At many cemeteries, the graves of the fallen are increasingly ignored, neglected. Most people no longer remember the proper flag etiquette for the day. While there are towns and cities that still hold Memorial Day parades, many have not held a parade in decades. Some people think the day is for honoring any and all dead, and not just those fallen in service to our country.

So on May 28 at 3 p.m., take a moment while at a cookout, being with your friends and family, maybe you are one of the lucky few towns that still has a Memorial Day parade, but take a moment to remember and say a quick prayer for those who served and died for our country and for those serving today.

"Together Making a Difference"

Bruno "T" Williamson

National VA&R Chairman

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Aug. 24 is American Legion Family Night

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American Legion National Commander Fang Wong will throw out the first pitch during the Indianapolis Indians’ baseball game on August 24 at Victory Field. The pregame festivities are part of American Legion Family Night.

Legion family members have a chance to purchase box seats at a discount price of $12.50. Ticket buyers must create an Indians Account in order to purchase tickets.

For more information, click here and then Click on 2012 Convention Information.

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More than $263,000 in Veterans Cash lottery proceeds to help eight non-profits support Illinois veterans - Instant ticket responsible for more than $10 million in funds since 2006

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) today announced $263,633 in grants from Veterans’ Cash scratch-off lottery ticket sales to help eight non-profits deliver specialized programs and services for Illinois’ veterans.“The Veterans Cash instant ticket continues to directly impact the Illinois veteran community,” said IDVA Director Erica Borggren. “In the current fiscal year, 30 organizations have shared more than $1.4 million in proceeds from scratch-off ticket sales to provide direct services to struggling veterans.”

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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.