Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

A Thanksgiving Day Message from the Secretary

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Thanksgiving is an American tradition that predates the U.S. Constitution by more than 100 years. It is an observance that binds us as Americans no matter our race, religion, or culture. It is a time when we reflect on our many blessings and give thanks for the bounty in our lives.

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VOW to Hire Heroes Act Information

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Congress passed, and the President has signed into law, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011. A new benefit for unemployed veterans.

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IDVA to host ‘Helping Our Hometown Heroes’ veterans benefits fair December 2nd in North Riverside

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CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) will be hosting a free Helping Our Hometown Heroes benefits fair for veterans on Friday, December 2nd at the North Riverside Commons, 2401 West Des Plaines Avenue, North Riverside, Ill. The fair will bring federal, state and local agencies and organizations together in one location.

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Legion scolds supercommittee

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American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong says he is “profoundly disappointed” that the bipartisan Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the so-called “supercommittee”) failed to reach an agreement to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.

“They were given an important job to do, and they failed,” Wong said. “What this means to the future of our military and our veterans remains to be seen, but the challenges have now intensified for those who believe in a strong national defense and want to protect the hard-earned benefits of veterans. We are profoundly disappointed in the work of this committee.”

The failure to reach an agreement triggers $1.2 trillion in budget cuts set to take effect in January 2013.  Among the reductions is an automatic $492 billion in defense spending.

In a letter to the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain, R-Ariz., Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the automatic cuts would roll back ground forces to pre-World War II levels, leave the Navy with a fleet the size of the one in the years before World War I, and reduce the Air Force to its smallest size ever.

“That may be the worst-case scenario, but it could certainly occur unless these automatic cuts are rolled back between now and 2013,” Wong said. “There is still time to avoid Panetta’s nightmare, but we need to use it wisely in pressuring our lawmakers to make sure the Department of Defense has adequate funding to do its vital job.”

The deadlock also triggers another $492 billion in federal cuts starting in 2013 from health, education, drug enforcement, national parks, agriculture programs and social programs.

“Even if VA is OK,  that doesn’t mean all veterans’ support programs are necessarily protected, because not all of them are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs,” American Legion Legislative Division Deputy Director Ian de Planque explained. In recent remarks to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, de Planque noted the vulnerability of veterans’ jobs and homeless programs within the Departments of Labor and  Housing and Urban Development.

“That,” said Tim Tetz, director of the Legion’s Legislative Division, “is another good reason to keep up strong post-supercommittee pressure on Congress. Restricting Labor and Housing and Urban Development efforts on behalf of veterans could really damage VA Secretary (Eric) Shinseki’s efforts to end homelessness among veterans, and even the president’s work to curtail veteran joblessness.”

“Because the supercommittee failed to do its job,” Wong said, “it is critically important for us to do ours as advocates. It is vitally important to the future of our nation that Congress does what it must to protect the safety of our nation and the rights of our veterans.”


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Murray Statement on President Obama's Signing of Landmark Veterans Employment Bill Into Law

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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray released the following statement after President Obama signed the “VOW to Hire Heroes Act” into law. This bipartisan, bicameral, comprehensive legislation would lower the rate of unemployment among our nation’s veterans.  It combines provisions of Senator Murray’s Hiring Heroes Act (S. 951; Report #112-36), Representative Jeff Miller’s Veterans Opportunity to Work Act (H.R. 2433; Report #112-242), and veterans’ tax credits into a comprehensive package that will aggressively attack the unacceptably high rate of veteran’s unemployment. 

“Today is a historic day in our efforts to support our veterans when they return home,” said Senator Murray. “This law helps our nation’s heroes translate the skills they learned in their service into careers, and gives employers even more incentive to hire our veterans. After crisscrossing my home state for more than two years, hearing the concerns from highly qualified veterans who struggle to find work, I am thrilled Congress was able to come together in a bipartisan manner and do right by these brave men and women. This is an example of how Congress can and should work - elected officials putting what’s best for the American people before politics or partisanship. I thank President Obama for signing such a critical bill into law and am glad to see our veterans finally get the employment assistance they deserve.”

VIDEO: Senator Murray “Vow to Hire Heroes Act” floor statement.

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