Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Posts take advantage of Flag Rewards

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Last summer, American Legion Emblem Sales created an opportunity for posts to earn money for their programs and activities through the purchase of U.S. flags. Posts participating in the Flag Rewards program receive a 10-cent credit for each dollar spent on the purchase of American flags by the post or community members. The credit is good toward the future purchase of any Emblem Sales catalog item. 

The goal of the program is to make the Legion the primary source for communities to purchase their American flags, as well as to increase visibility of Legion members in their local neighborhoods and communities, increase contact with local businesses and civic leaders, and increase membership recruiting opportunities through contact with patriotic neighbors.

Posts are encouraged to spread the message that an American flag purchased from the Legion will give a direct financial benefit to the local post and help veterans serve their communities.

So far, 326 posts have earned more than $14,000 in Emblem Sales credit for 2012. Post 20 in Fort Gibson, Okla., has the highest total earned so far at $487, while Post 533 in Corinth, N.Y., is a close second at $424.

Post 20 Commander Tim Smith said the brunt of the flags purchased by his post have gone to line the post’s Trail of Honor leading into Fort Gibson National Cemetery. On federal holidays, and during burials for active-duty servicemembers killed in action, the trail is lined with U.S. flags.

“Five-hundred American flags line the roadway for almost two miles from the highway to the entrance of the Fort Gibson National Cemetery,” Smith said. “We raised almost $15,000 for the tribute, and we need to add about 150 more flags next year.”

Smith said the post has worked an arrangement with Fort Gibson to buy flags through the Legion; some 
businesses and the school district are considering a similar plan. 

Post 20 also encourages members of the community to display the flag, and conducts a drawing at high-school sporting events in which the prize is a home flag set.

Post 6 in Cheyenne, Wyo., has made several purchases through the Legion’s Flag Rewards program and has earned $240 so far. Many of those flags go to honor veterans in the community who have passed away.

“We purchase the small gravesite flags for placement on our veterans’ graves on Memorial Day and Veterans Day,” Post 6 Adjutant Herbert Walker said. “There are upwards of 3,000 gravesites in our cemetery.”
Walker said additional flag purchases are shared within the community.

“The small celebration flags we make available to our elementary schools for their programs,” he said. “We also include the coloring books and any other appropriate material we have. The larger flags we sell as a 
fundraiser for our programs. This has proven to be quite successful.”

Walker said that U.S. flags play a prominent role in Cheyenne. “We have Warren (Air Force Base) here, as well as the headquarters of the Wyoming National Guard,” he said. “There is quite an awareness of proper flag etiquette, so we are replacing many flags a year.”

Qualifying purchases in the program include those made by the post as well as by the post’s members, friends, 
neighbors, local schools and businesses that choose to sponsor the post by buying their flags from the Legion.

To participate, post adjutants can register their posts online. Post 
sponsorship forms are also available online.

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Acting Helps Soldier Cope With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Matthew Pennington has learned to live with the physical wounds of war, but a role as a soldier in a movie is helping him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Rules Liberalized for Veterans with Undiagnosed Illnesses

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Veterans of the Persian Gulf War with undiagnosed illnesses have an additional five years to qualify for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Stick to financial plan in 2012

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We’re rolling into the new year with high hopes that it will be a great one. We’ve already drafted our list of “money must-do’s” and encourage you to do the same. However, making that list is a far cry from seeing it through. With that in mind, we’ve come up with three practical tips to help your resolutions become reality and not roadkill.

Have a plan with a vision. Whether you’re intent on spending less, paying off debt or achieving another goal, you should have a written plan. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be obvious – tape it to the refrigerator, your closet door, or wherever it can be a constant reminder of your goals. Then create your personal vision of that success. Maybe it’s staring at your dream home, standing on the green, or just going to the mailbox with absolute certainty that nothing scary awaits. A little imagery can go a long way.

Reward yourself along the way, and report up. No matter the task, a singular focus without a break can spell disaster. You’ve been there before – a binge of sweets after weeks of dieting, or a shopping spree that sinks months of frugality. Instead, include some modest “atta boys” along the way. Got that first credit card paid off? Celebrate the success with dinner out with your spouse or a friend. In fact, your spouse or friend may make the ideal accountability partner. Whether you’re watching what you eat or trying to exercise more, knowing someone will be there to give you a pat on the back or a kick on the backside when you need one is helpful.

Set achievable goals. Be realistic. In many cases it may be a multiyear endeavor, but one of the quickest ways to ensure failure is to set goals that are nothing but a dream. That leads to feeling discouraged, and ultimately throwing in the towel. The only way to eat that elephant is one bite at a time.

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Comfort from a canine friend

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During The American Legion’s 2011 Fall Meetings, the Child Welfare Foundation awarded grants to 18 non-profit organizations that contribute to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of children. One recipient in particular was The American Legion Department of Arizona/Detachment of Arizona for their G.I. Josh Dog program.

The department received a $49,500 CWF grant for the start-up cost of the G.I. Josh Dog program kit, which features a stuffed dog wearing a camouflage bandana and a book titled, “I’ll Be O.K.” The furry dog is meant for small children to talk to and cuddle with for comfort when a parent is deployed. The dog can also be a topic of conversation when the servicemember calls or writes home. For example, the servicemember can ask his or her child “How is Josh? Is he being good? Is he keeping you company?”

Currently, Josh Dogs can be purchased online at But G.I. Josh Dogs, which will come with a camouflage bandana inside a box featuring The American Legion emblem, will soon be available for purchase exclusively through the Legion for $26 plus shipping and handling. In part, the arrangement was made possible by SAL members in Arizona who hatched the idea and have seen the program through to its completion.

Jeff Frain, Detachment of Arizona adjutant, came up with the G.I. Josh Dog concept about two years ago and since then, SAL members have raised enough funds to donate nearly 1,000 dogs to servicemembers during their deployment meetings.   

“The positive response from both the troops and their families regarding the G.I. Josh Dog is overwhelming,” said Jeff Frain, member of Squadron 27 and NECman of Arizona. “They are grateful that we care enough about their children’s well-being.”

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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.