Veterans Benefits Information

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Veterans Benefits Information

Consolidated Post Reports available soon

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The Consolidated Post Report (CPR) was established in 1975 in order to assist departments in the documentation of the various activities a specific post has done during the twelve-month reporting period June 1, through May 31. The Consolidated Post Report may be the most important document your post will complete this year. Your post’s information, combined with that of other posts, is used when the national commander and others testify on Capitol Hill on behalf of all veterans. Each post has a story to tell, and when we speak collectively our strength is magnified. In January the blank CPR forms will be mailed to department headquarters for distribution to posts. A fillable PDF version of the form will be available at www.legion.org in March for post use. When using the paper form, send the original and one copy to your department headquarters by the date they specify. Keep the third copy for post records. You can also complete and submit your CPR information from myLegion.org using the online form. Make sure you have all your information ready, then simply sign-on and look for Consolidated Post Report under the “Post and Department” options. After completing the form, click on the “Submit” button to send the report to National Headquarters; a copy will automatically be sent to your department headquarters, as well. The online CPR form will be made available each year after the blank forms are distributed to the departments. Online submission will be available at myLegion.org through July 1, the cutoff date for receipt of forms at National Headquarters. The following is the letter from National Commander Fang A. Wong and his CPR Challenge sent to all department headquarters October 10, 2011: This past year we awarded seven plaques on stage in Minneapolis and mailed nine certificates to those department commanders who increased their Consolidated Post Report (CPR) reporting. We achieved a 60 percent reporting rate after counting all the CPRs we received. My challenge to you is to increase your response rate to at least 75 percent or reach a higher rate then you achieved in 2011. When I testified to Congress last month, I was only able to report the figures I had on hand from 8,334 posts. In a day when we have to fight for all we can from Congress, whether it is funding for the VA system, military pay for our troops or direct benefits for our local communities, it is imperative that we speak as one voice. The best, and at times most influential, way we can do that is when our posts let National Headquarters know what they are doing in their respective communities. If we had 75 percent participation from all our posts, the amount of influence we would have at the state and national levels would be greatly enhanced. In order to encourage increased reporting, I have instituted the following challenges and recognition to department leadership: • Plaque at National Convention for 95 percent-100 percent reporting • Certificates mailed for those that are over 75 percent reporting and show an increase in their response rate from 2011 • Publish Department Commander’s picture in The American Legion Dispatch for those in the 100 percent Club and 95 percent-99 percent Club In January 2012 the blank CPR forms will be mailed to your Department Headquarters for distribution to your respective posts. Enough will be provided for each post, plus 10 percent extra. Also, the Microsoft Word and Adobe pdf versions of the form will be provided for your posts to use, and will be available from the National web site. Additionally, if a post is utilizing the mylegion.org, they can submit their CPR directly through that method. If for some reason you may need more forms, or have questions, please contact David Elmore at (317) 630-1376 and he will assist you. I encourage you to convince your posts to submit a completed CPR form and send to Department Headquarters as soon as they become available. Remember, only posts submitting CPRs with information being reported will be accepted. Do not submit blank reports. All forms must be at National no later than July 6, 2012 for posting to the system. I need your help to increase the response rates so your great work in our communities is reflected appropriately. Thanks again and let’s do it together. Sincerely, Fang A. Wong, National Commander

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Where connections are made

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North Texas folks are serious about welcoming home America’s military heroes. Thousands of volunteer well-wishers have assembled at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport during the past seven years to greet troops returning from Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. Every day, more than 100 military heroes pass through Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on their way home for two weeks of rest and recuperation from deployment to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. DFW has assisted more than 1 million military men and women in transit since the first R&R flight arrived in November 2004. Army Lt. Col. Patrick McAfee, commander of the Army’s Dallas/Fort Worth Personnel Assistance Point since 2005, says the “Welcome a Hero” program couldn’t be better situated than in the heart of Texas at one of the nation’s busiest airports, surrounded by patriotic Americans. “I’m amazed every morning at the number of folks that line the pathway of returning troops,” McAfee says. “They are loud and proud. They are enthusiastic and sincere in their greetings. The Welcome Home A Hero program here at DFW is nothing short of inspiring. I can’t wait to get to work every morning.” Participants greeting the returning troops range from corporate executives to youth groups. Schools, civic organizations, churches and regular individuals also join in the greeting of troops in transit. “Elementary school children arrive with hand-painted signs,” McAfee said. “ Folks from The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other veterans service organizations are frequently in attendance waving small American flags and extending a hand to their active-duty counterparts. Folks run the gamut. Former President George Bush and his wife Laura were here last year to welcome home surprised troops.” The program would not be possible without the support of DFW and the North Texas Commission, McAfee said. “We are delighted to assist DFW International Airport with its greeting program for the troops returning for R&R,” said Mabrie Jackson, president and CEO of the North Texas Commission. “This is truly a regional effort of patriotic citizens wanting to show their support for our troops.” The airport has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars for office space for the R&R and USO program and waived more than $1 million in landing fees. DFW is one of only two R & R programs at airports in the United States; Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport is also part of the program. “DFW International Airport has been honored to receive the troops coming home,” said Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW. “We have been motivated to help these fine men and women in every way we can since July 2004 and have been coordinating with the other groups involved to ensure that volunteers can do what they do best. The ‘Welcome Home A Hero’ mission is second to none.”

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VA implementing spouse support line

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is implementing a telephone support program to help spouses of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans after a pilot telephone support program showed significant reduction in stress for the spouses. The spouse telephone support program, which is part of VA's Caregiver Support Program, builds spouses' ability to cope with the challenges that reintegration to civilian society can bring, helps them serve as a pillar of support for returning veterans, and eases the transition for families after deployments. Spouses in the pilot program reported decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety, with an increase in social support. Local caregiver support coordinators are available to assist veterans and their caregivers in understanding and applying for VA's many caregiver benefits. VA also has a website, www.caregiver.va.gov, with general information on spouse telephone support and other caregiver support programs available.

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VA home loan limits may drop

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Unless Congress moves quickly, limits for Department of Veterans Affairs home loans in America’s high-cost counties will soon be reduced. The American Legion is calling upon congressional representatives to make good on their commitment to ensure veterans and servicemembers have access to sustainable and affordable housing. If Congress doesn’t act before Dec. 31, limits for the VA Home Loan Guaranty program in high-cost counties will drop. “We worked long and hard, then saw a wave of support just before Veterans Day to pass a jobs bill for veterans and other related initiatives,” American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong said. “It’s a genuine disappointment to see that momentum fail, now that Veterans Day has passed.” VA loan limits for high-cost counties were raised in the wake of the financial crisis but are scheduled to roll back on Dec. 31, from $729,750 to $625,000 per applicant. A lower cap in high-cost markets means some military families will face untenable down payments that put home ownership beyond their reach. “Veterans returning from America’s longest war should have full access to the safest loan guarantee program in our nation,” Wong said. “These limits help level the playing field for military families who are stationed in costlier parts of the country, or who simply want to put down roots in communities they’ve come to call home.” Twice this fall, Congress included proposals to extend limits for VA loans – only to pull them from consideration later. The most recent occasion was in the VOW to Hire America’s Heroes Act, signed into law last week by President Obama. “The VA home loan program helps fund the law just signed by the president,” American Legion Legislative Division Director Tim Tetz said. “If we drop the loan limits, that may mean fewer veterans will apply for these loans, and thereby put programs to hire more veterans in jeopardy.” Tetz said that recently passed legislation to extend Federal Housing Authority (FHA) loan limits would do little to help most military borrowers in high-cost counties, where the minimum FHA down payment on a $650,000 home would be nearly $23,000. “The average VA borrower has less than $7,000 in assets, and 90 percent get their VA loans without any kind of down payment,” he said. American Legion Economic Division Director Joe Sharpe said thousands of veterans and active-duty servicemembers live in VA’s 140 high-cost counties, spread across 19 states and the District of Columbia. “We shouldn’t be forcing these individuals, who are middle-class Americans living in high-cost districts, to either make higher down payments or else use the FHA program,” he said. A tight credit climate has made the VA Home Loan Guaranty program even more important. VA loan volume has soared 135 percent since 2007. At the same time, these flexible, no-down-payment loans continue to exhibit the lowest rate of foreclosure of any major loan product on the market. “We urge Congress to keep its bargain with our nation’s veterans and extend these loan limits without delay,” Wong said. “We’ve asked so much of our veterans, especially the most recent generation. To reduce these limits is tantamount to a slap in the face for their sacrifices.”

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Hockey game to benefit Legacy fund

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On Dec. 3, the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and The Citadel will again face off for the fourth annual Military Classic of the South on Ice charity hockey game from which all proceeds benefit The American Legion Legacy Scholarship. The event takes place at the Raleigh (N.C.) Ice Plex at 4 p.m. (EST).

For the past three years, The American Legion Department of North Carolina has teamed with The Citadel and VMI to conduct the hockey game, which has raised more than $14,000 for the Legacy Scholarship. This year, the department hopes to raise enough money to surpass $20,000.

Tickets are $5 for children 18 and under, and $10 for adults. Click here for further game information and for details on how to donate.


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