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Veterans Benefits Information

As Homelessness Plagues Los Angeles, Success Comes for Veterans

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In California’s biggest city, a nearly 400-acre campus with new housing represents one of the country’s most ambitious plans to address veteran homelessness.

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Love Letters From World War II Reveal Promises Made and Broken

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A museum in New Orleans dedicated to World War II has a vast collection of letters from soldiers, sailors and the women who loved them.

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Valentines let veterans know they're not forgotten

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Sixty patients at the Grand Island (Neb.) VA Medical Center were provided an early Valentine’s Day party, thanks to members of the Nebraska District 6 American Legion Family. Approximately 30 Legionnaires, Auxiliary members, American Legion Riders and Sons of the American Legion brought the party to the patients, extending what has been at least a five-year tradition.

Nebraska American Legion District 6 Auxiliary President Angie Foster, a member of Silver Creek Auxiliary Unit 263, said the district originally did something for the VAMC’s patients for St. Patrick’s Day, but realized there was a big gap between all of the Christmas activities for patients at the medical center and March, so they decided to do something earlier in the year.

“It lifts their spirits,” said Foster, a past unit president and current member of the Auxiliary’s National Poppy Committee. “Several of the patients there are rehabbing. Some of them have surgery in Omaha and are away from their families when they’re sent to Grand Island.”

The Valentine’s event is a District 6 Auxiliary project, but it incorporates the entire American Legion Family – something Foster said the district tries to make happen in everything it does. “In our district, everything is opened up to the Legion Family,” she said. “We have pushed to have everything for the Legion Family. And the veterans in the hospital, they like talking to fellow veterans.”

The medical center’s patients were given red heart-shaped balloons tied to “goody bags” consisting of cookies, crackers and candy. And members of different Junior Auxiliary units made Valentines that were given to the patients.

Patients at the Grand Island VAMC receive extended rehabilitation services, memory care, long-term care and hospice services. Ken Ward, a recreation therapist at the medical center, told the Grand Island Independent, “There are no words that can really describe the impact that events like this have for our veterans.”

It’s also a special day for the Legion Family members, especially after seeing the reaction from recipients of the Valentines. “They’re very surprised to see us coming down the halls,” Foster said. “They love it because somebody is remembering that they’re in (the medical center). I talked to a younger veteran who was in there. He’s from Florida and happened to be up here in Nebraska, and he was like, ‘I don’t have a Valentine this year.’ So he was like, ‘This is so nice.’

“There were several tears from the younger ones. They’re just kind of glad that somebody remembers them. And they love snacks.”


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Veterans Affairs, a Trump Signature Issue, Is Facing Turmoil Again

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The mysterious firing of the department’s deputy secretary was the latest incident to shake the agency as it embarks on ambitious changes to health care.

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Oxford calls for Americans to ask ‘What Would Lincoln Do?’

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Recalling the popular “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelets, American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford paraphrased those words during remarks at the 86th Annual President Abraham Lincoln Pilgrimage in Springfield, Ill., on Feb. 12.

“Now the Constitution prohibits having religious tests to hold office, but might I suggest that our elected leaders occasionally ask, ‘W.W.L.D. - What would Lincoln do?” Oxford said at a luncheon hosted by American Legion Post 32 in honor of the 16th president’s birthday. “As we look at the Global War on Terrorism, the threats represented by North Korea, China and Russia…as we look at domestic problems such as racism, drug abuse and polarization, we should all ask, ‘W.W.L.D. What would Lincoln do? In most cases, the answer would lead to a bold, morally correct and sensible solution.”

Earlier that morning, Oxford and American Legion Family leaders from several midwestern departments paid their respects by laying wreaths at Lincoln’s tomb. Oxford pointed out the challenges Lincoln faced not only in preserving the Union, but in lobbying for the 13th Amendment and authoring the Emancipation Proclamation.

“Until slavery was eliminated, there could never be civil rights and clearly not ALL men and, or, women, could be considered equal,” he said.

American Legion Auxiliary National President Nicole Clapp referenced Lincoln’s first inaugural address during her remarks at his tomb. “President Lincoln knew who his enemies were and what their objective was. Today the rules of engagement are constantly changing,” she said. “We are well aware that not everyone in the world wants to be friends of the United States. So it is our responsibility to maintain collective strength for our troops at home, abroad and always.”

The current mayor of Lincoln’s hometown compared the president to fallen servicemembers. “Like our veterans and military, who risk their lives for the belief in our country’s freedoms, Abraham Lincoln paid the ultimate sacrifice so we may live as one nation, under God and share in this freedom today,” Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said.

It was Lincoln’s promise made to veterans and their families that has become the motto of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The words, from Lincoln’s second inaugural address, were recalled by many speakers including Sons of the American Legion National Commander Clint Bolt. “Let us always live up to ideals and principles of President Lincoln so that we can continue to carry out his mission and that of The American Legion’s, ‘to care for him who shall have borne the battle,” Bolt said.

Oxford continued the theme. “Among other things, ‘we care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan’” Oxford added. “We do this not just because it’s right, but because it’s also necessary that our ‘government of the people, by people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’ Through the service of our brave men and women in uniform, it never will.”


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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.