Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

A pattern of comfort and remembrance

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Sue Reich of Washington Depot, Conn., is president of the board of directors of the Quilts of Valor Foundation (QOVF), which has conducted communal quilt-making events at national American Legion meetings for several years. The completed quilts are then presented at a ceremony to “military touched by war,” in the foundation’s words.

Reich, a retired nurse, has been touched by war herself – she is the Gold Star Mother of Army Maj. Stephen Reich, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. She spoke with The American Legion ahead of bringing a selection of World War I quilts to Minneapolis for display in the Exhibit Hall during the 100th National Convention next week.

What is the relationship between the American Legion Family and Quilts of Valor?

The connection with The American Legion and quilts began with World War I. When the veterans of what was known as “The Great War” came home, they did not speak of the horrors of war. Instead, they told their wives, mothers and sweethearts about the poppy fields in bloom across France and the Low Countries. Women began to make poppy quilts to honor their service. Soon women’s auxiliaries of the Legion began making poppy quilts to raise monies for World War I veterans. Quilts of Valor also honors the service of “military touched by war, wrapping them in a quilt.” Just as American Legion Auxiliaries expressed gratitude through quilt-making, so does Quilts of Valor.

How long have you been part of the organization? Can you describe your current position?

I have been a part of Quilts of Valor for three years, serving on the foundation’s board of directors and currently as president of the board.

When did your interest in quilting start?

I learned to quilt as a child spending summers at my Grandmother Martin’s farmhouse in northwestern Pennsylvania. My current participation in quilt-making began after the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976. I am currently a quilt historian, writing nine quilt history books, including books about World War I quilts and World War ll quilts. I am also a Certified AQS Appraiser and NQA Trained Judge.

What differences do you see in historical quilts throughout the country, and what would account for it?

There are vast regional differences in quilt-making across the United States until the beginning of the 20th century. The differences become blurred from that time forward. Travel, communication and nationally published quilt patterns account for this meshing of quilt-making styles.

Historically, what has been the connection between the military and handmade objects like quilts?

Throughout our country’s history, women have been supplying our soldiers with quilts. Early on and up to the Civil War, quilts went directly to the battlefront. During World War I and World War ll, quilts were made to honor service and raise funds to directly to benefit the military.

In the presentations you’ve attended, what has been the most common reaction of recipients? Were you surprised by it?

At QOVF award ceremonies, the humbleness of veterans receiving quilts is the most touching aspect to me. None of them think they deserve a QOV, or they feel that their buddy should receive a quilt first.

How did your son’s life and death affect your relationship with quilting and/or the organization?

In 2005 when my son’s helicopter crashed, he knew I was researching and writing a book about World War ll quilts. During his deployments, the few times he was able to call he always inquired about my progress and research. Stephen was a World War ll aficionado. He studied the war in Europe. When he was stationed in Germany, he gave his sister and me a tour of Normandy, Sainte-Mère-Église and Pegasus Bridge. Stephen was my best fan.

What would be the easiest way for a Legion Family group to get a Quilts of Valor event (making, presenting or both) in their community?

Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . World War I or World War II quilts are also available for exhibit; contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Medical research and development take center stage at symposium

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FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Sharing scientific knowledge gained from military-unique medical research and development is the focus of the annual Military Health System Research Symposium, Aug. 20-23 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Medical Innovation for Warfighter Readiness: The Future Starts Now.”

 “MHSRS is the premier showcase for our research community,” said Dr. Terry Rauch, acting deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Health Readiness Policy and Oversight at the Defense Health Agency. 

“Attendees will be able to meet with colleagues from around the world in industry, academia, and across governments while learning about all of the new and exciting advancements in military medical research," said Rauch. 

Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, DHA director, and Thomas McCaffery, acting assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, are attending the symposium. They’re among approximately 3,000 others including military providers with deployment experience, research and academic scientists, and industry and international partners.

Biomedical research and development is a vital part of national security strategy, said Navy Rear Adm. Mary Riggs, DHA’s director of research and development. She said R&D leads to advances that ensure service members are better protected, better prepared, and better cared for as they execute their mission.

Topics covered during the symposium include combat casualty care, military operational medicine including psychological health and resilience, clinical and rehabilitative medicine, medical simulation and health information sciences, military infectious diseases, and radiation.. The Aug. 20 session includes the presentation of the 2018 MHSRS awards for Distinguished Service, individual research accomplishment, and outstanding research team.

Sean Biggerstaff, deputy director of DHA’s Research and Development directorate, said innovative breakthroughs are needed for maximum readiness in the future.

 “With appropriate processes in place, our organization can achieve these goals and provide interoperable products to the future force,” Biggerstaff said.

“Today’s development of efficient and effective military biomedical R&D processes will help speed the delivery of products and solutions in the future,” he said.

MHSRS is the premier military or civilian meeting that focuses specifically on the unique medical needs of warfighters, providing a collaborative setting for the exchange of information. Additional information about MHSRS is available here.

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Five American Legion-featured films to be screened at convention

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The American Legion has appeared in bit parts and had top billing in cinematic productions over the past century. In 1938, many major studios produced movies that featured the thriving new veterans organization.

A sampling of those movies and more will be featured during The American Legion's Centennial Film Festival, held in conjunction with national convention in Minneapolis.

The Centennial Film Festival on Monday, Aug. 27, will be held in Room 102, Sections A&B, Level One in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The following are the films, a brief description and start times:

9 a.m. "Sons of the Legion" (1938, Paramount, 60 minutes)

A young Donald O'Connor ("Singin' in the Rain") and William Frawley ("I Love Lucy") lead the cast of this drama/mystery about a pair of brothers who discover their father was dishonorably discharged and they are ineligible for membership in the Sons of The American Legion. But there's more to their father's story that meets the eye.

10:30 a.m. "Battle of Broadway" (1938, 20th Century Fox, 84 minutes)

Two Legionnaires, played by Victor McLaglen and Brian Donlevy, are ordered by their boss to break up a romance between his son and a showgirl while the pair is in New York for The American Legion convention. In the course of their misadventures, the friendly rivals get mixed up with a nightclub entertainer played by Gypsy Rose Lee, which is when the mayhem really begins.

1 p.m. "Hello Girls" (2018, 56 minutes)

A documentary film about the unsung female communication operators that were recruited and deployed to Europe during World War I. Contains rare historical footage and a segment including American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan.

2 p.m. "Hollywood Stadium Mystery" (1938, Republic, 53 minutes)

Partly filmed on location at American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, this mystery unfolds after a prize fighter is murdered before the opening-round bell sounds. District Attorney Bill Devons (Neil Hamilton) has little to go on and questions every spectator to solve the crime.

3 p.m. "Young Fugitives" (1938, Universal, 68 minutes)

Old Joel Bentham (Harry Davenport) is awarded $50,000 as the last surviving Civil War veteran and his formerly neglectful neighbors suddenly have a great interest in helping him spend it. Instead, Joel offers a home to a young woman (Dorothea Kent) forced to live a hobo life and Ray (Robert Wilcox), the wild grandson of a war comrade who has run up a debt with some gangsters. Ray has a change of heart from his intent to rob the old man, but fights a losing battle when the gangsters show up with their own plan. Just when all seems lost, a parade of Legionnaires save the day and everyone goes off to Chicago for a convention.

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USAA Tips: How to write a great business email

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Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

Even if you work in a small business or work for yourself, you probably receive an incredible amount of email. Email is fast, efficient, and effective, but, because it is all those things, it is incredibly easy to create a high workload that seems to be only email.

Here are some tips and recommendations to improve email communication, limit your email inbox size, and improve the quality of your email communication.

1. Use Easily Understood Headers in Your Subject. Using some easily understood headers in your subject line helps your recipients categorize and determine how to respond to your email and manage their own workload. Use this as examples to get you started:

  • For Information

  • Input Needed

  • Project Update

  • Customer Problem

  • Decision Required

  • Personnel Issue

  • Success Story

  • Exception to Policy

  • New Product / Service / Innovation Idea

  • Question from Senior Leader

These are just a sample to get you started. The use of easily understood and non-abbreviated headers helps people manage their own email which then helps you manage your email inbox. Finally, create a cheat sheet of these subject lines in the cover of your notebook.

2. Follow A Precise Format for Different Message Types. Standard headers are just the first step for improved efficiency. Next, create a consistent format for your messages that employs header numbers, header abbreviations, and strategic spacing. This format will make your messages easier to read, easier to follow, and, vitally important, easier to read on a smart device. Follow this standard email message format as a starting point.

  • Background

  • Facts & Statistics Bearing on The Problem

  • Other Senior Leader Feedback

  • Issue Timeline (If required)

  • Customer Feedback

  • Recommendation

  • Approval Required by This Date

Use bold type and spacing within the message to make it easier to read on a mobile device. Over time, the use of a standard format makes it easier for others to quickly read and respond to your messages.

3. Store Your Message Types in Different Signature Formats. Use your email program’s signature settings to store this format for consistency and ease of use. Some messages may require all, some, or none of these headers. Storing different versions of these headers is a quick, consistent, and easy way to make sure that you retain and follow the format. If you write lots of messages from your smartphone, then store 10-12 template messages with your preferred format in your “Draft” file folder for ease of use.

4. Help Your Boss & Team Adopt a Format. Getting your boss on board to using a standard format may be a challenge, but they will see the benefit immediately. This is a great way to help “manage up” to your boss and help create more effective team communication.

5. Use A Survey to Gather Feedback from A Large Group. Receiving consistent and easily actionable feedback from a large group is a consistent problem in email. Use of a survey is the best way to gather feedback that allows team members to answer quickly, input issues, and then allow easy incorporation of feedback to the team’s project.

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Legion post supports troops, raises awareness about their mission

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When he deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, in April of this year, U.S. Air Force 1st Sgt. Robert Donald Wyman had a conversation with his command staff about the perception that the U.S. public doesn’t realize just how many U.S. servicemembers are still deployed to Afghanistan.

So Robert, a member of American Legion Post 1799 in Haymarket, Va., reached out to his father Bob, also a member of Post 1799. That conversation led to what has become a partnership between the post and Robert’s 455th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron (ECES).

“He suggested to me that perhaps our American Legion post could help in that issue,” Bob Wyman said of his son. “It’s a two-way street, in a sense that the folks in the squadron would benefit from any effort that increased public awareness back here in the United States. And of course The American Legion would benefit from having an opportunity to assist our personnel in uniform.”

Post 1799 now provides various support services to the 455th ECES, which provides civil engineer support for the entire airbase. The Legion effort started with something as simple as providing 100 pocket U.S. Constitutions to the squadron to be used to better explain the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

“After that, it was ‘What can we provide?’ in a still-challenging deployment,” said Bob, a past Post 1779 adjutant and vice commander who serves as chairman of the support program.

The post asked if the squadron would want magazines; the answer was yes, with a focus on history, military topics and outdoor activities such as hiking – “something they cannot do there,” Bob said. “So we’ve had an ongoing collection effort … consisting of printed materials.”

From there, Post 1799 reached out to the Battlefield High School Junior ROTC program, which also is collecting magazines. The JROTC students also sent over videos of the cadets delivering greetings and thanks to the squadron members. And recently, a local preschool that had seen a news release about Post 1799’s program will now send greeting cards and videos of the young children singing to the 455th ECES.

“These airmen over there are brothers, fathers, sisters and mothers,” Bob said. “They’ll all appreciate the information from the little kids, we believe.”

In speaking with his son, Bob said the reaction from the squadron has been very positive. “They certainly appreciated those videos from the high school junior ROTC cadets,” Bob said. “And they like the ongoing printed materials. It’s a distraction that clearly gives them a link back to the states. It’s a matter of bringing public awareness to this.”

Bob encourages other Legion posts who are interested in starting a similar support program to either visit Post 1779’s website or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Did you know?

The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at