Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

New cabin to honor Gold Star families

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For more than 90 years veterans, military personnel and their families have been guests at the Department of Wisconsin’s Camp American Legion. Located on hundreds of acres along Big Carr, Little Tomahawk and Magrath lakes in the state’s Northwoods, the camp is open to any Wisconsin veteran or active-duty servicemember with a physician-documented physical or psychological illness, injury or disability; active-duty military returning from a deployment in the past nine months; and any surviving family of a servicemember killed in the past year.

Now an effort by Department of Wisconsin Commander Frank Kostka is geared toward permanently honoring that last group: Gold Star families. Kostka has made raising money to construct a Cabin for Families of the Fallen his commander’s project for nearly a year. Ground was broken on June 9 for the newest addition to Camp American Legion.

“This is my project,” Kostka said. “I wanted something to keep here in the state of Wisconsin to support our veterans. We, as the Wisconsin American Legion and the camp, support our fallen families. It’s important. And we have an environment up there at the camp that allows for the healing process.”

The cabin will feature two bedrooms and a full kitchen, and be handicap accessible. Gold Star families will have first consideration for use of the cabin. Kostka said an older cabin was started to wear out and was torn down; the space the cabin occupied will house the new cabin.

“We felt focusing on that one piece of property, that one lot where the cabin had to be taken down and destroyed because it was falling apart. And now we’re going to rebuild it,” Kostka said. “It’s kind of like you’re dealing with a Gold Star family that’s had these drastic things changing their whole life … but now they can be brought back up with this new cabin. It’s kind of a metaphor.”

Well over 1,000 veterans, military personnel and their families visit the camp annually. “We’ve talked to many veterans over the years, and being in that solitude and quiet in the Northwoods brings something to the table when it comes to healing in an individual veteran’s life or in a family’s life,” said Kostka, who began promoting Camp American Legion long before he was elected department commander. “I’ve encouraged Legionnaires to come to the camp. There’s many who have never been there. They’ve seen pictures of it, articles in the paper. We talk about it. But until you actually go there, put your feet on the ground and look at what’s there – at that point in time you realize what a great piece of property that we have and an asset to the organization.”

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10 common Q&As about the American flag

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Flag Day is June 14. American Legion posts around the country will host community celebrations or post ceremonies, and Pause for the Pledge at 7 p.m. EDT.

The Legion’s flag web page,, features resources such as flag FAQs, myths, flag-folding procedures and videos, and more. The following are a few common questions about the American flag. For more, visit the page.

Q: When was the U.S. flag created?

A: On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag. Today, the flag has 13 horizontal stripes that represent the colonies and 50 stars that represent the states. The color red “symbolizes hardiness and valor, white symbolizes purity and innocence, and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice,” according to

Q: When was Flag Day established?

A: In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day to commemorate the adoption of the U.S. flag on June 14, 1777.

Q: What is The American Legion’s role with the Flag Code?

A: The U.S. Flag Code establishes the rules for display and care of the American flag. On Flag Day in June 1923, The American Legion and representatives of 68 other patriotic, fraternal, civic and military organizations met in Washington, D.C., for the purpose of drafting a code of flag etiquette. The 77th Congress adopted the code as public law on June 22, 1942. Today, the Legion is at the forefront of efforts to pass a constitutional amendment to protect the U.S. flag from physical desecration.

Q: Are you required to destroy the flag if it touches the ground?

A: The Flag Code states that the flag should not touch anything beneath it, including the ground. This is stated to indicate that care should be exercised in the handling of the flag, to protect it from becoming soiled or damaged. You are not required to destroy the flag when this happens. As long as the flag remains suitable for display, you may continue to display the flag as a symbol of our great country.

Q: Can the flag be washed or dry-cleaned?

A: There are no provisions of the Flag Code that prohibit the washing or dry-cleaning of the flag. The decision would depend upon the type of material of the flag.

Q: Can a flag that has been used to cover a casket be used for any other proper display purpose?

A: A flag that has been used to cover a casket can be used for any proper display purpose, to include displaying it from a staff or flagpole.

Q: What should the position of the flag be when displayed from a staff in a post, public auditorium or other public meeting place, whether indoors or outdoors?

A: The flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church, public auditorium or meeting place, the flag should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the speaker’s right as he or she faces the audience. The staffed flag should always be placed to the right of the speaker without regard to a platform or floor level.

Q: When the flag is not flown from a staff, how should it be displayed?

A: It should be displayed vertically, whether indoors or out, and suspended so that its folds fall free as though the flag were staffed. The stripes may be displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, and the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right (that is, to the observer’s left). When displayed in a window of a home or a place of business, the flag should be displayed in the same way, that is with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.

Q: Who can authorize the flag to be flown at half-staff?

A: Only the president of the United States or the governor of the state may order the flag to be half-staffed, in accordance with Flag Code section 7(m).

Q: What happens to the state or POW flag when the U.S. flag is half-staffed?

A: The state flag, POW flag or any other flag or pennant in a display is lowered or removed when the flag is at half-staff. As indicated in the Flag Code, no flag or pennant should be placed above the flag of the United States.

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TALARC to have presence at national convention

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American Legion National Headquarters has asked TALARC members to staff a booth in the 2019 National Convention Exhibition Hall from Friday, Aug. 23, to Tuesday, Aug. 27, in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Planning is still underway, but we expect to have a need for volunteers to come and help at the Exhibition Hall and our K9TAL booth, answering questions about our great hobby to approximately 8,000 attendees. If you’d like to help (if even for a few hours) and meet Legion Family from all over the country, send a note to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Memorial service for ambush incident at JSA, Korea

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In mid-April, Col. Lewis L. Millett Post 38 Legionnaires Chris Vaia, Bill Beatty and Steve Tharp attended a memorial service at Joint Security Area (JSA) for four soldiers who were killed during an ambush on April 14, 1968, by North Korean soldiers. Two American soldiers and two South Korean soldiers of the United Nations Command (UNC) were killed. The North Korean soldiers ambushed a UNC truck transporting UNC relief guards to the JSA.

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Commander asks for support to pass LEGION Act

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The U.S. Senate has passed the LEGION Act, which still needs to be approved by the House of Representatives in order to extend the current recognized period of war back to Dec. 7, 1941. The American Legion is seeking such a designation for military members who served their country with honor but whose service fell in gaps between war eras.

“Today, we need your help in contacting your members in the House of Representatives,” American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad said. “The LEGION ACT (S. 504) would expand eligibility for membership in The American Legion. Your representative needs to encourage House leadership to bring the LEGION ACT (S. 504) to the floor for a vote, and to promise to vote for this legislation, to ensure all veterans are able to be recognized for their contributions and sacrifice in service to this country.”

The LEGION Act - Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service Act - was introduced Feb. 14 in the Senate by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and passed there by unanimous consent on June 11.

“The American Legion must continue to serve as a powerful voice for veterans in our nation’s capital,” Reistad said. “The power of our voice is only as strong as our membership allows us to be. Because The American Legion’s membership periods are congressionally chartered, the organization is prevented from expanding membership eligibility without an act of Congress. These acts expand membership eligibility to honorably discharged veterans that have served on federal orders in unrecognized times of war since World War II. Please reach out to your representative and ask them to pass S. 504.”

To contact your member of Congress, visit this link

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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