Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Leading candidate for national commander promotes Team 100

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If Brett Reistad of Virginia is elected during the national convention in Minneapolis to lead The American Legion as national commander, he will do so during the organization’s centennial year – 2018-2019. Reistad believes The American Legion’s centennial year is an opportunity to promote and educate communities nationwide about the organization’s history, four pillars, programs, and contributions to veterans and their families. To support this effort, Reistad’s national commander’s theme will be “Celebrating Our Legacy: Team 100.”

“I call on each and every one of you to play a role in our success. If we use the Team 100 concept effectively and everyone takes ownership, we can’t fail,” he said to attendees of The American Legion’s National Membership Workshop in Indianapolis on Aug. 11. “Remember that each of us are stakeholders in this great organization.”

Reistad said Team 100 includes every member of the American Legion Family who has the “talent and ability to guide our organization to achieve an increase in membership to begin our next 100 years. Eligible members are out there. Our role is to find them, to educate them about The American Legion, and to engage them, make them feel welcome and encourage them to participate.”

Reistad shared that during his campaign travels to American Legion departments, he met a Legionnaire in Montana that was a recruiter. “He came to me and said, ‘You know those future members are out there. They just need to be asked to be Legionnaires.’ And he’s absolutely right,” Reistad said.

“Success isn’t just about what you accomplished in your life. It’s about what you inspire others to do. I want to see us inspire each other. As a former grunt, I picked the infantry model, ‘Follow me.’ So follow me as we go forth to make history of our own. Team 100!”

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National convention events to be streamed live

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Several events surrounding the 100th National Convention of The American Legion in Minneapolis, Aug. 24-30, will be live streamed.

The events will be streamed live on The American Legion's National Headquarters Facebook page ( and YouTube page ( Viewers can also watch the events on The American Legion's website at All times listed are Eastern, and are tentative and/or subject to change.

Live stream coverage includes:

Color Guard Contest: Friday, Aug. 24, at 5 p.m.

Concert Band Contest: Saturday, Aug. 25, at 1 p.m.

Patriotic Memorial Service: Sunday, Aug. 26, at 11 a.m.

Convention General Sessions: Tuesday, Aug. 28, Wednesday, Aug. 29, and Thursday, Aug. 30, at 8:30 a.m.

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A chance to see 'the fruits of their labor'

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In 12 previous American Legion Legacy Runs, American Legion Riders have raised millions of dollars to provide college scholarships for the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, and – more recently – the children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher.

On this year’s ride, which leaves Hutchinson, Kan., on Aug. 19, Run participants will have an opportunity to meet two benefits of the Legion Riders’ hard work over the years.

At the Run stop in Onalaska, Wis., Legacy Scholarship recipient Ally Niven will meet up with the Riders at Post 336. On the next day, on the ride’s final stop in Anoka, Minn., Savannah Carlson will be at Post 102 awaiting the Riders’ arrival.

“It’s the fruits of their labor,” Legacy Run Chief Road Captain Bob Sussan said. “These guys and girls take vacation to do this ride. Many of them … have gone out of their way to raise money at home and bring it to the ride. I thought it was important for the Riders to actually see the fruits of their labor. They work so hard doing this. They read about (the recipients). But I wanted them to touch and feel and see a person.”

Niven, a student at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, received a $20,000 scholarship through the fund. Her father, Lee Niven, is a disabled post-9/11 Army veteran and a 20-year member of The American Legion. He belongs to Post 461 in Dunbar, Wis.

Carlson, who received $2,862 through the fund, is a student at Dakota County Technical College and is the daughter of Sgt. Lawrence Martin Carlson, who passed away November 2006 from an illness. Her mother, Karlyn – an Army veteran – will be at the post as well.

“All of this shows … what we do … as the Riders,” Sussan said. “The Riders have gotten behind something and have consistently stayed behind something and pushed it every year. That’s the Legacy Scholarship Fund.”

Along the ride – which will make stops in Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin before finishing up in Minnesota – participants will lay wreaths at various memorial and gravesites, visit points of interests, and have lunch and dinner breaks at American Legion posts.

Sussan also has worked with various local visitors bureaus to ensure the ride gets a nice welcome reception at its stops. And four Operation Comfort Warriors grants will be distributed at different locations during the course of the Run.

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Legacy Run 2018: Five things to know

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The 13th annual American Legion Legacy Run leaves Hutchinson, Kan., on Aug. 19, and will travel across three more states before arriving in Anoka, Minn., on Aug. 23. More than 520 participants have registered online for the 1,000-mile motorcycle ride that raises money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund.

This year’s ride will include wreath-laying ceremonies at veterans memorials, visits to historical sites and an opportunity for American Legion Riders to meet Legacy Scholarship recipients: the children of U.S. military personnel killed on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher.

Here are five highlights from this year’s ride.

• Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Corey Goodnature was killed on June 28, 2005, in eastern Afghanistan when his MH-47D helicopter was shot down by enemy fire while coming to the aid of a Navy SEALS team under intense fire in the mountains. All 16 servicemembers on board were killed. Goodnature is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Albert Lea, Minn., which is one of the stops on the ride. Legion Riders will join Goodnature’s parents, Don and Deb Goodnature, to lay a wreath at Corey’s grave and then have lunch together.

• In Austin, Minn., ride participants will lay a wreath at the grave of Jay Catherwood Hormel, the son of Hormel Foods founder George Hormel and one of the founders of The American Legion in Austin. Jay Hormel, a World War I veteran, became president of the company in 1929 and chairman of the board in 1946. It was his decision to relaunch Spam in 1936 with a big marketing campaign, and during World War II more than 150 million pounds of the canned meat were served to U.S. servicemembers. Nearly 2,000 of Hormel’s workers served in the U.S. military during World War II, and Hormel promised each of them a two-week paid vacation and a guarantee of a job after the war. “In any case, your old job will be here for you,” he wrote in an open letter to all of his employees. “The person who has taken your place will have to find the next best job.”

• Additional stops on the ride include the Polaris Industries’ Spirit Lake, Iowa, facility where Indian Motorcycles are manufactured; the Remington Nature Center in St. Joseph, Mo.; and the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial in Rochester, Minn.

• Seven of the eight American Legion posts where the Legacy Run will stop this year are centennial posts. Lysle Rishel Post 68 in Hutchinson, Kan.; Tirey J. Ford Post 21 in Independence, Mo.; James Edward Gray Post 100 in Maryville, Mo.; Glen Pedersen Post 1in Spencer, Iowa; Leo Carey Post 56 in Albert Lea, Minn.; Post 91 in Austin, Minn.; and Edward B. Cutter Inc. Post 102 in Anoka, Minn., all were chartered in 1919. The eighth post, Struck-Klandrud Post 336 in Onalaska, Wis., received its temporary charter in 1921.

• Four Operation Comfort Warriors grants will be given out during the ride: to the Kansas City VA Medical Center, the Sioux Falls VA Medical Center, the Tomah VA Medical Center, and to the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.

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Baseball, hockey games happening during national convention

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Those attending the national convention in Minneapolis have the opportunity to take in a professional baseball game and watch, for free, a hockey game involving wounded and disabled veterans.

American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan will throw out the first pitch Aug. 25 prior to the Minnesota Twins home game vs. the Oakland A's as part of Legion Family Night.

A limited number of field box seats and home place view seats still are available for purchase. To order tickets, call (800) 33-TWINS, hit 0 to reach an attendant and then mention The American Legion promotion. More information can be found here.

On Aug. 27, convention attendees are invited to watch the Minnesota Warriors Hockey exhibition game. The Minnesota Warriors Ice Hockey Program was created for wounded, injured or otherwise disabled veterans of the U.S military, in conjunction with the USA Disabled Hockey Program, in order to assist our veterans with reintegration into civilian life.

The game will take place at the University of Minnesota’s Ridder Arena. Admission is free. More information is available here.

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