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Veterans Benefits Information

To Strengthen America, Episode 7: Children & Youth

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The American Legion’s legacy of support for young people of the nation is explored in Episode 7 of “To Strengthen a Nation.” In this video installment, titled “A Square Deal for Every Child,” hosts Lorna Duyn and Jeric Wilhelmsen recollect The American Legion’s early mission to support children left orphaned, or whose homes were disrupted, after World War I.

The video spotlights Emma Puschner, longtime American Legion Child Welfare Division director, who helped shape national policy to help young people in need, or at risk of juvenile delinquency. The episode tells of how the Legion’s Child Welfare Foundation was established through a generous donation from a World War II combat surgeon and the ways the Children & Youth pillar of The American Legion evolved to provide scholarships, financial assistance and volunteer help through the years, all programs that continue today to show how the organization continues to strengthen the nation, one child at a time.

All episodes of the documentary can be viewed on the LegionTV hub under the "To Strenghthen a Nation" playlist, or on The American Legion YouTube channel under the "To Strengthen a Nation" playlist.

 


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TFA application procedures with the coronavirus

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As a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, the need for financial assistance may increase. This need may be seen with The American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program.

Through TFA, The American Legion distributes one-time grants of up to $1,500 to eligible active-duty military and American Legion members in need. Grantees must have minor children in the home and the funds are designed to help meet the cost of shelter, food, utilities and health expenses so that children have a stable environment during a time of hardship.

Because the safety and well-being of American Legion members and the Legion Family is of the utmost importance, National Headquarters is asking that all TFA investigators suspend home investigations/site visits for TFA applicants during this time. While the home visit is an integral part of the TFA process, the following are other measures to validate and complete the investigation.

Make phone calls. A phone interview with an applicant can be conducted during this time. The applicant can provide documentation necessary to the TFA investigator via fax, or by sending scanned or photographed documents via email or text message.

Complete page 2 of the application. The American Legion is aware that some government offices or community organizations may be closed during this time. As a result it may be difficult to verify that all other forms of assistance have been exhausted. If government offices or community organizations that provide forms of assistance in your area are closed, please note that on page 2 of the TFA application form under the “reasons” section. It is important to complete all the boxes on page 2 which provide the status for seeking additional assistance in order to be considered a fully complete TFA grant application.

Verify financial impact. It is important to note that staying home from work or experiencing any type of quarantine does not necessarily mean that a household’s finances are being negatively impacted, or that a child’s basic needs cannot be met. For example, an employee may be taking paid time off while quarantining; the employer is supplementing financially with paid time off; or the employee may be telecommuting by working from home. For those applicants that are employed but whose work has been financially impacted due to issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, it is standard practice for employers to provide their employees a letter or some type of communication stating their company’s actions/intentions. That communication will typically include options that are available to the employee with regard to work scheduling, pay and/or benefits. This statement, along with an employee’s pay stub, may serve as verification of impacted wages.

This TFA guidance should be in place until such time that local authorities in your state and community have deemed the need for coronavirus prevention measures have passed.


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Financial relief options available for troops affected by coronavirus pandemic

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Quarantined soldiers facing financial hardship can apply for emergency loans online, according to Army Emergency Relief, which, along with other military aid organizations, is letting troops know about financial help for those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Thirty-six U.S. service members worldwide had tested positive for the coronavirus as of Tuesday, a Pentagon spokesman said, confirming that the cases among troops had doubled in just one day.

Army Emergency Relief on Saturday posted instructions on its website for those affected by the virus to submit online assistance requests.

“Every request is unique and considered on an individual basis. Some categories of assistance have dollar limits while others have requirements related to grants versus loans,” the organization states on its website.

Soldiers in need of assistance are encouraged to meet with their local Army Emergency Relief officer but those unable to do so can apply for help online.

“During COVID-19 restrictions, Soldiers and Families may be separated from the general population and may not have ‘face to face’ contact with Leaders and AER Staff to process an assistance application,” the website states.

The assistance is available for active-duty soldiers and eligible family members as well as retirees and reservists on continuous active duty for more than 30 days, according to the site.

For those in the Air Force, Airman and Family Readiness Centers have emergency essential staff who can administer assistance from the service’s Aid Society, the organization’s CEO, John Hopper Jr., said in comments reported Tuesday by the Military Times.

“A global pandemic will present challenges we have not yet imagined. The most important element about delivering support is the local commander,” he said, according to the report. “We will work with the folks on the ground to shape the infrastructure to fit their needs. Bottom line — we remain flexible, available and ready to assist to meet the needs of our airmen and their families.”

Sailors or Marines stranded due to travel restrictions, whose spouses may have lost income or who have increased medical co-pays can contact the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society for assistance.

“Nervous, anxious, uneasy … these are some of the feelings our sea service families are having as they consider how the coronavirus might impact them,” Dawn Cutler, the society’s CEO, said in a video posted to YouTube on Saturday.

Coast Guard Mutual Assistance posted details on its website Friday listing loans of up to $6,000 for service members whose spouses lose jobs due to the virus or who require childcare due to schools closing. Losses due to changed travel plans are not covered, the website states.

Members of The American Legion can receive 50 percent discounts on annual subscriptions to the Stars and Stripes digital platform of exclusive military news, topics of interest to veterans, special features, photos and other content, including the daily e-newspaper, job listings and history. American Legion members can subscribe for $19.99 a year by visiting legion.stripes.com and using the coupon code LEGIONSTRONG when filling out the online form.


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Nuntavong named executive director of Government and Veteran Affairs in Legion's DC office

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American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford announced the appointment of Chanin Nuntavong as the executive director of Government and Veteran Affairs in The American Legion’s Washington D.C. office this week. He previously served as director of the National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division, and deputy director of Media Relations.

Nuntavong has a long history of service to the country. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduating high school, and retired as a gunnery sergeant with more than 22 years of service.

While serving as a combat correspondent in the public affairs field, Nuntavong supported military assignments around the world including Kuwait, Iraq, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, Guadalcanal and Nepal. Notably, he served in the Pentagon as the official spokesperson and advisor to the 16th, 17th and 18th Sergeants Major of the Marine Corps.

His personal decorations include two Meritorious Service Medals, two Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and three Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Nuntavong is a member of American Legion Post 43 in Hollywood, Calif.; member of American Legion Auxiliary Post 364 in Woodbridge, Va.; executive board member of The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program; and representative member of the Department of Veterans Affairs Special Medical Advisory Group.

He earned his Bachelor of Science from Liberty University while on active duty. He currently resides in the Washington area with his wife and teenage children.

Oxford believes that Nuntavong is ready for the responsibilities of leading the nation's largest veterans service organization dedicated to the timely and compassionate delivery of benefits earned by U.S. military veterans. “I am pleased to announce the appointment of Chanin to this important position,” Oxford said. “Chanin had a successful career in the Marine Corps, specializing in the communications field. He is also a veteran of the Global War on Terrorism. Communicating with this generation of veterans is extremely important to The American Legion. Those currently serving in the military and those who recently served are the future of our organization.”

Under Nuntavong’s leadership, The American Legion is excited to continue advocating for veterans across the U.S. through diverse programs and member benefits.


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Post members can stay connected virtually in a social distancing time

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As businesses, restaurants and social establishments are temporarily closing their doors under the direction of governors and mayors to help prevent the risk of catching and spreading the coronavirus, many American Legion posts are being affected.

Communication with post members is still wanted and needed during this unknown time. And while phone calls with Buddy Checks are encouraged in order to see if members need anything, post meetings and socialization can still be conducted – virtually.

For the past several years, American Legion Post 269 in Patchogue, N.Y., has used the online conferencing service www.FreeConferenceCall.com to include all members in its monthly membership meeting. FreeConferenceCall.com is an audio, web and video conferencing service that’s free to users. Legionnaires create a user ID and password and then install the software on their computer desktop.

Post 269’s next monthly meeting is in early April. Even though Commander Jonathon Ralph is hopeful the meeting will be held as scheduled in the post home, “I am going to do a big push for members to utilize the video conferencing instead of attending in person,” he said. “And even though we have not had a large amount of usage, I am still a firm believer that we need to make this type of video conferencing available.”

Zoom.us is another online meeting program that has a free program, as well as WebEx, www.webex.com. There’s a monthly fee with WebEx; however, like FreeConferenceCall.com, the software provides a downloadable copy of the meeting after it’s over.

If your post membership is meeting virtually, whether if it's for a monthly meeting or camaraderie during this time of social separation, share on www.legiontown.org.

Also, any American Legion post and Legion Family members who have stepped up to assist others during the coronavirus pandemic are encouraged to share with us how you’re helping. Either upload your stories to www.legiontown.org or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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