Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Share your family's story of Legion leadership

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As The American Legion readies to kick off its 15-month Centennial Celebration, it is looking for stories of extraordinary Legion service by generations of families.

For example, we are looking for stories of multiple generations of family members who have served as commanders at the same post. Or spouses who are currently serving in post leadership roles. Perhaps a current member is serving in a post leadership role that was held earlier by other family members.

To share your family's story of American Legion service and leadership, please visit and select "Family History." Please also upload a photo. Submissions will be reviewed by an editor and considered for publication on the national website,, and in The American Legion Magazine.

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USAA Tips: Military leadership skills during times of chaotic change

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Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

Chaos exists when there is an enormous difference between what we expect and what we see. Chaos can be a business fighting for its life, a military experience, or a parent taking care of three toddlers by themselves over a long weekend.

The important thing to realize is that just because chaos exists does not mean you have to fall victim or even feel like a victim to a chaotic environment. Military skills help leaders at all levels adapt, adjust, and overcome chaos to achieve success.

Here are 5 ways to use military leadership skills to manage chaos:

  1. Lead by example in all things. Leaders must be their best when the situation is at the worst. Leadership by example is a time honored military tradition where a leader sets a positive example from the lowest level to the highest level of activities. Leadership by example is central during times of chaos because people want to see a leader who is still confident, engaged, working to solve problems, and visible for others to see and interact.

  2. Focus the organization on the top 2-3 greatest dangers. Leaders and organizations need to be incredibly focused on their greatest challenges and ensure the entire organization is focused on how to respond to those dangers. During the Apollo 13 lunar mission, an accident caused a life-threatening explosion that endangered the lives of three astronauts. The NASA command group based in Houston immediately assessed they now had two primary missions: (1) keep the astronauts alive and (2) return them safely to earth. During chaos, organizations need to get to their 2-3 primary missions and no more.

  3. Lead with sharing information in an open, frequent and honest approach. There is a tendency when things start to go wrong to reduce or stop sharing information. This is a natural leadership tendency because leaders do not want to be seen without all the necessary information. However, in times of chaos, leaders need to share more, be more open with information, and be visible and present during the information sharing process.

  4. Use the concept of commander’s intent. Commander’s intent is a military mission planning principle that works well in chaos. Commander’s intent is when a leader spells out precisely what success looks like and what the specific measures of success will be for the organization. Commander’s intent is vital during chaotic times because people want to know what they can do to ensure success even though chaos exists. When a leader talks about what success will be, then people know what they can do to act and initiative to guide their actions towards the organization’s success. Plans often fail, but commander’s intent picks up when plans fail to enable action and initiative towards the final goal.

  5. Focus on people. Continuing to focus on the well-being of people is an easily forgotten aspect of leadership during times of chaos. Leaders often focus solely on the problem and forget to focus on the individuals that will carry out the solution to the problem. In any organization, in any industry, and in any part of the world, it is people, not money, computers, data or resources, that are an organization’s most important resources. Chaos eventually subsides because people and their leaders rise to confront, solve, and overcome the challenges.

Chaos can be an ending or a new beginning to leaders, a team, and an organization. Leaders and organizations that truly adopt and utilize military leadership skills during times of chaos will find themselves successful and better for the harrowing experience.

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Legion, VA team up to share connected care info

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On June 7, The American Legion hosted a Twitter chat to share information on the Department of Veterans Affairs Connected Care program. The purpose was to provide veterans and their families with information on VA programs such as My HealtheVet, VA Telehealth video appointments using VA Video Connect, and more than two dozen mobile apps for veterans. Veterans Health Administration staff were available to answer questions about specific VA Connected Care programs.

A recap of the chat is below.

Question 1: When we hear the term VA Connected Care, what does that mean?

Answer 1: Connected Care expands patient care outside the walls of a medical center. At VA, connected care is about using technology to provide veterans with increased access to care and their health information. For more:

Q2: What does connected care mean for veterans?

A2: Think about the patient journey. We need many approaches to reach veterans including a telehealth strategy, a mobile strategy and a web strategy such as My HealtheVet. One solution won't fit all vets and that’s why connected care uses multiple approaches.

Q3: How does connected care address the quality of VA care?

A3: Connected care gives veterans increased access to a specialist across the nation. For example, TeleStroke connects veterans with VA’s top stroke experts no matter what VAMC the patient visits. Read more about how this works here


Q4: How does connected health care help rural and disabled veterans access their health care?

A4: Many veterans, especially in rural areas and those who are disabled may struggle to get to their medical center. Telehealth, such as video appointments, and mobile health apps allow veterans to manage their health from home between appts.

Q5: Can veterans use the mobile apps if they’re not being treated at VA?

A5: Yes, there are several mental health, health education and health tracking apps, like MOVE! Coach, that anyone can use. Apps that connect to the VA health record are only available to VA patients. Learn more:

Q6: Is the information shared in the apps safe & secure?

A6: (1/2) VA mobile apps do not automatically store personal health info on your devices. Apps that link to your electronic health record protect your data through encryption and secure user credentials.

A6: (2/2) To learn more about VA credentials, review VA Mobile’s secure logon information here:

Q7: What is My HealtheVet and how does it benefit veterans?

A7: My HealtheVet is VA’s online portal. Veterans can manage their health care, access health records, talk to providers via one logon and more. Learn more:

Q8: What are some My HealtheVet features that veterans should be aware of?

A8: (1/2) Through My HealtheVet, veterans can use Secure Messaging; review clinic visit notes; refill VA prescriptions; record diet, exercise and health info; schedule appointments, and more.

A8: (2/2) Online scheduling through My HealtheVet is available at more than 115 VA medical centers and associated clinics. Learn more:

Q9: You mentioned telehealth earlier, and we are starting to hear more about it as health care modernizes. What is telehealth?

A9: Telehealth is about changing how health care is delivered through video appointments, in-home technologies and more. It uses technology to connect veterans and care teams or specialists no matter where they are located.

Q10: How is VA making it easier for veterans to access telehealth?

A10: VA helped pass legislation to ensure VA providers can treat veterans no matter where they are located. VA wants to provide the option for veterans to shift care to the home and offer video appointments with VA providers.

Q11: How can veterans try video appointments with their doctors?

A11: Veterans can use VA Video Connect for video appointments. You will need an internet connection and a webcam or mobile device with a camera. Talk to your VA care team or facility about availability in your area.

Q12: How can veterans find out what VA Connected Care services are available to them?

A12: There are many ways! All veterans can use My HealtheVet. Mobile apps can be found at Telehealth services vary by location; contact your facility for information.

Q13: What is the future of Connected Care?

A13: It’s about using technology to connect #veterans with their health care teams and information. Connected Care will complement office visits, help veterans live healthier lives and make it easier to access care – improving the overall experience.

Additional questions asked during the chat

Q: I already have a myHealtheVet account. I use it all the time. How do I sign up to get video doctor appointment instead of the traditional one?

A: VA Video Connect is being rolled out. Contact your VA care team if it’s available locally. Secure Messaging on MyHealtheVet is a way to connect directly.

Q: There is at least one app only available for iPhone. Everyone else is relegated to web. Why isn't Android treated equally?

A: Most mobile apps are HTML so most devices are supported. When apps are out in iOS, an Android version is usually released or in development. We have 10 Android apps in the VA App Store. Visit & use the Android filter.

Q: Telehealth sounds great, but what about lab work & other things like x-rays are you still required to go to a VA medical center or can these things be handle through local providers in your area?

A: Video telehealth visits are often used when labs/x-rays aren’t needed. If necessary, labs/x-rays can be done at the closest VA facility when convenient.

Visit for more on VA’s connected care offerings.

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Military doctors conduct infectious diseases training in Panama

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PANAMA CITY, Panama — A team of U.S. military doctors, public health specialists and members of other career fields participated in infectious diseases training here, recently.

The training took place during Exercise New Horizons 2018, which is a joint training exercise where U.S. military members conduct training in civil engineer, medical and support services while benefiting the local community. The training consisted of briefings, lectures and a day of field study.

In collaboration with the Gorgas Institute, University of Panama and the Panamanian Ministry of Health, the team studied various diseases, the vectors that carry them and the ways Panama is combating the diseases.

“Infectious diseases are a huge issue for U.S. Southern Command when it thinks about force health protection in this region,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Neese, 346th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron commander. “We wanted to look at infectious diseases from the many different disciplines that come into it. Clinical medicine, preventative medicine, public health, laboratory specialties, expeditionary capabilities with aerospace medicine and collaboration with Global Health Specialists from the Navy. We brought all that together in this event.”

A team of U.S. Air Force members and biologists with the Gorgas Institute in Panama, check a rodent trap June in Meteti, Panama. The doctors were participating in an Emerging Infectious Diseases Training Event, in which they received informational lectures from Panamanian infectious disease experts and field studies of possible virus carrying wildlife and insects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)A team of U.S. Air Force members and biologists with the Gorgas Institute in Panama, check a rodent trap June in Meteti, Panama. The doctors were participating in an Emerging Infectious Diseases Training Event, in which they received informational lectures from Panamanian infectious disease experts and field studies of possible virus carrying wildlife and insects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dustin Mullen)

Lectures From Disease Experts

Throughout the week, the U.S. military doctors participated in lectures from Panamanian infectious disease experts and field studies of possible virus-carrying wildlife and insects.

Such training opportunities enable military doctors to expand their cross-cultural and global health knowledge.

“I have been really struck by the strategic importance of Panama in the United States’ biosecurity,” said Air Force Lt. Col. (Dr.) Heather Yun, 346 EMDOS infectious disease physician. “There are a lot of biological threats here in Central America or that try to come here from South America through human migration.”

Due to the geographic location of Panama, the importance the country places on controlling diseases greatly benefits the Unites States, as well as other Central American countries.

“Panamanian efforts to halt infectious disease transmission functions as a barrier for transmission of viruses such as yellow fever,” Yun said, noting Panama’s disease control methods. “If we didn’t have that kind of surveillance here, then the U.S. would be at increased risk of encroachment from a lot of vector-borne diseases.”

The agency leading the disease research efforts is the Gorgas Institute. Founded in 1929, this world-renowned organization’s mission is to promote public health and contribute to research and teaching for the benefit of the population.

“The first thing that strikes me about Panamanians is that they are extremely organized, particularly the Gorgas Institute, which is a jewel,” said Air Force Lt. Col Mark Breidenbaugh, 346 EMDOS entomologist. “They have quality people and are funded at a level where they can do the work they need to do. They are doing cutting-edge molecular biology so they can recognize genetic material in their samples and therefore recognize exactly what kind of virus they are working with.”

Working With Panamanian Doctors

Getting the opportunity to work with Panamanian doctors can better equip U.S. doctors to recognize and react to various tropical diseases.

“Anytime you go overseas to a different culture, different language and a different way of doing things, it only increases readiness,” Yun said. “Because of the assets they have here, there is a lot of direct translatability between what we do in the U.S. We are always looking for ways to collaborate on research projects.”

Beyond just tropical diseases, creating bonds between the different specialties and organizations can aid in future research.

“I am thankful to come down here and do this because I believe in the global health interactions we are doing,” Breidenbaugh said. “In one sense, we are all diplomats. We are representing our country on an individual basis. I have already had requests from Panamanians to put them in touch with certain researchers I know.”

Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

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The Wounds of the Drone Warrior

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Even soldiers who fight wars from a safe distance have found themselves traumatized. Could their injuries be moral ones?

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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.