Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Palm Springs Post 519's Hollywood history

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My name is Lee Wilson Jr. and I am the historian for Palm Springs (Calif.) Owen Coffman Post 519. I teach world and U.S. history nearby at Cathedral City High School, and spend a lot of my free time in the summer working on my Fallen Heroes project and Post 519 history stuff. Over the years I've begun to organize our collection of memorabilia. I've found bits and pieces of past radio shows from our post; however, this summer, with the help of our post's amateur radio president Tom McLean, we've been able to definitively prove our most illustrious "Hollywood" history. Post 519 was dedicated on Jan. 3, 1948. I learned that celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Mickey Rooney did fundraisers for our construction. But Tom and I also learned that radio engineers from NBC helped construct our now fully-restored radio room, and between 1948-1954, during the twilight era of radio, dozens of national radio broadcasts were played from the Palm Springs American Legion post! In fact, you might say that Al Jolson and Jack Benny ran the place! Our first celebrity broadcast was with Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna for a Shriners fundraiser. Later, Jolson brought Judy Garland, Groucho Marx, Cary Grant, pianist Oscar Levant, Doris Day, Lou Bring and his orchestra, and Larry Parks (who played Al Jolson in the title film). Benny brought his regular crew of Mary Livingston, Mel Blanc, Frank Fontaine, Dennis Day and even Bing Crosby! Former movie star/tennis star/Palm Springs Mayor Charles Farrell and his wife Gail Storm did "Murder at the Racquet Club" featuring Benny, Dennis and Academy Award winner Paul Lukas. Ralph Edward broadcast "Truth or Consequences," and the G.I. Chorus played a show. I learned most of this from scouring the now-online digitized editions of our local paper, the Desert Sun. We have lots of rumors that Frank Sinatra used to swing by after playing golf across the street and do impromptu shows; unfortunately, I haven't been able to verify. Our stage still has our original 1905 Steinway piano, a gift from our local Girl Scout troop in 1947, which was used for these radio shows! Tom has also spent a lot of time restoring our radio room and rediscovering our old but original equipment. We invite you to come by sometime and check out our "Hollywood" history!

[See more pictures on Legiontown.]

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Woman Trying to End Sexual Assault at V.A. Centers Says She Is Attacked in One

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“He pressed his entire body against mine,” said Andrea Goldstein, a staff member for the House veterans committee, and he said, “You look like you could use a good time.”

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100th anniversary Legion coin series raffled at district, post level

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A few weeks ago we asked for Legionnaires to submit how their department, district or post is conducting a giveaway of The American Legion's 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin for recruiting efforts, as a fundraiser for programs that support youth or veterans and their families, or for achieving post goals with membership. The following are ways districts and posts are promoting the coin series for membership and program growth.

- Department of Louisiana District 1 (28 Legion posts) is selling $1 raffle tickets to win the three coin proof set. Donations from the raffle will support American Legion children and youth programs and the Special Olympics.

- Department of California District 16 2nd Vice Commander Greg Somers said District 6 and 16 is selling 200 raffle tickets at $5 apiece where the lucky winner will win the silver coin. The districts will have another fundraiser starting in January 2020 to win the gold coin. Tickets for the gold coin will be $10 apiece and no more than 200 tickets sold.

- Clare Sullivan of Post 5 in Seward, Alaska, said the coin series was advertised in the post's newsletter "to encourage purchasing." The post also is purchasing a three coin proof set as a raffle.

- Jim Archie of Post 431 in Gowrie, Iowa, said the post is having a raffle of the three coin proof set during its centennial celebration.

To purchase The American Legion coins or for additional information about the series, please visit

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American Legion grants connect military families, support art therapy

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Last year, the American Legion's Child Welfare Foundation (CWF) awarded $766,761 in grants to 24 nonprofits. Two of the grant recipients attended The American Legion’s National Children & Youth Conference in Indianapolis Sept. 22 to share their appreciation.

United Through Reading has connected military families who are separated for deployment or military assignment for the past 30 years by providing a bonding experience of shared story time. United Through Reading allows servicemembers to be video recorded at one of the 200 United Through Reading Story Stations around the world reading a storybook aloud to their child. The recording is reliable and repeatable; “we call it mommy or daddy on demand,” said Kara Dallman, senior director of Development and Strategic Alliances at United Through Reading.

Now, servicemembers don’t have to find a story station nearby for a recording; they can download the newly launched United Through Reading App on the App Store or Google Play. And thanks to a $24,875 grant from The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation, United Through Reading will be able to provide 5,000 free books to servicemembers who read through the app.

“The energy behind a book, the memories, the connections … that’s what we’re all about. What’s special about what you all are doing is you’re providing the books for those servicemembers,” Dallman said.

The app will allow servicemembers to use a physical book to read and record online, or offline, and then upload the recording for the child to view anytime and as many times as they want. The books chosen from the app will be delivered to doorsteps.

Dallman said United Through Reading conducted a study and found that 99 percent of users of its program reported an increase of connection to their children and 99 percent reported an increase in their child’s interest in reading and books.

“So what I’m saying is thank you very much. What you’re doing really makes a difference.”

Dallman also emphasized to conference attendees that the storybook reading is for all ages of children. One servicemember’s daughter was graduating from high school while he was deployed so he recorded “Oh, The Places You Will Go” by Dr. Seuss. The daughter ran to her bedroom after watching it and her mother thought she was upset. Instead, the daughter was calling all her friends to come over and watch the recording of her father reading to her.

The CWF provided a $6,714 grant to the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation to support its Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital healing arts program. The healing arts program launched hospital wide in late 2017 to provide holistic care to patients of all ages.

At Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, “we really want to help these children be children so we don’t just want to care for their bodies, we want to care for their minds, we want to care for their spirit, we want to give them a space to play and to be children,” said Kaitlin Knapp, clinical programs manager at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital and St. Vincent. “Your generosity allows us to take care of these patients beyond just their physical illness but the entire patient.”

Knapp said research has shown that children who participate in Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital creative arts therapy program, whether that therapy is art, music, dance or pet therapy, are going home sooner and using less pain medication.

“So with The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation support, we’re helping these kids play, experience less pain, go home earlier, take less medication and feel like a kid.”

The CWF grant also helped the hospital purchase a computer system that allows them to record the heartbeats of infants who will unfortunately not live. Music is added and a CD is created for the parents to take home and remember their child.

“Thank you so much for this generous donation and interests in helping kids because we have found creative arts therapy is a great way of helping our patients, more than just their physical needs but really thinking about a person holistically,” Knapp said. “Thank you for allowing us to provide this kind of care.”

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Texas Legion posts stepping up following Tropical Depression Imelda

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As he watched Tropical Depression Imelda drop what seemed like never-ending rain on Crosby, Texas, and the surrounding areas, Legionnaire Gary Alston had a sense of déjà vu. And like how Alston and the membership at David H. McNerney Post 658 stepped up when Hurricane Harvey devastated the area in 2017, the post again is stepping up.

During Hurricane Harvey, Post 658 provided more than 9,500 meals to displaced residents during a three-week period in late summer. More than 2,500 people came to the post to request items such as clothing, baby diapers, formula, toiletries and cleaning supplies.

When Imelda hit this September, flash flood emergencies were issued for Crosby and the surrounding counties, as dozens of inches of rain were dropped in the area. Alston even had to move his family out of their home in Hankamer and take up residence at Post 658.

But despite dealing with his own weather-related issues, Alston had an idea. “During Harvey we ended up taking in 400-some people. And we had a distribution center set up,” he said. “So when it started raining nonstop (during Imelda), I said ‘we’re going to need donations. People are going to need stuff.' I contacted some other officers and said ‘do you want to do this?’ They said ‘let’s do it.’”

Alston, who was Post 658’s commander during Hurricane Harvey and currently serves as first vice commander, said some roads in the region are still unpassable, some with knee-deep water. So the post opened up its property for people who had to flee their homes because of flooding to park in and live out of their RVs. The post also began collecting items to donate to those impacted, including bags of clothing, diapers, cleaning supplies, detergent, bottles of bleach, non-perishable food and toiletries.

Alston, who doubles as director of Post 658’s American Legion Riders chapter and was chairman of the department’s first-ever Lone Star Legacy Run, said Legion Riders from Chapter 127 in Tomball were going to donate $200 to the cause. And Legionnaires from other posts also have contributed to the collection effort.

That includes Earl Graham Post 159 in Bryan, which raised funds for fellow Legion posts and donated $2,000 to The American Legion's National Emergency Fund in 2017. and is spending this week collecting supplies to bring to Post 658. The post will deliver the items Sept. 30. Post 159 is accepting items from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. daily through Sept. 27.

“The American Legion works on four pillars, and one of those pillars is assisting veterans in need,” Post 159 Commander Tom Marty told KBTX-TV. “So we are specifically trying to help any of the people down in that area, specifically veterans, military families that are in need of supplies.”

Alston said while the donations collected will assist area veterans, they also will be provided to non-veterans impacted by Imelda. It’s the kind of relationship with those outside of the American Legion Family that Alston has tried to cultivate.

“They say community, state and nation. If you don’t support the community, the community doesn’t support you and then you don’t have a post,” Alston said. “If you have a good rapport with the community, you get that support. The community helps us, and we help the community.”

The American Legion’s National Emergency Fund provides in direct financial assistance to American Legion Family members and Legion posts directly impacted by natural disasters. Click here for more info.

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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.