Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Legion cancels oratorical contest due to coronavirus

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The American Legion has cancelled its 2020 National Oratorical Contest in an effort to keep all competitors, volunteers, judges and others safe amid the coronavirus pandemic. The contest had been scheduled for April 17 to 19 in Indianapolis.

The cancellation follows recommendations issued by local, state and federal authorities to reduce the growing number of coronavirus cases by instituting “social distancing” policies.

For updated American Legion information and resources related to the coronavirus, visit and For updated information about the pandemic itself, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at and the World Health Organization website,


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What the COVID-19 pandemic means for VA health care facilities

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As our nation’s largest health care system braces to handle the increasing demands placed on it by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) officials released information regarding access to VA facilities and what to do if you are exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus.

Call before you go.

If you’re currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call your VA medical center or 1-844-MYVA311 (844-698-2311). You may also login to My HealtheVet and send a secure message.

You will be asked screening questions.

All staff and visitors will be screened upon entry to VA facilities. VA asks that you allow extra time to go through the screening process.

Visitation is being restricted.

VA medical centers will only be permitting ONE visitor per patient for veterans who require assistance to get to and from an appointment, in-patient veterans in palliative or hospice care, and veterans who are having major procedures. Each visitor must be symptom-free for 14 days and must not have travelled outside of the United States during the past two weeks. Absolutely no visitors under the age of 18 will be allowed to enter VA health care facilities, nor will they be allowed to wait in common areas.Visitor access will be evaluated on case-by-case basis.

As of March 18, some VA facilities have cease non-urgent elective procedures.

Contact your VA medical center to see if this change applies to you.

For the latest VA updates on coronavirus and common-sense tips on preventing the spread of disease, visit

Stay informed on message from American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford and other news stories regarding the coronavirus at

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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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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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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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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.