Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Spring Meetings resolutions posted on Digital Archive

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During Spring Meetings in Indianapolis last week, the American Legion National Executive Committee passed 30 resolutions. These are now available to view in the Legion’s Digital Archive; see the full collection here.

In addition to these most current resolutions, the Digital Archive contains all active Legion resolutions from 1950 to the present, as well as publications and other materials that go all the way back to 1919.

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500-plus and counting for ALR 'Run to the Thunder'

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For the eighth straight year, American Legion Post 177 in Fairfax, Va., will be the epicenter of American Legion Riders activities during the Memorial Day Weekend’s Rolling Thunder, hosting 100s of American Legion Family members during its "Run to the Thunder." But the post has never seen numbers like it until this year.

In Late 2018 Rolling Thunder Inc., the national organizer for the massive motorcycle ride through Washington, D.C., to bring awareness to U.S. prisoners of wars and missing in action, announced it would no longer stage a national event in the nation’s capital. That’s led to a record amount of participants registering to take part in events based out of Post 177.

Bob Sussan, chairman of The American Legion Riders National Advisory Committee and a member of Post 177, said 550 participants have registered already to leave from the post to take part in the May 26 "Ride to Freedom" through D.C., while other Post 177 activities have drawn 400-500-plus registrants each. Sussan said that typically, 10-20 percent of those who actually participate don’t register ahead of time, so the numbers for each activity likely will be higher.

“And it’s still two weeks away,” Sussan said. “At this point we’re so far ahead of previous year registrations that it’s ridiculous.”

A December 2018 letter signed by Rolling Thunder Inc. National Executive Director Artie Muller and National President Joe Bean stated that starting in 2020, state Rolling Thunder chapters will coordinate similar demonstrations at the local level over Memorial Day Weekend. Bean further reiterated that in his organization’s newsletter this month, stating “This will be our last 'Ride for Freedom' demonstration in D.C. … in 2020 we will take the ride across the country.”

But Sussan said that doesn’t mean The American Legion Riders are done with Rolling Thunder in the D.C. area. “In the future, whether we ride on Sunday in some sort of what they call a ‘demonstration ride,’ or whether we ride on Monday and get into the Memorial Day Parade … the Legion Riders (will be involved),” he said. “The Legion, we have our resolution about POW/MIAs. Everybody wants to recognize those who have fought, especially those who have fought and never came home. That’s what it’s all about. You want to make sure the awareness is raised so that we keep pressure on the government for whatever conflict.

“If somebody was left on the battlefield or taken prisoner, we’ve got to do everything we can as long as we’re alive to get them home. So we’re going to continue from D.C. … and still do it every year. We’re not giving up, regardless of what Rolling Thunder does. It’s not just about riding. It’s riding for a purpose and a cause.”

American Legion Riders from all over the nation will be at Post 177 for events that will include a Friday night dinner and POW/MIA ceremony, followed by the escorted ride to the candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial; a wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery Saturday afternoon and the Ride to the Thunder on Sunday morning. The post also will have vendors – including American Legion Emblem Sales – and host special guests throughout the weekend, including Gold Star families. There also will be breakfasts that Saturday and Sunday, as well as a BBQ dinner Saturday afternoon.

While Post 177 is the host, it’s getting some help from its Beltway comrades. Sussan said Maryland Legion Riders will be serving the Friday night meal and leading the ride to the candlelight vigil at the Vietnam War Memorial.

Despite the large jump in the number of registrants, Sussan said he’s confident in the logistical team in place in Post 177’s American Legion Family. “They’ve been doing it since 2012,” he said. “And the interesting thing is that all the people who started it are still involved. We have the experience of the past, and we continue to hone it each year to make it better. This year the challenges are the drastically increased numbers, but we have contingency plans in place. Regardless of what the number is, we’re going to be able to handle it.

“And what I think is a great example for the Legion as a whole is that all of the newer (Post 177) members are very much engaged in this, and the older folks that have been doing it or started it continue to work with (the newer members) and give them the leadership positions and help them know what they’re doing and not repeat mistakes we’ve made in the past.”

Post 177 is asking all Riders to register. There is no registration fees, but a $10 option is available to help defray costs.

For updates or for more information, click here or follow ALR Run to the Thunder on Facebook.

For local lodging information, click here.

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Toolkit available for National Poppy Day events

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National Poppy Day is May 24, and for American Legion posts planning a Poppy Day event, a toolkit is available at

A communications toolkit is available for download and includes a proclamation, sample media alert, press release, social media posts, graphics and talking points to ensure a consistent message is used by everyone in The American Legion Family. It also includes a tip sheet for hosting a poppy making event.

The tradition of wearing a poppy dates back to 1920, when it became the memorial flower of The American Legion Family. The American Legion Auxiliary has used poppies for many years to raise awareness and support for our nation’s veterans, active-duty servicemembers and their families.

This year, The American Legion Family is continuing to bring attention to this symbolic flower by calling upon all Americans to honor the fallen and support the living on National Poppy Day, May 24, 2019. Planning a poppy-making event and inviting local government, civic leaders and the media is an opportunity for departments, posts and units to raise awareness and funds, as donations can later be accepted when the poppies are distributed.

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VA Must “Do Better” When Addressing Sexual Harassment

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) led a letter, released today, signed by Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe, Representative Julia Brownley, Representative Neal Dunn, Representative Chris Pappas, and Representative Jack Bergman calling on Secretary Wilkie to share information from the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs’ progress implementing their “End Harassment” campaign. While “We applaud VA for funding research that systematically studied harassment of women veterans in VA health care settings,” the Members wrote, “we learned during the hearing training regarding harassment of or by veterans is not mandatory, and that it is possible there are employees across VA that have not been reached by direct intervention programs such as “Own the Moment.” Furthermore, because all reporting is handled locally, there is no accountability regarding facilities that continue to fail to respond to sexual harassment.” “It’s clear that women veterans face unique challenges when accessing key VA care, benefits, and resources— and  thanks to Chairwoman Brownley’s leadership, we have a renewed focus on these challenges with the Women Veterans Task Force,” said Chairman Mark Takano. “To change the culture at VA facilities, it’s not enough to simply have sexual harassment training available, this training has to be both mandatory and comprehensive. VA needs to step up to ensure all of our veterans can receive the care they earned and deserve free from harassment.”  “It is unacceptable to me that women veterans face harassment anywhere, but it is particularly egregious to learn of the harassment that many of them face while attempting to seek care from VA,” said Ranking Member Dr. Phil Roe. “I applaud VA for taking action to study the experiences of women in VA medical facilities and to create a safer and more welcoming culture for women veterans and employees.  As this is National Women’s Health Week, there is perhaps no better time to double down on our commitment to ensuring women veterans can access the benefits they have earned without barriers. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress and the Administration to make sure that they have that opportunity “VA has a responsibility to ensure a safe and respectful environment for women veterans and VA employees," said Congresswoman Julia Brownley, Chair of the Health Subcommittee. "While VA has taken important steps to prevent and address sexual harassment, much more needs to be done to eradicate this pervasive and troubling problem.” “Women veterans deserve to feel safe while in the care of the VA. Unfortunately, that is not always the case,” said Congressman Dr. Neal Dunn, Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee. “The systemic harassment of women veterans and female employees at the VA is unacceptable. As we work to improve veterans’ care and hold the VA accountable, we must continue to focus on the needs of our women veterans, which includes ensuring that no veteran faces harassment. I applaud Chairwoman Brownley’s leadership on this issue, and look forward to working with her to improve women veterans’ access to care at the VA.” “More than 2 million living women veterans served our nation proudly, and it is imperative they are able to access their well-deserved care without facing harassment or inappropriate conduct,” said Congressman Pappas, Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. “I applaud the VA for taking the steps to ensure all our veterans are able to access care in a safe and welcoming environment, but it is evident that significant work remains to be done. I look forward to working with the VA to develop policies to end harassment and misconduct and ensure the VA can fully carry out its mission to care for all of our veterans.” “I am proud to join my colleagues in calling for the VA to tighten its focus and crack down on the sexual harassment of women Veterans and female employees at VA facilities,” said Congressman Jack Bergman, Ranking Member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. “Those who’ve sacrificed to serve our nation and work to care for our Veterans should never be put in such toxic situations, and we must to more to address them.  We’re sending a strong bipartisan message that the status quo is unacceptable for anyone who works or seeks care at the VA” In the letter, the Members called on VA to “report to the committee the nationwide collection of data at the local level regarding sexual harassment of both veterans and employees, and that this data be aggregated at VA Central Office. We also request an update on how VA plans to collect and implement best practices regarding response to sexual harassment on VA property.” See the full letter here. ###

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USAA Tips: Toward more work-life balance

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Content provided courtesy of USAA

Duty calls. You answer. There’s no off switch in the military for the most part. Yes, you might get to go on leave for a time, but when it’s time to carry out the mission you go.

Those in uniform often miss out on many of life’s important milestones – especially during a deployment. The birth of a child, the first recital, the important sporting event, the play or concert or academic honor might be experienced through video or pictures for some.

What about your life after military service? Do you carry this “all work, no play” mentality with you as a civilian? Do you find yourself too busy to enjoy an occasional special moment in the lives of those you care about due to working all the time? Is the pull of work keeping you disengaged from the things you might enjoy or hoped to do?

A successful military-to-civilian career transition should include consideration of how to improve your work/life balance. Do you really need to run at the same pace you did while in uniform?

Yes, civilian life has its own set of stresses, pressures, and challenges. You will work hard. You will face obstacles that you can overcome. But, you have been accustomed to going all out in the military. You can work for a long time without thinking about it. You know what it’s like to not only maintain your regular job, but assume numerous additional duties. You know what it’s like to not punch a clock. And so, you keep pushing and pushing the envelope day in and day out as a civilian. Soon, you reach the point of near burnout and wonder what’s happening.

Does this describe you?

If it does, the question to ask is “Why?”

Maybe it’s time for you to strive toward more work/life balance.

Here’s a list of things you might consider in your plans to regain a better work/life balance:

• Check your priorities at the workplace and make sure you’re handling your work in the most effective and efficient way possible.

• Consider taking a time management courses in order to free up some hours for non-work activities.

• Ask your employer about modifying your work schedule so you can complete your work in time to be able to attend important events in your life.

• Use your vacation days. That’s what they’re for! Recharge those physical and mental batteries!

• Ask a trusted friend or family member to hold you accountable for maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Check in often enough to share your progress with them.

• Examine your routine to see if you’re over-committing yourself. Cut out the activities that steal time away from things you truly need to participate in.

• Maintain a healthy lifestyle and consult a doctor if your work/life balance could be causing any health issues.

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Did you know?

Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request. This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family.