Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Legion applauds bipartisan VA accountability legislation

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National Commander Charles E. Schmidt released the followed statement regarding today's introduction of the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017:

Today, Sens. Marco Rubio, Jon Tester and Johnny Isakson introduced the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.

The American Legion applauds this bipartisan effort to provide Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin additional tools to increase accountability and address poor performance within the VA.

The media's exposure of the 2014 Phoenix VA Medical Center wait-time scandal revealed that hundreds of veterans suffered and died while awaiting treatment.

Incompetent and uncaring employees throughout the VA system utterly failed to execute their fiduciary responsibilities. Furthermore, they failed to uphold the American peoples' promise to care for our veterans.

Despite multiple verified cases of gross misconduct, the VA secretary had little authority to hold employees accountable, and many veterans subsequently lost faith in the system.

This is why The American Legion vociferously urged Congress to provide the secretary much needed authorities so that he may take action to improve morale, incentivize desired behavior, deter misconduct, and eliminate corrupt or uncaring employees.

We thank Sens. Isakson, Tester and Rubio for their leadership and fidelity to our veterans.

The American Legion believes in the VA as a symbol of the American people's gratitude to the brave and selfless men and women who have faithfully served our great nation.

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American Legion report outlines credentialing challenges

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A newly released American Legion report, “The State of Credentialing of Service Members and Veterans,” sponsored by, lays out key recommendations to improve the transition to specialized civilian careers for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and military veterans.

The report, prepared by SOLID, LLC, focuses on the complex issue of converting military experience into credits toward licenses and credentials necessary for employment in multiple civilian industries that require specialized training and education. It aims to help guide the administration, Congress, state credentialing agencies and industries.

“The military invests extensively in formal training for its enlisted personnel, complemented by extensive on-the-job training and hands-on experience,” The American Legion report states in its executive summary. “Military training is state-of-the-art and, early in their careers, service members gain opportunities for direct experience that are unprecedented in the civilian sector. However, the eligibility requirements for civilian credentials seldom offer direct recognition of military training and experience as a means of qualification.”

The American Legion conducted the first systematic review of military credentialing for specialized civilian careers in 1996 and has worked continuously to improve acceptance of experience in the U.S. Armed Forces in training programs for such careers as emergency medicine, hazardous material handling, commercial truck driving, mechanical technology and other careers requiring federal, state or industry certification or licensure for employment.

The Legion has conducted numerous roundtable discussions involving industry leaders, government employers and other stakeholders over the years, including highly acclaimed national credentialing summits in 2012 and 2015. Two more roundtable discussions and another national American Legion summit are planned within the next year.

Among the areas of progress include improved military programs to document hours of training and experience for active-duty personnel that can be submitted for acceptance by government or industry licensing and credentialing agencies. Legislative efforts have also provided improvements at the federal level and on a state-by-state basis. However, the conversion from military experience to credits toward civilian licenses and credentials remains inconsistent, and GI Bill benefits do not always adequately cover the widely varying costs of final examinations.

“America spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year to train service members to do highly skilled jobs,” U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said at a Senate subcommittee hearing earlier this year. “They should be ready to move into civilian life with (the help of) certifications.”

She emphasized that the Senate “wants to work on making it easier for our service members when they leave the service to have that credential in hand and recognized in all 54 jurisdictions of the United States.”

Among the recommendations identified in The American Legion report are:

• Improve the Post 9/11 GI Bill Licensing and Certification Benefit to more accurately cover the cost of final certification examinations

• Ensure the quality of certification programs and non-traditional credential preparation programs

• Better track labor-market demand for employment in fields requiring licenses and credentials

• Reduce state licensure barriers for already-trained veterans and military personnel

• Develop best practices for credentialing service members and veterans

• Ensure that military and veteran interests are represented in civilian workforce credentialing initiative

Read the full report here.

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Commander Schmidt: 'Meet me on stage in Reno'

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In his closing remarks to the National Executive Committee members Thursday morning at American Legion National Headquarters in Indianapolis, National Commander Charles E. Schmidt said he wants all 55 department commanders to "meet me on stage in Reno, Nevada" during the organization's upcoming national convention. He wants to recognize the departments not once, but twice – for 100 percent membership and 100 percent submission of Consolidated Post Reports.

He tasked the NECmen with working with their respective department leadership all the way down to the post level to accomplish his goal. "I have a lot more (commander's membership incentive) pins to give out, and I want to see everybody in this room earn one," Schmidt said. "And posts should get credit for all the things that they do."

Schmidt believes that Resolution No. 1 – passed yesterday during the NEC meeting, which will make contact information for newly acquired DMS members available through effective July 1 – will give the organization a membership boost for 2018. But he doesn't want members to give up on this membership year because "in effort to carry the Legion's legacy forward, who's going to fill your shoes? Carrying the legacy forward is our responsibility."

The NEC passed 29 resolutions, which will be made available early next week on the Legion's Digital Archive. A few resolutions passed include the establishment of a suicide prevention program under the Legion's TBI/PTSD Committee that will be charged with examining the recent trends of veteran suicide as it relates to traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and military sexual trauma. The program will "analyze best practices in veteran suicide prevention not currently being used" by the Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs. Another resolution passed will honor a VA physician and health-care provider of the year.

Other resolutions call on the support for memorials in Washington, D.C., that honor the Global War on Terrorism, Desert Storm and Desert Shield and Gold Star Mothers. And to honor the Legion's upcoming centennial, resolutions passed for a centennial postage stamp and coin, and a painting that commemorates the Legion's 100 years.

Meanwhile, on behalf of National Headquarters, Schmidt made a $500 donation to the Department of Mexico's support efforts for the Escuela Legión Americana. The donation will purchase school books and supplies for the children in attendance. Learn more about the history of the school here.

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American Legion GI Bill forum, exhibit set for National WWII Museum

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The original cover and signature page of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, along with the typed and hand-edited speech given by President Franklin D. Roosevelt after signing it, will be showcased at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans beginning June 20 as part of an American Legion centennial salute to the GI Bill.

The bill, drafted and pushed to passage by The American Legion in 1943 and 1944, transformed the United States, building the middle class and democratizing higher education. The exhibit, titled “The Greatest Legislation,” features illustrated panels and touchscreen videos that tell the dramatic story of how The American Legion drafted the measure and overcame numerous challenges to get it to the president’s desk June 22, 1944. It also traces the effects of the bill during the 20th century and its evolution to best serve veterans of the post 9/11 era.

A free reception at the museum is planned at 5 p.m. June 20, followed by a moderated panel discussion led by American Legion 100th Anniversary Honorary Committee Chairman Ted Roosevelt IV. Scheduled panelists include former U.S. Sen. James Webb, who introduced and championed the Post 9/11 GI Bill of 2009; VA Deputy Under Secretary for Employment Opportunity Curt Coy; Student Veterans of America CEO and President Jared Lyon; and American Legion Assistant Director of Veterans Employment and Education John Kamin.

The panel discussion will include remarks from World War II Museum President Dr. Nick Mueller and American Legion Executive Director Verna Jones. The event will include a question-and-answer session where audience members will be invited to share the ways in which the GI Bill has influenced their lives and to discuss the future of the benefit for today’s veterans.

In addition to the cover and signature pages of the original act, on loan from the National Archives, and the speech, on loan from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, is a pen used by President Roosevelt to sign the bill into law, on loan from The American Legion National Headquarters.

Visitors planning to attend the June 20 event are asked to call ahead at (877) 813-3329 extension 412.

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Career fairs scheduled coast-to-coast

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Check out the rest of May’s career events for veterans, servicemembers and military spouses from coast-to-coast:

May 18: Fort Buchanan Hiring Fair. 9-10 a.m., resume workshop provided by The American Legion; 10:30-11:30 a.m., financial literacy workshop provided by The American Legion; 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., networking lunch; 1-4 p.m., hiring fair. Fort Buchanan Community Club and Conference Center, 660 Depot Road, Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico.

May 18: Fort Belvoir/Springfield Job Fair. 10 a.m.-noon, reserved for candidates who have active security clearance (military and veterans); noon-2 p.m., open to all job seekers. American Legion Post 176, 6520 Amherst Ave., Springfield, Va.

May 23: Boston Hiring Expo with the Boston Red Sox. 9:30-11 a.m., personal branding workshop; 11 a.m.-2 p.m., hiring fair. All registered veterans and military spouses are eligible to receive up to two free tickets to attend that evening's game between the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers. Fenway Park, 4 Yawkey Way, Boston, Mass.

May 23-24: Fort Belvoir Military Spouse Networking Reception and Hiring Fair. Tuesday: 7-9 p.m., networking reception, Capital One Headquarters, 1680 Capital One Drive, McLean, Va. Wednesday: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., hiring fair, Fort Belvoir Community Center, 10300 Taylor Road, Fort Belvoir, Va.

May 24: Veteran and Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Summit. 10 a.m.-3 p.m., career fair. Doubletree by Hilton Hotel-Seattle Airport, 18740 International Blvd., Seattle, Wash.

May 25: Pensacola Hiring Fair. 8:30-10 a.m., personal branding workshop; 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., hiring fair. Florida Army National Guard Armory, 8790 Grow Drive, Pensacola, Fla.

Follow the links for full details and keep tabs on upcoming career fairs at

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Did you know?

The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at