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Veterans Benefits Information

Pennsylvania Legion alum drafted fourth; named Golden Spikes finalist

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University of Louisville star Brendan McKay, a former American Legion Baseball player for the Blackhawk team in Beaver Falls, Pa., earned two big accolades this week.

A pitcher and first baseman, McKay was the first collegiate player drafted in the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft, selected fourth by the Tampa Bay Rays.

“He’s probably the first guy in as long as we can remember that has qualified on both sides of the ball to do this,” said Rays General Manager Erik Neander. “This is a very rare talent.”

McKay was also named a finalist for the 40th Golden Spikes Award, presented by USA Baseball annually. The award selects the top amateur baseball player in the United States based on their athletic ability, sportsmanship, character and overall contribution to the sport.

Former Legion players Bryce Harper (2010), Kris Bryant (2013) and AJ Reed (2014) are recent former winners of the Golden Spikes Award.

McKay led Blackhawk to the Pennsylvania Legion tournament in 2013 and helped the strong program continue its growth. Last year, Blackhawk qualified for the American Legion Baseball Mid-Atlantic Regional.

“He loved playing for his high school, he played for his Legion team up there just north of Pittsburgh. He was not that showcase-type scene kid, it wasn’t all about ‘me,’ ” Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell told and the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “These days, a lot of high school kids chase player rankings, go to showcases all over the country to be seen in the summer. Brendan never really did much of that, and you know why? Because his goal was to win an American Legion state championship with his buddies.”

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Legion, Auxiliary and SAL leaders broadcast to troops overseas

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American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt, Auxiliary National President Mary Davis and Sons of The American Legion National Commander Jeff Frain concluded their European visit with an important message to the troops: You’re already veterans.

“If you served on day of (wartime) active-duty or title 10 service, you are eligible to be in The American Legion,” Schmidt said in a June 7 radio interview with Armed Forces Network Benelux, a Belgium-based station that broadcasts for U.S. troops, family members and Department of Defense employees serving there, and in the Netherlands and Luxembourg. “The American Legion is not about us older veterans. It’s about anyone that has served, is serving or will serve in the future. That’s who we’re fighting for.”

“This is a lot of great information that will help you out,” disc jockey and Airman 1st Class Candin “Candy Man” Muniz told listeners.

The broadcast followed a similar message that the three leaders delivered days earlier to Armed Forces Network listeners in Germany. While Schmidt recounted the history of the Legion, as wells as its services and programs, Davis and Frain emphasized the support that the Auxiliary and SAL offer to families.


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West Coast job seekers, take note

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Here’s a look at upcoming career events for veterans, servicemembers and military spouses:

June 23-24: Los Angeles Hiring Fair. Both days: 9 a.m., registration for job seekers; 9:15-10:30 a.m., Resume Engine workshop; 10:30-11:30 a.m., hiring fair open to military job seekers only, including transitioning servicemembers, Guard and Reserve, veterans and military spouses; 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m., hiring fair open to general public. Westfield Century City, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.

June 27: Seattle Hiring Expo with the Seattle Mariners. 10 a.m.-1 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 Mariners and the Phillies. Safeco Field, 1st Avenue South, Seattle.

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

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American Legion salute to the GI Bill begins June 20 at WWII Museum

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American Legion 100th Anniversary Honorary Committee Chairman Ted Roosevelt IV will moderate a panel discussion June 20 at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans that will explore the legacy, current status and evolving future of the GI Bill.

Visitors planning to attend are asked to call the museum in advance at 1-877-813-3329, extension 412.

The free event begins with a 5 p.m. reception, with snacks and beverages, and a viewing of “The Greatest Legislation: An American Legion Salute to the GI Bill” exhibit in the museum. Showcased are the cover and signature pages of the original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, on loan from the National Archives, the original typewritten and hand-edited speech President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave after signing the bill on June 22, 1944, and a fountain pen he used, from The American Legion National Headquarters, among other artifacts.

“This is the first time the GI Bill has been shown outside of the National Archives,” Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said. “We are honored to share this and FDR’s speech – two original historic treasures – with the American people for this important exhibit.”

The exhibit also features illustrated panels and touch-screen video kiosks that tell the story of the bill’s creation, the dramatic battle to get it passed, economic impacts on America and significance to millions of veterans who used it for their educations, careers and home ownership. The videos traverse generations, some famous, who used the GI Bill to help them in their post-military lives. The display and panel discussion both delve into the current state of the GI Bill and changes under way to improve it.

The panel discussion, which starts at 6 p.m., features former U.S. Sen. James Webb of Virginia, a highly decorated Vietnam War combat veteran and critically acclaimed author, who drafted and introduced the Post 9/11 GI Bill on his first day in office in 2007. It was passed the following year and enacted in 2009.

VA Deputy Under Secretary for Economic Opportunity Curtis Coy, Student Veterans of America President and CEO Jared Lyon and American Legion Assistant Director of Veterans Employment & Education John Kamin are also among the panelists. Following their remarks, the floor will be open for questions from the audience.

The panel discussion will be streamed live on the National WWII Museum website at

The original documents from the National Archives will be on display at the museum through Sept. 20, 2017, and the full exhibit will be in place there until Dec. 18, 2017. Following that, the display will be moved to a different venue and is scheduled to travel during The American Legion’s centennial period, through November 2019.

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, 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. It brought all veterans services under one federal roof – the Veterans Administration that in 1989 became the Department of Veterans Affairs – and improved hospital services and disability claims processing for those who came home from war.

The American Legion has worked continuously through the decades to keep the GI Bill viable for veterans. Just last month, the Legion and Student Veterans of America joined forces to put on a roundtable discussion at The American Legion National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., to discuss improvements that can be made to today’s GI Bill, including protections for veterans whose for-profit colleges close down while they are using their benefits and fair treatment for reservists involuntarily called to active duty.

American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt said he hopes that such activities as the moderated forum, the roundtable discussion and “The Greatest Legislation” exhibit at the National WWII Museum will elevate awareness of The American Legion’s role in society over the last century, and into the future.

“It is my sincere hope that, as The American Legion centennial story is told over the next two years, that new generations will understand what this organization has done, is doing and will continue to do in a second century of service,” he said in an email to members this week.

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Post 233 conducts second annual Walk for Veterans

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American Legion Post 233 in Elk Grove, Calif., held its second annual Walk for Veterans with more than 200 Legion family and community members in attendance.

The attendees gathered at Elk Grove Cemetery on Memorial Day for the 1.8-mile walk to raise awareness about those who served their country and paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly presented a resolution of support on behalf of the Elk Grove City Council to Post 233 Commander Larry Sahota during the Elk Grove Cemetery’s Memorial Day ceremony, which was held prior to the walk.

Other participants of the walk included Boy Scouts Troop 288, Cosumnes River College President Edward Bush and Post 233 member Ernie Costa, a 91-year old World War I veteran who was determined to walk part of the route.

After the walk, a free lunch was held.

Post 233's Walk for Veterans raised nearly $270, which will be divided between the Legion's National Emergency Fund and Temporary Financial Assistance program – National Commander Charles E. Schmidt's fundraising project.

"The Walk for Veterans was well received by the Elk Grove community. Although this is only the second year hosting the walk, many attendees commented that this year was Post 233’s best walk and that they are looking forward to attending next year’s walk," said Maryanna Rickner, a member of Post 233 and the post's Walk for Veterans committee chairman.

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