Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

National Commander Coronavirus Updates

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17 March 20, morning

Dear American Legion Family,

You will be receiving many regular updates from me throughout the coronavirus crisis. I previously announced that The American Legion has suspended all official travel of our national officers and staff through the month of April. Though I am home in North Carolina, I am still actively engaged and plan to communicate with you regularly.

National Headquarters has received numerous requests from American Legion departments and posts who are concerned about closures and curfews. My advice: be patient. Mistakes will be made, but your safety is what is motivating national and local authorities to take these measures. The Preamble to The American Legion Constitution includes the pledge, “to maintain law and order.” We are a law-abiding organization.

It will be tough, but we will get through this. If you need motivation, think about our World War II veterans. They were tough as nails and survived the Great Depression. I will have more to say about them later. We will talk soon.

Bill Oxford

National Commander

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USAA Tips: How to prepare your finances for a natural disaster

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Content provided courtesy of USAA

Floods, fires and other natural disasters can destroy everything in their path, but they shouldn't devastate your finances. JJ Montanaro, a certified financial planner with USAA, offers five steps you can take now to help be more prepared if a disaster strikes.

Build an emergency fund.

Everyone should have an emergency fund, but it's critical during a crisis. Save at least three to six months of your ongoing expenses in a secure place that you can access easily, such as a savings account. Withdraw cash if a natural disaster heads your way, and remember to save your receipts for any disaster-related cash purchases, because your insurance company may reimburse some of your expenses.

Review your insurance policy coverage.

Evaluate your policies regularly and note their dollar limits, what they cover and the deductibles you would have to pay if you filed a claim. You should insure your home for at least the minimum estimated replacement cost recommended by your carrier.

Check for insurance gaps.

After a disaster strikes is the worst time to learn you don't have enough insurance or the right type of coverage. For example, most homeowners insurance doesn't cover flood damage or lost belongings and may have limits on certain high-value property that could leave you at risk. Consider buying separate flood insurance, earthquake insurance and valuable personal property insurance policies to meet your additional needs. Your insurance provider also should be able to help assess your property risks because if homeowners insurance does not cover flood-related losses, your automobile and renters insurance could. If you rent an apartment or home, a renters policy will help replace personal belongings damaged or lost in a disaster and can provide temporary housing while your rental unit is repaired.

Take inventory of your belongings.

Most people would struggle to come up with an accurate list of everything they own from memory, making the insurance claim process difficult. Start with a written inventory and supplement with a video tour of your home. Store the inventory away from your house — such as a safe-deposit box at a local bank — or online through mobile home inventory apps. Update the inventory at least once a year or whenever you make a major purchase.

Use online money-management tools.

The last thing you need during a disaster is to lose access to your cash. Sign up for a savings account that enables automatic payment plans to pay bills on time and direct deposit of your paycheck, pensions and any other income to keep the cash flowing in. Utilize budgeting and financial planning tools to keep track of your finances and insure that you aren't racking up late fees on payments or damaging your credit score.

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Coronavirus Update: 3-16-2020

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The American Legion has been closely monitoring this continually evolving national emergency, and took the following steps on March 16, 2020:

• The national commander’s travel has now been suspended through April.

• National vice commander and National Headquarters staff travel is suspended through April as well.

• Sons of The American Legion travel is suspended through April.

The American Legion is in the process of assessing the 2020 Spring Meetings considering the health concerns that are coming into play. For now, the following actions have been taken:

• The current plan is that the National Executive Committee will still meet on Wednesday and Thursday. Therefore, the call in for national officers, NEC and past national commanders is still in effect for Wednesday and Thursday, May 6-7.

• Chairmen of the Americanism, Convention, Finance, Internal Affairs, Marketing, and Media & Communications commissions, and members of the Advisory Committee to the National Commander, will be called in. These individuals will receive revised letters of authorization in the coming days.

• All commission meetings are cancelled. All call-ins except those listed above are cancelled. Notices were mailed today to those that are affected by these cancellations.

• No others should plan to attend the 2020 Spring Meetings except for those listed above. If you are not called in, DO NOT ATTEND.

• The national commander’s dinner in honor of the NEC (Wednesday evening) is cancelled.

Many states are mandating that restaurants and/or bars close, and National Headquarters has begun receiving calls from posts wondering how they should respond. As always, posts and departments should abide by their local authorities’ and/or government’s guidance and mandates.

Veterans are used to adapting and overcoming. At some future point, the normal, everyday business of The American Legion will resume. National Headquarters will continue to communicate with American Legion leadership as situations continue to evolve.

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Keep up with military reunion cancellations

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As the situation around the COVID-19 outbreak continues to develop, military reunions are among those gatherings being postponed or canceled.

A dedicated page accessible from the Legion’s reunions database will list canceled or postponed reunions as The American Legion is made aware of them.

But that may not always happen – so for any reunion veterans are planning on or interested in attending, the best course of action is to get in touch with the contact/s listed with every reunion, whether online or in The American Legion Magazine.

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National Commander Oxford: Take a 'smart' approach to coronavirus

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The nature of the coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented in our lifetimes. We are all learning here, and I ask that you be patient, flexible and strong as we get through this. And we will get through this because our American Legion Family has proven our toughness throughout our first 101 years.

We must be smart about how we approach this. I have suspended all official travel for all American Legion national officers and staff unless it is absolutely imperative. This policy pertains to me as well and will last at least through the end of March. Travel beyond that date will be reassessed in a timely fashion. While I do not have the authority to mandate that departments take action, I would like to share with you how your national headquarters will be operating for the temporary future. Keep in mind, these policies are also recommended by medical professionals at the Center for Disease Control and other experts throughout the health care and emergency response communities.

We are providing a liberal leave policy for employees who are ill or who have family members who are ill. We are also providing liberal leave or telework options for those experiencing daycare issues because of school cancellations. The workplace at national headquarters will be even cleaner than its usual high standards and there will be plenty of hand-sanitizers available for workers and visitors to use. We have also temporarily halted public tours of the headquarters.

We have many national youth programs, meetings and other events scheduled for the weeks and months ahead. Some will likely be cancelled or postponed. These decisions will not be easy to make but will be thought out with safety being the number one priority. Cancellations and postponements of national American Legion events will be announced promptly on our national website,, and by email to all departments once such decisions are made. I will keep you advised of any new measures at the national level as they occur.

I am asking every department to respect their local civil authorities as well. Different states have different measures in effect. Like veterans, they are risking their health and wellbeing in order to keep us safe. This is a new kind of crisis for them as well.

The Buddy Check program is perhaps more important now than ever before. Rely on telephone, email or social media to communicate since person-to-person contact is not the safest option. Please be particularly attentive to seniors, a population that is especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of this virus.

I do realize that some of the measures we have taken will inconvenience many of you. Nobody wants this to last any longer than necessary. And once it is determined that the conditions are safe, operations will return to normal. I thank you in advance for your patience, resilience and continued service to our great organization and country.

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