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Veterans Benefits Information

New Mexico Post 13 hosting annual employment event

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American Legion Post 13 in Albuquerque, N.M., will host its fifth annual Operation Hiring Heroes Employment Event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 10.

The annual event at Post 13, 1201 Legion Road NE, draws a variety of employers offering jobs for veterans, transitioning servicemembers and military spouses. While the event, sponsored by New Mexico Workforce Connection, is veteran-focused, it is also open to the public.

Approximately 50 employers are expected at the event, which is free to jobseekers.


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American Legion testifies on president's proposed VA budget

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American Legion Senior Legislative Associate Larry Lohmann testified April 3 before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on issues pertaining to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) fiscal year 2020 budget.

“Inherently,” he said, “an adequately funded VA budget provides care to veterans and that makes it a paramount objective in The American Legion’s mission.”

In his testimony before the committee, Lohmann focused on key issues highlighted in the budget, including implementation of the VA MISSION Act, Appeals Modernization, and Cost of Living Adjustment round-downs.

The MISSION Act is a comprehensive law that overhauls how veterans receive their health care through the VA. The law also includes provisions to consolidate community care programs into a single, streamlined service; reforms the VA health-care infrastructure; and expands VA’s Caregiver Support Program to eligible veterans who were injured prior to Sept. 11, 2001.

One of the American Legion’s concerns regarding the president’s proposed budget, said Lohmann, is that the resources are sufficient to ensure these programs are successful and that Congress must address these appropriation needs.

“Under the president’s proposed budget, we are concerned with the ability of VA to expand its comprehensive caregiver support program to severely injured World War II, Korean and Vietnam War veterans and their family caregivers under the statutorily mandated timetable,” he said. “VA MISSION Act will require more resources than have been provided through regular appropriations in Fiscal Year 2019 and it will cause care appropriation needs by the VA for future fiscal years.”

The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act (AMA) is one of the most significant changes made to VA and transforms how VA reviews disputes with VA claims decisions. Signed into law by President Trump at The American Legion's 99th national convention in Reno, Nev., the AMA became effective February 2019.

Noting that The American Legion hold powers of attorney for 1.3 million claimants and the vested interest of The American Legion in defending veterans during the claims and appeals process, Lohmann emphasized that working together with VA and Congress is vital to ensuring the success of the new appeals system.

“The American Legion supports the funding in the president’s budget as it applies to VA programs and urges Congress to appropriate this money and use its oversight authority to make sure stakeholder voices continue to be heard," Lohmann testified. “In addition to funding newly implemented laws, care for veterans means making sure long existing programs continue to operate as they were intended to.”

Cost of living adjustment (COLA) round-downs under the president’s proposed budget would impact Dependency and Indemnity Compensation recipients as well as Education Programs — something The American Legion opposed through resolution.

“The effect of these proposed round-downs would serve as a tax on disabled veterans and their survivors, decreasing the amount of money they receive each year,” Lohmann testified. “The administration and Congress should not seek to balance the budget on the backs of veterans who have served their country.

“We understand with creative solutions that have been made possible with innovative legislation enacted by the last Congress, come new questions to be answered. Together with cooperation and by remaining flexible, we will make these programs work and answer those questions for America’s veterans.”


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Team effort

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TALARC Vice President Bill Sloan made the following report in the club's latest newsletter on how the 100th birthday of The American Legion was celebrated over the airwaves:

"As we continue to sort through the many logs and reports from our sister stations participating in the American Legion 100th Birthday Special Event held on March 9, we’re pleased to report a successful event highlighted further by a record number of TALARC stations that made successful QSOs, and even helped out by acting as K9TAL net control stations at various times throughout the day. Band conditions were not unfavorable, but with a series of thunderstorms racing across the continent both 20M and 40M were quite noisy.

"Despite the QRN, Bill (KI0CW) in South Dakota, and Everett (WA3DVO), Kenny (KB3IIE) and other members of Maryland Post 275 (N3TAL) gathered in dozens of contacts coast to coast on 20M. K9TAL operators at National Headquarters in Indianapolis also swapped K9TAL SE net control duties on the 40M band with K3EMD, the Easton Amateur Radio Society in Easton, Md., throughout the day, with superb coordination and results. And special thanks as well to Shannon (W6SPY), George (KM4QOY/W4CDA), Don (KA5DON/K5TAL), and several other TALARC members and many of our 38 American Legion post amateur radio clubs, who relayed contacts from far corners of the country.

"As a result, American Legion National Headquarters has so far mailed 73 special Event Certificates and QSLs to interested ham radio operators, as well as a dozen or so emails and letters of appreciation. We also added about 30 new members since the day of the special event – always a great result of getting K9TAL on the air. If you QSO’d with any of the SE stations on any frequency or by any mode, National Headquarters has a commemorative certificate for you. To get yours, send a self-addressed 9x12, stamped envelope to The American Legion Amateur Radio Club, c/o The American Legion, 700 N. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, IN 46204. Please include your approximate contact time, frequency and mode – HF, IRLP or EchoLink. We collect QSL cards as well, and will return our own in exchange."


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American Legion to host military hiring fair in Los Angeles

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Hiring Our Heroes is collaborating with The American Legion to host a military hiring fair in Los Angeles.

The Hiring Fair will take place Tuesday, April 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at American Legion Hollywood Post 43, 2035 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90068.

The event includes a resume workshop taught by The American Legion that will focus on resume building, networking and interviewing tips. Career coaches will be on hand to help participants develop an elevator pitch and to participate in mock interviews following the workshop.

The American Legion also will host a LinkedIn workshop. Participants will learn how to optimize resources available via LinkedIn, as well as how to manage a LinkedIn profile.

To register for the Military Hiring Fair and connect with local and national employers, visit www.hiringourheroes.org/events.

Registration: 8:30 a.m.

Workshops: 9:00-1:30 a.m.

Hiring Fair: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


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Arizona town celebrates GI Bill’s 75th anniversary

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The town of Florence, Ariz., paid tribute March 30 to one of its most famous former citizens: Ernest W. McFarland, the U.S. senator who sponsored the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, 75 years earlier. Drafted initially on stationery at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., by American Legion Past National Commander Harry Colmery, the GI Bill was signed into law by Franklin Roosevelt on June 22, 1944.

McFarland, along with 1943-1944 American Legion National Commander Warren Atherton, shepherded the legislation through Congress and are jointly considered the “fathers of the GI Bill.”

The day began with a parade through the center of Florence, a town of around 33,000 people roughly an hour southeast of Phoenix in Penal County. Bordered to the east by the scenic Superstition Mountains, Florence is one of the oldest towns in the area and its National Historic District has more than 25 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The parade featured a horse-mounted color guard, floats from various local civic groups and politicians, and old jeeps. Children carrying small American flags lined the sides of the main street and scrambled to recover candy thrown by those in the parade – like Department of Arizona American Legion Commander Steve Aguirre.

“It is extremely important that the Legion Family must continue to think outside the box when it comes to educating the veteran community and the general public about our mission and the accomplishments of the organization,” said Aguirre, noting the importance of Legion visibility in community events like this.

“We, as veterans and members of the largest wartime, all-volunteer veterans organization in the world, know our story of community service, programs for our youth, veterans advocacy, promoting Americanism and advocating for a strong national defense,” he said. “Yet there are thousands of veterans families in our communities that have never heard us explain who and what The American Legion does for veterans and the community at large.”

Florence Post 9 Commander Jose Maldonado agreed.

“It feels great to know that The American Legion was instrumental in not only myself and others receiving this benefit, but I also went as far as to find out that in 2017 President Trump signed the Forever GI Bill extending the allowable time period for veterans to pursue educational opportunities.”

McFarland family members served as grand marshals for the parade and spoke at a gathering in the town’s park afterward.

“My grandfather, Ernest McFarland, who preferred to be called ‘Mac,’ would be deeply honored that his hometown people here in Florence are recognizing him and his works here today,” said John D. Lewis, McFarland’s grandson. “The hardest job that my brothers and sisters and I have here is as we go out to preserve my grandfather’s legacy, is that my grandfather did so much.”

Indeed, it would be difficult to overstate the impact McFarland had not just on Florence but all of Arizona.

“If Arizona had a Mount Rushmore, the men on it would be Carl Hayden (a longtime Arizona U.S. senator), Ernest McFarland, Barry Goldwater and John McCain,” Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble once noted.

Born in an Oklahoma log cabin in 1894, McFarland enlisted in the U.S. Navy following the outbreak of war in 1917. Sent to the Great Lakes Naval Station to train, McFarland became ill with a lung disease that left him hospitalized for 10 months and nearly killed him. Following his honorable discharge two years later, McFarland moved to Arizona as doctors felt it would be a better climate for him to recuperate in. McFarland studied law at Stanford before returning to Penal County to pursue his legal career, where he served as county attorney and then was elected as a Superior Court judge.

In 1941, McFarland ran for U.S. Senate, handily winning both the Democratic Primary and then the general election. He served in the Senate until 1953, as the Majority Leader for the final two years. Following a loss in his 1952 re-election bid, McFarland returned to Arizona where he served as governor from 1955-1959, and then as associate justice and later Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court from 1965-1971. McFarland was the first, and thus far only, Arizonan to serve in the highest offices of all three branches of Arizona government.

But it was for his work on the GI Bill that McFarland made the biggest impact on veterans.

“He sponsored over 40 veterans’ bills,” noted a 2016 Arizona Times article about McFarland, “but his greatest contribution rested in drafting the portions of the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – the ‘GI Bill’ – that gave veterans access to education through tuition assistance, zero-down home loans, and low-interest business loans. It improved the lives of nearly 50 million ex-servicemen and women, along with millions of their dependents. According to one historian, the GI Bill generated 450,000 trained engineers, 91,000 scientists, 67,000 doctors, 22,000 dentists, 238,000 teachers, and more than 1 million other college-educated professionals.”

“My grandfather, to us, was just our grandfather,” Lewis said. “We never really knew what a political giant he was until we got older. And for me, I didn’t really realize the breadth of all he’d done until 10 years ago when I went through all his papers.”

Representatives from the office of Arizona Gov. Dan Ducey and Florence’s member of Congress, Paul Gosar, were on hand for the ceremony in the town square, as well as members of the State Legislature and Florence Mayor Tara Walter. Each brought a proclamation for McFarland’s family to mark his signature legislative accomplishment 75 years earlier.

Aguirre was humbled and honored that he could speak at the event as well, telling the story of the organization he leads in Arizona during its centennial year. “It was simply amazing how the event was educational and yet told the story of how The American Legion was involved in (the GI Bill’s) creation,” he observed.


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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 www.archives.gov