Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Legion Legacy Scholarship awards $671,892 in student aid

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Since its inception following the 9/11 attacks, The American Legion Legacy Scholarship has been available for children whose parents lost their lives while honorably serving on active duty on or after 9/11. During the 2016 American Legion Spring Meetings last May, the National Executive Committee ensured that more children of veterans would have access to higher education with the passage of Resolution 1, which expanded the Legacy Scholarship’s eligibility and aid. The resolution allows children of post-9/11 veterans with a VA disability rating of 50 percent or higher to apply for the renewable scholarship, which awards up to $20,000 in aid.

The American Legion's Americanism Commission announced May 10 during the organization's Spring Meetings that the Legacy Scholarship awarded $671,892 in financial aid to 55 children of the fallen and disabled.

The renewable scholarship is for the expense of graduate or post-graduate tuition, books, room and board, meal plans, transportation and other supplies needed to achieve a higher education.

The Legacy Scholarship is a needs-based one. The grant amount each scholarship recipient receives is be based on his or her financial need after all federal and state aid is exhausted. Recipients will have a year to use the grant and may reapply to the scholarship up to six times. And the number of scholarships awarded and the amount of financial aid granted to each awardee (this includes returning applicants) will be determined on donations to the scholarship fund and one's financial needs.

For more information about the Legacy Scholarship or to make a donation to the Legacy Scholarship Fund, visit

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Legionnaires: ‘Who will fill our shoes?’

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For nearly a century it’s been The American Legion who has advocated for veterans, instilled the values of citizenship to children and youth, assisted veterans’ families in need, educated the public about protecting Old Glory, lobbied for maintaining a strong national defense, and much more.

In effort for The American Legion to maintain leadership on these pillars for the next century and beyond, National Commander Charles E. Schmidt opened his remarks to members of the National Executive Committee with a question – “For all the Legionnaires that are no longer a part of our organization, who’s going to fill their shoes?

“Who is going to fill all of your shoes – leaders in your communities and departments of The American Legion? The American Legion is better because of what you have contributed.”

Schmidt’s question to the NEC May 10 during Spring Meetings in Indianapolis was in regards to the decline in membership for 2016-2017.

“Everywhere I go I tell Legionnaires that if each of them would recruit just one new member, we would double our membership. And when someone recruits three new members, I call or email them,” he said.

Schmidt received an email back from Monica Trujillo, a member of Post 29 in Port Angeles, Wash., who said, “I’m honored to have served this great nation … I look forward to reinvesting my efforts to garner younger veterans into volunteerism.”

“I’m glad there are Legionnaires like Monica, who are working to get new members and mentoring younger ones to someday fill our shoes,” Schmidt said. “But what about the rest of us?”

During Schmidt's remarks, all but two NECman were handed a sheet that listed contact information for all the non-renewals in their respective Legion posts. The two who did not receive a list had zero non-renewals.

“Find out why they left the fold and find a way to fix it,” he said. “If people feel wanted and appreciated, they will renew.”

Also included on the sheets were the names of posts in the NECman’s respective departments and the number of non-renewals in each post. “We all believe in leadership by example and this is your opportunity to do so in your departments,” Schmidt said. “Since you are reaching out to past members of your post, expect other leaders in your department to do the same.”

Schmidt reminded those in attendance that is another great avenue for accessing members who are either expired, new in the area or in a holding post. He encouraged everyone who isn’t a registered user of to call (800) 433-3318 or send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Schmidt then announced a new incentive to join MyLegion – the NEC passed Resolution No. 1 Wednesday morning, which makes contact information for newly acquired DMS members available immediately through This will go into effect July 1. The resolution was passed with hopes that the retention rate of DMS members would increase if they were contacted and asked to transfer into a local post rather than sitting in a headquarters post.

“We can provide the information but it is up to all of you, your departments, posts and membership chairs to provide the tender loving care to these members so that they feel part of The American Legion family.”

Schmidt emphasized the need to maintain a strong membership, which is to ensure our voice is heard on Capitol Hill when fighting for veterans and to continuing supporting veterans, their families, and children and youth through the organization’s many programs.

One Legion program that continues to grow every year due to the financial needs of veterans and their families is the Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program – the commander’s charity program – which provides cash grants to eligible veterans with minor children help pay for the costs of shelter, food, clothing and medical expenses. In 2016, TFA issued $830,010 in grants, an increase of nearly $6,000 from the previous year.

“That means meeting the need in 2016 required the full national per capital dues of 320 more Legionnaires than the year before. We can’t continue to lose membership and at the same time do more each year for those who need our help,” Schmidt said.

The commander’s parting words to the NEC was a call for them to take action.

“Since my election as national commander, I have asked Legionnaires to ‘Carry the Legacy Forward.’ But who is going to fill our shoes in order to do that?”

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Showing support and thanks, stitch by stitch

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American Legion National Vice Commander Douglas L. Boldt has made four Quilts of Valor presentations to veterans in the past few months. The Department of Nebraska Legionnaire calls the presentations very moving experiences.

But on May 8, Boldt was able to contribute to a Quilts of Valor presentation in another way. He and other Legion family members had a hand in making quilts during a special event at the Sheraton City Centre Hotel in Indianapolis.

For the third straight year, the Legion’s Spring Meetings were the backdrop for a Quilts of Valor Day of Service event. Dozens of Legion and American Legion Auxiliary members were able to help sew quilts that will be presented to a group of American Legion past national commanders on May 10.

“I think Quilts of Valor is a worthwhile endeavor,” Boldt said. “The recipients are so grateful – humble and grateful and appreciative when receiving the quilts."

Getting a chance to help create a quilt wasn’t without risks, Boldt joked. But it was worth it.

“You can’t help but think when you’re sitting there running that doggone machine … you don’t want to get your doggone finger caught in it,” Boldt said with a laugh. “But you can’t get that image out of your mind (of) the look in their eye … as you’re watching them wrap themselves up in their quilt. The look in their eye is something that stays with you for a long, long time. Maybe forever.”

Quilts of Valor is a nationwide program that provides handmade quilts to wounded servicemembers and veterans recovering in military and Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, as well as any other veterans of any era. More than 159,000 quilts have been awarded since the project started in 2003.

Past Department of Iowa Auxiliary President Ann Rehbein, executive director of the Quilts of Valor Foundation, again helped organize the event – the third such effort at the Spring Meetings.

“It’s something I have a passion for, obviously, but it also brings together this group of ladies and gentlemen together for a common cause,” Rehbein said. “People are starting to recognize what it is, and that’s the point – to get brand awareness out. And people are happy to have the opportunity to volunteer."

Rehbein said seeing a quilt from pieces of fabric to being presented to a veteran brings with it a special reward. “We have stories from veterans that say ‘no one ever thanked me for my service, and this is my first thank you,’” she said. “It’s very emotional at times.

“We presented a quilt not long ago to a World War II veteran, and he said, ‘When I came home I got off the bus (and) walked down Main Street to my parents’ house. There was no brass band there waiting for me. He said, ‘I guess this is my brass band.’”

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Department Spotlight: Alaska maintains strong Legion Baseball program

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American Legion Baseball has been a force in Alaska since the mid-1960s. More than two-dozen teams are fielded statewide, making it possible for Anchorage – Alaska’s largest city – to have eight high school baseball teams. Now run under the auspices of the Alliance for the Support of American Legion Baseball, the program has produced 10 Major League Baseball draft picks in recent years and three notable pro players including Chad Bentz, Marshall Boze and Chris Mabeus.

American Legion Baseball in Alaska also has included dozens of players who went on to play college ball. That includes Lauren Frost, who played American Legion Baseball in Eagle River and went on to become an infielder on the Stanford University women’s softball team.

"If it wasn’t for The American Legion, there wouldn’t be any high school baseball," said Russ Baker, Department of Alaska Baseball chairman, on the Legion’s long-running work to fund high school baseball in Anchorage and keep the bases loaded throughout the summer with a seamless transition for players to Legion ball. Much of the funding comes from grants."

Alaska Legion Baseball hosted its 14th annual Youth Baseball & Softball Camp this past March at Hanshew Middle School in Anchorage. The camp, which is open to boys and girls ages 5 to 14, focused on game fundamentals, hitting and smart throwing. The baseball exercises were taught by college, high school and Legion Baseball coaches.

The program also hosted a four-day winter clinic in January for players intereseted in playing college baseball.

Learn more about American Legion Baseball in Alaska on Facebook and online.














Get in-depth instruction in all aspects of the game, detailed practice lesson plans and important information for youth coaches and parents.


This high-paced, informative camp now features extended times for more instruction.






As a bonus, a special parent & coaches session will be held Saturday, Jan. 14., from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. and also Sunday, Jan. 15, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.


Learn what college coaches are looking for and how to get your player to the next level.

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7 tips for asking better questions in the job search

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By Lida Citroën

As you transition to your civilian career and prepare the tools you'll need – from a resume to elevator pitch and online profiles – you should also arm yourself with the skill to ask good questions as part of your job search.

There are many instances when you'll need to ask interesting, poignant and relevant questions. Often, the questions you ask will highlight your knowledge and insight. In a job interview, informational interview or meeting with a key networking contact, it helps to have good questions you can ask of them.

Before you consider the types of questions you'll ask, first clarify your goals and motivation: A good question starts with understanding why you are asking the question and why you want the answer: Are you trying to prove a point? Validate your suspicions? Catch someone in a lie? Build a better relationship?

Here are 7 tips for asking better questions:

  1. Be direct and specific. Oftentimes, questions don't return a valuable response because the asker isn't clear and direct. For instance, when requesting assistance with your job search from a networking contact, don't ask them if they "have any ideas for how I can get a job…?" Instead ask, "Do you have any connections at ABC Company? I'm interested in interviewing there."

  2. Know when to ask open-ended versus closed questions. There are times when a yes/no question makes sense. For instance, if you are confirming an appointment, you might ask, "Are we still meeting today at noon?" But, when looking to start or build a conversation, enlist insight and information, or showcase your knowledge on a topic, avoid closed-ended (yes/no) questions. In an informational interview, for example, you might inquire, "How did you get started in your career at this company?" to receive a more detailed and informative response.

  3. Evaluate the appropriateness of the question. Just because you want to know something doesn't mean it's okay to ask. Consider whether the question you want to ask is of a personal nature, which might cross a line of professionalism. Similarly, could the question imply you are seeking confidential insight? Stay away from a question that could be inappropriate to the situation or your relationship with the recipient.

  4. Silence can be golden. When asking a question, it can be tempting to fill the silence if the other person hesitates. Give them time to respond. Some questions require thought and care in responding. Just because the other person doesn't fire back a quick response doesn't mean something is wrong. When you give the other person time to consider a response, it's a sign of respect.

  5. Set up and properly frame the question. Does your question require context to be understood? If in an interview, consider that the interviewer might be seeing many job candidates on that day, and if you provide background to your question you can make yourself stand out. For instance, instead of asking, "Where will this project be five years from now?" consider asking, "I'm looking to leverage the team building skills I developed in my military career, to grow a team and project into a sustainable and scalable business unit in the company. Do you envision this type of growth for this project over the next five years?"

  6. Resist interrupting or answering for them. Avoid asking a question and then answering it before the other person can respond, such as "Why are competitors coming into your space? Is it because prices have been driven down, overseas competition is getting smarter, and your company hasn't stayed progressive?" This feels more like you were trying to show off your knowledge. Similarly, if the other person rambles a bit when answering, let them. You asked the question to hear an answer. Avoid getting impatient and interrupting them.

  7. Ask again, if need be. It might happen that the person misunderstood what you asked. In that case, politely restate your question, or ask it a different way. Your goal is to solicit a response that is valuable to you. Reframe the question and ask it again if need be.

A well-thought out question can deliver great insight and information to a job seeker. You might learn more about the industry, company or individual by asking appropriate and interesting questions. Always have a set of questions ready for networking situations, informational interviews, job fairs, and interviews.

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