Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

'This can be done'

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Legionnaire Daniel Holman lost his legs on active duty while serving in the U.S. Army in 1988. A motorcycle rider before his injuries, he never planned on giving up on his passion.

But he also knew it would be a challenge. Little things like taking his bike in for repairs at a motorcycle shop became harder.

“I wear only one prosthetic. I can’t wear one on the other side,” said Holman, a resident of Nevada but member of American Legion Post 69 in Albuquerque. “Imagine going from the service department at the Las Vegas (Harley-Davidson dealership) on one artificial leg over 900 to the customer waiting area, and then having to make that trip all the way back.

“On a good day it’s no problem. But say it’s extremely hot … or I happen to (sweat) a little bit more because of the heat – it’s hell. And you can take a chance of your leg being wobbly or possibly falling into one of the motorcycles on display.”

Not wanting others to deal with that situation is why Holman created his “Wheelcharrier” program, which he hopes will eventually result in putting a wheelchair in every Harley-Davidson dealership in the nation.

On his own he’s been off to a good start. Initially wanting to supply the wheelchairs into three Harley dealerships in Nevada, he’s placed wheelchairs in dealerships in Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona. He’s also facilitated the Veterans Integration Center in Albuquerque, N.M., being provided with a motorized wheelchair and lift.

“Many handicap riders have no way of carrying a wheelchair with them on their motorcycle,” Holman said. “Crutches provide limited mobility and distance within a dealership. A wheelchair provided with each service department will provide a solution to a necessary need.”

Once people heard about his efforts, Holman said wheelchairs started being donated. Several were provided through a month-long team-building exercise at Barrick Gold Corp’s Goldstrike operation process division in Nevada.

Holman travels part of the way to each dealership riding his motorcycle and part of the way driving his truck pulling a trailer carrying the wheelchairs. He’s either rode or driven more than 2,000 miles to pick up and deliver wheelchairs. Others, including Legion Riders from Post 69, also are helping deliver the wheelchairs.

Holman is asking that any American Legion members decide to implement the program in their states use the name “Wheelcharrier” and also let him know whenever they provide a wheelchair at a dealership.

“It’s big enough now that I want to see every Harley-Davidson dealership in the United States doing it,” Holman said. “I am only one person. But with everyone in other states combined, this can be done.”

Read More introduces new skills translator

E-mail Print PDF, a partner of The American Legion, has released a new, personality-assessment based version of its popular Military Skills Translator to help veterans better understand their qualifications and what career fields may best match their interests and skill sets.

The Military Skills Translator is designed to allow job seekers and recruiters to directly translate military experience and skills into civilian terminology.

Military Skills Translator + Personality Assessment was developed using existing military skills information and blending that with technology developed by Traitify to go beyond skills translation and incorporate personality testing. The Traitify Career Discovery tool gives job seekers tailored recommendations on which career fields are best suited to their personalities.

After the servicemember or veteran completes the test, the Traitify results are paired with the Translator’s existing database of primary, secondary and tertiary skills sets related to military occupational codes. Veterans then see relevant career results and available jobs within those industries.

Visitors to can find a link to the Military Skills Translator in the Job Search Tool Kit on the Careers page,

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OCW grant helps support VA patients' financial, recovery needs

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An American Legion Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) grant delivered Nov. 17 was a first for the recipient and for one of the presenters.

The $10,000 OCW grant was presented to the VA St. Louis Health Care System - Jefferson Barracks Division by the help of National Commander Denise H. Rohan. The OCW presentation coincided with her visit to the Department of Missouri.

“It’s amazing to think of the difference that OCW can make in not just one person’s life but the whole family’s life,” Rohan said during the OCW presentation at the Voluntary Service Office. “It is Thanksgiving time and it is time for us to take care of our families and OCW is taking care of our families all year long. We are always there ready to help out our veterans who need extra comfort. OCW is a great program.”

St. Louis VA Deputy Director Desmond J. McMullan accepted the donation from both Rohan and past Missouri National Executive Committeeman Art Wilson.

“On behalf of the medical center director and the entire St. Louis team, we thank everyone here who put together this great, great opportunity to serve our veterans,” McMullan said.

Of the $10,000 grant, $5,000 of it went toward the purchase of canteen booklets that will be distributed to the five VA medical centers in Missouri. These canteen booklets help patients in need purchase food or other health care items during their stay.

“Canteen books provide patients comfort so if they don’t have cash in their pockets they don’t feel lost,” said Department of Missouri Service Officer Tracy Vawter. “And sometimes the canteen booklets will be used as a reward for patients on a lockdown ward; it’s sort of a therapeutic reinforcement for them. OCW is a very positive program.”

The other part of the grant went toward the purchase of needed items identified by the St. Louis VA. Several Legionnaires in the 10th District helped shop for these items which include 30 health and comfort kits that contain toiletries along with magazines, puzzle books and playing card decks; two 60-inch flat screen televisions for a recreation and rehabilitation hall; three 32-inch televisions for a mental health and drug abuse clinic; and shower shoes, winter gloves and hats, jeans, sweatpants and sweatshirts for both men and women, reading glasses and T-shirts for the Jefferson Barracks Domiciliary Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program for homeless veterans.

“It is really helpful to have warm clothing because a lot of time (the veterans) come in with just the clothes on their backs,” said Domiciliary Program Manager Erin McInerney-Ernst. “This (OCW donation) is really appreciated and it will be well used. This is imperative for us.”

The OCW grant also purchased 20 gift cards to help veterans who graduate from the domiciliary program purchase shoes for their new job. These gift cards are to a nearby Shoe Carnival as a result of a relationship that was formed between the store and a Legionnaire many years ago.

The American Legion shoe program at Jefferson Barracks began in the 1990s by Harrison Ochs, a World War II veteran, longtime Legionnaire and former service officer and VA volunteer who moved to Mississippi earlier this year. The Legion’s 10th District purchases the gift cards for $40 apiece, but they have a value of $55 and up depending on the specific shoes needed for the veteran's new job. The VA would contact Ochs weekly when a veteran graduated from the domiciliary program, and he would pick up the veteran and take them to the Shoe Carnival. Now, Legion Service Officer Thom White has stepped up to make sure the program continues and that a service officer always takes the veteran shopping.

A remarkable 2,500 veterans have been a recipient of the shoe program.

“I just want to say thank you so much. I have had the distinct pleasure of working with so many of your volunteers,” said St. Louis VA Public Affairs Manager Marcena Gunter to Rohan during the OCW presentation. “(Ochs) made such an impact on me and all of the patients and veterans, particularly the spinal cord unit (he solicited help of his fellow Legionnaires to purchase new televisions) and in our DOM. He is just one of the examples of your go-getters – the kind of people that you have in your organization that make things happen here at the facility level.

“Certainly the heart of our medical center is the caring and sharing that comes from the volunteers that you bring forth to us. So thank you so much. Thank you for this wonderful donation today and for the things that you do all the time with us.”

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Palm Springs ham club to host chat with Santa

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On Dec. 16, American Legion Post 519 Amateur Radio Club (K6TAL) of Palm Springs, Calif., will host its annual chat with Santa. Kids can come to the post to talk via amateur radio with Santa at the North Pole.

Veteran parents and adult families members are encouraged to bring their kids to the event, which starts at 9 a.m. Hot chocolate and candy canes will be served. Last year’s event drew more than 70 participants.

According to club member Tom McLean, “We especially enjoy being able to help young people experience both the magic of Christmas and the magic of amateur radio.”

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Networking 2.0

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Job searching has changed remarkably over the past 10 years. The Internet has transformed the entire job-search landscape. However, the most important thing hasn’t changed at all. Ask yourself these two questions: What was the best job search strategy/action 10 years ago? Networking. What is today’s best job search strategy/action? Networking. The fundamental process of networking has not changed and is still the best way to find a job. What has changed are the tools that expedite the networking process – namely, LinkedIn and Facebook, along with other online resources where you can identify people you know and people you want to know because they work in the industry and/or profession you are targeting. NETWORKING TIERS The best professional networks are multi-tiered. Your tier-1 contacts are the people you know (co-workers and colleagues, past supervisors and managers, alumni organizations, neighbors, friends, people you know from professional and/or community associations, realtors, financial advisers). Email your résumé and a short networking letter to them with the goal of getting two to three referrals to people they know. Those individuals will comprise your tier-2 network. When you email your tier-2 contacts, include the name of the person who referred you, communicate your professional expertise, inquire about opportunities and ask for referrals to two to three others: your tier-3 contacts. The bigger your network, the more opportunities you’ll uncover. TOTAL JOB SEARCH Your search plan will most likely include other activities: emailing your résumé and letter in response to print and online job postings, uploading your résumé to other employment websites, sending your résumé to recruiters who specialize in your profession, or writing a blog or posting online articles. All these activities and others will allow for a totally integrated campaign, but always remember that networking will score the most and best opportunities 99 percent of the time. Wendy Enelow is co-author of “Modernize Your Résumé: Get Noticed ... Get Hired” and “Expert Résumés for Military-to-Civilian Transitions.”

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Did you know?

Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request. This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family.