Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Getting off tobacco road leads to renewed relief

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I always thought about quitting smoking. I hated the taste, the smell on my clothes, the constant coughing and belabored breathing. But I thought it made me feel better emotionally — even though I felt worse physically.

When I started smoking 16 years ago, at first it was just experimentation; then it became social and, as I got older, an established habit. I tried everything to quit — cinnamon, chewing gum, nicotine gum, smokeless tobacco, vaping — but they were all failed attempts. The most I would go without a cigarette was three weeks, and then I’d come up with an excuse for having one. “You only have one life; why not enjoy it,” “It’s just one cigarette,” or “It’s been a stressful day, I’ll start again tomorrow,” I’d tell myself.

Ties between the United States military and the tobacco industry trace back to the early 20th century. Reports show that during the Second World War, for example, cigarette advertisements praising service members were widespread on popular radio programs and in periodicals, and were even included as inserts in prepackaged meals.

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TAKE ON HEP C movement a success in Sturgis

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Sturgis, S.D., marked the first stop for The American Legion and AbbVie’s TAKE ON HEP C – a nationwide movement to bring free hepatitis C (hep C) antibody testing to veterans and their communities. Between Aug. 4-7 at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, 188 veterans and others were tested. And two veterans joined The American Legion.

A TAKE ON HEP C tour bus served as a mobile veteran outreach center that provided free hep C antibody testing with same-day results. Together, The American Legion and AbbVie – a global biopharmaceutical company – provided attendees at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally with educational resources about the disease and how to understand their risk factors, get tested for free, and be energized to TAKE ON HEP C.

Many people stopped by the bus to tell their story, or of someone they know, about being tested and cured of hep C. Others understood the importance of hep C awareness and thanked The American Legion and AbbVie for their efforts, while others asked why they have been hearing a lot about hep C lately and were able to learn that hep C is now easily cured. The #TAKEONHEPC movement was spread during the rally through word of mouth, National Headquarters staff providing on-air interviews with local radio stations, and social media.

The next stop for the TAKE ON HEP C tour will be Minneapolis, Aug. 24-26, for The American Legion's 100th national convention. Visit for a complete list of tour dates.

One out of every 20 veterans enrolled with the Veterans Health Administration have hep C, more than three times the infection rate of the general U.S. population. Potential blood-to-blood exposure during military service, receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant before 1992, and working in health care settings elevate the risk for veterans. Sharing personal items such as razors or toothbrushes with someone who has hep C, or receiving tattoos or body piercings in unregulated settings, can also pose exposure risks. All veterans should know their risk factors, get tested for hep C, and learn their results so they can talk with their doctors about next steps.

Visit to learn more about the disease, exposure risks, symptoms and testing information.

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Legion Baseball regionals: Day 1 recap

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Day 1 is over for the 2018 American Legion Baseball regionals. While half the teams moved on to the winners’ bracket, the other half cannot afford to lose again in the double elimination event.

For brackets, schedules and live stats click here. To follow the action on the American Legion Baseball app, click here.

Region 6 features live streaming, which can be found here. Select Region 8 games are being live streamed here.

Here is a recap of the eight regionals from Day 1:

Region 1: Northeast – Shrewsbury, Mass.

The first region to kick off the regionals featured a host of good pitching. Essex, Vt., Post 91 took home a 4-1 win over Southington, Conn., Post 72 behind Maverick King's stellar performance, going the distance with nine strikeouts and without allowing just one earned run. Portland, Maine, had three pitchers combine for a shutout in a 1-0 win over Cumberland, R.I., in the late morning game. Braintree, Mass., Post 86 finished the day with a 7-2 win over Ellington, Conn., Post 62. The Northeast region could only complete three games Wednesday due to weather, so there will be five games in Shrewsbury, Mass., on Thursday.

Region 2: Mid-Atlantic – Purcellville, Va.

After Broad Street Park, N.J., Post 313 took a 7-3 win in the opener, the Mid-Atlantic region finished with three straight one-run games with Wilmington, Del., Post 1 winning 1-0, on a walk-off error. A Cooper Rosner single gave Vienna, Va., Post 180 another walk-off in the third game, winning 7-6. In the nightcap, the hosts, Leesburg, Va., Post 34 fell 5-4, to Severna Park, Md., Post 175. Each of the first five hitters in the Maryland lineup scored a run in the nail-biter.

Region 3: Southeast – Asheboro, N.C.

Rain shortened opening day for Region 3, forcing scheduling changes to Thursday. However, the Asheboro regional did complete three games. Lyon Co., Ky., Post 68 scored in five innings to take home an 11-1 win in the opener. Troy, Ala., Post 70 followed with a 7-4 win in the middle contest. The region’s final contest pitted Tallahassee, Fla., Post 13 and Wilmington, N.C., Post 10. In a game with just six hits total, Brad Lord out-dueled Price King to give Florida the victory.

Region 4: Mid-South – New Orleans

Region 4 had two shutouts with Tupelo, Miss., Post 49 posting a 7-0 victory in the morning contest and Gonzales, La., Post 81 taking home a 2-0 victory in the third game of the day. Coleton Ausbern and Twain Guice were the starters for the two teams, respectively, but both got help from the bullpen to finish off the game. Tupelo’s Jeremiah Hill ended up a triple shy of the cycle. Bryant, Ark., Post 298, which reached the 2017 American Legion World Series, used four pitchers to piece together an 8-3 win. Logan Chambers and Logan Catton combined for five runs at the top of the Bryant lineup. In the night game, Jefferson City, Mo., Post 5 allowed the host New Orleans Post 285 to equalize in the fourth inning, but immediately responded in the bottom half of the frame to take a 2-1 victory.

Region 5: Great Lakes – Napoleon, Ohio

It was a tough start for the home state as both Circleville Post 130 and the hosts Napoleon Post 300 fell on opening day to Sheboygan, Wis., Post 83, and Danville, Ill., Post 210, respectively. In the morning half of the slate, Midland, Mich., Post 165 capitalized on a Garrett Willis three-hit shutout to top Eau Claire, Wis., Post 53. Terre Haute, Ind., Post 346 bested Mt. Prospect, Ill., Post 525, 5-1, in the region’s other contest.

Region 6: Central Plains – Dickinson, N.D.

American Legion Baseball is testing regional live streaming at Region 6, and the North Dakota-based regional provided entertaining contests for the internet audience. Easton Young started the day off for Millard West, Neb., Post 374 by pitching a two-hit shutout over Wayzata, Minn., Post 118 in a 1-0 contest. Following a Dubuque, Co., Post 137 win over Rapid City, S.D., Post 22, the fans were treated to a great contest in the early afternoon. West Fargo, N.D., Post 308 scored three runs in their last at-bat to overcome a deficit and walk off New Brighton, Minn., Post 513, 6-5. You can see the winning hit by clicking here. In the nightcap, Omaha, Neb., Post 1- Burke H.S., dispatched of the hosts, Dickinson, N.D., Post 3, behind a strong offensive effort.

Region 7: Northwest – Missoula, Mont.

Yakima Valley, Wash., Post 36 rallied for three in the top of the seventh with consecutive hits from Carson Vick and Anthony Tatro bringing in the tying and go-ahead runs to defeat Medford, Ore., Post 15, 4-3. Not to be outdone, the second game was equally riveting with Alex Nielbeck stealing second to allow Charlie Tentinger to bring him home as Meridian, Idaho, Post 113 capped a four-run rally to walk off winners against Juneau, Alaska. Five runs from Waipahu, Hawaii, in the bottom of the sixth weren't enough to catch Billings, Mont., Post 4, as Billings won 11-8. Jarret Leinwand and Sam Evenson both homered for Billings. Capping off the evening, the hosts Missoula Post 27 fell, 5-3, to Cheyenne, Wyo., Post 6.

Region 8: Western – Denver

League City, Texas, Post 554 closed strongly with four runs in the final three innings to earn a 6-2 win in the opener. In the second game, Las Vegas Post 40 rallied from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 3-2 win over Petaluma, Calif. A four-run first inning was enough for Fort Collins, Colo., Post 1879 in a 5-3 win over Tuscon, Ariz. In the evening contest, the hosts Greeley, Colo., earned a 2-0 shutout victory behind Connery O'Donnell on the mound hurling 6 1/3 shutout innings before Colton Wilder closed it out.


Select games are streaming live on

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The perfect setting for a historical unveiling

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In early August, Legionnaire Keith LaMee stood up in front of 25 or so people at American Legion Post 5 in Colorado Springs, Colo., and helped introduce a new U.S. Postal Service stamp commemorating the World War I centennial.

Being able to be a part of the ceremony – the master of ceremony, in fact – meant a lot to the Paid-Up-For-Life member of The American Legion.

“I thought it was a great honor,” said LaMee, a past post commander and adjutant. “I love history. All the artifacts that were around (the unveiling) were, for the most part, my personal items. It was just the right place for this.”

LaMee, who works for the U.S. Postal Service, was able to use his contacts to bring the unveiling ceremony moved to Post 5. American Legion Family state leadership attended the ceremony, including Senior Vice Commander Dean Noechel and Sons of The American Legion Detachment Commander Ron Noakes.

The stamp, the “Turning the Tide,” was designed by USPS Art Director Greg Breeding and was based on an illustration by Mark Stutzman. The stamp features a doughboy holding a U.S. flag against a backdrop of smoke, barbed wire and biplanes flying overhead.

Post 5 was chartered in 1919 and was, to LaMee, a perfect place to unveil the stamp. “Without World War I there’s no American Legion,” he said. “It was all founded by our forefathers that serves, and it was just kind of apropos. The doughboy that they picture is an artillery officer. Our first post commander in 1919 served in the artillery. And Post 5 is the oldest Legion post in Colorado Springs.”

The stamp is now available at post offices nationwide.

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‘A wonderful thing for me’

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Once or twice a week, you’ll find Carl Levi eating lunch with other military retirees at Wally’s, a historic Chattanooga diner, at a table reserved for him – the “General’s Table,” marked by a Tennessee-shaped plaque.

A 64-year member of The American Legion, Levi is one of the state’s most beloved veterans. He entered the Army as a private in 1952 and retired as a brigadier general from the Tennessee National Guard 35 years later. Chattanooga’s National Guard armory drill hall is named for him.

He spent decades in public service, too, as assistant city treasurer for 17 years and treasurer for 25 years. After retiring, he was elected to two terms as a Hamilton County trustee.

In 1954, Levi applied for his education benefits, and a service officer told him he should join The American Legion. “I said, ‘Why should I?’ And he said, ‘Well, they got you the GI Bill,” Levi recalls. At the time, he was playing in a band with a fellow veteran, who told about the local Legion post’s drum and bugle corps. He was sold.

Levi served 20 years as commander of Chattanooga American Legion Post 14, where he became close friends with Medal of Honor recipients Charles Coolidge and Desmond Doss. Levi gave the eulogy at Doss’ funeral in 2006.

“I’ve been a very fortunate person,” he says. “I served my country, I enjoyed it, and I’ve enjoyed The American Legion. It’s been a wonderful thing for me.”

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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