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Veterans Benefits Information

Tracking Space Force, admitting UFOs and invading Venezuela

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The fourth episode of Tango Alpha Lima, The American Legion’s new podcast, is now available. In this edition, co-hosts Mark Seavey, Jeff Daly and Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado chat about the launch of Space Force, the DoD admission of UFOs and the former Green Beret’s plan to invade Venezuela.

All podcasts are available in audio format, as well as a YouTube version, and can be found here.

Even better, you can subscribe for free to the Tango Alpha Lima podcast so that you never miss an episode. Here’s how:

• Download podcasts on your iPhone app: If you don’t already have the Podcast app on your phone, first go to the App Store on your iPhone, browse to the Podcasts app (link in Resources) and tap the “Free” button to install it.

Once the Podcast app is on your phone, open it and search for Tango Alpha Lima. Tap the logo and then hit the “Subscribe” button. When the download is complete, the most recent episode appears in the “My Podcasts” section of the Podcasts app. Tap the title to listen to it. You can also click on “See All Episodes” to download and listen to earlier episodes.

• Download podcasts using iTunes: Another option is to download podcasts in the iTunes app on your computer and sync them to your iPhone. Open the iTunes store on your computer, browse to the podcast you want to download and click the “Free” button to download it. Click “Subscribe” to subscribe to the podcast and automatically download all future episodes.

• Download podcasts on an Android device: First, choose a Podcast app you want to use and download it from an Android App Store. Once downloaded, open the app and use search to locate “Tango Alpha Lima.” From there you can subscribe to it and new episodes will be delivered automatically.

• Use Spotify: You can access Spotify via a cellphone or computer. Once you download the app or access the website, you can search for “Tango Alpha Lima” or just use this link to listen, download and/or subscribe to Tango Alpha Lima.

Another option is to watch the podcast video. All of the Tango Alpha Lima podcasts are also available as a video format. Watch and listen to each episode on The American Legion’s YouTube playlist for Tango Alpha Lima.


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New American Legion post 'first of its kind'

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While the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of an April 21 groundbreaking ceremony, the construction process of a new American Legion Post 139 in Arlington, Va., is underway this week.

“They are knocking the building down as you and I are speaking right now,” Post 139 Commander Bob Romano said in a phone interview May 12.

The new Post 139, expected to be completed in 2022, has been touted by developers as the first of its kind in the country. APAH, the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing, bought the 1.4-acre Post 139 property for about $9 million in 2016 with plans to demolish the 60-year-old post building and replace it with a 6,000-square-foot facility and 160 affordable housing units. Half of those apartments will be made available to homeless veterans, and Post 139 will reopen on the new building’s first floor.

In a press release, APAH CEO Nina Janopaul said the partnership was “thrilled to pioneer this model with American Legion Post 139.”

“Thousands of veteran-serving organizations across the nation face similar challenges: they own land with aging facilities and are experiencing declining membership,” Janopaul said. “This partnership will bring a new, accessible post, attractive to younger vets and co-located with a mix of housing options.”

The development will be named Lucille and Bruce Terwilliger Place in honor of the parents of real estate developer Ron Terwilliger, who donated $1.5 million to the project.

“I was pleased to fund this innovative project because Arlington is my hometown and I attended the Naval Academy. I want to support those who have served in our military and now need an affordable home,” Terwilliger said in the press release.

“As the first project of its kind in the country, Terwilliger Place offers a blueprint for veteran service organizations like The American Legion to partner with nonprofit developers to put their land to use on behalf of vulnerable veterans — men and women who have ably served our country but now find themselves struggling with significant health and housing challenges,” said Debbie Burkart, national vice president of supportive housing at National Equity Fund, Inc.

The $80 million project also included $33.8 million in low-income housing tax credits awarded by the Virginia Housing and Development Authority, and a loan of $11.5 million from Arlington County. Amazon also donated $1 million through the Arlington Community Foundation; all told, more than $4 million was raised through a capital campaign to support construction, enable more units serving extremely low-income households, and support programming once the building is complete.

Part of that programming at Post 139 will include legal support for veterans from nearby George Mason University’s law school. That help will be available eight hours a day, five days a week, Romano said.

Romano acknowledged that the cancellation of the groundbreaking ceremony was “disappointing,” as he had planned to thank post membership, the executive committee, and others who had helped the long process, including National American Legion Advisory Committee Chairman Bob Sussan and former District 17 Commander Glenn Yarborough.

“It was a huge compliment to us to have (Yarborough) involved as we moved forward,” Romano said. “… They were huge supporters of the project.”

Romano said it has “been a long process” since the project began in 2016.

“We’re all tired. It’s just been meetings and documents and signatures, just the repetition of it all.

“But we’re there; it’s a great feeling. … It’s a bright future for Post 139,” he added.


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Job fairs go virtual

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Nationwide, career workshops and job fairs have been going virtual in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hiring Our Heroes

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program has been presenting webinars and industry briefs online while the program’s hiring fairs nationwide have been postponed or canceled.

Click here for an updated schedule of virtual events.

Maryland/Virginia/D.C.

JobZone is hosting a virtual job fair focused on Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and surrounding areas from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 19.

Over 30 employers have registered for the job fair. Click here for details on the event, including how to register.

Pennsylvania

A veterans’ expo and job fair co-sponsored by The American Legion Department of Pennsylvania is going virtual.

The Berks County Veterans’ Expo and Job Fair was originally scheduled for May 27 in Wyomissing, Pa. The events will now be open online June 15-30.

Active and retired military members and their families in the area will be able to access local benefits and resources at www.veteransexpo.com. Meanwhile, jobseekers will be able to connect with local employers through the job fair at www.jobs610.com.


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Legion cancels national involvement in baseball for 2020

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In light of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, The American Legion has shut down all sponsorship and national involvement in baseball for the 2020 season.

Therefore, any baseball teams that wish to play this season will be participating in a sporting event not sponsored or endorsed by The American Legion’s national organization but a sporting event sponsored by their respective department and post.

Those departments that conduct a 2020 baseball season program will need to determine their rules, guidelines, schedules, insurance coverage, etc., for their own programs as The American Legion National Organization will not provide this assistance.

The national organization has stopped collecting and is subsequently returning all national baseball fees to teams.

With the shutdown of the online National American Legion Baseball registration portal, The American Legion National Organization has stopped referring baseball teams to the K&K Insurance portal for the 2020 baseball season. The departments that have their own programs will need to determine what insurance their teams need in order to play in their programs; The American Legion National Organization will not provide this assistance.

This decision follows the April decision of the Americanism Commission, which oversees the American Legion Baseball program, to cancel the 2020 regionals and American Legion World Series due to the pandemic.

Click here for the full memo announcing the decision.


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OUR WWII STORY: Origins of The American Legion Blood Donor Program

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On Dec. 9, 1941, two days after Pearl Harbor was bombed sending the nation into the Second World War, The American Legion’s Defense Committee was already at work in Washington preparing the organization for urgent military and home-front support. Three new national committees – Naval Affairs, Merchant Marine and Civil Defense – were assembled under the direction of the parent committee, headed by future National Commander Warren Atherton of California, who two years later would lead the Legion’s massive effort to draft and pass the GI Bill.

“The stab in the back at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, has necessitated revision and expansion of The American Legion National Defense plans, to the same proportionate extent that that catastrophe has changed the national program and the pattern of our daily lives,” Atherton reported of the Defense Committee’s challenge, in April 1942.

By then, the organization of World War I veterans had rapidly set in motion dozens of civil defense initiatives, including rapid mobilization of Legionnaires to serve as local air-raid wardens, at the request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Also emerging from that time was an initiative as relevant today as it was during World War II: the American Legion National Blood Donor Program.

By May 1, 1942, posts worldwide were collecting blood for the American Red Cross to cover growing needs for plasma not only on the war fronts but at home, as well, to include military and VA hospitals. “The supply of blood plasma has been greatly increased by Legion donors and Legion campaigns for blood donations,” Atherton told the organization’s National Executive Committee in May 1942.

As a priority, blood donation center support was listed first among six resolutions presented to the NEC that originated in the new Civil Defense Committee. It passed as follows:

Whereas, The Army and Navy have requested 380,000 pints of blood by July 1 and 900,000 in the next 12 months; there is also great need for plasma in civilian defense plants and service;

Whereas, At present, the Red Cross can take care of 18,300 donors a week or 201,300 by July 1; therefore, be it

Resolved, That The American Legion deems it is an advisable and essential part of civilian defense that there be a wide expansion of the blood donor program and further establishment of blood bank centers, making such facilities available within each state in the Union; and it is urgently recommended that appropriate steps be taken to accomplish this end.

By the winter of 1942-43, The American Legion was making a point to be first in line, en masse, in their caps and uniforms, to give blood. “I heartily recommend giving blood for your fighting men as a No. 1 Legion activity, for the duration,” Richmond, Va., Post 1 Commander William T. Luck said that winter after 240 members of his post “filled the charts” in a two-day drive at the Medical College of Virginia.

In time, The American Legion would grow to become the No. 1 organizational donor of blood to the Red Cross, annually producing between 80,000 and 100,000 units nationwide.

The NEC passed a resolution in May 1967 designating the week of Dec. 7 each year as “National American Legion Blood Donor Week,” in remembrance of the attack that sent the nation into World War II and gave birth to the program.

An annual month-long joint American Legion-Red Cross Holiday Blood Drive also kicked off in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, generally to begin Dec. 7 and conclude a month later. The following year, promoting the Holiday Blood Drive, National Commander William C. Doyle described it this way: “no finer gesture could be made by Legionnaires and Auxiliary members than a donation of their blood during this critical period."

In 1985, the NEC passed a resolution to recognize departments and posts that produced the most blood in a year’s time. The National Commander’s Blood Donor Award program continues today.

At various times – during spans of heightened need like World War II, the Vietnam War, 9/11 and the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 – American Legion members and posts have far exceeded goals for blood donations. A late-April 2020 drive by members of Battle Creek, Mich., Post 257 produced, for instance, 126 percent of the Red Cross goal.

“Wow, we don't typically see blood drives that collect over 100 percent,” said Loretta McCarthy, territory account manager for the American Red Cross in Michigan. “Amazing, especially during these unusual and restrictive times … so pleased with the volunteers, the building, the donors … it was a wonderful day for all.”

Amazing as the response may have been in recent months, the willingness and ability of the American Legion Family to step up and donate above and beyond expectations is no deviation from the history of a blood-donation program that was born of an emergency that occurred on Dec. 7, 1941, and was followed by a call to action that has continuously been met for nearly 80 years.


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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