Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Arizona Legion Riders bringing toys to area youth

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For 12 years, American Legion Riders Chapter 35 in Chandler, Ariz., has used Thanksgiving weekend to collect toys for needy children. The chapter regularly collects more than $10,000 in toys and just approached $20,000 during its Nov. 24 event at Chandler Harley-Davidson.

It’s a labor of love for the Riders, who donate the toys through Toys for Tots in Chandler; this year the toys will go to the Boys and Girls Club of the East Valley for distribution among area children.

“All the toys stay local right in Chandler,” said Past ALR Chapter 35 Director Jim Yilek, who has run the toy drive for nine years. “Everybody likes to give to kids that need help.”

Yilek said Chapter 232 will solicit donations from local businesses and individuals prior to the event, which includes a barbecue, karaoke and live music, and this year came following a 57-mile poker run by Chapter 35’s Legion Riders. The ride is open to the public and includes a registration fee – $20 per rider or $15 with a toy, and $15 per passenger or $10 with a toy.

Yilek also collects $500 donations from each site that serves as a stop on the ride. In the past two years alone Chapter 232 has collected well over $30,000 in toys through the event.

“A lot of kids, their parents can’t afford to do their Christmas,” Yilek said. “This is just something (Chapter) 35 has taken on and continued to do.”

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New monetary rewards to earn for recruiting and retaining

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As an incentive to reach 100 percent membership department wide in celebration of The American Legion’s 100th anniversary, posts and departments have a chance to earn money. There are two new membership awards that provide an opportunity for departments and posts to earn financial means to support their programs while growing membership at every level of the organization.


• $2,500 will be awarded to each department that achieves 100 percent of its established 2019 membership goal by the Armed Forces Day (May 8, 2019) 100 percent target date.

• $5,000, in addition to the $2,500, will be awarded to each department that achieves 105 percent of its established 2019 membership goal by the delegate strength target date (30 days before start of national convention)


• $5 for every expired 2014, 2015 and 2016 member that renews for 2019 will be awarded to posts.

The expired members can be found by following these four steps:

1. Sign into

2. Click on “Reports/Labels” located on the left side of the page

3. Click on “Post Reports” folder

4. Open the “Revitalization” folder. Inside this folder you will find three reports where you can select expired members for letters, labels and rosters (“Unrenewed_Letters,” “Unrenewed_Labels” and “Unrenewed_Roster”).

If your post does not have access to, visit and click on “Authorization Form” at the bottom of the page and complete the registration process. If you need assistance please 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 .

To receive credit for renewing a 2014, 2015 or 2016 Legionnaire, they must renew in your post and you have to use their current membership ID number. The ID number will be on the expired listing downloaded through MyLegion or provided by your department. If the expired Legionnaire was not a member of your post, please transfer them into your post and then process their dues payment.

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DHA leaders: Embrace historical changes to military health

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Transforming the Military Health System into an integrated system of readiness and health was the topic for two Defense Health Agency leaders on Wednesday, Nov. 28, during the 2018 meeting of AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals.

“We have an incredible, incredible health care system,” said Navy Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the DHA, “and we have the capability to be so much better. It’s our mission to make our health care system the very, very best that our patients deserve and need.”

Under the backdrop of the 127th AMSUS annual meeting theme, “The Future of Healthcare is Now,” Bono described planning for changes that are occurring as the DHA assumes administrative and management responsibilities for all military treatment facilities. Several MTFs came under the DHA umbrella on Oct. 1, the first step in a phased approach for DHA to gradually assume direct management of all MTFs by Oct. 1, 2021. 

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USAA Tips: How to advise a young person to consider military service

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Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

There are a lot of big decisions in life: marriage, finances, buying a house, and many, many others. Right up there is the decision to join the military. Today, with so many career options for young people, it can be a difficult choice to decide to join the military.

Follow this advice to give guidance, support, and understanding to help others decide if a military career is right for them.

  1. Listen to a young person’s goals in their words. Before even starting to describe the benefits of military service, what does this person want to accomplish? Do they want to travel, live somewhere else, have new experiences, or just get out and see the world more? These can be reasons to join the service, but they can also be gateways to other career decisions to personal travel, higher education, working in a new location, or waiting for a decision to become more apparent.

  2. The military has higher standards today than most of us remember. Today, the military has very high standards of fitness, intelligence, existing body art (tattoos), prior drug use, and prior criminal activity just to name a few. If someone wants to join the military and they do not meet the standards, then they probably cannot.

  3. Think about the National Guard and Reserve. For some young people, joining the military full time may be too much of an initial commitment. For those young people, the National Guard and the Reserve may be a perfect fit. The attraction of the National Guard and Reserve: staying local, serving the military, learning new skills, and the potential for active duty can be a great option.

  4. Think about the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is America’s “forgotten” military service that offers great options. Many young people are compelled by more altruistic goals of public service, helping others, and being on the “front lines” daily instead of just when they are deployed. In this case, the Coast Guard maybe a great answer that offers public service and a strong focus on rescuing others in need.

  5. Military recruiters are your friend. Websites are great, but talking to a real person offers excellent options. A young person may be more comfortable with a military veteran in the room when they talk to a military recruiter to ask questions and not be intimidated by the uniform and “unknown” words. Meet with recruiters from multiple military branches and see what they have to offer and what sounds good to the young person.

  6. Talk about the four D’s: Disability, death, divorce, and deployments. I also talk about the Four D’s whenever anyone asks me about joining the military. Nearly every day in the military is difficult. You are in arduous conditions, deployed for months away from loved ones, in physical danger, and you often can’t call even for someone’s birthday. This is a hard set of subjects that must be talked about because it happens a great deal in every military service, even in “peacetime."

Listening to a young person’s goals and ambitions is the best way to discuss the potential of military service. Listen more than you talk, discuss the joys and sorrows of service, and get a military recruiter to talk about all the options in a relaxed setting.

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Why veterans should consider careers in law enforcement

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From | By Sean Mclain Brown

Just because you didn’t serve with the military police doesn’t mean a career in criminal justice is off the table. One of the most important lessons you can learn about your service to this country is your MOS doesn’t dictate your future. And this is especially true for careers in criminal justice.

Don’t have your degree? No problem. Some police departments have programs that waive initial degree requirements and allow veterans to serve as a police officer while earning their degree part-time. In addition, many law enforcement agencies give hiring preferences for veterans.

Pro tip: Be sure to inquire about any veterans hiring program or preference points when you speak with a law enforcement recruiter.

Typically, the criminal justice system consists of three major components: (1) law enforcement (police, sheriffs, marshals, border patrol, national parks); (2) adjudication (courts which include judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers); and (3) corrections (prison officials, probation officers, and parole officers). In a criminal justice system, these distinct agencies operate together under the rule of law and are the principal means of maintaining the rule of law within society.

There are many reasons why law enforcement agencies actively seek veterans to employ within their ranks and why veterans are attracted to the field of law enforcement upon retirement. For one, the structure of a police force is very similar to that of the military. Secondly, many of the same traits that make a person successful in the military are also required for success in a law enforcement agency. Here are five reasons why veterans make good law enforcement candidates:

1. Veterans possess a high level of discipline, integrity, and responsibility.

There is great pride in doing your job in the military and doing it to the best of your ability. Servicemembers enjoy a community of shared values; many in law enforcement do too. It’s easy to draw the lines of comparison between military service and law enforcement when it comes to maintaining a high degree of discipline, integrity, and personal responsibility.

2. Teamwork.

Military veterans are not only trained to contribute to a team in order to thrive but they also learn that they have to count on a team to survive. Likewise, police officers rely on each other to keep themselves and the public safe.

3. Critical thinking, especially during high-stress situations.

As in the military, police officers require a high degree of critical thinking skills, including during high-stress scenarios. The military does a good job at training personnel to think and act quickly during life-or-death situations.

4. A Community of Shared Values.

As with the criminal justice system, most people join the military to be a part of something larger than themselves, to give back, and to help others. The Toys for Tots program, a successful toy donation program started by the Marine Corps, is a good example of military community engagement. Similarly, there is PALS, the Police Athletic League, a national police department athletic program that helps pair underserved children with police mentors while learning the importance of teamwork in athletics.

5. A Desire to Serve Others.

Ask any servicemember you know why they joined the military. Chances are part of their answer would include the fact that they wanted to serve others and make a difference. The same could be said of police officers. In both the military and law enforcement, there is a culture of “to protect and serve.” What’s not often talked about is the critical role servicemembers play in many natural disasters. They come with food and aid worldwide. Law enforcement, while working on a local level, has many community aid programs with the goal of strengthening a community, especially the underserved and vulnerable.

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