Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

70-plus veterans take on hep C in Galveston

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Despite heavy storms prior to and then heavy at the start of the final day, the largest weekend motorcycle rally in the nation was the stage Nov. 1-4 for another successful collaboration between The American Legion and Abbvie in a nationwide campaign to provide free hepatitis C antibody testing for veterans.

Over the course of four days during the Lone Star Rally in Galveston, Texas, 72 veterans were tested – and provided same-day results – in the TAKE ON HEP C tour bus. The tour stop also allowed The American Legion and AbbVie – a global biopharmaceutical company – to provide attendees with educational resources about the disease and how to understand their risk factors.

Five veterans tested positive during the four days, while many other rally attendees stopped by the bus to ask questions. A new American Legion was signed up, while another Legion membership was renewed.

The TAKE ON HEP C tour bus next will stop in Imperial Beach, Calif., on Veterans Day to set up at the Silver Strand Half Marathon & Veterans Day 5K.

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Army edges Air Force, 17-14

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For Army, it's one down, one to go.

The Black Knights of West Point play an entire season of football like every other college football team, but twice a year the motivation to win rises to a higher level. The contests with Air Force and Navy are the games that matter most to the cadets. Those struggles -- and the Air Force-Navy game -- comprise the three games that determine which academy gets possession of the Commander-In-Chief's (CIC) Trophy, a massive silver and black award that symbolizes football excellence among the military community.

On Saturday, Army (7-2) needed all the emotion it could summon to defeat visiting Air Force 17-14 before a sellout crowd of 38,502 at West Point's Michie Stadium. With the win, Army will retain the CIC Trophy for 2019 since even if the Black Knights were to lose to Navy in that annual struggle on December 8, each of the three academies would have one victory. Air Force beat Navy 35-7 on Oct. 6.

Under the rules for the guardianship of the trophy, in the event of a three-way tie, the school which had possession of the trophy the previous year gets to retain the trophy.

Army beat both Air Force and Navy in 2017. But make no mistake -- the Black Knights want nothing less than a dominating win against struggling Navy in their game next month in Philadelphia.

"It's a hated, heated rivalry," said Army head coach Jeff Monken. "There's going to be a lot of emotion in these games. It was quite a battle and I was really proud of our team just finding a way to win. They hit some throws in the second half and made it a ball game. Stopping them on fourth down and then converting our own fourth down play on the final play of the game kind of epitomizes the mental toughness of our team."

While some classic triple-option runs mixed with some timely passes to give Army the lead, it was the Black Knights' tough and determined defense that sealed the win. Trailing 17-14 with 3:02 left, Air Force got a final chance to try to win. Falcons quarterback D.J. Hammond III, a sophomore who had come on in relief to start the second half after Isaiah Sanders had failed to gain any points for the visitors in the first 30 minutes, started to move his team down field. A 19-yard completion to Geraud Sanders brought Air Force to the Army 47.

Cole Fagan rushed for 4 yards and Joe Saucier followed with a run for 5, putting Air Force on the Army 38 in a third-and-1 situation. On the next play, Army linebacker Cole Christiansen, who came into the game tied with fellow linebacker James Nachtigal for the team lead in tackles with 48, broke through the line and dropped Air Force fullback Kadin Remsberg for a 2-yard loss. Now in a fourth-and-3 situation with just 1:17 on the clock, Hammond darted right and decided to keep the ball as he turned to move forward. He was met by Christiansen and Nachtigal, who stopped the Falcons signal caller for no gain. Army took over on downs and four rushes later -- including a Hopkins run on fourth-and-1 that let Army keep possession -- the clock ran out, the cannons were fired and Army had its seventh win of the year.

"They played a little bit differently in the second half and we struggled at times," Christiansen said. "But we just got it done."

Army, which leads the nation with a staggering 40:02 average time of possession through its first eight games, took the opening kickoff and quarterback Kelvin Hopkins orchestrated a 21-play, 75-yard drive that overcame a pair of illegal blocking penalties and an unsportsmanlike conduct infraction. Fullback Darnell Woolfolk's 1-yard TD run put Army up 7-0.

"The biggest thing I'll take from my time here is grinding out at practice and meeting with all these guys," Woolfolk said. "I think we have an amazing group of people around this team. Honestly, I feel truly blessed to have them in my life."

That drive lasted 13:03 and was the fourth drive of 10 minutes or more this year for the Black Knights. All other Football Bowl Championship Series teams have combined for just six drives lasting at least 10 minutes.

The teams traded punts on the next three possessions. Army followed with an 11-play, 89-yard drive that ended with Woolfolk, who finished with a game-high 117 rushing yards and logged his first 100-yard game of the year, blasting ahead six yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 halftime lead.

Army defensive back Mike Reynolds added a crucial interception on the Army 3 in the second quarter to help keep the Falcons off the board; he almost duplicated the feat in the third quarter, but settled for knocking the ball to the ground.

Air Force made adjustments at halftime and the Falcons defense began to play tighter on the line, resulting in shorter gains by Army. With Hammond calling the plays on offense for Air Force, the visitors were able convert their third possession into points, thanks in no small part to the aggressive play of their best defender, Jeremy Fejedelem. The junior free safety swept through a hole as Army punter Nick Schrage tried to launch a punt from inside his own 20 and Fejedelem got a hand on the ball, setting Air Force up at the Army 34.

Calling eight runs and a pass (complete for a 5-yard gain to Remsberg), Hammond completed the march by running the ball one yard into the end zone.

Army responded with a 13-play drive that left Monken with a challenge: should Army attempt a field goal or try for the first down in a fourth-and-3 situation on the Air Force 13? Monken chose to go for the field goal and John Abercrombie's kick made it 17-6.

On the ensuing drive, Joseph Saucier scored on a 6-yard run, then took a pitch from Hammond for the two-point conversion to make it 17-14.

Army returns to action next Saturday at noon at Michie Stadium to host Lafayette. Air Force hosts New Mexico in Colorado Springs at 3:30 pm (all times Eastern).

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American Legion reaffirms Shelby, N.C., as permanent World Series host

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Shelby, N.C., became the permanent site of the American Legion World Series in 2011. And recently, The American Legion, Cleveland County ALWS Baseball Inc., and the City of Shelby reaffirmed their long-standing commitment to hosting the American Legion World Series in Shelby each August in perpetuity.

Terms of a contract addendum were finalized through The American Legion's National Executive Committee last month during the Legion's annual Legion Fall Meetings that call automatic renewal every five years in perpetuity, effectively making the partnership permanent.

Previously hosted on a rotating basis around the country, the American Legion World Series has blossomed since switching to a permanent site in 2011.

Ticket sales in Shelby have demolished ALWS records constantly. Fans have purchased over 119,000 tickets each of the last three events, almost doubling the previous all-time sales record of 60,000 set in 1936 and nearly 10 times as many sales as the last World Series played in the previous format. Ticket sales reached a record 128,157 in 2018.

In addition, the American Legion World Series has grown to a national audience due to the increase in television coverage, growing from no coverage prior to moving to Cleveland County to the addition of the championship game televised nationally on ESPNU in 2014.

Coverage has continued to grow subsequently, with the addition of the semifinals in 2015, Sunday pool play games in 2016 and Saturday pool play games in 2017. Every team that reaches the American Legion World Series is now guaranteed at least one nationally-televised game.

The American Legion World Series brings in about $15 million to the region, per a report from the Shelby Star.

“The American Legion World Series found a perfect home in Shelby, N.C.,” said Richard Anderson, chairman of The American Legion’s Americanism Commission. “Every year, I am amazed at the support, excitement and professionalism that the local committee in Cleveland County shows. We have seen such tremendous growth in the American Legion World Series these last eight years and I am excited to see more growth in the future.”

Local ALWS Board Chairman Eddie Holbrook, given negotiating power by the board’s members, met with American Legion officials during the Fall Meetings. In response to the announcement of the contract renewal, Holbrook said, “On behalf of our Executive Committee, the county, Shelby and supportive cities, as well as the many volunteers and supporters of the American Legion World Series, we are excited that the national office has seen fit to extend the contract in a manner that truly defines Shelby and Cleveland County as the official home of the American Legion World Series.

“We have worked together to form a wonderful team, and, with the generous financial support of many sponsors, we are excited that we have this opportunity. We look forward to working together with the national office as we strive for continued growth of the ALWS.”

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National commander: SNL skit 'crossed the line'

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American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad expressed disgust that the comedian and producers responsible for a disgraceful joke about a wounded war veteran have still not expressed genuine remorse for the well-publicized incident.

“Dan Crenshaw is a class act who said that a ‘hollow apology’ was not needed after Pete Davidson mocked his eye wound on Saturday Night Live this weekend,” Reistad said. “I understand Mr. Crenshaw’s feelings on this, but a sincere apology is definitely warranted. Veterans fought for free speech but this certainly crossed a line. The joke was unfunny and frankly disgusting. Mr. Crenshaw made a tremendous physical sacrifice while serving as a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan. It is shocking that Davidson, NBC and the producers of Saturday Night Live tolerate such garbage.”

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Veterans outreach coming to California

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American Legion national staff and Department of California Legionnaires are teaming up for a district revitalization and veterans outreach effort Nov. 17-18 in Temple City, Calif.

Veterans in and around the area are invited to Temple City American Legion Post 279 to learn about American Legion programs, service to community and veterans benefits.

The effort will take place at Post 279, 9522 Las Tunas Dr., Temple City, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 17 and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 18. A veterans service officer will be available both days to assist with Department of Veterans Affairs-related questions and other veterans benefits issues.

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Did you know?

A veteran’s family must request a United States flag.

A flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran. Generally, the flag is given to the next of kin. Only one flag may be provided per veteran. Upon the request of the family, an “Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes” (VA Form 21-2008) must be submitted along with a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. Flags may be obtained from VA regional offices and most U.S. Post Offices.