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Veterans Benefits Information

New Jersey Legionnaire honored for advocacy

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Department of New Jersey Legionnaire Bob Looby is well-known in his home state for his efforts in veterans employment, education and homelessness. Those efforts recently were acknowledged through two prestigious awards presented to Looby.

At its Nov. 1 Northern NJ ROTC Muster and Awards Ceremony, the Association of the United States Army presented Looby with its Distinguished Service Award. The award was given to Looby by First Region AUSA President Dennis J. Dougherty for Looby’s “dedicated work and advocacy on behalf all the veterans of the Garden State.” Looby also was praised for being the “No. 1 veterans advocate for New Jersey” – which Looby said was an honor to hear in front of fellow U.S. Army veterans.

“My mission is to do everything that (American Legion National Headquarters) does: employment, homelessness and education,” said Looby, the Department of New Jersey’s Employment and Education chairman. “I don’t do this for awards. It’s almost like I’ve found my mission in life."

And in October, Looby became a two-time recipient of the New Jersey Meritorious Service Medal for his efforts in veterans employment and homelessness, and initiatives that help recently incarcerated veterans re-establish themselves in the community.

The award was presented during Gov. Chris Christie’s annual New Jersey National Guard Military Review. “All the National Guard is there,” Looby said. “It’s almost like it’s in front of your peers. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

Looby said his advocacy is his responsibility as a Legionnaire. “We put the cap on,” he said. “We pay our dues. Do what you signed up for.”

Getting the awards “is not a confirmation of what we’ve done,” Looby said, “but that others know what we’re still doing. It’s not what you did yesterday. It’s what you’re going to do for our veterans tomorrow.”


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For Wounded Vets’ Children, a Special Summer Week

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Each year, Camp Corral offers children of wounded veterans a trip to sleepaway camp to let go of the stress of growing up too fast.

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Legion reaching out to California veterans

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American Legion national staff will pair up with Department of California Legionnaires for a veterans outreach and district revitalization effort Nov. 16-18 in Imperial and Riverside counties.

Veterans in the area are invited to get information about American Legion programs, and Department of Veterans Affairs and other veterans benefits.

The effort will take place from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 16 and 17, and 9 a.m.- noon Nov. 18 at Boyce Aten American Legion Post 25, 569 Broadway St., El Centro.

A county veterans service officer will be available all three days to assist with VA claims and other benefits questions.


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Reminding a community of sacrifices made

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Downtown Apex, N.C., is home to coffee shops, cigar stores, restaurants and boutiques. The area was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District in 1994. Dozens of structures in the downtown area were built between 1870 and 1940.

And every three months, on the first Saturday of that month, people walking up and down North Salem Street in Apex come to a stop. Many place their hands across their hearts and silently observe what now is a tradition for American Legion Post 124.

For seven years, the post’s Legion family have conducted a bell ringing outside of Apex Fire Station No. 1 on North Salem Street. During the ceremony, members of Post 124’s Legion family ring a bell to honor a U.S. servicemember who has died on active duty during the previous three months.

The post started the ceremony in June 2010 “to honor our fallen comrades. They deserve our support, and this is just one way of us supporting them,” said Post 124 Commander Michael Sayers, the department’s Division III commander.

Sayers was Post 124’s commander when the tradition started. He said the ceremony also is a way to remind the public that the U.S. is still at war and that U.S. servicemembers are at risk daily.

“People forget … our (military),” Sayers said. “People have forgotten what it’s all about. So many people take for granted that freedom is not free. Somebody is paying for our freedom. People are dying so we can do this.”

Each ceremony opens with a prayer, and the playing of both “America, The Beautiful” and the national anthem. A U.S. flag is raised during the playing of the anthem, and the flag then is lowered to half staff.

Following the ringing of the bell, “Taps” is played; the flag is raised again while “Amazing Grace” plays. The ceremony ends following the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Department of North Carolina Alternate Executive Committeeman Patricia Harris, who helped revitalize Post 124, taking it from less than 10 members to more than 100, said the ceremony gives Post 124’s members the opportunity to “recognize those who served and … paid with their life, and for us to continue to remember that, to honor that and to draw the community to that … and the military in the minds of those who are benefitting.”

The ceremony was monthly until January of 2017 and then was moved to every three months.

At the most recent ceremony on Nov. 4, the bell was rung 17 times. Men, women and children taking in downtown Apex stopped in their tracks.

“That makes me feel very good,” Sayers said. “We try to do Americanism throughout the community, and this is just another way we can do it.”


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Veterans outreach taking place in Colorado

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American Legion national staff will pair up with Department of Colorado Legionnaires for a veterans outreach and district revitalization effort Nov. 17-19 in Longmont, Colo.

Veterans in the area are invited to get information about American Legion programs, and Department of Veterans Affairs and other veterans benefits.

The outreach effort will take place from noon-5 p.m. Nov. 17 and 19, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 18 at John Harold Buckley American Legion Post 32, 315 S. Bowen St., Longmont.

A veterans service officer will be available all three days to assist with VA claims and other benefits questions.


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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.