Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Who I Appreciate

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Early this month we asked our members to share with us those they have a special appreciation for who are serving or have served in the military. The following are the submissions that we've received so far through either Facebook or Twitter.

• From Stacey Marie (via Facebook): My grandfather, SFC George Bartholomew (pictured above), veteran of the Korean War, 1951, Infantry. Was a lifetime member of the American Legion, the Post Commander three times, and was a longtime member of the Honor Guard in South Haven, MI. His service influenced me to join the military (I'm 13 years in still) and also The American legion (judge advocate of post Rhein Main). I am very proud of him and he was a great comrade to all.

• Meg Krebs (via Facebook): Frank J. "Jerry" Carroll. Born January 5, 1943 in Denver, Colorado. Jerry displayed his artistic abilities throughout his school years. An exceptional student, he was advanced a grade and still placed in accelerated classes. His artistic abilities found him starring in plays, doing the artwork for stage backdrops, drafting, oil painting, artwork and covers for the Colorado Engineer (University of Colorado Publications). After Graduating from C.U. with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, he joined the Peace Corps. A delay in transportation resulted in an immediate change as Jerry determined the United States Marine Corps was his Destiny. Marine Frank Jerome "Jerry" Carroll was killed in action on April 1, 1969, while flying his Helicopter, during a combat mission in Vietnam. The original organizing members of the Marine Corps League in Denver, Colorado felt that this Marine exemplified the qualities that we pride ourselves for as Marines. Marine Carroll's mother, Margaret Carroll-Boyce, graciously allowed us to name our Detachment after her son. We will always be proud to be associated with the name of this very brave Young Man.

• @Von_Clown (via Twitter): My Nephew Jason, stationed in South Korea. He’s learning (and) growing as a person and as a man. So proud of him. #Whoiappreciate

• @timothyhornik (via Twitter): While most think of my service, my wife's service as a Rear D commander multiple times, observed sexism, and willingness to show her selfless service despite various hardships continues to amaze me. We owe our female warriors more gratitude and honors then we give them.

• Jeffrey McDermott (via Facebook): My Paw Paw Joe Bud McDermott fought in Saipan WW2.

• @chris30542 (via Twitter): I appreciate all our #military men and women past and present. My special connection to them is my ability to live here safely and freely because of their service to our country. And for that they’re always #WhoIAppreciate way beyond

Those who still want to share their appreciation for veterans and members of the military can do so through the end of Military Appreciation Month by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or sharing them on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #WhoIAppreciate.

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Legion testifies on four bills affecting veterans, their families

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American Legion Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Division Director Chanin Nuntavong testified May 1 before the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. His testimony focused on key legislation impacting veterans and their families, including Gold Star families and Blue Water Navy veterans.

H.R. 1126, the Honoring Veterans’ Families Act, aims to amend title 38 of the United States Code and authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide inscriptions for spouses and children on government-issued headstones in private cemeteries. The current law does not allow the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to add information about spouses and children to the headstone or grave marker of a veteran buried in a non-VA cemetery.

“Including family information on headstones and markers is a standard custom in our society, and the families of veterans should not be different,” Nuntavong said. “H.R. 1126 is a common-sense bill that ensures veterans and their family members receive the support and recognition they deserve.”

H.R. 1200, the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2019, will increase the cost of living allowance (COLA) for veterans with service-connected disabilities, as well as the rates of dependency and indemnity compensation for the survivors of certain disabled veterans.

“For one hundred years, The American Legion has advocated on behalf of our nation’s veterans, including the awarding of disability benefits associated with chronic medical conditions,” Nuntavong said. “Annually, veterans and their families are subjects in the debate regarding cost of living adjustments.

“COLA is not just an acronym. It is a tangible benefit that meets the needs of the increasing costs of living in the nation they defended.”

H.R. 1628, the Enewetak Atoll Clean-Up Radiation Study Act , would direct the VA secretary to enter into an agreement with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to conduct a study on radiation exposure during the clean-up of the Enewetak Atoll. Servicemembers who cleaned nuclear testing sites in the 1970s and 1980s were exposed to toxic chemicals and radiation. These servicemembers suffer from high rates of cancer due to exposure to radiation and nuclear waste. These veterans are currently unable to receive the same disability benefits other veterans who have been exposed to radiation receive from VA.

“The American Legion believes these veterans deserve the same benefits that U.S. law guarantees to other servicemembers impacted by toxic exposures,” Nuntavong said. “And we believe VA is responsible for the care of these atomic clean-up veterans.”

H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, is supported by The American Legion. Blue Water Navy veterans have waited patiently for nearly 50 years to receive disability compensation for diseases related to Agent Orange exposure. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the federal circuit ruled in favor of Blue Water Navy veterans in the landmark Procopio v. Wilkie decision. These veterans are now afforded the presumption of Agent Orange exposure and VA must begin to grant the claims of veterans afflicted by the conditions determined as presumptive under U.S. Code.

“We are pleased that VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told the Senate he would not ask the Department of Justice to appeal the decision,” Nuntavong said. “Congress should enact into law the broadest definition possible and provide clarity and guidance for the expected VA regulations implementing Procopio.

“Together, we can put this issue to rest once and for all. Our veterans and families deserve no less.”



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These Female Veterans Reached Congress. Now They Want to Recruit Others.

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A new political action committee, the Service First Women’s Victory Fund, will raise money for Democratic candidates with national security backgrounds.

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Spring Meeting donations surpass $1.2 million for Legion programs

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Several American Legion Family members presented more than $1.2 million in donations during the National Executive Committee meeting's May 8-9 in Indianapolis, as well as the Sons of The American Legion's meetings May 4-5. The donations will support American Legion programs that benefit servicemembers, veterans, their family, and children and youth.

Operation Comfort Warriors (OCW) – $74,875. The Sons of The American Legion provided $14,000 in donations, while the Department of Indiana provided $60,875. Of Indiana's amount, more than $47,000 came from Kenneth N. Dowden-Wayne Post 64 in Indianapolis, including $4,550 between its Sons of The American Legion squadron, Legion Riders chapter and Auxiliary unit. Past National Commander James E. Koutz presented the checks for OCW, which provides comfort items and rehabilitation equipment to wounded veterans and servicemembers.

National Emergency Fund (NEF) – $29,760. Donations included $15,706 from the SAL, $7,500 from Post 270 in Florida, and from the Departments of Alaska, Mississippi and Oregon. Since January, the NEF has provided $56,125 in grants to 20 American Legion members and three posts affected by natural disasters within the Departments of California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Child Welfare Foundation – $119,388. The SAL provided $112,813 in donations; other donations came from the Departments of Mississippi and Florida. CWF provides grants to nonprofit organizations for projects that contribute to the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual welfare of children. SAL's CWF donation brings their total for the year to $365,142, which is 107 percent of their goal. The SAL is the largest contributor to CWF, donating more than $8 million.

Veterans and Children Foundation – $3,942. Donations from the SAL and the Department of Oregon. This is National Commander Brett Reistad's primary fundraiser. Donations to this foundation support The American Legion's Temporary Financial Assistance program and Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation efforts, primarily training for the 3,000 American Legion service officers who work to help veterans and families understand their health-care benefits, education and employment opportunities at no charge to the veterans and their families.

Temporary Financial Assistance – $1,013,086. Donations came from Departments Alaska and Louisiana, as well as a $750,000 donation from the Child Welfare Foundation Board of Directors and $250,000 from American Legion Charities, a nonprofit trust fund that directs donations to programs and services of the organization. The American Legion's Temporary Financial Assistance program provided more than $1 million in grants to Coast Guard families affected by the government shutdown in January.

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House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Passes 18 Bills Out of Committee

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held its first full committee markup passing all of the 18 bills on the agenda and continuing its work to deliver clear results for veterans on suicide prevention, homelessness, and finally delivering justice for our Blue Water Navy veterans. Chairman Mark Takano’s opening remarks and a full list of the 18 bills passed can be found below:   [[{"fid":"53","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"style":"height: 346px; width: 500px;","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] I would like to thank everyone here this morning.  The 18 bills we have before us today represent considerable time and hard work by the members of this Committee on both sides of the aisle.  Four of our five subcommittees are being led by freshmen chairs this Congress, and four members of the minority are also new to Congress. I want to thank each of you for your bipartisan efforts and leadership.  Your work has produced an impressive number of bills which will improve the quality of veterans’ lives. We will consider H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act to finally right an incredible injustice for veterans who are suffering and dying from conditions related to Agent Orange exposure and who have been unfairly denied disability and health benefits for more than 40 years. When this bill is reported out of Committee today, I will ask the Speaker to put it on the House Floor before Memorial Day—these veterans have waited far too long, and the Ranking Member and I are committed to working with our Senate colleagues to get this bill passed into law. As I said last week, If I have to stand in the Senate gallery every day until this bill is passed, I will. The Committee is determined to address the national public health crisis of veteran suicide. That’s why I’m proud to highlight 4 bipartisan bills written by Vice Chairman Lamb, Representative Brindisi, Representative Rose, and Representative Underwood that address mental health and suicide prevention. It’s clear we need to do more to reduce veteran suicide and these bills will help us better understand the crisis at hand. Last but not least, I thank Congresswoman Luria for introducing the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Act. Congress passes the COLA bill every year to make sure veterans’ disability benefits keep pace with the rising cost of living. Full list of passed legislation: A.N.S. to H.R. 299 (Rep. Takano) the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 A.N.S. to H.R. 2372 (Rep. Underwood) Veterans’ Care Quality Transparency Act A.N.S. to H.R. 2340 (Rep. Rose) FIGHT Veteran Suicides Act A.N.S. to H.R. 2359 (Rep. Lamb) Whole Veteran Act H.R. 1947 (Rep. Roe) To exempt transfers of funds from Federal agencies to the Department of Veterans Affairs for nonprofit corporations established under subchapter IV of chapter 73 of such title from certain provisions of the Economy Act. H.R. 1812 (Rep. Roe) Vet Center Eligibility Expansion Act H.R. 2385 (Rep. Lamb) to permit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a grant program to conduct cemetery research and produce educational materials for the Veterans Legacy Program. A.N.S. to H.R. 1988 (Rep. David Scott), the Protect Affordable Mortgages for Veterans Act H.R. 2045 (Rep. Wenstrup), the VET OPP Act H.R. 2333 (Rep. Brindisi) Support for Suicide Prevention Coordinators Act H.R.1200 (Rep Luria), the Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act H.R. 95 (Rep. Brownley), the Homeless Veteran Families Act H.R. 1199 (Rep. Luria), The VA Website Accessibility Act H.R. 2109 (Rep. Rice), the BRAVE Act H.R. 2196 (Rep. Barr), to amend title 38, United States Code, to reduce the credit hour requirement for the Edith Nourse Rogers STEM Scholarship program of the Department of Veterans Affairs. H.R. 2326 (Rep. Levin) the Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William Bill Mulder (Ret.) Transition Improvement Act of 2019 H.R. 2398 (Rep. Peters), the Veteran HOUSE Act H.R. 2399 (Rep. Peters), the Home for Our Heroes Act of 2019 All bill language can be found on the Committee Repository here. ###

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