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Veterans Benefits Information

Coin countdown: A tribute to The American Legion’s origins, legacy

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Set to go on sale tomorrow at noon Eastern, the American Legion 100th anniversary coins celebrate the organization’s post-World War I origins and commitment to building a strong America.

Authorized by Congress, these coins are one of two U.S. Mint commemorative coin programs in 2019. Only 50,000 of the $5 gold coins, 400,000 silver dollar coins and 750,000 half-dollar coins will be produced.

Each coin incorporates original designs by members of the Mint’s Artistic Infusion program, inspired by The American Legion’s history and legacy.

• The silver dollar features the American Legion emblem surrounded by oak leaves and a French fleur-de-lis. On the reverse side are crossed U.S. and American Legion flags beneath an arch from the Arc de Triomphe, in another nod to the Legion’s birthplace.

• The $5 gold coin commemorates The American Legion’s birth in Paris in 1919, with the Eiffel Tower and a V for victory; they are encircled by the outer edge of the background of the American Legion emblem, representing the rays of the sun. The coin’s reverse depicts an eagle in flight, symbolizing honor, valor and bravery.

• In a tribute to the Legion’s dedication to 100 percent Americanism and the welfare of youth, the clad half dollar portrays two children, one wearing a parent’s or grandparent’s American Legion cap, saluting a U.S. flag on the coin’s reverse side. The words “I pledge allegiance …” are on the obverse side, continuing on the back with “ … to the flag of the United States of America.”

To purchase an American Legion commemorative coin or coin set, go to www.legion.org/coin or call 1-800-872-6468.


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Veterans outreach set for California

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Department of California Legionnaires are conducting district revitalizations and veterans outreach efforts in multiple counties in California March 15-16. The effort is targeting Inyo, Kern, Mono, Tulare, Fresno, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties.

The efforts are based out of The American Legion Department of California Headquarters, 1601 7th St., Sanger, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. March 15 and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. March 16.

A veteran service officer will be available both days to assists veterans with Department of Veterans Affairs-related questions.


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10 things you didn't know about women in the military

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In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some things you may not know about women in the U.S. military.

1. As of March 2019, Mary Dever of Disabled American Veterans says that according to the Department of Defense, women make up 20 percent of the Air Force, 19 percent of the Navy, 15 percent of the Army and almost 9 percent of the Marine Corps. (via military.com)

2. Women made up about 16 percent of the Coast Guard in 2016. (via datausa.io)

3. TV star Bea Arthur was a truck driver in the Marine Corps during World War II. (via military.com)

4. Abolitionist Harriet Tubman led a Union spy ring during the Civil War. (via military.com)

5. Queen Elizabeth II is the only sitting head of state to have served in World War II, as a mechanic/driver in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service when she was still a princess. (via military.com)

6. A woman who is eligible for American Legion membership is eligible to join the American Legion Auxiliary regardless of whether or not she is a member of the Legion. (via alaforveterans.org)

7. The only woman to be awarded a Medal of Honor is Mary Edwards Walker, a medical doctor during the Civil War who had to start as a nurse but ultimately became the Army’s first female surgeon. She was also a spy, and a POW. But as a non-combatant, her medal was revoked between 1917 and 1977. (via history.com)

8. A search of “women” in The American Legion’s memorials database yields several memorials dedicated to female military service. (via legion.org/memorials)

9. The first known women to join each service branch were Genevieve and Lucille Baker, and Myrtle Hazard, Coast Guard; Deborah Sampson, Army; Opha May Johnson, Marine Corps; Esther McGowin Blake, Air Force; and Loretta Walsh, Navy. (via military.com)

10. Navy Capt. Rosemary Mariner was one of the first eight women selected to fly military aircraft in 1973, and a year later became the Navy's first female jet pilot. At her graveside service in February 2019, nine female pilots from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia performed the "missing woman" formation for their predecessor – the first all-female crew to do so. (via We Are The Mighty)

Female Legionnaires, or those who love them, are welcome to contribute to the Legiontown site, at www.legiontown.org, under the new Women Veterans category.


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LEGION Act introduced in the House

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A bill expanding membership eligibility for The American Legion was introduced March 8 in the House of Representatives. The Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service Act — also known as the LEGION Act — is a bipartisan effort introduced by Congressmen Lou Correa, D-Calif., and Ben Cline, R-Va., with Rep. Gil Cisneros, D-Calif., an original co-sponsor.

The bill was introduced Feb. 14 in the Senate by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.

The LEGION Act was a focus of American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad’s Feb. 27 testimony before a joint hearing of the Senate and House Committees on Veterans' Affairs. He called on Congress to take action amending the charter, thereby giving tens of thousands of veterans access to American Legion benefits and programs they are not currently eligible for.

“Our charter and membership eligibility have mirrored the eras officially recognized by the U.S. government to include the wars and conflicts such as Korea, Vietnam and the Global War on Terror,” Reistad testified. “However, these recognized periods fail to take into account the hostilities that occur between official war eras, in which nearly 1,600 U.S. military personnel were killed or wounded in places like Cuba, Iran and El Salvador.”

Because The American Legion’s membership periods are congressionally chartered, the organization is prevented from expanding membership eligibility without an act of Congress. The act expands membership eligibility to honorably discharged veterans that have served on federal orders in unrecognized times of war since World War II.


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Chairman Takano Gives Opening Remarks before the Legislative Presentation of Multiple Veterans Service Organizations

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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) delivered opening remarks before the Legislative Presentation of Multiple Veterans Service Organization at the Joint House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing. Organizations testifying included: NASDVA, FRA, GSW, VBA, JWV, MOPH, and MOAA. Below is a link to the video of the Chairman’s opening statement and his remarks as prepared:   [[{"fid":"47","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: 260px; width: 500px;","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Watch opening remarks here   Thank you, Chairman Isakson.  It is always an honor to join you, Ranking Members Tester and Roe, and all members of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs to hear directly from the organizations that represent millions of veterans and their families who are impacted by our decisions.  Like the rest of the members siting at the dais, I take this responsibility very seriously. First, I want to welcome our partners from the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs, the Fleet Reserve Association, Gold Star Wives of America, Blinded Veterans Association, Jewish War Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart and Military Officers Association of America. I’d also like to specifically recognize members from my home state of California.  Will the members from California please raise your hand or stand to be recognized.  Welcome! I am thankful for the opportunity to hear from our VSO partners – many of whom are veterans themselves.  Each of you represent a unique group of veterans and surviving spouses, and because of that each of you possesses a unique set of concerns.  The Joint Hearings provide us a unique opportunity to hear the focused messages from so many of our VSO partners who do the work every day to help our nation’s heroes. Congress simply could not deliver on our promises without the dedication and first-hand understanding of the issues that affect our service members, veterans and their families.  Thank you for all you do.  With your help, we have identified many problems and fixes to those problems, but the work is far from over.  Your continued input as we move through the 116th Congress is not only needed, it is TRULY appreciated. I ask that you continue to hold the Administration and Congress accountable and ensure both fulfill our nation’s promise to care for our veterans.  If we can afford to send our people to war to protect our country, then this country can and must afford to take care of our wounded when they return. Reading through your testimony, your concerns are my concerns, and the concerns of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  The message from you and your VSO cohorts is clear – Congress must keep a vigilant eye on the VA and pass legislation to care for our veterans.  Mental health, eliminating veteran suicide, ensuring equal access to quality medical care for all veterans – regardless of gender or disability, and to ensure that access to crucial VA services be available to veterans of all eras should be our priorities. Outreach and care for women and minority veterans must also be addressed in this Congress.  I am pleased that attention for these veterans groups continues to rise.  I am glad that the testimony of the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs’ highlights aspects of access hurtles our Native American veterans face.  I want to make it clear to you today, that I directed my staff in January of this year to better understand the hurtles that Native American veterans face in attaining earned VA disability benefits, and I plan to identify and implement solutions that will improve the lives of our Native veterans and all under represented veterans in my time as Chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. While I just touched on a few issue areas important to you and your membership, know that I am committed to helping advance your priorities in the coming year. I look forward to hearing your testimony today and thank you again for your tireless advocacy on behalf of the veteran community.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I yield back the balance of my time. ###

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