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Veterans Benefits Information

Here are the Guests for the State of the Union

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The president is bringing the deputy chief of the Border Patrol, while one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers will be the guest of Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California.

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State of the Union Guests: Who Are President Trump and Members of Congress Bringing?

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Mr. Trump is bringing the deputy chief of the Border Patrol, while one of Jeffrey Epstein’s accusers will be the guest of Representative Jackie Speier, Democrat of California.

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VA’s second-in-command fired after 'loss of confidence'

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James Byrne, the deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, was fired Feb. 3 after holding the post for less than five months.

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said he terminated Byrne due to a loss in confidence in him.

“Today, I dismissed VA Deputy Secretary James Byrne due to loss of confidence in Mr. Byrne’s ability to carry out his duties,” Wilkie said in the statement. “This decision is effective immediately.”

Byrne, 55, was a former Marine infantry officer. He was sworn in Sept. 16 as deputy secretary and previously served as the department’s general counsel, leading the VA’s legal team, for about two years. Byrne was confirmed as deputy secretary by the Senate in a vote of 81-11.

The VA’s top leadership has been in turmoil in recent years. President Donald Trump’s administration has gone through four deputy secretaries at the VA, with two of them in temporary acting positions. The Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations all had two deputy VA secretaries across both of their terms.

The previous deputy secretary, Thomas Bowman, retired in June 2018 after being passed over twice for the position of acting secretary. Byrne took over as the VA’s second in command in August 2018, but he wasn’t confirmed until a year later.

The VA has not yet named a deputy secretary to replace Byrne.

Members of The American Legion can receive 50 percent discounts on annual subscriptions to the Stars and Stripes digital platform of exclusive military news, topics of interest to veterans, special features, photos and other content, including the daily e-newspaper, job listings and history. American Legion members can subscribe for $19.99 a year by visiting legion.stripes.com and using the coupon code LEGIONSTRONG when filling out the online form.


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Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Is Abruptly Dismissed

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A giant federal agency in turmoil faces more of it after a senior official is ousted.

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American Legion reminds you to vote in 2020

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This year ushers in a presidential election. And while American Legion posts are encouraged to promote “Get Out the Vote” (GOTV) efforts, it is important to remember to remain nonpartisan in the process.

The American Legion is a nonpolitical, nonpartisan organization but advocates for all U.S. citizens to register and vote in all elections. The American Legion does not show preference for or against any particular candidate or political party.

Since its inception in 1920, The American Legion’s Get Out The Vote program has encouraged Americans to exercise their right to vote and help others understand the importance of the electoral process. The program suggests activities on how American Legion posts can increase voter turnout such as calling potential voters to get to the polls, volunteer in their communities by providing rides to and from the polls if necessary, use social media to share information about poll locations and times, and place newspaper ads or public service announcements in local media that promote registration and voting.

To help with GOTV efforts, American Legion Family members can download The American Legion’s “Get Out the Vote” and “Vote, America” brochures at www.legion.org/vote/publications. GOTV public service announcements and news releases are also available.

You can still encourage voting registration and participation while remaining nonpartisian, and here's how and why.

Q: How can an American Legion post avoid the appearance of partisanship when conducting GOTV activities?

A: Volunteers working on an American Legion-sponsored registration and voting drive should not wear campaign buttons or make their personal views about candidates, parties and issues known in any way while they are engaged in nonpartisan activities for their post. Campaign materials or literature should be removed from an area where nonpartisan activities are taking place.

Q: Can a member be active in a campaign when the Legion has to remain nonpartisan?

A: As individuals, Legionnaires can be as partisan as they like. Legionnaires engaged in partisan activities – such as attending a candidate’s rally – should do so without wearing the American Legion cap or other Legion attire. When working for the Legion post, a member must treat all candidates equally without making candidate endorsements. To do otherwise will endanger the post’s nonprofit status with the IRS.

Q: Why can’t The American Legion endorse a candidate?

A: Federal election laws require that any registration drive conducted or sponsored by groups like The American Legion be nonpartisan. In other words, the IRS mandates the strict nonpartisanship of all such activities by organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions under Section 501(c)(19) of the Code. Failure to do so could endanger an American Legion post’s nonprofit status. A nonpartisan organization does not support, oppose or provide aid to any candidate for public office or to any political party. In a nonpartisan drive, registration and voting assistance, and information and materials must be offered and made available to all, regardless of which candidate or party they support.


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