Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Legion-hosted veterans expo 'shows somebody cares'

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U.S. Air Force veteran Chris Jordan is using The American Legion as his representative for his benefits claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs. When he found out that Clarence Fields American Legion Post 76 in Ashland, Ky., was hosting a veterans expo Jan. 11, Jordan thought it was a good opportunity to check on the status of his claim.

But Jordan, 49, found much more available at the expo. More than 20 veterans agencies and organizations had manned tables, ranging from various offices within VA to local organizations and services, assisting with everything from health care to employment and transition assistance for newly discharged veterans.

“I think in this area it’s important and serves a good function,” said Jordan of the expo. “You have events like this a lot more frequently in areas where there’s a military presence: a base or a large local retirement community. I’ve lived in some of those areas.

“Here you’re away from any of the larger installations, so sometimes people forget that there are veterans that live in these areas. It’s good that they have a place where they can see various organizations that they may be able to reach out to in a crisis or just to get information.”

The expo, which had close to 50 veterans attend during the afternoon, was sponsored by the American Legion Department of Kentucky’s District 9 and was manned by Legion Family volunteers from Post 76, as well as members of the Legion Family from American Legion Post 342 in Willard, Post 43 in Raceland and Post 138 in Olive Hill.

Kentucky District 9 Commander Raymond Barney, a member of Post 76, said he originally wanted to put together “some kind of health fair for the veterans” to raise awareness about what health care and benefits options were available to area veterans through VA and other agencies. He put together a team at the post to help develop the plan, and the idea was expanded to a veterans expo, moving beyond just health care and including organizations beyond The American Legion.

“Everybody brings something to the table,” Barney said. “Some people are able to provide grants to help people fix their houses. Other organizations deal with (home) health care. Even though I’m representing The American Legion … my whole goal was to let veterans know what their benefits are.”

Other posts in the district became involved, including the husband-and-wife team of Richard and Whittney Dallaire from Post 342’s Legion Family. The pair had participated in a Volunteers of America stand down in 2019, where Whittney got contact information for other service organizations in the area. She started by reaching out to those contacts and in doing so received info on other organizations and individuals. The two also went to the Huntington, W.Va., VA Medical Center, extending invitations to the expo to various departments and officers there.

Getting the word out about the expo included flyers, phone calls, emails and social media, as well as contacting local media outlets to increase advance coverage. Offering a wide range of services and organizations served “to bring more (veterans) in, knowing they can get anything they need when they come,” said Richard, Post 342’s commander and District 9’s sergeant-at-arms. “To me, that even helped with the (public relations part). (Media outlets) wouldn’t have covered it if it was just one organization. But you get a lot of them together and it helps you get the word out there to get the veterans here.”

All ages of veterans attended the expo, including Korean War to post-9/11 veterans. Whittney said the intent was to make it easier for any demographic to get the information they need. “This way, any veteran can hopefully get linked up with a resource provider for any circumstance that they are finding themselves in,” she said.

Others members of Post 342’s Legion Family volunteered at the expo, including the Dallaire’s 9-year-old daughter, Carmelita, a member of Unit 342’s Junior Auxiliary who served in the valuable role of checking people into the expo.

Also from Post 342 was its 26-year-old First Vice Commander Cory Rice, who also serves as District 9’s adjutant and Kentucky’s Area C membership chairman. Rice said when he left the U.S. Marines in 2015, he was given a very quick transition assistance briefing before leaving Camp Pendleton.

“When you get out you have no idea what’s going on. You have no idea who you can even talk to,” he said. “Something like this (expo), it gives a chance to put everything out on the table a veteran could possibly need. That’s a big ordeal. We’re getting all these resources to veterans who might not have the time or the patience to look for them on their own.”

The Department of Veterans was well represented during the expo, bringing mobile health screening and Vet Center units, as well as representatives from the Veterans Benefits Administration and other offices.

Veterans Outreach Program Specialist Jeffrey Weems, who manned a table with Vet Center resources, said working with organizations like The American Legion is “absolutely” critical to VA’s mission, getting the department’s resources to some veterans that may not otherwise know what is out there.

While valuable services and information were providing during the event, District 9 also tried to make it an enjoyable experience for those veterans and their families who attended. During the course of the expo a chili cook-off took place, providing a free meal to expo attendees, volunteers and vendors. Multiple gift bags were provided to attendees from various posts in the area that includes socks, toiletries and other items.

Also available were small toys, coloring books, and Crayons and colored pencils for the veterans’ children to use while their parents were seeking help. “It’s a Saturday and sometimes people bring their children,” Auxiliary Unit 342 Secretary Isabelle Sherer said. “We certainly didn’t want them to go home without something in their hands.”

Barney said he’d like to see the expo happen again but perhaps at a different within District 9. “Instead of having it all the time here in Ashland, let’s take (to other posts) and let the other veterans in that area have a chance to come to this,” Barney said.

Joseph “Ray” Copeland, a Vietnam veteran and member of Post 342, needed to fill out a form to authorize The American Legion to represent his VA claim and was able to do so at the expo. He was proud that his organization was in charge of organizing the event. “It shows somebody cares,” he said.

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3 Legion Baseball alumni in running for Hall of Fame selection

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Three American Legion Baseball alumni are in consideration for induction this year into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The class of 2020 will be announced on Jan. 21, with the induction ceremony taking place during Hall of Fame Weekend, July 24-27.

Among the nominees:

  • Barry Bonds, who played Legion Baseball in San Mateo, Calif. One of the most feared hitters in baseball history, Bonds is the all-time leader in career home runs (762) and single-season home runs (73). Bonds was named Most Valuable Player seven times. He is the only player to ever accumulate more than 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases.

  • Roger Clemens, who played Legion Baseball in Spring Wood, Ohio. "The Rocket" earned seven Cy Young awards and was named the 1986 AL Most Valuable Player. Clemens finished with consecutive pitching Triple Crowns in 1997 and 1998 and is a member of the MLB All-Century Team. He was named 1988 American Legion Graduate of the Year, and he helped his Spring Woods High School Legion team to the 1979 Ohio state title.

  • Scott Rolen, the 2005 American Legion Graduate of the Year who played Legion Baseball in Jasper, Ind. Rolen is a seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove winner at third base.

Players must receive 75 percent of votes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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Legion Birthday ham event set for March 14

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Event name: The American Legion's 101st Birthday Celebration

Event start date/Time: 2020-03-14 17:00:00

Event end date/Time: 2020-03-14 23:00:00

Event city: Indianapolis

Club/Organization Sponsor: The American Legion ARC

Call sign: K9TAL

URL/Email:; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Event state: IN

Event ZIP: 46204

Event country: USA

Frequency 1: 7.225 MHz

Frequency 2: 14.275 MHz

Frequency 3: *CrossRds* EchoLink Conference

Frequency 4: IRLP Reflector 9735

Stations contacted may request Certificate & QSL

QSL name: The American Legion Amateur Radio Club

QSL address: 700 N. Pennsylvania St.

QSL city: Indianapolis

QSL state: IN

QSL ZIP: 46204

QSL country: USA

Public contact name: Josh Marshall

Public contact call sign: KD9DHX

Public contact phone: (317) 630-1304

Public contact email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Legion aims to help ease transition for servicemembers

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The scope of all that servicemembers must contend with when transitioning from the military to civilian life — be it finding a job, getting finances in order, or ensuring they receive all their earned VA benefits — can be overwhelming.

National and department staff of The American Legion and the Department of Texas provided help in addressing those transitional obstacles at a workshop Jan. 13 at Fort Hood.

“We were created to take care of our veterans, and make sure they get what they deserve for serving their country. That’s why we’re here,” Department of Texas Commander Jeff Perkins said.

Several dozen servicemembers, most of whom are planning to transition out of the service within the next year, attended the event the day before the Mega Career Fair at Fort Hood, where the Legion also had an informational booth.

Bret Watson, the department Membership and Post Activities chairman, was among the Legion Family members staffing the booth at the Jan. 14 job fair.

“We need to reach out to the veterans that are transitioning out or retiring from the service, let them know about The American Legion (and) the benefits and the organization,” Watson said.

Monday’s transition workshop included sessions on what civilian employers are looking for in a resume, how to create a resume and apply to federal jobs, learning how to be financially responsible and how to use LinkedIn for networking opportunities.

Department Adjutant Bill West told servicemembers attending the workshop that it “could be some of the most crucial hours” of their day.

“There’s a big transition from military to civilian life,” West said.

Veterans service officers Allen Sharp and Ron Peterson were also on hand Monday to discuss VA benefit claims with servicemembers.

Representatives of several employers and government agencies, among them the U.S. Census Bureau and the Texas Workforce Commission, mingled with servicemembers over lunch to talk about what employers are looking for.

Margret Watson of the Texas Veterans Commission discussed the federal employment process, noting that applying for a federal job requires time, preparation and attention to detail.

She also encouraged servicemembers looking for employment through to look once or twice a day, every day, as those job posting are always changing.

Watson also touted, a website where anyone can learn basic computer programs like Excel or Access, for example, for free.

Legion national staff also encouraged the servicemembers to utilize LinkedIn, especially for networking.

“(Veterans) tend to not ask for help, and that is our No. 1 downfall,” said Ariel de Jesus, assistant director of the Veterans Education and Employment Division. Use those connections from the service, including your spouse’s, de Jesus said.

He also touted the resources of the Legion and other veterans service organizations. “Your VSO’s are great resources; reach out to us,” he told the servicemembers.

“We want to be able to network with them. They need to feel like they can contact us and ask us for help or assistance on anything that they need to be doing,” Perkins said.

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USAA Tips: Steps to a great job interview

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Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

Interview preparation is demanding work. Working at your current job, searching out additional opportunities, networking, and following up with contacts is time-consuming and can leave little time for interview preparation. Follow these steps to help you have a great interview.

Dress for The Job You Want. Professional dress for a job interview is necessary and it helps present yourself as a dedicated and serious candidate. For both men and women, dress in a comfortable, conservative, modern, and professional manner. Comfort is vital in business wear. If you aren’t comfortable, if you are hot or cold, then you will not be your best answering the interview questions. The first part of a great interview answer is looking the part.

Research Your Interview Panel. If possible, use LinkedIn, Google, and other online search tools to learn about your interviewers ahead of time, so you understand if they have a military background, their prior work experience, any recent publications or speaking, and their professional interests. The second part of a great interview answer is knowing your audience and their interests.

Bring Your Materials. Have extra copies of your resume, a portfolio with 2 pens, business cards, and any preparation notes for last minute study. Also bring a bottle of water to the interview just in case of a cough or thirst. The use of a portfolio to sketch an answer to a question or to write down follow-up questions is professional and invaluable.

Format Your Interview Question Answers. The use of a standard response format for interview questions is to make yourself memorable as a candidate while in the interview. A standard response format makes it easier for the interview panel to understand your skills, how your previous experiences will make you successful, and other attributes that you bring to the company.

The STARS (Situation, Task, Action, Result, Skills) format to answer interview questions is one of the most common.

  • Situation: Describe the context within which you performed a job or faced a challenge at work.

  • Task: Describe your responsibility in that situation.

  • Action: Describe how you completed the task or endeavored to meet the challenge. Focus on what you did, rather than what your team, boss, or coworker did.

  • Result: Finally, explain the outcomes or results generated by the action taken.

  • Skills: Skills you used to be successful – includes both hard (technical) skills and soft skills (leadership, teaching, etc.).

  • A final summary line to reinforce your success and results for the question.

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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.