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Veterans Benefits Information

Army edges Navy, wins first Commander-in-Chief’s trophy in 21 years

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The 118th Army-Navy game came down to a last-second field goal attempt in swirling, snowy conditions Saturday in Philadelphia. Two false start penalties pushed Navy back, forcing kicker Bennett Moehring to try a 48-yard field goal with just 0:03 left.

Moehring’s attempt had just enough height to clear the cross bar, but it drifted outside the left upright by less than a foot, giving Army a 14-13 victory, its second consecutive win against Navy. It is the fourth time the two teams have played a one-point game. Army has won them all.

With the victory, Army (9-3) won the Commander-in-Chief's trophy for the first time since 1996. Earlier in the season, Army defeated Air Force 21-0.

"It means a lot," said Army co-captain and quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, who led Army with 94 rushing yards and the game winning touchdown. "We've been working toward this since I've gotten here (at West Point). We talk about it every day, and it's the biggest accomplishment we've had so far."

"I'm so proud of this team, this guy (Bradshaw)," said Army Head Coach Jeff Monken. "What a leader, what a competitor. And this whole team, (I'm) just so proud. As a coach and as a program you want to be able to overcome the adversity that faces you. To have group of guys as resilient as ours that believe – there was never a moment they thought we weren't going to win the game. We had the drive to take the lead and got the stops we needed right there at the end. It was a great day to celebrate this team and all they've done."

After taking the lead on the first possession of the game, the Black Knights found themselves trailing 13-7 with less than 13 minutes left in the game. Starting on the Army 35, Bradshaw finally got untracked, logging runs of 12, 12 and 9 yards. With Bradshaw sharing the running duties with Andy Davidson and Darnell Woolfolk, Army continued a relentless advance that led them to a second-and-goal situation on the Navy 9.

Bradshaw then rolled to the left and surprised everyone with a pitch – his first of the game – to running back John Trainor, who turned and dashed up the left sideline only to be knocked out of bounds less than a yard from the end zone. On the next play, Bradshaw pushed straight ahead for the touchdown and the ensuing PAT gave Army the lead.

"It was just a quarterback sneak," Bradshaw said. "I don't think I would've gotten in (the end zone) without my fullback and offensive line. The Navy defense did a great job all day stopping us inside."

With 5:10 remaining, the game came down to Army’s defense versus Navy’s offense. "I told (the defense) 'This is the ball game. We've got to make a play and win'," Monken said. "The game was on the line we just made enough plays."

Army struggled to contain Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry, who ran for a game-high 250 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries. Under Perry's leadership, the Navy running attack advanced from its own 35 to the Army 23 as the seconds ticked down. But Evan Martin was called for a false start, sending the Midshipmen back to the Army 28 and two plays later Tyler Carmona was whistled for the same infraction, leaving Navy with a third-and-16 on the Army 31 with just three seconds left. Navy had no choice but to try for the field goal by Moehring, who had made two earlier in the game.

The season is not over for either team. Army faces San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 23, while Navy plays Virginia in the Military Bowl on Dec. 28 at Annapolis, Md.

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For Veterans, a Path to Healing ‘Moral Injury’

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Forgiveness isn’t enough. Acts of atonement can help veterans repair the loyalties damaged in war.

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Illinois Legion Family pay respect to hospice veterans

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American Legion Family members of Post 168 in Pana, Ill., are paying respect to fellow veterans in hospice care during their final days, even hours. The Legion Family members are part of the Quad County Hospice “No Veteran Will Die Alone” program that was initiated less than a year ago to honor a hospice veteran’s military service and sacrifice.

Through the program, veterans visit other veterans in hospice care either at home, a nursing facility or hospital and conduct a special pinning and award presentation ceremony. The No Veteran Will Die Alone program serves four counties and consists of 13 volunteers, with six of them from Legion Family Post 168 as well as Shelbyville Post 81, Nokomis Post 94 and Oconee Post 317.

“We are there to honor God, country and the warrior for his or her service,” said Post 168 Chaplain Jack Moss. “The veterans really get choked up. We always tell them what an honor and privilege it is for us to come and do this pinning ceremony for them.”

The ceremony begins with patriotic, gospel or other types of music performed by a volunteer music therapist on guitar or violin. Then the program volunteers march into the patient’s room carrying the American flag, as well as the veteran’s military branch of service flag. Moss offers a special prayer and then the pin is placed on the veteran. The pin is an American flag with the word “Veteran” and a service branch pin is attached.

“Some of the veterans say, ‘I don’t really deserve this medal; I wasn’t in action,’” Moss said. “But we tell them, ‘If you served one day for your country then you deserve to be honored.’ You can really see the emotion in their eyes and in their face. They are touched by that pinning, and we are too.”

The military branch pins are donated by the local military recruiting offices thanks to Post 168 Senior Vice Commander Mickey Clemons explaining the program and asking for support. “We really go the extra mile for the hospice veterans,” Clemons said. “We try to honor them the best we can for what they’ve done for us.”

Veterans also receive other items featuring their branch of service. These include a hand-made red, white and blue tie blanket and pillow made by volunteer Marilyn Ohmes, whose World War II father was a member of Post 94; a custom-made cake by a local bakery; and a laminated certificate. The certificate reads, “We pay special tribute to you, for your military service to America and for advancing the universal hope of freedom and liberty for all.”

Sons of The American Legion Squadron 168 member Earl Baker said many times the families never knew how important it was for their loved one to receive this honor because their military service was never shared. Once the program volunteers introduce themselves and their branch of service, the patient will often reminisce about his or her time in service.

“We had one veteran introduce to us his great-grandchildren; he called them up one by one,” Baker said. “That was very emotional for me. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room.”

The five- to 20-minute ceremony ends with a proper salute. Clemons said oftentimes before he can even call the group to attention to present arms, the patient is saluting. “These ceremonies are very emotional for us as well as for the families,” he said.

The No Veteran Will Die Alone program was inspired by a similar program at a VA hospital in Chicago. “We thought this would be a wonderful benefit for our Quad County Hospice program because there are so many veterans in our area,” said Carol Chandler, Quad County director with Pana Community Hospital. “This has really brought together kind of a cohesive for our hospice patient that is a veteran and our very veterans that live in the community. It’s been the glue, if you will, to bring that together and that honor is happening because our veterans understand that hospice person that served. It’s been an amazing privilege for us to have this program in this community.”

Quad County Volunteer Coordinator Rachael Flesch-Springate spoke with Post 168 members and the local VFW about the program for their support. She is in contact with the families of the hospice veteran and offers the No Veteran Will Die Alone program to them. If accepted, she contacts Clemons to coordinate the ceremony and number of volunteers in attendance. She hopes other Legion Family members will see the benefits of this program and reach out to their local hospice coordinator to “help veterans that are going through this transition in their life,” she said. “To see the connection between veterans to veterans is amazing. It really is. It gives them a bond that they’ve always had. I believe it’s rewarding for everyone.”

After the patient passes, Clemons said their services to the family do not end. Post 168’s honor guard has provided military services at funerals, and they follow up with bereavement visits. “I just saw the daughter of the very first recipient of our program yesterday at the grocery store and we hugged. Once they pass we don’t forget the families,” Clemons said.

Baker said overall the program “is an emotional time. When we sit back as a group, we discuss what we saw, what we can do to make things better. It’s all about the veteran.”

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Legion urges passage of S. 2193

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On Dec. 7, The American Legion and several other veterans service organizations sent a letter to U.S. Senate leadership, urging passage of S. 2193, the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017. The legislation would build on current community care programs by putting an end to arbitrary standards for when veterans may receive community care and by consolidating the disparate community care programs into one program. The intention is to remove confusion over when and how veterans can access community care doctors, and ensure VA remains the coordinator of care for veterans regardless if care is delivered at VA medical facilities or through community care providers.

The letter comes on the heels of The American Legion, and other VSO representatives and members of Congress joining together Dec. 6 for a Capitol Hill press conference to urge Congress to pass a bill expanding caregiver benefits to veterans injured before 9/11. The group presented Congress with more than 180,000 petitions calling for expansion of the benefits.

The full text of the Dec. 7 letter follows.

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer:

On behalf of the millions of veterans we represent, and all veterans who use the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, we write to urge you to take whatever actions are necessary to swiftly bring to the floor and pass S. 2193, the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation approved by the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs last week to improve and modernize the care America provides her veterans.

The brave men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform must have timely access to high-quality, comprehensive and veteran-centric care. The majority of our members rely on VA to provide such care, but understand that VA must turn to private sector partners when it is not able to reasonably meet the demand for care in its health system. This legislation would build on current community care programs by putting an end to arbitrary standards for when veterans may receive community care and by consolidating the disparate community care programs into one program. In doing so, this legislation would remove confusion over when and how veterans can access community care doctors, and ensure VA remains the coordinator of care for veterans regardless if care is delivered at VA medical facilities or through community care providers.

We are pleased this legislation would empower veterans and their health care providers to work together to determine when and where veterans should receive care based on access and quality measures. This approach is also very similar to VA’s Veterans Coordinated Access and Rewarding Experiences (CARE) plan, which was developed with direct input from major veterans service organizations. The bill would ensure certain community care doctors are trained to provide veteran-centric care that abides by VA’s best practices and clinical practice guidelines. Importantly, this legislation would ensure VA does not rush implementation of the new and improved community care program by funding the current Choice Program through the end of fiscal year 2018. It also consolidates future community care funding within one discretionary appropriations account to end the current dual-funding process which has led to numerous community care funding shortfalls and veterans being denied access to community care.

The legislation would also give veterans the opportunity to access walk-in clinics throughout the country to fill the gap between costly emergency room care and waiting for ambulatory care. However, it does not protect a covered veteran from paying out-of-pocket fees for service-connected illnesses and injuries. We call on Congress to make certain veterans are not charged copayments for illnesses and injuries related to their military service.

Additionally, this legislation includes important provisions to strengthen the VA health care system and expand its ability to provide direct care to our nation’s veterans, while preserving VA foundational services not accommodated in the private sector. It would expand and improve VA’s graduate medical education, loan repayment and residency programs to ensure VA is able to recruit and retain high-quality health care professionals. It also includes much-needed supplemental appropriations to expand and improve VA’s capital infrastructure and authorizes VA health care professionals to practice telemedicine across state lines to ensure veterans, particularly those in rural settings, have convenient access to virtual health care.

Finally, we strongly support Title III of the legislation which would extend VA’s comprehensive caregiver benefits to veterans of all eras. The legislation would finally correct a serious inequity between veterans who served before September 11, 2001 and their post-9/11 comrades, who believe the caregivers of pre-9/11 veterans must have access to comprehensive caregiver services that are fully funded and properly managed. As this legislation moves through the Senate and into conference discussions with the House, we urge you to ensure this critical caregiver equity provision remains part of the final legislation.

We ask that you work together to secure Senate passage of the Caring for Our Veterans Act of 2017 before the end of the year so the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs are given enough time to reach a final agreement before funding for the Choice Program is depleted again. Failure to do so would deprive veterans access to the high-quality care they have earned and deserve. We look forward to working with you and all members of the Senate to ensure swift passage of this important, bipartisan and comprehensive legislation.



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Texas Post 71 Scouting Jamboree On The Air

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On Oct. 20, a Cub Scout group from Muenster, Texas, and Justin, Texas, along with parents, assistants and one Girl Scout, came to American Legion Post 71 to participate in the international Scouting Jamboree On The Air (JOTA) and Jamboree On The Internet (JOTI). We started by explaining a bit about our equipment, then proceeded to stretch the attention span of third graders to the limit as we tried to find any activity on the frequencies designated as JOTA calling frequencies. We finally found a fellow in Saskatchewan but before the kids had a chance to speak with him, the propagation shifted and he faded out. The same thing happened with another station so in the interest of keeping the audience occupied, we shifted over to JOTI and the Echolink app (Ham radio on the phone). That proved to be the best idea as right out of the box we contacted a Scout group in Queensland, Australia. But as luck would have it, before the kids could get "hands on," some very inconsiderate types connected to that conference bridge and drowned out our conversation so we tried a JOTI bridge in Brazil and gave it a try and VOILA! a wonderful gentleman there agreed to help with our effort, take questions from the Scouts and then translate into Portuguese for all the ones there. Every Scout who wanted to ask questions was able to do so. Each participant was given his/her own commemorative JOTA log sheet with the details of the contact and they were given the order information for the Boy Scout JOTA/JOTI uniform patch. Refreshments were served and there was a discussion session to wrap up the evening. The experience so excited some that according to their moms they talked about it all the way home and Muenster is over an hour away. A few of the parents were so impressed that they asked about the amateur licensing process for themselves. And of course we also handed out Sons of The American Legion recruitment literature. All in all, it was a very successful night. Fred Stevens - WA5LIE Adjutant Sons of The American Legion Squadron 71 Denton, Texas

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Did you know?

The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at