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Veterans Benefits Information

Study the 10 most common interview questions

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No two interviews are ever the same. Every hiring manager will ask different questions and conduct the interview in different ways. But, some questions are nearly ubiquitous to the interview process. To help prepare, Alison Doyle has compiled a list of the 10 most common interview questions which we've collected for you below. All servicemembers know the importance of planning, and job interviews are no different – know the questions, practice your answers, and you'll be more likely to succeed.

What is your greatest strength?

This might seem like a no-brainer question to answer, but be careful. Don't use this as an opportunity to soapbox about how wonderful you are; pick a specific ability or skill that relates to the job you're applying for and talk about it. This is one of the easiest times during an interview to sell yourself, so hit the sweet spot of playing up your strengths without boasting. Describe what your greatest skill is, and then pick two or three examples that depict it in action.

What is your greatest weakness?

This question can trip up a lot of people, but not for the reason you might think. While it's never a good idea to let your heart bleed out as you describe your greatest failings in life, this also isn't the time to practice Orwellian doublespeak. The trick is to talk about a genuine work-related weakness, then explain how you handled it. Don't say that your greatest weakness is perfectionism or being too early – those are strengths, and the interviewer won't be impressed. What really stands out is the ability to accurately self-analyze and change accordingly. It shows maturity, insight, and translates well in your work.

How do you handle stress and pressure?

Stress and pressure are ubiquitous in the working world. No matter how easy-going your workplace might be, there are always problems, snags, and emergencies that interrupt plans. They key to answering this question is acknowledging how you overcome personal feelings and solve problems. Whether your first response is to take 60 seconds to breathe and clear your head or write down solutions on a scrap of paper, emphasize your ability to focus on solutions, self-motivate through adversity, and sidestep panic.

Describe a difficult work situation or project and how you overcame it.

Similar to answering "how do you handle stress and pressure," this is an opportunity to talk about your problem-solving abilities. This question is best answered with a focus on a single example since that's what the question is asking for. Start by setting up the situation, then talk about how you solved it. Cap off your answer with a short and sweet explanation of your thought process, goals, and problem-solving method.

How do you evaluate success?

Your answer to this question will tell employers whether or not you fit the office culture and if you would be a motivated employee. It's a broad, nebulous question, but don't let that scare you. Pick a few measures of success that relate to the job you're applying for; success can mean fostering good communication, completing projects ahead of schedule, or finding innovative solutions to certain problems.

Why are you leaving or have left your job?

If you left on unfriendly terms with your previous employer, your gut reaction might to be to pick apart every single thing that was wrong with them. Do not, at any time for any reason, do this. Unless you were laid off, focus on your inspired need to find new opportunities. You might want to focus on a different kind of work, or perhaps there wasn't any room to grow at your old company. Whatever the reason, the best answers to this question will focus on personal and professional growth.

Why do you want this job?

The answer to this question will be similar to the one above, except instead of explaining why you want to grow, target your answer to the job and company you're applying for. Talk about opportunities the prospective employer will give you and how you will benefit them as a company. No matter the type of job or pay, communicate your interest with specific examples and short plugs about your abilities.

Why should we hire you?

Don't just answer this question by saying, "because I'm awesome," or a wordy, detailed version thereof. This is an opportunity to talk about what makes you the right candidate for the position. This requires knowing what the employer is looking for, and then matching your skills and experience to it.

What are your goals for the future?

This question hones in on your ambition: an interviewer who asks this wants to know what you're attempting to achieve. Discuss your plans for the future so that your personal ambition benefits the company.

Tell me about yourself.

Arguably, this is the broadest possible question an interviewer can ask, so it's important to be prepared. If you're not good at coming up with answers on the fly, then you may begin to ramble and trail off into personal anecdotes. Answer this question by talking about your professional self: what you can do, and what you've accomplished. This is an opportunity to create a well-defined snapshot that will give the employer a good impression.

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USAA Tips: 5 hurdles veterans may face

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Content provided courtesy of USAA

In the world of track and field, some running events require athletes to jump over hurdles, those man-made obstacles found throughout a run toward victory. Consider these five hurdles veterans may face during the military-to-civilian career transition:

The Patriotic Hurdle

While we’ve all witnessed the heart-warming and memorable homecoming ceremonies for troops returning from the war front, that same welcoming reception does not necessarily happen on the job front.

The Patriotic Hurdle is the idea that since a veteran receives the much-deserved respect, recognition, and honor in a public setting that this same level of acceptance will translate into a hiring decision.

It doesn’t always happen that way, but it should.

The Superhero Hurdle

No doubt, your military experience provided ample opportunity for you to learn plenty of things you never would have imagined. You have the ability to do many things.

While your friends and family sit amazed, listening to the details that you’re authorized to share, inevitably someone will comment on some of the “Superhero Powers” you have. This usually comes in the form of someone saying, “Man, I don’t know how you can do all that! You’re incredible! Wow! I’m glad you’re serving because it takes a special person to do what you do!”

That said, your Superhero abilities that family and friends admire might pose a threat to a potential employer. Does the person you want to work for feel threatened by all you’ve done? What impressed your closest people at home might also leave a prospective employer unimpressed.

Let’s just say that if you come across as somebody who thinks you can do anything, you might soon feel like there’s Kryptonite nearby, in the form of not getting a callback on your job application, not getting the job, or even prolonged periods of unemployment. You may feel powerless, unless you figure out a way to overcome this hurdle.

The You Owe Me Hurdle

This hurdle represents a very bad place to be. Read carefully so you understand the idea here. If you served our country, the people you selflessly protected owe you a huge debt of gratitude. They owe you respect for the sacrifices you’ve made. They owe you the right to all the promises made to you and the benefits of service.

But, do they owe you a job?

One of the quickest ways to drop out of consideration from a job is to come across as though somebody owes you something.

The Plug ‘n Play Hurdle

This hurdle is the cousin of the Superhero hurdle to an extent. The Plug ‘n Play Hurdle represents the idea that since you did something in the military, you can automatically do it in the civilian world.

For example:

• The former military commander who thinks he/she can fit perfectly into a CEO role.

• The military instructor who can easily step into a corporate trainer role.

• Anybody who purposely tries to introduce a military job or practice into a civilian company without modifying it so that it works effectively.

Your best bet might be to first, pay close attention to how you communicate your experience, and second, ask about the company’s leadership development program. Then, listen.

The Square Peg/Round Hole Hurdle

This hurdle involves our career path or career choice in addition to our job title we plan to pursue. Think about your past or present military job:

• What was your job title?

• How many people did you supervise?

• What additional duties did you have?

• What special training did you have?

Last question; and it’s an important one:

Do you truly wish to do the same exact job again after the military?

Does it make sense to try to leverage your experience into the civilian equivalent? Do you wish to cookie-cut, convert, or morph what you’ve already done into something that resembles what you’re already done? You could spend an eternity trying to recreate what you’ve already done OR you can blaze a new trail as a civilian – the choice is yours.

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Illinois Coast Guardsmen share gratitude to the Legion

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When The American Legion announced it was providing expedited Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) grants to Coast Guard members with minor children in the home who were financially affected by last winter's government shutdown, Department of Illinois Membership Director Chad Woodburn shared the important message on Facebook. The post went viral and reached Chris Roggy at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor in Chicago. Woodburn and Roggy worked together to help Coast Guardsmen at the station receive TFA grants. As a result of the working relationship and support, Roggy invited The American Legion to visit the station anytime.

On May 16, a visit by National Commander Brett Reistad, Woodburn, Department of Illinois Commander Micheal Carter, Department Senior Vice Commander Roy Weber and other department leaders was made to Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor.

“Thank you for all your help with the (TFA) grants for our junior members. It was a big help; it was awesome,” said Roggy, a machinery technician first class and Legionnaire. “It was a hard time for younger people who don’t really have savings accounts.”

Reistad was in Illinois for his official visit with the department. His visit to Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor with department leadership included a brief insight into the station's mission and a tour from Roggy, Commanding Officer Matt James and Chief Petty Officer James Doll.

Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor is the busiest station in the Great Lakes that works closely with the Chicago Police Department and Fire Department. On average they do between 150-250 search-and-rescue cases – with 10,000-plus registered boaters on Lake Michigan, search and rescue becomes their main focus.

“What I love about the Coast Guard and the missions we have is we focus more on search and rescue, and I like to help people,” said Doll, an 18-year Coast Guardsmen and Legionnaire who recalled docking in Kodiak, Alaska, and all the crew going to Post 17 for lunch. The American Legion “is a really good organization to be a part of.”

Along with search and rescue, last year Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor was a part of 560 law enforcement cases. James said what makes the Great Lakes challenging is that those law enforcement cases all happened during the busy summer months in Chicago – May to September. As a comparison, he mentioned the station in Miami Beach is year-round and averages 650 law enforcement cases.

“We really love serving this city, we love serving the state of Illinois,” said James, a 24-year Coast Guardsmen. “We have an awesome team here. You should be very proud of the quality of young people we have working here.”

There are 42 active duty on staff and 25 reservists that operate like a firehouse with two days on, two days off and sliding weekends. No one lives full time on base.

With many Coast Guardsmen living off base, “that was one of the things we had to take into consideration when we offered them Temporary Financial Assistance is the fact that a lot of them still had to pay their mortgage. They have financial responsibilities,” Reistad said.

Reistad has now visited four Coast Guard stations since The American Legion provided more than $1 million in non-repayable TFA grants that assisted 3,120 children of 1,173 active-duty Coast Guard servicemembers. His visits have been “important to The American Legion to have some perspective on how they were affected by the government shutdown and their lack of pay. So coming here I have a better understanding of the duties of a Coast Guard station,” Reistad said.

During the Coast Guard tour, Reistad and Illinois Legionnaires stepped aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium (RB-M) used for search and rescue. James said something the Coast Guard does very well is standardize. As an example, equipment on a 45-foot RB-M boat in Hawaii operates the same as the boat in Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor. “I would know exactly where every piece of equipment is stowed,” James said. “So when you see things like with Katrina or hurricanes in Houston, what makes us successful is that we can grab Coasties from any place in the country, you could build a crew from one person out of every corner of the country, and within five minutes they would be able to operate together. They speak the same language, they speak the same standardization.”

Donna Manella, a member of Post 134 in Morton Grove, Ill., was stationed at Coast Guard Calumet Harbor in the late 1980s. Her father, Thomas Duzmal, also was stationed there during his time in service. She began reminiscing with Roggy about her time at Calumet Harbor and mentioned how her father took a porthole from a decommissioned ship as a souvenir, which used to hang in the station’s mess hall. “Let me show you what we did with the porthole,” Roggy said. “You are going to like this.”

A hole was cut in an office door at the boat maintenance facility and the porthole was placed in it. “Oh my gosh I have to take a picture of this. My dad is going to be so happy,” Manella said.

The porthole was found on a shelf in the maintance building by Roggy when he first reported to the station three years ago and knew he had to do something with it.

Roggy is an Iraq veteran and a Paid Up for Life member of American Legion Post 748 in Anitoch, Ill. “I joined The American Legion for the camaraderie, the brotherhood and taking care of other servicemembers, making sure that they’re OK. If I ever need help a perfect example is when the TFA grant came out. I didn’t end up needing it, but a lot of our junior members did. If (the shutdown) would have went on for two more months I would have needed it as well.

“(The American Legion) is just a great organization.”

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Legacy Run online registration now live

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Online registration for The American Legion Legacy Run is now live. Click here to register for this year's ride.

Online registration for riders and passengers will end Aug. 11. All riders and passengers who register online before Aug. 1 will be mailed the registration packet with patches and map book materials before national staff departs. Those who register on or after Aug. 1 will be mailed their registration packets on or after Sept. 1 (while supplies last) as staff returns from convention duties.

The Legacy Run, which raises money for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund, will depart American Legion Post 347 in Lady Lake, Fla., on Aug. 18, and arrive in Indianapolis, Ind., on Aug. 22 for the 2019 American Legion National Convention.

Along the way, the ride will make stops in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Kentucky, before ending up at Kenneth N. Dowden Wayne Post 64 in Indianapolis.

Online registration is simple and easy with a credit card payment. If you would prefer to print and mail a registration form with a check or money order, please continue through the online registration process. Instructions are provided on the information review page to print your registration and mail payment.

A reminder that pre-payment for fuel is mandatory, in order to avoid dealing with cash on organized fuel stops.

For those wanting to support the Legacy Run but are unable to participate, online registration for supporters (non-riders and non-passengers) will continue until Sept. 7. Supporter registrations of $25 or more will also receive a thank-you package while supplies last.

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Legion announces recipients of 4th Estate journalism awards

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A San Francisco Bay-area television news station, a community newspaper and an influential online media outlet will receive The American Legion’s Fourth Estate Award during the 101st National Convention of the nation’s largest veterans organization in Indianapolis, on August 29.

The Fourth Estate Award has been presented annually by The American Legion since 1958 for outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. Nominations in 2019 were considered in three categories: broadcast, print and new media (Internet). They were selected by the organization’s Media & Communications Commission on May 6 and announced May 17.

Taking top honor in the broadcast category is San Francisco NBC-affiliate KNTV. In a comprehensive series titled “Failure to Report: Sex Abuse Victims Silenced,” the stationed examined allegations of sexual abuse made by student of a private high school in San Jose. As a result of the station’s reporting, the school revised its policies on the handling of abuse accusations, two teachers were put on administrative leave and the school’s president resigned.

The Republican of Springfield, Mass., is being recognized in the print category for its profile of World War II Army Nurse Corps veteran Louise Fleming. “There is another side of war, a time when beauty appears,” the feature said. The piece, authored by managing editor Cynthia Simison, highlights the distinguished service by Fleming and fulfills The American Legion’s longtime goal of promoting the honorable nature of military service.

The Fourth Estate New Media Award is going to Reporter Oriana Pawlyk wrote about an Air Force policy prohibiting its pilots from using the HIV-preventative drug Truvada, despite its approval for use by members of other military branches. Shortly after the report was published, 14 members of Congress signed a letter to the Air Force secretary. The service soon after reversed its policy.

“As a veterans organization, The American Legion cherishes the U.S. Constitution, the First Amendment and the special role that a free press plays in our society,” said Brett. P. Reistad, national commander of The American Legion. “The American Legion would not be nearly as effective without media coverage of our positions and programs on the national and community level. The Fourth Estate Awards represent the best of the best. These award winners are being recognized for outstanding works of journalism that not only stand far above normal media reporting, but have also resulted in outcomes that have positively impacted the lives of people and issues. These committed journalists have devoted long, hard hours into investigating, researching, writing and producing reports that have truly made a difference.

“I will be honored to present each of these deserving recipients with our highest recognition of journalistic accomplishment, The American Legion Fourth Estate Award, at our national convention in Indianapolis this summer,” Reistad said. “They are all credits to their profession.”

Previous winners of the award include CNN, CBS, USA Today, ABC News, C-SPAN, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and Life Magazine, among others.

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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