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Veterans Benefits Information

Lawmakers Reach Deal on a Fix for V.A.’s Health Care System

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The measure is expected to set aside billions of dollars to hire new doctors, build new buildings and upgrade the department’s scheduling system.

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Singing for the Commander-in-Chief

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Members of The American Legion’s Boys Nation and The American Legion Auxiliary’s Girls Nation showcased their singing talents at a July 25 visit to the White House for a photo opportunity with President Barack Obama.

While waiting for about an hour for the president to arrive, the Legion Nation – already positioned on risers for group photos – briefly turned the West Wing into a concert hall. Led by Past National Commander Bob Turner, the high-school students sang impressively, filling the air with renditions of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “This Land is Your Land” and other patriotic favorites.

The White House’s official videographer, Hope Hall, asked the Nation for some musical assistance for “West Wing Week,” the White House’s web-based program that recaps the week’s events concerning President Obama.

Hall asked the students if they could come up with a musical chant of the program’s title that she could use as the intro for the next episode. The Nation obliged her, spontaneously – and collectively – improvising a three-note “West Wing Week” chant accompanied by rhythmic hand-clapping.

Hall taped their performance and was so impressed that she put down her camera and bowed to them. The Nation’s chant should be part of the Aug. 1 episode of “West Wing Week,” available online.

When President Obama did arrive, he received thunderous applause from the 196 young men and women, along with staff members of the Boys and Girls Nation programs.

“First of all, I’m sorry I’m a little late,” the president said. “I had three presidents from other countries here. Those things usually go long.” In fact, Obama had just finished meeting with the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, working with them to find ways to deter the continuing influx of Latin American children into the U.S. border.

Obama said it was “wonderful” to be with Boys and Girls Nation again. “I want to thank The American Legion for all the great work that you do every single day, and this is always a wonderful occasion, just because we have such impressive young people, and all of you I know are from all across the country.”

The president told the young men and women they were already using their leadership skills in their schools and their communities.

“It gives me great confidence when I meet all of you,” the president said, “because I know the country’s going to be in good hands in the future … and I expect to see a whole bunch of you doing all kinds of great things in various capacities in the future.

“Even if you don’t end up being active in politics and government, you’re still going to be citizens, and if you’re in business, or you’re in a profession, or some other type of work … make sure that you’re well informed and that you’re participating in our democracy ….

“That makes the country better … I know that we are always very proud of what you do and I want to thank all the older adults. They obviously make enormous sacrifices as well, to help ensure that this is a great experience for you. So thank you all for the wonderful work that you do.

Then the president posed for photos, joking with Boys Nation that he did not want to see any “rabbit ears” behind his head. Then he said, ““You guys always do a great job on the songs. I’ve got to hear my birthday song.”

The nearly 200-voice-strong choir their Commander-in-Chief, singing “Happy Birthday, dear Mr. President….”

Because of his earlier meeting, Obama was pressed for time and could only shake hands with the Boys and Girls Nation staff. But the young men and women hid their disappointment well, and the president left the West Wing the same way he had entered – with thunderous applause.


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Researchers Work to Improve Body Armor

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Members of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade in Afghanistan test the latest female body armor on August 21, 2012. Photo by David Kamm.

Army researchers are working to revolutionize body armor. A team from the Army Research Laboratory has studied the body armor used in the theater of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last twelve years. Researchers are doing what’s called a survivability analysis, looking at the outcome of injuries, to help improve the functionality of body armor for male, and now, female soldiers.

The findings revealed that a lot of warfighters are surviving their injuries thanks to improved protective gear. Still Army researchers are looking to provide further protection in the facial and genital regions as well as improved body armor for the female soldier. Researchers are taking quality of life into account as they do their investigation. Natalie Eberius, team leader at the Army Research Laboratory’s Body Armor and Injury Analysis division in Aberdeen, Maryland, said this quality of life metric is called the Functional Capacity Index. The index measures ten dimensions, ranging from vision to speech and bending, to hand and arm movements. “If soldiers are not fully capable of carrying out these movements, then they cannot do the tasks they need to,” Eberius said. “The use of this quality of life metric gives us a quantifiable way to say that one particular piece of equipment is more protective than another.”

The Army Research Laboratory team is not building the body armor. Rather, it is analyzing its performance. By using this index, team members can evaluate protective armor equipment and determine how much better it could be. “We’ve been able to apply this metric to the protection equipment that is fielded by the Army to protect the genital region of the body. Soldiers are wearing protective undergarments and overgarments. We have been able to look at the protection they provide” and tell body armor developers how to improve them so they offer more protection, Eberius said.

The research team views body armor as more of a system, a soldier protection system. Eberius said the result is a modular system that can be customized. The soldier can add or subtract gear for optimal performance and protection. “Everything has to be weighed in terms of its actual weight and its ability for the soldier to maintain performance. … We can’t just keep adding armor to the soldier,” Eberius noted. Army researchers are working to optimize form, fit and functionality for battlefield performance all at the same time. “Performance is really the most important aspect of a soldier,” Eberius said.

The Army is now developing body armor tailored to the female torso. “The Army is definitely taking into account the woman’s anatomy. That’s something that’s been done in the last couple of years. There has [already] been significant improvement in body armor for women,” Eberius said. She called advancements in female body armor the next frontier.

Eberius and her team have partnered with the car crash research industry to develop various mannequins that can test the impact of ballistics and blast events on the pelvic region. “When we evaluate the mannequin, we can use this quality of life metric as a way to evaluate the protective capability the equipment has.” Eberius added that body armor research and improvement is truly a global effort. “We benefit from the work that other countries are doing, and we share resources and information.”

 


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Plagiarism Scandal Tests a Senator Still Forming a Rapport With Montanans

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Many voters in Montana seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude as they judge the future of Senator John Walsh, a Democrat accused of plagiarizing a paper he submitted to the United States Army War College.

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July 30 Hiring Event to Maximize Veterans' Non-Profit Job Opportunities - IDVA, IDES and U.S. Chamber Partner in first-of-kind event

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CHICAGO – The Hiring Our Heroes event, one of the largest efforts to help Veterans, military service members and their family members to find employment, returns to Chicago on Wednesday, July 30. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) and Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) are primary sponsors. The event is from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the University of Chicago, Ida Noyes Hall 1212 East 59th Street, Chicago.

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Did you know?

A veteran’s family must request a United States flag.

A flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran. Generally, the flag is given to the next of kin. Only one flag may be provided per veteran. Upon the request of the family, an “Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes” (VA Form 21-2008) must be submitted along with a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. Flags may be obtained from VA regional offices and most U.S. Post Offices.