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Veterans Benefits Information

Donald Trump and Bikers Share Affection at Rolling Thunder Rally

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An annual motorcycle ride, dedicated to accounting for military members taken as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, gave Mr. Trump a receptive audience at the Lincoln Memorial.

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'More than hot dogs and marshmallows'

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There are Memorial Day cookouts. And there are Memorial Day sales – mattress, appliances and clothing, among others. But World War II veteran Dr. E. Bruce Heilman wants to make sure Americans know that barbecues and savings aren’t the reason behind Memorial Day.

Heilman – the chancellor of Richmond University in Virginia and a Legion Rider from Maj. Charles A. Ransom American Legion Post 186 in Midlothian, Va. – was the guest speaker at a Legion ceremony May 28 at Arlington National Cemetery. Heilman’s words preceded a wreath-laying ceremony at the Civil War Unknown Monument, where the remains of 2,111 soldiers gathered from the fields of Bull Run and the route to the Rappahannock now rest.

He spoke of the sacrifices of families who have lost loved ones while wearing the nation’s uniform. “All of us on Memorial Day need to understand that’s what it’s all about,” said the 89-year-old Heilman, who has rode on his motorcycle more than 12,000 miles across the country over the past two years to raise awareness for various military causes, including Gold Star families. “If I can leave that message in your mind, then Memorial Day will be more than hot dogs and marshmallows.”

Helping Heilman place the wreath were several Gold Star family members. One of them was Vietnam veteran Dan McLaughlin, a member of ALR Chapter 117 in Butler County, Pa. McLaughlin lost his son, Michael, during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006.

“That touched me really deeply,” McLaughlin said of coming to Arlington National Cemetery. “It draws everything out of you. I’ve had the privilege and the honor of bringing a survivor of the Bataan Death March here and having him buried here. When you see Arlington, and you understand how many young men and women have given their lives … it has to touch your heart.”

Heilman praised the Gold Star families. “They represent the best of those who defend our freedom, the best of those who are willing to stand their ground in the military to preserve that which we all treasure – and again, that is our freedom,” he said. “We Americans are not willing to settle for less.”

More than 100 Legion Riders rode their motorcycles from Post 177 in Fairfax, Va., to Arlington, gathering outside the cemetery and walking behind two bagpipers to the Civil War Unknown Monument. Another two dozen Legion family members traveled by bus to participate in the event.


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Legion makes splash at Tree Town Music Festival

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Even the intermittent storms that turned the Tree Town Music Festival grounds into a virtual lake weren’t dampening the spirits of thousands of concertgoers.

American Legion Past National Commander Dave Rehbein, for one, was happy to see that.

“This is the opening day of Memorial Day weekend, and this is what Memorial Day weekend is all about,” Rehbein said Saturday at the concert festival in Forest City, Iowa. “It’s about remembering those people who made it possible for us to be here. So (do that) as you enjoy yourself, and you better enjoy yourself, because the folks who made it possible for you to be here expect you to enjoy yourself.”

Tree Town, in its third year, brings a number of country music acts to northern Iowa; this year’s lineup includes Miranda Lambert, Sam Hunt, Jake Owen and Tim McGraw, who will close out the festival Sunday night.

Immediately before McGraw takes the stage, Legion-supported Soldier’s Wish will be presenting a wheelchair to an injured veteran.

The American Legion has been the festival’s official charity each year. The Legion’s presence at Tree Town includes a major presence on the venue’s second stage as well as a tent at the front of the grounds, drawing concertgoers as they enter the grounds.

“We know that the folks that come to country music festivals, the vast majority of them, are America-loving patriotic people. So for us to have the opportunity to put the name and the purposes of The American Legion in front of those people, particularly when they’re excited about all being together and all celebrating the same thing, is important," Rehbein said.

The Legion conducts a 50/50 raffle each day of the four-day event, and also has service officers on hand to help Legion members and other veterans with VA benefits.

Denise Rohan, candidate for national commander, was also on hand for part of the weekend. Rehbein said Rohan drew “a favorable reception” from women excited about the prospect of a female national commander of The American Legion.

Events like Tree Town help the Legion reach the younger crowd whose membership is necessary for the organization’s growth.

“Getting those younger members is huge for us,” Rehbein said. “For us to be able to draw that connection out, it’s more than just what you can do one-on-one, it’s what you can do as a group to help the larger group, because that’s what we’re about.”


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Veterans of Atomic Test Blasts: No Warning, and Late Amends

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What does the government owe its men and women in uniform who fall victim not to enemy fire but rather to decisions made by their commanders?

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VA Proposes to Grant Full Practice Authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is proposing a rule to grant full practice authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) when they are acting within the scope of their VA employment. Full practice authority will help optimize access to VA health care by permitting APRNs to assess, diagnose, prescribe medications and interpret diagnostic tests. This action proposes to expand the pool of qualified health care professionals authorized to provide primary health care and other related health care services to the full extent of their education, training, and certification to Veterans without the clinical supervision of a physician.

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