Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Legacy Run promoted on airwaves

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American Legion Riders National Advisory Committee Chairman Bob Sussan was a guest on “The Bill Cunningham Show” July 22 on radio station WLW in Cincinnati. Sussan, chief road captain of the Legacy Run, was able to discuss the run, the Riders and their fund-raising efforts for The American Legion Legacy Fund.

Sussan also promoted and the ability to register for the ride along. Online registration ends Aug. 1. The Legacy Run leaves Indianapolis Aug. 21 and wraps up in Harrison, Ohio – roughly 22 miles from Cincinnati – on Aug. 25

You can listen to the interview here. It starts at the 62:20 mark.

WLW is the highest-radio station in the Cincinnati market, while Cunningham has twice won the National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Award for Large-Market Personality of the Year.

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Rehbein farewells Legion JSSP tournament after 26 years

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When American Legion Past National Commander Dave Rehbein saw tears in the eyes of a competitor coming off the firing line following the Legion’s 26th annual Junior 3-Position National Air Rifle Championships, he understood her emotions. For both Rehbein and the competitor, Saturday’s Legion air rifle competition at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., marked their final match.

After 26 years of serviced and dedication to the Legion’s national air rifle tournament, Rehbein is retiring from the program as the chief range officer – a position he's held for the past four years. While it’s hard leaving a program he loves, Rehbein reminded the competitor and himself that “it’s not about what’s behind us; it’s about what’s in front of us,” he said. “I’ve had the privilege of doing many, many things in The American Legion. This ranks up there with anything else that might have been an accomplishment.”

Rehbein was asked to be a part of the Legion’s Junior Shooting Sports Program (JSSP) from its start in 1990, 18 years before he was elected national commander. He has seen many changes with the program over the years, from the sport growing nationwide to advancement in technology with the electronic scoring. But the biggest change he said is the caliber of shooters that come to the Legion’s national tournament.

“The comment was made to me that first year that we had precision gear but no precision (category) shooters. That’s changed,” Rehbein said. More than 1,500 high school marksmen competed in the Legion’s postal match tournament this year to become one of 30 competitors to advance to the finals held every year in July at the Olympic Training Center.

Rehbein said next summer will be different knowing he won’t be traveling to Colorado to connect with friends, meet new ones and see the caliber of shooters the program is putting out.

“There’s a lot of friendships among the staff; it becomes a very close-knit group,” Rehbein said. “But we also see many of the same coaches and parents bringing more than one shooter out here. It’s nice to have maintained those kind of friendships. And I’ll miss just spending four days out here getting to know the kids on the line.

“Our shooters are very respectful because they understand all the help that’s gotten them there. We just have a very well-rounded, potentially successful group of people that come out here.”

The American Legion’s youth programs teach and instill invaluable lessons to its participants, and Rehbein said JSSP and Legion Baseball share one in common – ability to recover from a mistake.

“When you send a bad shot down the line, you can’t get it back," he said. "But the next shot you have to be able to get everything back together, emotions aside, and really give it your best shot. And that’s something all shooters in the Legion program are able to do. When you see shooters that can do that, you understand what their potential is like as citizens down the road.”

As the Legion’s JSSP continues to grow and evolve like it has over the past 26 years, Rehbein understands that means new volunteers and new visions for the program. He advises future program Legion volunteers to remember that it’s “about building a team so the staff are all working together. It’s about understanding you can’t ask a dumb question because there’s a lot to learn here. And don’t bring any preconceptions with you as a new volunteer.”

And he too hopes American Legion departments are part of the Shooting Sports program’s growth. “I hope for more departments to get involved with the program and host a championship match so more shooters get a chance to come together and shoot shoulder-to-shoulder,” Rehbein said. “The American Legion can provide that opportunity for kids who may never get a chance otherwise.”

Rehbein left his last Legion national air rifle tournament with a plaque, thanking him for his years of service and dedication. He’s appreciative of the recognition, but mostly “I’m honored by being able to watch the young people of this country shoot for the past 26 years.”

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Summer safety: Learn risks of head injuries in baseball

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Baseball and softball are practically synonymous with summer in America. Military families enjoy days at the stadium together, service members join recreational leagues, and kids learn the ropes at Little League games. When watching a Major League Baseball game, who doesn’t love it when one of our service members throws out the first pitch? 

Baseball and softball are popular summer pastimes, but most people don’t connect these two sports with head injuries. Players and fans need to be aware of the possible danger of being beaned by a ball. Head injuries are a problem not just for amateur athletes, but also the pros. An MLB official says that a dozen pitchers have been hit in the head by line drives since 2012. 

Professional and recreational pitchers have experimented with protective headwear over the past couple of years, but such gear is still optional. Unlike batting helmets, which have been required since 1956, no regulations are in place to protect pitchers from a line drive hit back to them at speeds that can exceed 100 miles per hour. 

Steve Atkinson, a technology specialist with the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, said both the league and the players association need to buy into the idea that pitchers need the headgear before a rule can be implemented. Until then, some pitchers will opt out. 

“It’s like batting helmets,” Atkinson said. “Until they made them mandatory they didn’t get 100 percent participation.” 

Fans are at risk as well, he added. When watching a game, fans must pay attention to where they are in relation to the field and what’s going on in the game. Atkinson said even the extended netting MLB implemented for the 2016 season will not eliminate all accidents. 

“You have to be as cognizant of a foul ball as a player is,” Atkinson said. 

Ways to Protect Your Head 

To prevent injury, here are some steps you can take: 

  • Visit A Head for the Future to learn ways to prevent head injuries, the symptoms of a concussion and about the importance of getting help. 
  • Wear a helmet when engaging in risky sports. For baseball or softball, wear a helmet every time you bat or pitch. 
  • Be aware of where you sit at a game and be alert when the ball is batted, so you can duck a foul ball. 
  • Share this downloadable PDF on four tips to help prevent a sports-related brain injury
Disclaimer: Re-published content may have been edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

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Boys Nation senators visit memorials, Legion post

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Keaton Cooper has visited Washington, D.C., before, so part of his experience Sunday night at the National Mall was watching the reactions of his American Legion Boys Nation peers.

“It’s fun to watch the guys who have not been here, to see what their first impressions are,” said Cooper, of Elkins, W. Va.

The 98 Boys Nation delegates toured the National Mall, visiting the World War II, Vietnam and Korean War memorials. While Cooper has visited the memorials before, he noted that he has a new appreciation.

“Being in Boys Nation, being around the veterans, being around the Legion, coming here tonight has been the biggest impact on seeing all these different memorials,” Cooper said. “I witnessed with a group of guys our activities director, Bob Turner, look for the names in his unit. That broke all our hearts. That was hard to watch. That brought entirely new appreciation and aspect to D.C.”

Spencer Hill of Kaysville, Utah, is in Washington for the first time.

“I’m totally overwhelmed by the whole thing," he said. "The Vietnam Memorial, that almost had me in tears. Chills down your spine, just realizing how many men gave their lives for our country. And coming to all these war memorials is amazing. There’s a special spirit here. … It’s truly a patriotic place.”

“I think we’re all humbled today by what we saw,” Cooper said. “I’ve always had respect for veterans, but Boys State has obviously really helped with that.”

Hill said the memorials serve as reminders that freedom isn’t free. “I love that wall over here in the Korean War Memorial because that’s the most true statement there is," he said. "And coming here really opened my eyes, we really do take these freedoms for granted and all that our country offers us. This experience has really opened my eyes. It’s truly amazing."

The trip to the National Mall followed a dinner at American Legion Post 136 in Greenbelt, Md., where the senators met with area Legionnaires, as well as National Commander Dale Barnett and American Legion Auxiliary National President Sharon Conatser.

Barnett recalled the tempestuous political climate of 1968, which saw civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. assassinated, the Tet Offensive in Vietnam and the conflicts surrounding the Democratic national convention in Chicago.

“I was questioning, what is my role in the future of this country,” Barnett said.

The following year, Barnett attended Hoosier Boys State, where the counselors “had a spirit of service to their nation.”

“They said, you’re going to make a difference in this world,” Barnett recalled. “If your generation is going to change the world, you have to be a leader.”

And Barnett emphasized that to the Boys Nation senators. “I want you to go back (home) and give the message of The American Legion family," he said. "I want you to show them what a great organization that loves young people and changes people’s lives and tries to do things to help veterans and help our active duty and our National Guard. I want you to send them that message. I want to empower you this week.

“You have a special duty. Your country depends on you right now to do your duty, to lead … and to lead this nation in the direction you want it to be.”

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A good NAPP is key to better sleep

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Warfighters getting enough rest is no game, but a new app will address sleep issues using gaming technology. Nighttime Alleviation Play and Practice (NAPP) is a sleep app currently being developed by the Military Health System. 

“Lack of sleep is a high-priority problem that is particularly pronounced in the military,” said Dr. Reese Omizo, director of the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) joint, biotechnology research center that is helping to develop NAPP. “Sleep problems can compromise operational effectiveness and make it difficult for service members to resume their lives after returning home from a deployment. Getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis is as important to long-term well-being as healthy eating, physical activity and smoking cessation.” 

Improving sleep behavior goes beyond limiting caffeine; it requires understanding how one’s body actually sleeps. NAPP is a three-dimensional role-playing adventure game that teaches players a dozen healthy sleep behaviors and motivates them to use them in daily life. The game does this by guiding players through a 24-hour day in less than a half-hour. One minute of play represents roughly one hour in real time. 

“To produce real changes, barriers to sleep must be understood and overcome,” said Omizo. “NAPP provides more than information and instruction; it gets the player involved and more conscious of what they are doing to improve their sleep.” 

NAPP is the first MHS behavior change gaming app based on evidence-based medicine. Each task in the game and all player feedback are based on a behavior-change theory. 

The amount of sleep a person requires can vary. Most people need seven to nine hours of sleep, some do fine with six hours per night – but the number should not dip below six, said U.S. Public Health Service Capt. Tony Satterfield, DHA psychologist and Telehealth and Telementoring program manager. 

There are several measures service members can follow to prevent piling up sleep deficit hours, said Satterfield. It might take some convincing for the troops, though. “Some service members may feel they don’t need much sleep to function effectively. They often view sleep as an unproductive use of time – it’s undervalued,” he said. 

Research trials start at the beginning of next year, with initial testing to be done with members of the National Guard and Reserve. Omizo believes once rolled out, it will make a world of difference. 

“When people are able to more directly see how sleep affects them, they’ll understand just how crucial sleep can be for daily functioning and operational readiness,” said Omizo.

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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