Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Awarding of 2020 Samsung American Legion Scholarship suspended

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Currently, there are 32 American Legion Boys State and nine American Legion Auxiliary Girls State programs that have canceled for 2020 due to health safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. And several more having indicated that cancellation is probable.

It is through the Boys State and Girls State programs that participants are afforded eligibility to apply for the Samsung American Legion Scholarship. Many Boys State and Girl State delegates did not pursue their application for the 2020 Samsung American Legion Scholarship as a result of their respective Boys State and Girls State program being canceled.

The Samsung American Legion Scholarship for 2020 has been suspended. Samsung American Legion Scholarships awarded in years prior to 2020 will continue to be paid out to students upon their requests to receive their funds.

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2020 American Legion Baseball regionals, World Series canceled

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As the coronavirus pandemic is creating unpredictability worldwide with its duration and public health regulations and restrictions across the nation, The American Legion is facing an improbable situation.

The Americanism Commission, in consultation with National Commander James William “Bill” Oxford, announces cancellation of all 2020 American Legion Baseball national tournaments, inclusive of all eight 2020 Regional Tournaments and the 2020 American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C.

Many baseball coaches are unable to complete prerequisite league play scheduled between May and July due to the closure of schools and playing facilities across the nation. In August, more than 500 players, coaches and volunteer staff are scheduled to travel and participate in eight regional tournaments and the American Legion World Series, collectively attracting thousands of fans and spectators. Many of these individuals are of a high-risk demographic.

The awarding of American Legion Baseball scholarships for 2020 have been suspended

The decision to cancel was extremely difficult but deemed necessary, first and foremost in the interest of health and safety, and in the face of uncertainty. Americanism Commission Richard Anderson noted, “These times are unparalleled. And while it is distressing to think of all those youth across the nation who are disappointed to learn of the cancellation of American Legion programs this year, it would be a much, much greater tragedy if even just one of those youth were to fall ill during a program.

“The Americanism Commission feels this is the right thing to do.”

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Michigan Legion post sees, then fills, critical need

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As is the case in several states across the country, American Legion Post 110 in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., has been forced to shutter its normal activities because of a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus pandemic.

And like many other American Legion posts, Post 110 has decided to do something to help slow the spread of the disease. For the past two weeks, the post’s American Legion Family has been teaming up with VFW Auxiliary Unit 3033 and members of the community to provide cloth masks for local healthcare providers.

Three-term Post 110 Commander Rich Young said word got back to the post that staff at McLaren Central Michigan were running low on masks. The suggestion was made to team up with Unit 3033 to collect the necessary materials to construct the masks and then solicit assistance from the community to sew them.

Young said Post 110 deciding not to help out in some way during the pandemic “is not us. We’re a community organization. We saw a need and we stepped up.”

Through Project Protective Masks 2020, Post 110 solicits donations for the materials needed to put the masks together. “We’ve had a credit union in town donate. We’ve had a bank donate,” Young said. “We’ve had two insurance companies, and we’ve had individuals just come up and bring a $20 bill. Someone today gave me $100.”

Young said craft and sewing businesses in the area, including JOANN Fabrics, have been selling materials to Post 110 at or near cost.

The fabric is cut into the right size for the masks and then is placed with the other necessary items – elastic and thread – in kits that each have enough materials to sew 30 masks. One day a week the VFW Post 3033 serves as a distribution center for the kits to be picked up by volunteer seamstresses; the completed masks are dropped off the following week at Post 3033. Young said both the Isabella County Commission on Aging and 4-H have provided volunteers to sew the masks, along with volunteers from the community and members of Post 110’s Legion Family.

In two weeks the project has produced close to 900 masks, with another batch of materials for 1,000-plus masks going out this week. The feedback from the health-care workers “has been wonderful,” Young said. “We just hope we can keep doing this as long as we can get material and people to sew. This is turning into a real community project.”

Recently, the project also included providing masks to veterans in the area. Young said he’d love to see other American Legion posts take on a similar role in their own communities; any wanting to do so can call (989) 572‐0158 for advice on starting the program.

“If any other post anywhere could use this information to start helping their community – if they want to call and talk about how we did it and what we did, we’re more than happy,” Young said. “We don’t have to shut down. We can keep doing something.”

Getting through what is a historical crisis in U.S. history will take “community and helping each other,” Young said. “We kind of say ‘one team, one mission.’”

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Idaho coach reflects on historic 2019 ALWS title run

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Before Idaho Falls Post 56 qualified for the 2019 American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C., eight teams from the state of Idaho had advanced to the event and none of them had ever won the championship.

That all changed last August as the Post 56 Bandits overcame that obstacle while also surviving a rain-soaked series to set history.

"It was an experience unlike any that we've ever had," Idaho Falls coach Ryan Alexander said when asked to reflect on what it's meant to become a first-ever World Series champion from Idaho.

The Bandits finished with a 61-6 overall record behind a talent-laden squad that won an Idaho state tournament title and Northwest regional title before they arrived in Shelby to pursue a Legion World Series championship.

There, unlike six previous teams from Lewiston and one each from Pocatello and Meridian, Post 56 became Idaho's first-ever World Series winner.

That previous history was nothing more than something for the team to overcome, according to Alexander.

"Throughout the year, we had dealt with some adversity, whether it was travel issues or other things and the kids handled everything that came their way like pros," Alexander said. "One of the things that we talk about in our program a lot is trying to control what we can control. Those kids did a masterful job of doing that. And it's something that we actually talk about and preach."

Dealing with weather was an added obstacle during Idaho Falls' championship run.

A rain delay meant a 4-3, nine-inning semifinal victory over Danville, Ill., didn't end until 1:16 a.m. EDT on Aug. 20.

And the Bandits’ 5-3 championship game victory over Fargo, N.D., came after they lost their ace pitcher due to pitch count regulations once torrential rains forced a suspension of a contest that started at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 20 to a 10 a.m. EDT start on Aug. 21.

For the Idaho players, who live in the Mountain Time Zone, that meant an 8 a.m. start locally.

"You know, we come from an area of the country where our spring seasons have crazy weather," Alexander said. "We usually start our spring season with snow on the ground and a shovel in our hands. So we have a lot of early-season weather situations, and the kids are kind of used to that.

"But I'll tell you this: That Shelby rain was like nothing that we had ever witnessed. I don't think I've ever seen rain that hard. The grounds crew at the Shelby stadium did a phenomenal job in getting that field ready."

The loss of Randon Hostert to pitch count rules meant Post 56 would resume the title game without a pitcher who was drafted in the 15th round by the Texas Rangers. (Hostert eventually chose to honor his college scholarship and play at the University of Utah.)

"That was kind of a test for us," Alexander said. "And we passed it. They came in that next morning and dealt with what was in front of them."

Andrew Gregersen replaced Hostert on the mound and limited Fargo to five hits and one run as Idaho Falls rallied to take Idaho's historic title; Lewiston had advanced to the 2001 title game and Pocatello lost in the first Legion World Series title game in 1926.

"It was a good group of kids that played well together," Alexander said. "Several of them had played together growing up in club ball or travel baseball over the years. That was kind of an exclamation point and a last hurrah for some of the kids. So to go out that way was a dream come true."

Another perk for their success was in being honored by Major League Baseball before a 2019 World Series game between the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

"It made it more real and more special," Alexander said. "And the greatest thing about doing the D.C. trip and watching the World Series was seeing the guys again. Just bringing them back together and witnessing a World Series game in person was phenomenal. I had never been to a World Series and none of the guys had been to a World Series game.

"It definitely made you realize how the American Legion program honors their teams and made the accomplishments all the more special and phenomenal. One of the best parts was the youth camp that we did. To see the boys interact with the young kids was awesome. That was one of my highlights."

Post 56 players went to an Army base in Northern Virginia as part of MLB's Play 360 program to conduct a youth camp featuring Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco.

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Reminder: 2020 Legacy Scholarship application deadline is April 15

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The 2020 American Legion Legacy Scholarship application is online at Deadline to apply is April 15.

The application is available for new and returning applicants to fill out. The American Legion Legacy Scholarship is available for children whose parents lost their lives while honorably serving on active duty on or after 9/11, as well as for children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined 50 percent or higher VA disability rating.

The renewable scholarship will award up to $20,000 for the expense of graduate or post-graduate fees such as tuition, books, room and board, meal plans, transportation and other supplies.

The application asks for tuition fees for the 2020-2021 year. If you are unable to contact your school for this answer due to closures from COVID-19, please insert the tuition fees that are currently on the school's website.

The Legacy Scholarship is needs-based. The grant amount each scholarship recipient will receive will be based on his or her financial need after all federal and state aid is exhausted. Recipients will have a year to use the grant and may reapply to the scholarship up to six times. And the number of scholarships awarded and the amount of financial aid granted to each awardee (this includes returning applicants) will be determined on donations to the scholarship fund and one's financial needs.

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