Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Spam emails on the rise

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The American Legion National Headquarters IT Division is warning American Legion members to not immediately open attachments that come from what appear to be American Legion sources but may actually be spam.

There has been a recent increase in spam email that appear to come from an American Legion source. If you receive an email from what you think is an American Legion account and it includes an attachment, consider the following before clicking on the attachment:

• The sender name is not quite right. Maybe it only has the last name, or the email address after the name is not

• The attachment pretends to be an invoice, bill, statement, shipping notification or any other document that makes you want to open it.

• You generally do not receive email from the user or email from this user with an invoice attached. If you do then be certain the rest of the message makes sense.

• The words and tone of the message are choppy, i.e. poorly written or in bad English.

If you do happen to open an attachment and the body of the document has text asking you to enable or allow anything, stop.

If you have a question and are concerned it may not be from an American Legion source, please call our Customer Service line at (800) 433-3318.

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Republicans and Democrats Unite on at Least One Issue: Oversight of the V.A.

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Republicans are joining Democrats in a vigorous examination of Department of Veterans Affairs failings, a rare area of bipartisan oversight on Capitol Hill.

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New program will bring health care to veterans

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The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Philips are teaming up to bring VA health care to veterans in a familiar setting: their American Legion and VFW posts.

Through Project Atlas, Philips will install video communication technologies and medical devices in selected American Legion and VFW posts to enable remote examinations through a secure, high-speed internet line. Veterans will be examined and advised in real time through face-to-face video sessions with VA medical professionals, who may be located hundreds or thousands of miles away. The program enables the “Anywhere to Anywhere” VA initiative to benefit veterans who would otherwise need to travel to receive care.

“Throughout our 100-year history, The American Legion has remained committed to meeting the needs of veterans and their families in communities across the country,” American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad said. “We are proud to be a part of Project Atlas, another step towards providing veterans with a solution for convenient access to VA health care.”

Philips will donate medical equipment – video screens, electronic scales, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, glucose monitors and more – linked to a secure, high-speed internet line. Using telehealth technology, veterans will be examined at their local post-turned-medical office through virtual appointments with medical professionals hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away. The face-to-face interaction will save veteran members travel time and expenses, making health care more accessible and affordable.

“Telehealth is all about meeting patients where they are,” said Dr. Joseph Frassica, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Americas Research at Philips. “Our hope is that this trial period will become a model for a national roll-out of remote telehealth facilities at posts across the U.S.”

Details are being worked out, and the exact locations for the pilot will be announced soon and include sites in Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. Equipment installations begin in the first quarter of 2019, and the program will include ongoing assessments for the veteran experience, streamlined technology and national expansion consideration.

The pilot program comes in the wake of VA’s “Anywhere to Anywhere” initiative, which helped make the VA the largest telehealth program in the country. Last year, 700,000 veterans received telehealth services through VA, including patients in urban Chicago and rural Arizona. The VA has 300 providers connected through 67 hospitals and clinics, covering 50 clinical specialties, from dermatology to intensive care.

Earlier this year, VA announced a new federal rule allowing VA doctors, nurses and other health care providers to administer care using telehealth technologies, regardless of where the provider or veteran is located, thereby erasing state-specific regulatory concerns. This change allows veterans to benefit from the “Anywhere to Anywhere” initiative instead of traveling a considerable distance to receive care. The rule also expands veterans’ access to virtual critical care such as mental health care and suicide prevention.

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Kansas Legion Family delivers gifts, smiles to children at Fort Riley

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After retiring from the Army as a non-commissioned officer, Roger Beckley wanted to continue to serve.

Beckley’s most recent commanding officer title could be described as head elf, leading the Department of Kansas’ Operation North Pole at Fort Riley, on Dec. 7-8. During Operation North Pole, which began about seven years ago, American Legion Family members distribute hundreds of toys to children whose parents are either deployed or in the warrior transition battalion (WTB) at Riley.

“As a senior NCO it was our job to take care of families and soldiers, and that's what I continue to do,” said Beckley, who led a committee of five Legion Family members who planned and coordinated the two-day event. “That's what draws me into this type of work is fulfillment of providing some kind of a service to our heroes of today. If we can help them any way whatsoever, that's why I'm involved. It gives me a sense of fulfillment, that I'm still serving our nation by providing for our veterans through The American Legion.”

Beckley is a member of American Legion Post 39 in Abilene. Between 50 and 75 volunteers from around Kansas pitched in throughout the holiday event.

Children and their families were treated to snacks, games, camaraderie and — of course — a special gift from Santa Claus, aka Doug Evans, a jolly SAL member. While the kids took turns on Santa’s lap, a team of elves worked feverishly to prepare a gender- and age-appropriate gift behind the scenes.

Child after child left with a special gift and the parent with a feeling of warmth. In some cases, however, the generosity of Santa isn’t enough.

Two years ago, a 10-year-old girl was crying unconsolably after receiving her gift from Santa Claus. That moment left quite an impression on Terry Harris, who has been a part of Operation North Pole since its inception.

“I asked one of the elves, ‘See if we messed up with the toy or what happened,’” Harris said. “And so he went out and asked and she said, ‘I don't want a toy. I want my daddy back.’ It changed me forever.”

Harris remembers attending similar, but smaller scale, events when he was growing up in California. His father served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, while his mother was a Korean War veteran. Their service drove him to be part of Operation North Pole. But that singular moment inspires him to continue with it and drives him to give back to the military community.

“I hope in the long run that the child remembers us and remembers what the American Legion Family does,” said Harris, who also is the detachment commander for the Sons of The American Legion in Kansas. “She'll never get over it, ever, but I hope it does give her a little comfort to know that there were people who she didn't know that cared. That's what we're doing. We're trying to take care of our veterans and their families.”

For Mindy King, such American Legion Family activities provide her a way to give back and support military families after she medically retired from the Army. King, a member of Post 408 in Derby, is also in the Auxiliary and her husband is still serving. Their two sons, Michael, 7, and William, 5, are SAL members and helped out as elves during the weekend events.

“When I was medically retired, it was a little bit earlier than I was planning on getting out of the service,” said King, who was a Blackhawk crew chief. “So for me, this is a way to still continue working with soldiers and doing something to give back to the servicemembers and their families. It’s nice being able to see some of the families who I know get super excited and see their kids getting super excited whenever they come through to see Santa Claus. It's just a good feeling and it's just a lot of fun.”

In all, 682 gifts were distributed to Fort Riley children.

“Watching these kids come through and watching their faces as they see Santa is amazing,” Department of Kansas Commander Dan Wiley said. “We are going to change someone’s life today with what we do for them.”

Rodney Gilmore, who is in the WTB at Fort Riley, said his son, Mason, excitedly talked about Operation North Pole throughout the day. “It means everything and it helps my son believe and enjoy Christmas and the season,” he said. “It means a lot to me to see a smile on his face.”

Gilmore was grateful for the support shown by his comrades in The American Legion. “They understand and they have been there, and they understand how things are for soldiers like me at the WTB.”

Cpt. Brandon Williams, who commands Alpha Company at the WTB, was there with his three children, twin 7-year-old boys and a 3-year-old daughter. While he was excited about his own children’s experience he was grateful that members of his company could experience Operation North Pole.

“It’s a great opportunity for the soldiers that are here at the WTB to interact with others and spend time together outside of the uniform.”

Williams praised the Legion Family for putting on the event. “It’s a good way for them to pay back and for us to see that in the future we can still serve and help those in uniform.”

Originally, Operation North Pole started as a Legion Riders event. Now it’s a Legion Family event, drawing support from nearly every post in Kansas.

In the past, the Legion Family worked with Toys ‘R Us to obtain the gifts. With Toys ‘R Us out of business, Beckley worked with Shopco in Abilene. American Legion Family members raised money via various fundraisers throughout the year and Shopco provided a generous discount.

Wiley praised each of the four groups that make up the American Legion Family.

“The event represents what we are as an American Legion,” Wiley said. “On one hand, The American Legion is operating as a family and it shows what we can accomplish as a family. The Riders really take the lead with this. The Sons make a major financial contribution and buy a lot of the toys, and are also here to help. The Auxiliary is also here to provide assistance and refreshments. And, of course, the Legion is here.”

Wiley pointed out how the program is firmly rooted in the ideals of The American Legion.

“We are supporting our active-duty military and our children and youth, two of our four pillars. It defines us as an American Legion.”

As children ran around joyously, inspected their new gifts and enjoyed the celebration, Legion Family members beamed with pride. Fulfilling children’s wishes fills the volunteers with the spirit of the season.

“The excitement for me is seeing the children come in, and see the excitement on their faces,” Beckley said. “I’ve heard that some of the folks that are dressed up as elves, and I don't know about Santa and Mrs. Claus, but sometimes I think they get more overly excited than the actual kids themselves. I’m excited about the happiness that we as Legion Family people can provide for so many kids.”

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How is your post spreading holiday cheer?

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The holiday season isn’t even halfway over yet, and already American Legion posts and Legion Family members across the country have done their part to help others enjoy this time of year. Posts are taking part in toy drives, hosting parties and helping provide holiday meals for families in need.

We want to be able to highlight what American Legion Family members are doing to assist others during the holiday season. Let us know if you’ve already done or planning on doing something, along with all the pertitent details: date, place and who was/is involved. We’ll post a story on prior to Christmas and again following the holidays.

Email your information to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . And please also post details and photos from your event or program at

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