Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Freedom Car to make World Series appearance

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American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car driver Jerick Johnson joins NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Shelby, N.C., as part of American Legion Baseball World Series festivities.

Team Johnson Motorsports crew and Johnson are scheduled to appear alongside his winning 76 Freedom Car to sign autographs and greet fans Aug. 11 from 4-8 p.m. at the entrance of the County Fairgrounds.

Earnhardt, one of the most recognizable figures in professional sports, will be at Shelby's Keeter Stadium Aug. 15 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., signing autographs and greeting fans.

Earnhardt, a native of nearby Kannapolis, N.C., decided to attend the event to show his support for the Legion and the National Guard. His showcase 88 National Guard Car will also be on exhibit at the stadium.

Johnson arrives in Shelby touting four straight oval track victories and six wins in the last eight starts at tracks in Tennessee, Georgia and Ohio.

"I think we've found our groove both on and off the track," Johnson said. "There's only one thing more fun than driving a race car, and that is driving a winning race car. And I've got to say we're having a lot of fun lately."

In addition to his six victories this season, Johnson has accumulated 14 top-10 finishes and 12 top-five finishes in 18 starts.

Johnson's next race is Aug. 20 at Newport Motor Speedway in Tennessee followed by at race August 27 at Elko Speedway in Minnesota.

The Elko "Eve of Destruction" race event will give Legionnaires attending this year's national convention in Minneapolis the opportunity to see Johnson and The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car in action at no cost. Any American Legion member will be granted free admittance to the race by presenting their American Legion card.

Elko Speedway gates open at 5 p.m., with qualifying starting at 6 p.m.

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GI Bill changes before fall semester

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Since its enactment two years ago, the Post-9/11 GI Bill has on more than one occasion been changed and amended to accommodate the costs of modern college education. Before the new wave of student veterans returns to school for the fall semester, it will change a little bit more.

Effective Aug. 1, modern GI Bill benefits will cover the actual net cost of all public in-state tuition and fees, rather than basing payments on the highest in-state tuition and fees rate in the state. Accordingly, a nationwide cap of $17,500 will be placed on annual tuition and fees for aid in attending private colleges or universities. This limit would have reduced benefits for an estimated 6,000 to 8,000 students who are presently enrolled in private school. A recently passed law, however, will protect these students from facing aid reduction provided they were enrolled in or admitted to private school on before Jan. 4. These students also must continue to be enrolled until they exhaust all 36 hours of their allotted benefits.

But perhaps the most noteworthy change to the legislation will take effect halfway through the fall semester. Starting Oct. 1, the Post-9/11 GI Bill will award benefits for active service performed by National Guard members. On that date, non-college degree granting programs will also gain coverage under the new GI Bill. This includes aid for flight schools, correspondence training, and apprenticeship and on-the-job training.

The American Legion has long lobbied hard for these additions.

"The American Legion lobbied extensively to Congress for both the passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill Improvements Act of 2010," said Bob Madden, deputy director of the Legion's Economic Division. "With the passage of the Improvements Act, an additional 400,000 veterans will now be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. We see this as a win."

Per the legislative changes, the Post-9/11 GI Bill will no longer pay its users housing stipends during holiday breaks and before or after summer class sessions. Days of "break pay," as it was known, were formerly subtracted from the total 36 months of benefits allotted. So, theoretically, the removal of break pay will allow veterans to take classes beyond the original date their benefits were scheduled to be exhausted.

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Governor Quinn Announces August 7 Purple Heart Day in Illinois - Annual Observance Will Honor and Remember Illinois Servicemembers Wounded or Killed in Action

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CHICAGO – August 5, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation establishing Aug. 7 as Purple Heart Day in Illinois. House Bill 1537 designates Aug. 7 as an annual day to honor and remember those in the military who have been wounded or killed in battle and honored with a Purple Heart. Since the legislation will not take effect until 2012, Governor Quinn also issued a proclamation to ensure that observance of Purple Heart Day will begin in 2011.

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Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act of 2011 Signed Into Law

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New law modifying the rules for tuition and fee payments to certain private schools.

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Did you know?

Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request. This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family.