Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

July report shows Legion's victory for Bladensburg cross and Blue Water Navy veterans

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The July 2019 Membership Impact Report highlights The American Legion’s dedication to honoring veterans and helping them earn the benefits they deserve.

In a landmark victory for The American Legion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 on June 20 that the 40-foot Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial can remain on public land in Prince George’s County, Md., where it has stood since 1925. And on June 25, the president signed into law H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, an American Legion-supported legislation that will extend disability benefits covering medical conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure to those who served on ships off the coast of Vietnam, known as "Blue Water" Navy veterans.

Also in June, American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad honored D-Day in Normandy; $13,458 in Temporary Financial Assistance grants were disbursed to military and veteran families with minor children in the home who are facing financial hardships; and nearly 3,500 U.S. Army soldiers, veterans, spouses and family members received assistance at the MEGA Career Fair at Fort Hood, Texas, which included participation by The American Legion's Veterans Employment & Education Division.

Click here to see the July Membership Impact Report.

For previous reports, go to

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Legion testifies on challenges facing veteran-owned small businesses

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Davy Leghorn, assistant director of The American Legion's National Veterans Employment and Education Division, testified before the Small Business Committee on July 10. Leghorn’s testimony focused on the expansion of eligibility for Small Business Administration (SBA) programs which permit loan assistance to businesses when deployments are not part of a military conflict.

The proposed “National Guard Reserve Entrepreneurship Support Act” would expand SBA programs and allow loan recipient to defer repayment on disaster loans if the servicemember receives active duty orders for longer than 30 consecutive days.

The SBA disaster loan program currently provides direct loans to people and small businesses, including those that have suffered substantial economic injury because employees were ordered to active duty during a military conflict as part of National Guard or reservist duties.

“These programs are underutilized because their eligibility restrictions do not fully reflect current deployment practices,” testified Leghorn. “Both the Guard and reserve have transitioned from a strategic-reserve into an operational-force to meet the needs of an all-volunteer force, in an era of persistent conflict in which active duty and reserve-component alike are expected to deploy regularly.”

American Legion Resolution No. 117: Position on the Operational Reserve, urges Congress to reform the laws and policies governing the reserve components to provide them programmatic sustainability as an operational force.

Leghorn also testified on H.R. 1615, “Verification Alignment and Service-Disabled Business Adjustment Act,” or the VA-SBA Act. The VA-SBA Act aims to transfer the responsibility of verifying small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans or service-disabled veterans to the SBA.

“Last year, the federal government aligned the regulations governing service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) definitions,” Leghorn said. “However, even with the de-conflicted regulations, the maintenance of two federal certification programs for veteran small businesses still continues to be a source of confusion.

“Currently, VA requires businesses applying for SDVOSB status to address size, ownership and control issues prior to certification. In contrast, SBA allows businesses to self-certify that they meet the regulatory threshold. Self-certification permits businesses to qualify for all federal contract awards, with the exception of the Veterans First Contracting Program at VA.”

Having two SDVOSB identification processes creates confusion for contracting officers and for veterans seeking certification. Additionally, many state and federal agencies inquire whether a veteran business is VA certified. This results in many veteran firms acquiring VA certification when it isn’t necessary.

“The American Legion believes we should finish the work that began when we moved toward a single set of SDVOSB definitions,” Leghorn added.

“Moving the verification program is not a punitive measure,” he concluded. “The Vets-First program under VA stewardship has successfully demonstrated SDVOSBs as a credible workforce. VA can be proud of the work they did in overcoming many programmatic hurdles. Their efforts and investments proved to state and federal agencies the value of veteran businesses as a preferred contracting group.”

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Over 10,000 new members recruited by 168 Legionnaires

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For The American Legion's centennial membership year, 168 Legionnaires achieved Gold Brigade or Silver Brigade status for recruiting 10,256 new members.

There were 122 Legionnaires who recruited 50 or more new members (not counting transfers) by the May membership target date to achieve Gold Brigade status; and 46 Legionnaires recruited 25-49 new members (not counting transfers) to achieve Silver Brigade status.

See the Gold Brigade recipients here and Silver Brigade here.

The 2019 American Legion Recruiter of the Year is Charles "Abe" Abrahamson of Twin Falls, Idaho. Abrahamson is a member of Post 101 and the immediate past Department of Idaho commander. He recruited 748 new members for the 2018-2019 membership year.

The Gold Brigade recipients will be awarded unique gifts that designate affiliation with the Gold Brigade of The American Legion. First-time Gold Brigade members will receive a Gold Brigade patch, a special Gold Brigade cap pin, a Gold Brigade certificate, and a designer jacket, polo shirt or sweater with a Gold Brigade logo. Second time/repeat Gold Brigaders will receive a Gold Brigade patch and certificate, a hash mark for a jacket sleeve, and a designer jacket, polo shirt or sweater with a Gold Brigade logo. A Gold Brigader who has won the award for five consecutive years is eligible for a distinctive Gold Brigade blazer. A Legionnaire may only qualify once every five years. And a Gold Brigader who has earned the award for at least six consecutive years or more is eligible for a $150 check and a Legion cap with the inscription "Master Recruiter."

Silver Brigade recipients receive a silver pin and certificate.

Silver Brigade and Gold Brigade awards cannot both be awarded to a recruiter during the same membership year.

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Digital Media Training Workshop to be held during convention

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The annual Digital Media Training Workshop has been modified for the 2019 national convention to address the growing needs of 21st century American Legion Family communicators. Volunteers who handle public relations or communications programs at their post or district level are encouraged to attend part of all of the workshop.

The workshop will be held Monday, Aug. 26, in the Indiana Convention Center, Room 125, Level 1. It will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a break for lunch. Past National American Legion Press Association President Mark Sutton will host the workshop.

Topics will include:

• Start with why

• Step one: Digital asset inventory

• Writing matters

• What makes good content?

• Doing social media right

• 13 reasons to use Google

• Three choices for building web pages

• Sending emails and e-newsletters

• Sharing newsletters with

• Questions and answer

Interested participants can register for the workshop here.

For those unable to attend, videos of the workshop will be published afterward on the NALPA web page at

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Former Legion Baseball players shine at MLB All-Star Week

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Baseball’s biggest stars gathered in Cleveland this week for MLB All-Star Week and the events were full of former American Legion Baseball products.

Last year’s All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, Alex Bregman, got the starting nod at third base for the victorious American League in the All-Star Game. The New Mexico Legion Baseball alum scored the first run of the game. Bregman also participated in Monday’s record-setting Home Run Derby.

Powhatan Post 201 (Va.) product Justin Verlander started for the victorious side, pitching a scoreless top of the first inning and Jacob deGrom, a product of DeLand (Fla.) Post 6 had a perfect inning in relief for the National League.

Las Vegas (Nev.) Kris Bryant and Midwest City (Okla. Post 170) JT Realmuto also appeared for the National League. Realmuto was the 2010 American Legion Baseball Mid-South Regional Most Valuable Player.

Other notable appearances included Minnesota Legion Baseball’s Brad Hand and Mississippi Legion Baseball’s Brandon Woodruff, both of whom came on in relief.

Max Scherzer, formerly of Legion Baseball Creve Coeur Post 397, was in contention to play a pivotal role on the mound but sat due to injury.

Sunday’s Futures Game ended in a 2-2 tie and the top performing Legion alum was Whiteville Post 137 (N.C.) alum MacKenzie Gore, who allowed no hits in a scoreless inning in relief.

Daulton Varsho, who played in the 2014 Great Lakes Regional for Marshfield (Wis.), was the designated hitter for the American League. Daulton's father, Gary, also played for the Blue Devils of Post 54 before reaching the majors.

Two-way sensation and Golden Spikes winner Brandon McKay of Beaver Falls (Pa.) Blackhawk Legion Baseball made the roster but did not play.

In the celebrity softball game, Hall of Famer Jim Thome headlined Team Cleveland. Thome, who played Legion Baseball for Post 979 in Bartonville, Ill., reflected on his Legion experience, saying, “That was the fun part of summer ball with Legion. We just played. At that stage everything was so pure. I would 100 percent recommend it.”

Additionally, several former Legion Baseball players were guests as MLB All-Star Legends, including Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar, Tim Raines, Dave Winfield and Rollie Fingers.

Verlander, Thome, Alomar, Winfield and Fingers are all finalists on the Fan-Voted American Legion Baseball All-Centennial Team, which will honor the greatest players from the first 100 years of The American Legion.

Fans can vote for their favorite players at

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