Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

Support our American Legion comrades in Dorian’s path

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Dear American Legion Family and Friends,

I didn’t want my first electronic communication as national commander to you to be about a devastating hurricane. I would have much preferred to have shared news about a successful American Legion program. Or told you about an American Legion post doing remarkable community service projects. Or written about young Legionnaires leading the way into our second century of successes.

But the urgent situation in Florida and along the Eastern Seaboard necessitates this important message. As you know, Hurricane Dorian is threatening to unleash its wrath, taking lives, destroying homes and businesses, and leaving a mess that will take months — or longer — to clean up.

We’ll know more specifics about the human toll and the physical damage in the days to come.

But we are certain that American Legion members will need our help. And that’s where our National Emergency Fund (NEF) comes into play. NEF has helped thousands of our members who have had their lives shattered by natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and more.

Eligible American Legion members and Sons of The American Legion members affected by Dorian can learn more about the application process for NEF grants here. American Legion posts that have sustained damage are eligible too.

In my home state of North Carolina, we are not immune from tragedies brought on by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and whatever else Mother Nature decides to throw at us. I know that Legionnaires and posts from around my state have benefitted from the kindness our donors have shown over the years.

A few years ago, Legion Post 240 in Spring Lake, N.C., reopened after Hurricane Matthew, thanks to NEF. “The grant kept us going while I was still trying to get other funds raised,” Past Post Commander Mark Erskine said. “If it wasn’t for (the grant), we would have been doing nothing.”

First and foremost, at this time, keep our comrades in Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia in your prayers. And please consider a donation to NEF to help keep the fund viable for our brothers and sisters who find themselves facing recovery from natural disasters in the years to come.

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Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz receives Legion ‘Good Guy’ award

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Praised for his strong support for U.S. military veterans, his inspirational leadership and his dedication to charity, college football coaching legend Lou Holtz was presented The American Legion’s James V. Day “Good Guy” Award during the organization’s 101st annual National Convention in Indianapolis Aug. 26.

“For many years this coach and great American has contributed time and resources to charitable endeavors, including the Lou’s Lads Foundation, the Holtz Charitable Foundation and numerous other great causes,” American Legion Past National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said while presenting the award. The award is presented annually by The American Legion Past Department (state) Commanders’ Club (PDCC). Recent recipients include former heavyweight boxing champion George Foreman, performer Dolly Parton, MLB Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, MLB Hall of Famer Johnny Bench and Vietnam War veteran Theodore Roosevelt IV.

“I used to say to my football teams, ‘if you didn’t show up, who would miss you and why? If you didn’t go home, would anybody miss you and why? And, if you didn’t go to work, would anybody miss you and why?'” Holtz said during his acceptance remarks. “You think of all that people would have missed had The American Legion not showed up for the past 100 years. All the 22 different worthwhile programs that you have. American Legion Baseball which crowned a new champion on ESPN. You think about Boys State. Think about the Boy Scouts. I congratulate you on your tremendous accomplishment and I come to you very humbly because I appreciate the sacrifices that you have made.”

Holtz, an Army veteran, is a new member of The American Legion Department of Indiana. In recent years, he has visited U.S. military troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and other locations.

The PDCC donated $2,000 to Lou’s Lads, a nonprofit foundation that dedicates itself to Holtz’s legacy by providing financial and educational assistance to underprivileged students. Not to be outdone, Holtz donated $5,000 to The American Legion.

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FAQs about the change from ‘wives’ to ‘spouses’ in the Legion’s Constitution

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The American Legion Constitution and Bylaws has been updated to replace the word “wife” with “spouse,” related to the membership criteria for the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA).

Here are some common questions and answers to what this means going forward:

Question: Why change ALA membership eligibility?

Answer: In 1920, veterans were almost 100 percent male so the ALA was formed as the organization for the spouses of the veteran — those spouses just happened to be women.

Today, an estimated 16 percent of enlisted people and 18 percent of officers are women, who may be married to a non-veteran. To keep the ALA as the organization that supports spouses of the veteran, we need to change the ALA’s definition from wives to spouses, thereby updating the organization to represent the changing makeup of the military.

Q: How can this change help ALA membership?

A: Think about female spouses who are alone as their husband is deployed. They have the ALA to lean on. Who can the male spouse rely on? With this eligibility change, now male spouses who are ALA members can receive the same support while their wives are deployed.

Q: Would this change need to be approved by Congress?

A: No, because the American Legion Auxiliary is not chartered by Congress. The American Legion, which was chartered by Congress, created the ALA. The Legion approved the ALA to operate as a separate corporation; however, The American Legion has always set the eligibility requirements of the ALA in their bylaws.

Q: What about the previous communications issued by former ALA leadership claiming this change could not happen? Why is that information inaccurate?

A: Previously released messaging could have been interpreted by members to mean ALA needs congressional approval for this change to happen. That information is inaccurate. The American Legion Auxiliary is not chartered by Congress.

Q: ALA refers to itself as the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. How can we allow men to join?

A: Now that the resolution has been adopted by The American Legion, the Auxiliary will no longer call itself the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization.

Q: How would this change affect the American Legion Auxiliary membership application or signing up new members?

A: We anticipate taking applications on Sept. 1.

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USAA Tips: How to handle 'tell me about yourself' in an interview

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Content provided courtesy of USAA

Are you preparing for a job interview? By now you know that first interview question is the most recognized starter question for almost every interview, “Tell me about yourself.” Nail this and you can set the right tone for the entire interview.

How do you do this? Sometimes, people use this opportunity to tell their life story. After all, the question was about ME right?

Not so fast!

It’s not about you as much as being about what you can do for the company.

Here are three things you can do when answering this classic kickoff to the interview question:

1. Build a solid case for hiring YOU based on everything you’ve done up to this point that directly correlates to hiring YOU!

Everything that comes out of your mouth should tell the tale of what your past brings to the company’s future. Every example, every success, every obstacle you’ve overcome in the past should strongly support your ability to succeed in the future at this company. Choose your words wisely and make it the best response possible to this important question that sets the stage for the rest of the interview.

Here’s an example:

You’re interviewing for a position that requires you to train people on a series of brand new software programs.

“Tell me about yourself.”

“I graduated with honors from the University of __________ with a degree in IT. During my college years, I was active in an IT Innovation Club and held the offices of secretary and vice president. We met regularly and beta-tested nearly 100 software programs in 3 years. I’m certified in every system mentioned on your job description and scored 100% on the first try. Before this, I served in the military and managed a team of 12 software analysts and trained each person to meeting 100% first time success on their certification exams. I was hand-selected 2 times to represent my military branch at the Worldwide IT Conference and received an outstanding evaluation and recognition for a training program I developed, which I can show you now if you’d like.”

2. Draw a line from the job description to your experience.

You should do this ahead of time on actual pen and paper, but you need to be able to articulate this verbally and with proof. Read the job description and circle the things that jump out at you – all the things that you know you’ve done and can continue to do. Add specific examples of how well you understand the requirements of the job and back these up with facts, examples of your work, and measurable evidence of how well you did in these tasks and activities. Remember “Show & Tell”? Well, here you want to “Tell & Show”. Explain (Tell) specifics from the job description as they relate to your specific experiences. Then, ask if you can share some documentation or examples (Show).

“First, let me thank you for meeting with me to discuss this exciting opportunity! When I first read the job description, I felt this was the right fit for me and I’m glad we’ll get a chance to see if I’m the right fit for the company. Specifically, your job description lists 3 major areas I feel my experience can benefit you. For example,…May I show you some examples of my work?”

3. Tell hints of stories and give preview-type examples based on facts from your past.

Remember, you don’t have time to give an entire speech on your past and how great a fit you are for the job, you just need to hit the high points with a narrative that’s filled with pinpoint accuracy based on your being highly qualified for the job. Highlight only the items in your previous jobs that offer the perfect example of how great a fit you are. If you prepare your opening statement correctly, you can build upon your initial words by dropping a few “hints” of stories. Again, we’re talking about mentioning or dropping hints which plant the seeds for the interviewer getting an initial sense of what you bring to the job.

Using these three strategies will help you be successful at answering that very first question of your interview.

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Legion updates Auxiliary eligibility criteria from ‘wives’ to ‘spouses’

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During The American Legion’s 101st National Convention, delegates approved changes to the Constitution and Bylaws to replace the word “wife” with “spouse,” related to the membership criteria for the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA).

The American Legion, which was chartered by Congress, created the ALA. For that reason, the ALA operates as a separate corporation and does not need congressional approval for an eligibility change. The American Legion’s bylaws have always set the eligibility requirements of the ALA.

“We are happy to welcome eligible male spouses of veterans and servicemembers to the American Legion Family,” ALA National President Nicole Clapp said. “This is consistent with our longstanding legacy of embracing military families and supporting them any way we can.”

The ALA expects to begin taking applications for new potential members Sept. 1.

The change to Article XIII now reads as such:

The American Legion recognizes an auxiliary organization, known as The American Legion Auxiliary.

Membership in The American Legion Auxiliary shall be limited to the:

(1) grandmothers, mothers, sisters, spouses, and direct and adopted female descendants of members of The American Legion; and

(2) grandmothers, mothers, sisters, spouses, and direct and adopted female descendants of all men and women who served in either of the following periods: April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918, and any time after December 7, 1941, who, being a citizen of the United States at the time of their entry therein served on active duty in the Armed Forces of any of the governments associated with the United States during either eligibility periods and died in the line of duty or after honorable discharge;

(3) grandmothers, mothers, sisters, spouses, and direct and adopted female descendants of all men and women who were in the Armed Forces of the United States during either of the following periods: April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918; and any time after December 7, 1941 who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States during either eligibility periods and died in the line of duty or after honorable discharge; and

(4) to those women who of their own right are eligible for membership in The American Legion.

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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