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Veterans Benefits Information

Why a Town Is Finally Honoring a Black Veteran Attacked by Its White Police Chief

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Sgt. Isaac Woodard Jr., a decorated veteran, was brutally beaten by the police in a small South Carolina town in 1946. Now the town is facing up to its past.

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House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Launches Investigation into Influence of Mar-a-Lago “Three” on Department of Veterans Affairs

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WASHINGTON, DC – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) released the following letter notifying the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs that the Committee is opening an investigation into the influence of the Mar-a-Lago “three” on the Department of Veterans Affairs:   “I am writing to request information about alleged improper influence of Mr. Ike Perlmutter, Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, and Mr. Marc Sherman over policy and personnel decisions of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,” the letter stated.    “The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is opening an investigation into this relationship so that Congress, veterans, and the American people can better understand the scope and nature of this relationship between the Department and these individuals who have not served in the U.S. military nor U.S. government, and are not accountable to veterans and the American people,” Chairman Takano wrote.    He continued, “Government officials and private individuals who seek to use the Department for personal enrichment, or who make poor decisions that waste taxpayer dollars or negatively affect the delivery of veterans’ healthcare and benefits must held to account.”     Full text of the letter follows and can be found here.   The Honorable Robert Wilkie Secretary Department of Veterans Affairs 810 Vermont Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20420   Dear Mr. Secretary:    I am writing to request information about alleged improper influence of Mr. Ike Perlmutter, Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, and Mr. Marc Sherman over policy and personnel decisions of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The Department declared these three members of President Trump’s National Golf Club Mar-a-Lago “asserted influence over the Department” as a defendant in Federal court.[1] Public documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request provide further evidence of their power over key Department officials and their involvement in procurement decisions and potentially other policy and programmatic decisions made by the Department.    The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is opening an investigation into this relationship so that Congress, veterans, and the American people can better understand the scope and nature of this relationship between the Department and these individuals who have not served in the U.S. military nor U.S. government, and are not accountable to veterans and the American people.     Public documents show that Mr. Ike Perlmutter, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Marvel Entertainment, LLC., Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, an Internal Medicine specialist, and Mr. Marc Sherman, an attorney without health care industry experience, ostensibly used their wealth and connections to President Trump and his family to make decisions for the Department. Top Department officials apparently treated these Mar-a-Lago members as having decision-making authority, and emails demonstrate these powerful men weighed in on candidates to lead the Veterans Health Administration,[2] and organized meetings and summits between VA and commercial entities. Documents also show these men were involved in the procurement of an electronic health record from Cerner Corporation: they were granted access to review the confidential draft contract between the Department and Cerner Corporation more than three months before Congress received access to the contract and more than two months prior to contract signing.   Email correspondence evinces these Mar-a-Lago members were promised development of “a project plan and…timeline for action”[3] when senior Department officials were directed by these men to stand up an “emergency committee” on mental health care delivery.[4] These individuals—despite having no experience delivering healthcare to veterans—rejected advice provided by Department experts, arranging calls and naming themselves to an “executive committee” to direct Department development of technology with Apple Inc.[5] that could personally enrich Dr. Moskowitz and his family,[6] and organized a Department-led medical device registry summit in which Dr. Moskowitz’s family and foundation played a prominent role.[7] Former VA Secretary Shulkin and other Department officials participated and promoted Marvel Entertainment at a Veterans Day event at the New York Stock Exchange.    Travel records and email correspondence demonstrate that you, former VA Secretaries and acting Secretaries, and other key VA officials, flew to Mar-a-Lago on official travel paid for by taxpayers. After meeting with these individuals at Mar-a-Lago on or about April 20, 2018,[8] you wrote via email to these individuals that you were “honored” to visit with them.[9] Reports and sources also allege these individuals caused Department leaders who disagreed with them to lose their jobs or be passed over for promotions, in one instance these men allegedly directed or encouraged two VA officials to contact congressional aides and advocate for the resignation of Secretary Shulkin and his deputy in February 2018.[10]    In order to investigate the extent of influence these individuals had and continue to wield over Department policies, decisions, and personnel, I request you produce the following documents:     1. Unredacted copies of any documents and communications that have been provided to individuals or organizations via FOIA request, including unredacted copies of the documents under the heading “Senior Leadership Emails/Travel” available on the Department’s website.[11]      2. Any documents and communications in your possession, control, or custody sent to or received from Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, or Mr. Sherman, including communications via nongovernmental email accounts or via Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) or Short Message Service (SMS) on nongovernmental electronic devices.   3. Any documents and communications in your possession, control, or custody referring or relating to Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, and Mr. Sherman including communications via nongovernmental email accounts or via MMS or SMS on nongovernmental electronic devices.   4. Any documents and communications sent or received from Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, or Mr. Sherman in the possession, control, or custody of the following Department officials: Mr. James Byrne, Acting Deputy Secretary; Mr. John Ullyot, Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs; Mr. James Gfrerer, Chief Information Officer; Mr. Curt Cashour, Press Secretary; Mr. Darin Selnick, Mr. Jake Leinenkugel, Ms. Jacquelyn Hayes-Byrd, and Mr. Camillo Sandoval. This includes communications via nongovernmental email accounts or via MMS or SMS on nongovernmental electronic devices.   5. Any documents and communications referring or relating to Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, and Mr. Sherman in the possession, control, or custody of the above named Department officials. This includes communications via nongovernmental email accounts or via MMS or SMS on nongovernmental electronic devices.   6. Any documents and communications in the possession, control, or custody of the Department of former Department officials Dr. David Shulklin, Secretary, Mr. Thomas Bowman, Deputy Secretary, Mr. Peter O’Rourke, Ms. Genevieve Morris, Chief Health Information Officer sent to or received from Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, or Mr. Sherman. This includes communications via nongovernmental email accounts or via MMS or SMS on nongovernmental electronic devices.   7. Any documents and communications in the possession, control, or custody of the Department referring or relating to Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, and Mr. Sherman sent or received by the above named former Department officials. This includes communications via nongovernmental email accounts or via MMS or SMS on nongovernmental electronic devices.   8. Any documents and communications in the possession, control, or custody of the Department in which a VA Secretary or other Department official directed Department officials to communicate with Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, and Mr. Sherman via nongovernmental email accounts or via SMS or MMS on nongovernmental electronic devices.    9. Telephone records or call logs in the possession, control, or custody of the Department, including the date and time of each call in which you spoke with Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, or Mr. Sherman.    10. Telephone records or call logs in the possession, control, or custody of the Department, including the date and time of each call in which Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, or Mr. Sherman communicated with any of the  following Department officials: Mr. James Byrne, Acting Deputy Secretary; Mr. John Ullyot, Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs; Mr. James Gfrerer, Chief Information Officer; Mr. Curt Cashour, Press Secretary; Mr. Darin Selnick, Mr. Jake Leinenkugel, Ms. Jacquelyn Hayes-Byrd, or Mr. Camillo Sandoval.      11. Telephone records or call logs in the possession, control, or custody of the Department, including the date and time of each call in which Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, or Mr. Sherman communicated with former Department officials Dr. David Shulklin, Secretary, Mr. Thomas Bowman, Deputy Secretary, Mr. Peter O’Rourke, and Ms. Genevieve Morris, Chief Health Information Officer.   12. Telephone records or call logs in the possession, control, or custody of the Department, including the date and time of each call in which any Department official or employee spoke directly with or participated in a conference call with Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, or Mr. Sherman.    13. Any documents and communications referring or relating to Mr. Aaron Moskowitz and Dr. Bruce Moskowitz’s participation in discussions or meetings with the Department and Apple Inc. referring or relating to the development of a mobile or software application.    14. Any documents and communications referring or relating to Dr. Moskowitz and his relatives, and the development of a medical device registry or organization of the June 4, 2018 summit on device registries.     15. Any documents and communications referring or relating to Dr. Moskowitz, his relatives, and Department officials and the Biomedical Research and Education Foundation.    16. Any documents and communications referring or relating to former Secretary Shulkin’s participation or the participation of Department officials in the November 7, 2017 Veterans Day New York Stock Exchange event presented by Marvel Entertainment LLC, including any opinion provided by Department ethics officials sanctioning participation in the event.    17. Any documents and communications referring or relating to official travel of current and former Department officials to Trump National Golf Club Mar-a-Lago, including documents demonstrating the cost to the U.S. taxpayer.    18. Any additional documents and communications in the possession, control, or custody of the Department referring or relating to Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, and Mr. Sherman.   19. Any additional documents and communications in the possession, control, or custody of the Department sent or received from Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, and Mr. Sherman.    20. Any documents and communications referring or relating to any personal referrals related to current or future agency contracts, programs, or projects by Mr. Perlmutter, Dr. Moskowitz, or Mr. Sherman.    Please provide the documents in electronic, soft-copy format. Do not alter the documents in any way, including but not limited to applications of redactions or a water mark. Only relevant documents and tangible things should be provided as part of the submission. Also provide the contact information for the individual(s) responsible for assembling the submission. This/These individual(s) shall certify and attest to the accuracy of the submission and whether the Department has complied with the request.    The deliverables opened by this request will not be closed until the Committee is sufficiently satisfied with the responses provided, including whether the formatting instructions have been adhered to. The Committee reserves the right to, at its discretion, order an alternative organization of the submission. The Department has a continuing duty to supplement the record by providing relevant documents and tangible things to the Committee until the matter is closed.    Government officials and private individuals who seek to use the Department for personal enrichment, or who make poor decisions that waste taxpayer dollars or negatively affect the delivery of veterans’ healthcare and benefits must held to account.     Please produce these documents by February 22, 2019. Should you have any questions about this request, please contact Grace Rodden, Committee General Counsel, at (202) 225-9756 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.    Sincerely,   ###

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2019 American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year application online

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The 2019 American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year application is available online at www.legion.org/scholarships. Applications must be submitted to each applicant's respective American Legion department headquarters no later than March 1.

Contact information for American Legion department headquarters is available at www.legion.org/departments.

The Eagle Scout of the Year will receive a $10,000 scholarship. Three runners-up will each receive $2,500.

To be eligible for the award, applicants must be a registered and active member of a Boy Scout troop, Varsity Scout team or Venturing crew chartered by an American Legion post, Auxiliary unit or Sons of The American Legion (SAL) squadron; or must be a member of a chartered Boy Scout troop, Varsity Scout team or Venturing crew and the son or grandson of a Legionnaire, Auxiliary or SAL member.

In addition, the applicant must be an Eagle Scout, a member of a religious institution, and have received the appropriate Boy Scout religious emblem. Other criteria include the demonstration of practical citizenship in church, school, Scouting and community; and reached the age of 15 and enrolled in high school at time of selection.

Department headquarters will submit their nominations by April 1 to National Headquarters. The National Americanism Commission’s Youth Activities Subcommittee will review all department nominations and select The American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year winner during the Legion’s annual Spring Meetings in May.

The Eagle Scout of the Year will join other American Legion youth champions at the 101st American Legion national convention in Indianapolis, Aug. 23-29.


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Veterans outreach, recruiting effort set for California

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American Legion national staff and Department of California Legionnaires are teaming up Feb. 20-22 for a district revitalization and veterans outreach effort in the Shasta area. All wartime veterans in the area are invited to the event to learn more about American Legion programs and veteran benefits.

The effort will take place from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 20-21 and 9 a.m.-noon Feb. 22 at Shasta Dam American Legion Post 720, 4309 Vallecito St., Shasta.

Veteran service officer information will be available to assist all area veterans with claims or other veteran benefit-related questions during these times.


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The American Legion's top 12 legislative priorities for Congress

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The following are the top issues that The American Legion will be fighting for in this session of the 116th Congress.

Wartime veteran. More than 1,600 U.S. military men and women since the end of World War II have been killed or were wounded during times of armed conflict not recognized by the U.S. government. The American Legion passed Resolution 1 at its Fall 2018 National Executive Committee meeting calling on Congress to direct VA to expand the definition of "wartime veteran" to include all military personnel who served honorably under Title 10 orders for at least one day during this continuous period of armed conflict.

Agent Orange. The American Legion remains firm in its position that all veterans exposed to Agent Orange – on land, sea or air – deserve service-connected disability benefits for adverse health conditions presumed to be linked to such exposure.

American flag. The American Legion will continue to fight for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the physical desecration of the American flag. As a physical representation of the ideals that America stands for, protecting the sanctity of our nation’s flag has always been a priority for The American Legion.

Women veterans. Women veterans are the fastest growing demographic to serve in the military and to enroll in the VA health care system. Since 2000, the number of women veterans receiving VA health care has more than doubled and that number is expected to increase as more women veterans become eligible to receive care through VA. The American Legion believes that it is vital for VA to develop a comprehensive health care program in order to address health care needs specific to women who have served in the armed forces, and the Legion will continue to advocate for legislation that addresses these shortcomings.

Suicide prevention. An estimated 20 veterans die by suicide every day and many are not receiving care or support through the VA that may have saved them. The American Legion urges Congress to provide VA the necessary funds to hire mental health care professionals and proper staffing for its Integrative Health and Wellness Program. Getting veterans enrolled in these services is a priority of The American Legion.

Citizenship. Immigrants to the United States often join the military as a path to obtain citizenship. However, veterans have reported being deported after failing to obtain U.S. citizenship while in service. The American Legion supports measures to ensure the process of naturalization through honorable military service is completed prior to discharge.

Veteran homelessness. VA pledged to eradicate veteran homelessness and The American Legion supports the continued funding of programs to address this serious issue. Congress must continue making investments in affordable housing and programs that help get veterans and their families off the streets and into stable housing with supportive services.

VA benefits. Many military retirees are forced to forfeit a portion of their pension in order to receive VA service-connected disability pay. VA survivor benefits are also offset from military Survivor Benefit Plan annuities. The American Legion supports legislation to repeal both of these unjust offsets.

GI Bill. Expanding GI Bill benefits to include access to capital for entrepreneurial veterans enables them to overcome a major obstacle in building a small business. The American Legion supports legislation that would expand GI Bill benefits to assist veterans in obtaining access to small business capital.

Veteran employment rights. The American Legion will continue to urge Congress to prohibit employers from pressuring servicemembers into waiving their employment rights and protections through arbitration agreements.

National security. The American Legion supports a defense budget that reverses sequestration and its effects, rebuilds U.S. military end strength and weaponry and fairly compensates military personnel, especially in an ongoing time of global warfare.

Implement, oversee new laws. The 115th Congress was filled with significant wins for America’s veterans. Now, these wins must be implemented. The American Legion will continue to support the oversight over the implementation of critical legislation passed during the 115th Congress, securing that these laws are enacted correctly and in the best interests of America’s veterans.


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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 www.archives.gov