Veterans Benefits Information guide to VA benefits

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Veterans Benefits Information

American Legion to host military hiring fair in Los Angeles

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Hiring Our Heroes is collaborating with The American Legion to host a military hiring fair in Los Angeles.

The Hiring Fair will take place Tuesday, April 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at American Legion Hollywood Post 43, 2035 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90068.

The event includes a resume workshop taught by The American Legion that will focus on resume building, networking and interviewing tips. Career coaches will be on hand to help participants develop an elevator pitch and to participate in mock interviews following the workshop.

The American Legion also will host a LinkedIn workshop. Participants will learn how to optimize resources available via LinkedIn, as well as how to manage a LinkedIn profile.

To register for the Military Hiring Fair and connect with local and national employers, visit

Registration: 8:30 a.m.

Workshops: 9:00-1:30 a.m.

Hiring Fair: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

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Team effort

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TALARC Vice President Bill Sloan made the following report in the club's latest newsletter on how the 100th birthday of The American Legion was celebrated over the airwaves:

"As we continue to sort through the many logs and reports from our sister stations participating in the American Legion 100th Birthday Special Event held on March 9, we’re pleased to report a successful event highlighted further by a record number of TALARC stations that made successful QSOs, and even helped out by acting as K9TAL net control stations at various times throughout the day. Band conditions were not unfavorable, but with a series of thunderstorms racing across the continent both 20M and 40M were quite noisy.

"Despite the QRN, Bill (KI0CW) in South Dakota, and Everett (WA3DVO), Kenny (KB3IIE) and other members of Maryland Post 275 (N3TAL) gathered in dozens of contacts coast to coast on 20M. K9TAL operators at National Headquarters in Indianapolis also swapped K9TAL SE net control duties on the 40M band with K3EMD, the Easton Amateur Radio Society in Easton, Md., throughout the day, with superb coordination and results. And special thanks as well to Shannon (W6SPY), George (KM4QOY/W4CDA), Don (KA5DON/K5TAL), and several other TALARC members and many of our 38 American Legion post amateur radio clubs, who relayed contacts from far corners of the country.

"As a result, American Legion National Headquarters has so far mailed 73 special Event Certificates and QSLs to interested ham radio operators, as well as a dozen or so emails and letters of appreciation. We also added about 30 new members since the day of the special event – always a great result of getting K9TAL on the air. If you QSO’d with any of the SE stations on any frequency or by any mode, National Headquarters has a commemorative certificate for you. To get yours, send a self-addressed 9x12, stamped envelope to The American Legion Amateur Radio Club, c/o The American Legion, 700 N. Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, IN 46204. Please include your approximate contact time, frequency and mode – HF, IRLP or EchoLink. We collect QSL cards as well, and will return our own in exchange."

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Legion helps college student focus on academics, soccer

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While playing in the girls soccer state championships her senior year of high school, Naomi Falkenberg fractured her face as the goal keeper. But it didn’t stop her from finishing the last five minutes of the game and then on to see her high school win. That “perseverance, resilience, being the best you can be” are qualities she learned from her father, Jason, a retired Army veteran and Legionnaire with an illness that has impacted his quality of life.

Even with his illness, “my father is always pushing through and I think that’s an admirable quality that I’ve taken because in sports I’m not one to back out, even if I’m hurt,” said Falkenberg of Sutton, Mass. “As a kid I was always inspired and impressed by everything he did. I thought he was the coolest man in the world and I still do. He is really a hero for me.”

Falkenberg is finishing her freshman year at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where she was recruited to play on the soccer team as the starting goal keeper. Her ability to juggle academics of studying to be a doctor and playing soccer with six practices a week has been made easier thanks to The American Legion’s Legacy Scholarship. Falkenberg’s hero, her father, made her eligible for the scholarship.

The Legacy Scholarship is available for children whose parents lost their lives while honorably serving on active duty on or after 9/11, as well as for children of post-9/11 veterans with a combined 50 percent or higher VA disability rating. The renewable scholarship will award up to $20,000 for the expense of graduate or post-graduate tuition, books, room and board, meal plans, transportation and other supplies needed to achieve a higher education.

The 2019 Legacy Scholarship application deadline is April 15. Apply here.

“When I got (The American Legion Legacy Scholarship) I was just so excited and grateful. The scholarship made it easier to play soccer, and it really allows me to pursue my academics rather than having to think about getting a part-time job,” Falkenberg said. “My father was so happy and relieved because (the Legacy Scholarship) takes financial stress off him. It was just a relief of wanting the best for me. And the fact that he was able to help me in some manner that way, I feel like it filled him with a lot of pride and happiness.”

Through her studies of becoming a doctor, Falkenberg hopes to help others, like The American Legion, the way they have helped her.

“When you have a cause like The American Legion and the (Legacy) scholarship surrounding it, it’s an act of selflessness and generosity that I feel like myself and others are extremely grateful for this opportunity,” Falkenberg said. “Being able to pay back, what comes around goes around, putting a little bit of investment into somebody else to make them grow is just such a big part of helping each other reach our goals and be able to form this community that can help everyone thrive.”

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Arizona town celebrates GI Bill’s 75th anniversary

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The town of Florence, Ariz., paid tribute March 30 to one of its most famous former citizens: Ernest W. McFarland, the U.S. senator who sponsored the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, 75 years earlier. Drafted initially on stationery at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., by American Legion Past National Commander Harry Colmery, the GI Bill was signed into law by Franklin Roosevelt on June 22, 1944.

McFarland, along with 1943-1944 American Legion National Commander Warren Atherton, shepherded the legislation through Congress and are jointly considered the “fathers of the GI Bill.”

The day began with a parade through the center of Florence, a town of around 33,000 people roughly an hour southeast of Phoenix in Penal County. Bordered to the east by the scenic Superstition Mountains, Florence is one of the oldest towns in the area and its National Historic District has more than 25 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The parade featured a horse-mounted color guard, floats from various local civic groups and politicians, and old jeeps. Children carrying small American flags lined the sides of the main street and scrambled to recover candy thrown by those in the parade – like Department of Arizona American Legion Commander Steve Aguirre.

“It is extremely important that the Legion Family must continue to think outside the box when it comes to educating the veteran community and the general public about our mission and the accomplishments of the organization,” said Aguirre, noting the importance of Legion visibility in community events like this.

“We, as veterans and members of the largest wartime, all-volunteer veterans organization in the world, know our story of community service, programs for our youth, veterans advocacy, promoting Americanism and advocating for a strong national defense,” he said. “Yet there are thousands of veterans families in our communities that have never heard us explain who and what The American Legion does for veterans and the community at large.”

Florence Post 9 Commander Jose Maldonado agreed.

“It feels great to know that The American Legion was instrumental in not only myself and others receiving this benefit, but I also went as far as to find out that in 2017 President Trump signed the Forever GI Bill extending the allowable time period for veterans to pursue educational opportunities.”

McFarland family members served as grand marshals for the parade and spoke at a gathering in the town’s park afterward.

“My grandfather, Ernest McFarland, who preferred to be called ‘Mac,’ would be deeply honored that his hometown people here in Florence are recognizing him and his works here today,” said John D. Lewis, McFarland’s grandson. “The hardest job that my brothers and sisters and I have here is as we go out to preserve my grandfather’s legacy, is that my grandfather did so much.”

Indeed, it would be difficult to overstate the impact McFarland had not just on Florence but all of Arizona.

“If Arizona had a Mount Rushmore, the men on it would be Carl Hayden (a longtime Arizona U.S. senator), Ernest McFarland, Barry Goldwater and John McCain,” Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble once noted.

Born in an Oklahoma log cabin in 1894, McFarland enlisted in the U.S. Navy following the outbreak of war in 1917. Sent to the Great Lakes Naval Station to train, McFarland became ill with a lung disease that left him hospitalized for 10 months and nearly killed him. Following his honorable discharge two years later, McFarland moved to Arizona as doctors felt it would be a better climate for him to recuperate in. McFarland studied law at Stanford before returning to Penal County to pursue his legal career, where he served as county attorney and then was elected as a Superior Court judge.

In 1941, McFarland ran for U.S. Senate, handily winning both the Democratic Primary and then the general election. He served in the Senate until 1953, as the Majority Leader for the final two years. Following a loss in his 1952 re-election bid, McFarland returned to Arizona where he served as governor from 1955-1959, and then as associate justice and later Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court from 1965-1971. McFarland was the first, and thus far only, Arizonan to serve in the highest offices of all three branches of Arizona government.

But it was for his work on the GI Bill that McFarland made the biggest impact on veterans.

“He sponsored over 40 veterans’ bills,” noted a 2016 Arizona Times article about McFarland, “but his greatest contribution rested in drafting the portions of the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944 – the ‘GI Bill’ – that gave veterans access to education through tuition assistance, zero-down home loans, and low-interest business loans. It improved the lives of nearly 50 million ex-servicemen and women, along with millions of their dependents. According to one historian, the GI Bill generated 450,000 trained engineers, 91,000 scientists, 67,000 doctors, 22,000 dentists, 238,000 teachers, and more than 1 million other college-educated professionals.”

“My grandfather, to us, was just our grandfather,” Lewis said. “We never really knew what a political giant he was until we got older. And for me, I didn’t really realize the breadth of all he’d done until 10 years ago when I went through all his papers.”

Representatives from the office of Arizona Gov. Dan Ducey and Florence’s member of Congress, Paul Gosar, were on hand for the ceremony in the town square, as well as members of the State Legislature and Florence Mayor Tara Walter. Each brought a proclamation for McFarland’s family to mark his signature legislative accomplishment 75 years earlier.

Aguirre was humbled and honored that he could speak at the event as well, telling the story of the organization he leads in Arizona during its centennial year. “It was simply amazing how the event was educational and yet told the story of how The American Legion was involved in (the GI Bill’s) creation,” he observed.

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Chairman Takano Delivers Opening Remarks before Hearing Assessing Key IT Solution Implementation

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) delivered opening remarks before the full committee oversight hearing entitled “MISSION Critical: Assessing the Technology to Support Community Care.” Below is a link to the video of the Chairman’s opening statement and his remarks as prepared:   [[{"fid":"49","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"style":"height: 351px; width: 500px;","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]]   Good afternoon. I call this hearing to order. Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is gathered to assess the implementation status of the Community Care requirements under the MISSION Act, including the technology that will support the program.  The impetus for this hearing is a report prepared by the U.S. Digital Service at the request of Dr. Melissa Glynn, of the Office of Enterprise Integration.  Before we discuss the report, I want to establish a few items for the record. First, I had hoped that the U.S. Digital Service would be here today to discuss both the work it is doing at VA in general, and specifically its work on this report.  I want to be clear that I believe USDS is doing good work at VA, and in other federal agencies.  USDS is filled with very talented individuals who have heard the call of public service and are attempting to help fix very challenging technology problems.  Although the Administrator of USDS was invited, it appears that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had a role in Mr. Cutts, or his staff , not being here today.  I’m disappointed in this result, and I urge OMB to reconsider whether its bureaucratic internal processes are actually serving the government and the taxpayer well.  If Congress is prevented from conducting legitimate oversight because of unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles then it is a real problem.  I hope we will have an opportunity to hear from USDS at a future hearing and to learn more about the work the digital services team is doing at VA. Second, I understand that there are sensitivities involved in USDS’s role in advising agencies on technology.  We want agency staff to speak freely to USDS and for USDS to be able to provide unvarnished advice because we want agencies to succeed at their technology projects.  We want agencies to have the room to fix known problems before it endangers an entire program.  The Committee understands that this report was not meant for the public, but it is now in the open. And as the Committee responsible for overseeing the implementation of one of the most significant pieces of veterans legislation, we are compelled to ask questions about it.  That is what brings us here today. Third, I want to be clear that this is a fact-finding hearing.  We have invited VA leadership here in order to exchange information and to have a robust discussion about that state of implementation.  I want you to understand, Dr. Stone, Dr. Glynn, and Mr. Gfrerer, that I want to have an open and honest conversation, and IF there are things that the Committee needs to know about – such as resources, implementation timelines, or the real state of the technology – this is the time to share that information.  We want transparency. Veterans expect and deserve transparency. This is because when we talk about technology at VA we are talking about more than technology.  Information systems at VA support the very backbone of the mission of VA.  These are systems that directly impact veterans’ lives, their health, and their ability to access the benefits they have earned. The MISSION Act is a big mandate and we need to get it right.  If the technology experts say that VA should cease development on the Decision Support Tool and for VA to rethink its approach to implementation we want to understand those recommendations and what VA is doing about them.  If a veteran-centric vision is not guiding this implementation then we need to figure out what needs to change. Our veterans deserve nothing less. I thank the witnesses for being here and I look forward to their testimony.   ###

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