Taking Care of Veterans
The American Legion serves military veterans in a variety of ways:
Service Officers - Filing a claim for benefits from the Department of Veterans' Affairs can often be a confusing and frustrating experience. Accredited professional American Legion service officers (DSO's) are located in all 57 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regional offices. American Legion service officers have specialized training and experience that contribute to a thorough knowledge of VA statutes and regulations, and are familiar with the broad spectrum of VA programs and operations. They provide veterans and their dependents with assistance and representation in all matters pertaining to VA. This service is provided free of charge and is not dependent on membership status. DSO's can be readily contacted through the Department Service Officer Directory.
Board of Veterans Appeals - The American Legion staffs fourteen appeals representatives co-located at the Board of Veteran Appeals in Washington. They navigate a maze of regulation and veterans' law representing veterans denied benefits to which they feel they are entitled.
VA Washington Regional Office - The American Legion's Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission (VA&R) staff also maintains a presence at the VA Washington Regional Office and Appeals Management Center and handle original claims as well as appeals remanded from the Board of Veteran Appeals.
The American Legion's Field Service Unit and VA Health Care - The Field Service Unit is comprised of a team of representatives who regularly travel to VA medical facilities around the country and report on the impact of VA's health-care policies on veterans and their families.
The American Legion continues to monitor all aspects of the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Administration's (VHA) policies. In particular, the "System Worth Saving" Task Force is finishing up its fourth year of conducting site visits to VA medical centers. Past reports have centered on VA medical facilities. The 2007 Report focuses on Vet Centers and Poly Trauma Centers in an effort to better assess the services available to veterans returning from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
Military Discharge Review - Three American Legion employees are assigned to review veterans' military records and assist in obtaining reviews that may result in an upgrade in a veteran's character of discharge. They are located at The American Legion Washington National Office.
Heroes to Hometowns (H2H) Program - The Heroes to Hometowns program established a partnership between The American Legion and the Department of Defense, to assist severely injured U.S. servicemembers who request help with the often-daunting transition from the military.
Local community leaders link their efforts with national-level organizations and agencies. State-level military representatives assist in communicating potential needs of a severely injured servicemember.
This program positions The American Legion to do what we do best: serving those who served. It provides The American Legion an opportunity to reach our newest veterans and help them experience a seamless transition from the military. This year, the program will seek to further collaboration with DOD and VA Medical facilities, making its resources and volunteers readily available to both through licensed social workers who can act as navigators both for the service member and the volunteers.
Seamless Transition - The American Legion entered into an agreement with leadership at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to provide transitional support to wounded soldiers transitioning out of the military. A representative of The American Legion operates out of the Walter Reed campus and assist in representing wounded soldiers who are going before the Military Evaluation Board as well as providing general support in all areas of transition outreach.
Employment and The Small Businesses Task Force - The American Legion has a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with RecruitMilitary and Military.com that allow The American Legion to have a presence in all of their job fairs around the country. The main purpose of these job fairs is to provide veterans more outlets for employment.
The Small Business Task Force consists of highly successful veteran business owners and works closely with the Small Business Administration (SBA), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to train veterans on how to start and be successful in business, correct holes in the federal procurement process, and ensure that veteran owned businesses and service disabled veteran owned businesses (SDVOB's) are afforded all the rights and privileges bestowed upon them.
Homeless Veterans Task Force - The Homeless Veterans Task Force coordinates stand-downs, provides clothing and financial assistance, benefits counseling, secures housing for shelters and assists other homeless service providers.
Testimony - The Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission (VA&R) testifies regularly on issues relating to the health and welfare of the veteran. Several times a year, before the Veterans Affairs Committees of the House of Representatives and Senate, lawmakers hear the voice of 2.6 million members of The American Legion.
Department of Veteran Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) Program - The American Legion is a staunch supporter and active participant in the Department of Veteran Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) program. Significant volunteer contributions in donated hours of service, and gifts and donations, assist direct patient care programs and support activities and services that may not be fiscal priorities from year to year.
Volunteers assist VA patients by augmenting staff in such diverse settings as VA medical centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, foster care, community based volunteer programs and veterans outreach centers.
For information concerning individual or Post participation contact the Chief of Voluntary Service at your nearest VA medical center, your local VAVS Representative or American Legion Department Service Officer, or write to: The American Legion, National Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission, 1608 K Street, N.W., Washington D.C. 20006. Information is also available on the Internet at VA Voluntary Service (VAVS).