1. $45.6 billion secured in VA disability compensation
The American Legion’s accredited service officers and appeals representatives are delivering for the nation’s disabled veterans and their families, free of charge.
– $45.6 billion: amount in VA disability compensation secured for veterans assisted by accredited American Legion service officers between 2019 and 2022. Service officers are now on pace to exceed last year’s $16.3 billion in benefits, as well as the overall caseload, in 2023, following passage of the American Legion-supported PACT Act last August.
– 35: the number of new American Legion accredited service officers certified by National Headquarters in June.
Receive benefits assistance: If you need help filing a service-connected disability claim, American Legion service officers are available to help veterans and their families free of charge. Locate a service officer near you here. For information on how to become a Legion service officer, visit here.
2. Game on
Since first collaborating for an online Call of Duty tournament in late 2021, The American Legion and REGIMENT Gaming have teamed up multiple times. But the relationship between the nation’s largest veterans service organization and the nation’s largest veteran gaming community has now reached a new level – The American Legion is now the official veteran service organization of REGIMENT Gaming.
REGIMENT co-founder and CEO Chris Earl said having the Legion partnered with his creation “is surreal. Everyone knows who The American Legion is and having them watching our six brings a lot of validity to what we’re doing here. We are beyond grateful and excited for this opportunity.
“REGIMENT has done an amazing job at uniting veterans through the power of gaming, but now it’s time to get these guys and girls to put down the controller and go outside and connect with veterans in person. Working with The American Legion and their posts is going to help us accomplish that.”
Read more: The American Legion and REGIMENT Gaming teamed up during an in-person Memorial Day tournament, during the 2022 National Convention in Milwaukee and helped provide a gaming station to American Legion Post 3 in Moundsville, W.Va.
3. Connect with The American Legion on Threads
Meta’s Instagram social media platform launched Threads, termed as a “text-based conversation app” that is like Twitter. In just seven days, Threads had surpassed 100 million users – including The American Legion.
At threads.net/@theamericanlegion, the American Legion is providing information, stories and resources similar to what we share via Twitter. You’ll find links to stories on legion.org; information about American Legion programs and services, such as benefits claims assistance; and messaging from the Legion’s Be the One veteran suicide-prevention initiative.
4. Best practices for transitioning to a civilian job
Retired Army Maj. Sgt. Mike Quinn, the guest on this week’s Tango Alpha Lima podcast episode, turned a disappointing first job fair experience into eventually creating HireMilitary, where he helps servicemembers and companies connect.
“When it comes to transition, the hardest part about it is figuring out what you want to do,” he said. “And then figuring out what is important to that job. What do they do every day? What are their biggest challenges? What are their successes? What metrics do they track?”
His experience led him to create HireMilitary. “It was to fill a gap and allow servicemembers and companies to find each other.”
HireMilitary uses DoD Skillbridge, allowing companies to post jobs and internships, and for servicemembers to join the “talent network.” Now, HireMilitary has expanded to offering direct placement opportunities, opening the network to military spouses and government contracts.
There’s more: Also this week on the podcast, hosts Jeff Daly and Gorbulja offer their thoughts on: the Aug. 9 deadline for toxic exposure benefits under the PACT Act; THRIVE, a 14-week clinical program at VA, that aims to improve wellness for veterans and staff members. It is available right now at 60 VA centers; and how a New York Legion post has embraced The American Legion Be the One initiative to reduce the number of veteran suicides.
5. Membership tip: survey your members
A membership best practice from Laura Dean, adjutant and public relations chairperson at Jack Henry Post 1 in Anchorage, Alaska, which has more than doubled its membership, to over 800, in the last four years.
“Our post conducted a membership survey to find out what internal and external efforts were most important to our members. We distilled that information into our ‘marching orders’ that we now use to guide all our efforts so we can report back to our members in an annual report about how we did at advancing their own objectives.
Here are a few initiatives we worked after listening to our members:
1. Clean up the post: They love the history of the post, but effort was needed to clean it up. We worked diligently on clearing out stuff that had accumulated over the years and adding fresh coats of paint. This also told us we need to budget more for cleaning and janitorial service.
2. More weekly events: Members wanted movie nights, yoga and NFL football. We partnered with a yoga instructor to do weekly, free yoga, and marketed on social media that we’ll have the NFL games. Also, because football comes on at 9 a.m. in Alaska, we recruited volunteers to cook brunch and brought our bartenders in early on Sundays during football season.
3. Advocate for better VA and suicide prevention: Luckily, National Headquarters is making this one easy for us to achieve with passage of the PACT Act and the Be the One program to prevent suicide. We’re also working on resolutions to put on paper any specific issues our members are having with VA. For suicide prevention, we looked at our community to see what others are already doing on this front and then supported them in those efforts. (An opportunity we found is using video games to help prevent suicide, as noted in the January 2023 American Legion Magazine (REGIMENT Gaming), so now we’re working to make that’s a reality at our post.)”