Employment Notice for Two Department Service Officers in Waco, TX.

Posted on April 1st, 2015

The American Legion, Department of Texas, a non-profit Veterans Organization, is looking for Two Department Service Officers, to provide assistance and benefit information to veterans, their dependents and beneficiaries, under laws administered by the Veterans Administration and other federal, state and local agencies; which administer and provide service to veterans in the State of Texas.

This position involves dealing with public and have an understanding attitude including, tactfulness, ingenuity, patience and the ability to cope with problems that exist in all types of situations.

Applicant must be able to utilize a variety of interviewing techniques; draw conclusions from a number of conflicting facts to be able to speak and write clearly; meet and become familiar with community resources and local agencies, civic groups, and other organizations providing services or benefits to veterans or returning servicemen and women.

Weekend work and travel are required for this position. This position is an administrative position with no administrative personnel supervision responsibilities and is under the direct supervision to the Department Adjutant.

Resumes and cover letter may be sent to The American Legion, Department of Texas, PO Box 140527 Austin, Texas 78714, (512) 472-4138, or faxed to (512) 472-0603 or by emailing to billw@txlegion.org.

3rd District Spring Convention date change

Posted on March 31st, 2015

The 3rd District Convention has been changed to Saturday, May 2, 2015 at Tyler Post 12, the change is sue to the illness of District Commander John Brewer.

American Legion says VA must ‘hold true to its mission’

Posted on March 30th, 2015

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2015) – The American Legion’s national commander, Michael D. Helm, admonished the Department of Veterans Affairs for eliminating its informal claims process, which has been used in roughly half of all such claims filed by veterans.

“VA needs to hold true to its mission, which is to serve America’s veterans and not penalize them,” Helm said. “Why on earth would (VA) Secretary McDonald approve a regulation change that invalidates about half of all disability claims being filed?” The new rule went into effect March 25.

On March 20, The American Legion, joined by several other veterans service organizations, filed a lawsuit against VA to have a new rule eliminating the informal claims process to be declared unlawful. The case will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

According to the Federal Register, informal claims account for about half of all VA claims filed. The American Legion has repeatedly requested such data, but VA has yet to provide it.

Helm said that hundreds of thousands of veterans and family members will be harmed by VA’s new ruling. “It seems to me that VA is trying to reduce its claims backlog by denying veterans their right to file for benefits via any written communication available to them. Forcing men and women – especially those with serious mental conditions — to use a standardized form in order to get their benefits is a cold-hearted decision that betrays VA’s mission.”

In a March 25 Stars & Stripes article, VA spokesperson Walinda West justified the elimination of informal claims by arguing that disabled veterans should be able to fill out a 2-4 page form and to state otherwise “is an unfair characterization.”

Helm said West’s argument was a logical fallacy that trivialized VA’s mission. “She didn’t respond to criticism of VA’s action. Instead, Ms. West cast doubt upon anyone who may challenge that action. It is no stretch of reality to say a veteran suffering from severe PTSD might have trouble filling out a form put together by bureaucrats.”

The rule issued by VA also allows it to ignore the awarding of benefits for service-related conditions that are not specifically identified in a claim. For example, if a veteran’s medical record clearly indicates treatment for PTSD – yet that condition is not specified in the claim – VA is under no obligation to award benefits to the veteran.

“VA is trying to shirk its duty to veterans,” Helm said, “and we are going to court to stop them.”


Contact: Marty Callaghan: 202-263-5758/202-341-8900, mcallaghan@legion.org. A high resolution photo of Nat. Cmdr. Helm is available at www.legion.org.

American Legion National Commander Applauds Senate for Clarifying ‘40-mile Rule’

Posted on March 27th, 2015

WASHINGTON (March 27, 2015) – The head of The American Legion praised the Senate for unanimously passing an amendment to remind the Department of Veterans Affairs that it is obligated to provide non-VA care when it cannot offer that same treatment at one of its own facilities within 40-miles driving distance from a veteran’s home.

“This bill simply calls on VA to do what it already had the authority to do,” said National Commander Michael D. Helm. “Intent is everything. When Congress passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act last year, it once again gave VA this authority. I say ‘once again’ because VA had this authority on a fee-basis long before the Choice act. Despite this authority, VA was trying to find loopholes by denying people who were near VA clinics that did not offer the needed services the right to use an alternative provider.  We applaud Sen. Jerry Moran for writing this amendment, even though it’s a shame that such a common sense measure needs to be spelled out repeatedly for VA. We call on the House to pass this measure quickly and send an unmistakable message to VA.”

Moran emphasized the importance of providing non-VA health care to veterans during Helm’s congressional testimony on Feb. 25. The Kansas senator calculated the distance from Helm’s home in Norcatur, Kan., to the nearest VA facilities.

“It’s 267 miles to Denver,” Moran said. “It’s 287 miles to Wichita. It’s 287 miles to Omaha and the nearest CBOC (Community Based Outpatient Center) is 100 miles away. I appreciate the perspective that this commander will bring about caring for all veterans regardless of where they live in the United States.”

With a current membership of 2.3-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly 14,000 posts across the nation.

VA changes filing forms effective March 24, 2015

Posted on March 25th, 2015

As of March 24, 2015 the VA will no longer accept informal claims for VA benefits or a claim for benefits on VA Form 21-4138. As with most government agencies, all claims must now be on the specified form for the claim. The following would be a good start to let the Post Service Officers know what will be required in the future:


  1. VA Form 21-0966 “INTENT TO FILE A CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION AND/OR PENSION, OR SURVIVORS PENSION AND/OR DIC” This now becomes the informal claim that we used to file on the VA Form 21-4138 or by any other form of written communication to the VA indicating and intent to file a claim for VA benefits.


  1. VA Form 21-526EZ “APPLICATION FOR DISABILITY COMPENSATION AND RELATED COMPENSATION BENEFITSThis is an application that will be used to file the initial claim for compensation or a claim for increased or secondary compensation disability benefits.


  1. VA Form 21-527EZ “APPLICATION FOR PENSION” This is the form that will be required for nonservice connected pension (NSCP) applications only. Once we have received this form, it will be forwarded to the Pension Maintenance Center (PMC) in St. Paul MN


  1. VA Form 21-534 EZ “APPLICATION FOR DIC, DEATH PENSION, AND/OR ACCRUED BENEFITS” This is the application to be completed by the survivors of a deceased veteran seeking to get death benefit and/or the final payment during the veteran’s month of death.


  1. VA Form 21-0958 “NOTICE OF DISAGREEMENT” This is the appropriate application for filing a notice of disagreement with any rating decision. The VA will no longer accept the VA Form 21-4138 in reference to indicating intent to file a notice of disagreement (NOD).


  1. VA Form 21-4138 “STATEMENT IN SUPPORT OF CLAIM” This form is only to be used as supporting documentation in reference to one of the aforereferenced forms being submitted. This form can be used for buddy statements, expounding on a reason for a NOD, providing clarification information regarding disability speaking claimed, etc., but this form is no longer being accepted by itself as a claim for benefits.


  1. VA Form 21-22 “APPOINTMENT OF VETERAN SERVICE ORGANIZATION AS CLAIMANT’S REPRESENTATIVE” This form must be the October 2014 version of the form as the VARO does not accept earlier versions. Please note that if item 12 is not checked on the form the VA will not allow us to review documentation in VBMS. Therefore, the Post Service Officers must make sure that this item is checked. Additionally, we would prefer to have item 14 checked as well. This would allow the DSO to effectively engage in all aspects of advocacy.


Should you have any additional questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact our Department Service Officers.

VA Works to Expand Choice Program Eligibility

Posted on March 24th, 2015

Eligibility criteria for 40 miles calculation would change to driving distance

Washington — In order to expand eligibility for the Veterans Choice Program, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it will change the calculation used to determine the distance between a Veteran’s residence and the nearest VA medical facility from a straight line distance to driving distance. The policy change will be made through regulatory action in the coming weeks. The Veterans Choice Program was authorized by the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA).

“VA has worked very quickly to implement the Veterans Choice Program and we appreciate the constructive feedback shared by Veterans and our partners to help us improve service to Veterans,” said Secretary Robert McDonald. “We’ve determined that changing the distance calculation will help ensure more Veterans have access to care when and where they want it. VA looks forward to the ongoing support of our partners as we continue to make improvements to this new program.”

The method of determining driving distance will be through distance as calculated by using a commercial product. The change is expected to roughly double the number of eligible Veterans.

The Veterans Choice Program is a new, temporary benefit that allows eligible Veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility. Veterans seeking to use the Veterans Choice Program should call 1-866-606-8198 to confirm their eligibility and to schedule an appointment. Since the Choice Program went into effect on November 5, 2014, more than 45,000 medical appointments have been scheduled.

Using expanded authorities from VACAA, VA continues to expand access to care through increased staffing and enhanced collaboration with both the Indian Health Service and Native Hawaiian Health Care Systems. See the VACAA progress fact sheet here:

VA is enhancing its health care system and improving service delivery to better serve Veterans and set the course for long-term excellence and reform. VA has made significant progress in various areas of the legislation, such as extending the Assisted Living/Traumatic Brain Injury Pilot program and Project Arch, to expand timely access to high-quality health care for Veterans.

For more details about the department’s progress and related information, see www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/factsheets_and_details.asp and   www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/documents/FactSheets/Progress-Report-March-2015-Fact-Sheet.pdf.

A fact sheet on the 40-mile-rule change can be found at www.va.gov/opa/choiceact/documents/FactSheets/March-2015-40-mile-rule-change-factsheet.pdf

VA Eliminates Net Worth as Health Care Eligibility Factor

Posted on March 18th, 2015

Elimination of Net Worth Makes More Veterans Eligible for Health Care

Washington – The Department of Veterans Affairs is updating the way it determines eligibility for VA health care, a change that will result in more Veterans having access to the health care benefits they’ve earned and deserve.

Effective 2015, VA eliminated the use of net worth as a determining factor for both health care programs and copayment responsibilities. This change makes VA health care benefits more accessible to lower-income Veterans and brings VA policies in line with Secretary Robert A. McDonald’s MyVA initiative which reorients VA around Veterans’ needs.

“Everything that we do and every decision we make has to be focused on the Veterans we serve,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald. “We are working every day to earn their trust. Changing the way we determine eligibility to make the process easier for Veterans is part of our promise to our Veterans.”

Instead of combining the sum of Veterans’ income with their assets to determine eligibility for medical care and copayment obligations, VA will now only consider a Veteran’s gross household income and deductible expenses from the previous year. Elimination of the consideration of net worth for VA health care enrollment means that certain lower-income, non-service-connected Veterans will have less out-of- pocket costs. Over a 5-year period, it is estimated that 190,000 Veterans will become eligible for reduced costs of their health care services.

In March 2014, VA eliminated the annual requirement for updated financial information. VA now uses information from the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration to automatically match individual Veterans’ income information which reduces the burden on Veterans to keep their healthcare eligibility up to date. That change better aligned VA’s health care financial assessment program with other federal health care organizations.

Veterans may submit updated income information at www.1010ez.med.va.gov/, or by visiting their nearby VA health care facility.  For more information, visit www.va.gov/healthbenefits or call VA toll-free at 1-877-222-VETS (8387).

National PUFL Application Processing Change

Posted on March 4th, 2015

MEMO: To All Posts Adjutants

MEMO FROM: Jack Querfeld, Director, Internal Affairs Division

SUBJECT: Paid-Up-For-Life Application Processing Change

In January 2014, National Headquarters introduced a new simplified pricing structure for its Paid-Up-For-Life (PUFL) plan which also included the ability for a member to apply online for lifetime membership.  This was done with the intent of simplifying the entire process for the member.

Beginning July 1, 2015, National Headquarters will no longer accept PUFL applications that were previously distributed in bulk to Departments or Posts. This includes any PUFL application reflecting a rate chart with the effective date of October 2009 or earlier.

All PUFL applications must be submitted to National by one of the three methods noted below. We will continue the policy of notifying the Post and Department when a member applies for a lifetime membership; this provides the opportunity for the Post to challenge the application, if necessary.

ONLINE APPLICATION: The member accesses the PUFL page on National’s website at www.legion.org/pufl to obtain a rate quote and/or submit an electronic application. Once the rate quote is received, the member can opt to apply online which will cause their record information to appear for confirmation purposes. Once confirmed and the payment information is completed, the member selects the Submit button to complete the application process.  NOTE:  If the member doesn’t have internet access, either themselves or through family/friends, this process should be performed by the Post or the Department. A quick link to the PUFL application website has been added to myLegion for Posts and Departments.

PRINTABLE APPLICATION:  The member accesses the PUFL page on National’s website at www.legion.org/pufl to obtain a rate quote and/or print an application. Once the rate quote is received, the member can opt to print a paper application to complete and mail to National Headquarters.  The application will be pre-filled with the member’s ID Number, Name, Address, Birth Date and the total cost of the PUFL membership. (If any of the member’s information needs to be updated, it can be noted on the application.) The member then simply mails the application and payment to National Headquarters at the address shown on the form.  NOTE:  If the member doesn’t have internet access, either themselves or through family/friends, the application should be printed by the Post or the Department and forwarded to the member for completion. A quick link to the PUFL application website has been added to myLegion for Posts and Departments.

CALL A CUSTOMER SERVICE SPECIALIST:  Any member can speak to one of National’s Customer Service Specialists by calling our toll free number at 800-433-3318.  They’re happy to answer any questions…print and mail a PUFL application…or even take the application over the phone.  However, this should not be considered the primary procedure since all members, Posts, and Departments have the same ability.


American Legion Extension Institute Training

Posted on February 20th, 2015

American Legion Extension Institute training will be held at the Omni Austin Southpark Hotel on April 18, 2015; we will begin at 9:00am.

The course fee for members of The American Legion and Sons of The American Legion registration is $5.00 and for Auxiliary members its $10.00. Course fees will be collected at the training.

The Omni hotel is located at 4140 Governor’s Row in Austin.

To registration go to the https://www.eventbrite.com/e/department-alei-training-tickets-15847196391 the event ticket will show no cost, but the course fee will be collected on site.

More information can be found on the Training page.

Availability of the new American Legion Citizenship Outreach Guide

Posted on February 18th, 2015

Helping lawful immigrants prepare for citizenship and assimilation into American society has been a longstanding and proud tradition of The American Legion since our founding.  Legion posts are recognized for having a leadership role in community betterment, and as such, are well suited to provide a welcoming and trusted space for immigrant communities.  In Washington D.C. last fall, National Commander Helm met with the Chief of Staff for the Office of Citizenship at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the government agency that oversees lawful immigration into the United States.  Commander Helm returned from that meeting extremely enthused at the opportunities available to Legion posts in local communities throughout the nation for engaging in close collaboration with USCIS to promote and support the naturalization process for immigrants seeking the lawful path to citizenship.

To that end, the Americanism Commission is proud to announce availability of a newly developed Citizenship Outreach Guide that is conveniently accessible under the Americanism section of the Publications webpage on the Legion website at www.legion.org/publications.  The guide is chocked full of ideas, guidance and web links to online information and resources for collaborating with USCIS in the planning of naturalization activities.  National Commander Helm and the Americanism Commission urge you to share this with your district and post commanders, and further ask that you strongly encourage them to become actively involved.

You are also invited to encourage your posts or districts having an event in their community to share their story with national headquarters staff by emailing  immigration-citizenship@legion.org.  Thank you for your support of this important outreach initiative.  Assimilating immigrants seeking the lawful path to citizenship into American culture and life stream is in the best interest of our communities, states and nation.

For God and Country,


Chairman, Americanism Commission