KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) is pleased to announce participating BURGER KING® franchisees are set to kick off their summer fundraiser to benefit the VFW’s Unmet Needs program. Starting on July 1, patrons are encouraged to visit any of the nearly 450 participating BURGER KING® restaurants located throughout 15 states and donate $1 or more to the VFW’s Unmet Needs program upon checkout. Donations will be accepted until the end of the month. Established in 2004, the Unmet Needs program assists service members and military families experiencing financial hardship by providing financial assistance grants toward basic life necessities like rent, mortgage and utility payments. Since 2007, BURGER KING® franchisees and their customers have contributed more than $5 million to Unmet Needs, which has provided more than $10 million in aid to more than 9,000 struggling military and veteran families since its inception. “America’s heroes and their families have come to rely on the VFW’s Unmet Needs program, but it’s the support from BURGER KING® franchisees and their loyal patrons that helps ensure this vital program can continue to help our military and veterans’ families when they need it most,” said VFW National Commander Keith Harman. “I encourage VFW members and all Americans to support our brave heroes by adding a visit to a local participating restaurant to your summer checklist.”
After more than 25 years, Richard Chavez’s VA disability rating recently jumped from 10% to 100%. Chavez says all credit is due to Anthony Lowe, who not only provided expert claim assistance, but also made sure Chavez had the support he needed when recalling traumatic events from his military service. Lowe was recently appointed as the VFW’s Associate Director of Economic Opportunity & Transition Policy. In his new role, he develops organizational strategy to implement the VFW’s programs and policies. Even with his increased duties, Lowe maintains VA accreditation and continues to share expert VA claim assistance as a veteran service officer.  Lowe says, “These claims aren’t only about financial compensation — they’re about getting the VA to recognize that they are no longer the same person after their military service. Their lives have been changed, and in Mr. Chavez’s case, forever changed due to his experiences during the Vietnam War.” Chavez served in the Air Force, and achieved the rank of master sergeant. Like so many veterans, he suffered with undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) for years before finally going through the VA examinations he needed to obtain benefits.  While serving in the Vietnam War, Chavez endured several horrific tragedies. A night permanently etched in his memory began with a mortar attack on his barracks. Chavez was returning home from dinner when he saw the wooden dorms go up in a blaze. He ran to pull friends out of the fire, but for many, it was already too late. “Some were still alive,” he said, “but others were nothing but bones and skin. I buried this memory for decades…” Chavez continued his military career, and retired after 24 years of honorable service. He held numerous leadership positions, and worked with the Social Actions Office to increase recognition of female and minority officers. He said, “The best aspect of my military service was serving as a first sergeant for three squadrons for three years, until I retired in 1992. At this assignment I was able to truly assist and aid our ‘total force,’ 24/7!” He previously tried to increase his VA rating, but a negative experience with a VA physician — coupled with his struggle with undiagnosed PTS — caused Chavez to abandon the process.  Lowe understood the overwhelming pain Chavez felt when recalling certain events from his service. So in a break from procedure, he volunteered to go with Chavez to his psychiatric exam. “We went through talking points and brought the meticulous records Chavez had kept to the appointment. He made it through the entire interview and kept his composure. I was so proud of him,” Lowe said. “In less than six months, his rating went from 10% to 90% (later increased to 100%).” When asked what advice he had for other veterans going through the VA claims process, Lowe said, “I would encourage all veterans to seek help from an accredited veteran service officer. We know the process and can help a veteran navigate that process.” “We all took the same Oath, so whether you served 50 years or five months ago — you earned these benefits.” Learn more about the VFW’s National Veterans Service (NVS) program, or find a VFW Service Officer near you. More articles from the VFW: Convention in Kansas City: The ‘City of Fountains’ Welcomes VFW Members Citizenship Through Military Service Learning about Lobbying Bataan Memorial March Attracts Record Numbers   
Davy Leghorn, assistant director of The American Legion's National Veterans Employment and Education Division, testified June 7 before the Subcommittee on Investigation, Oversight and Regulation. Leghorn’s testimony focused on the challenges facing veteran-owned small businesses operating as wholesale distributors under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Surgical Prime Vendor-Next Generation (MSPV-NG) program. “MSVP Next Generation not only reduces federal contracts for veteran-owned businesses, but also sidesteps the rule of two,” Leghorn said. “Privatizing the functions of the VA Office of Acquisitions and Logistics presents a conflict of interest and harms small businesses.” The “rule of two” is an obligation for government purchasing officials to conduct market research. If it validates that two small businesses can do the job at a fair and reasonable price, then the contract is set aside to be awarded to small businesses. The Veterans Health Care, Benefits and Information Technology Act of 2006 intended for the VA to adhere to the rule of two even after they have met the minimum goals for utilizing service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. This was affirmed by the Kingdomware Tech. Inc. v. United States Supreme Court decision in 2016. Since then, the VA has created internal regulations and policies to work around the court’s ruling, leveraging the narrative that veterans’ lives are at stake due to the burden placed upon them by the decision. “We believe VA is the most qualified to deliver health care services to veterans, and we want them to step up to their responsibilities,” Leghorn said. “The intimation that the adherence to the Vets First procurement priorities could potentially cause catastrophic disruption to the health care supply chain is markedly false.” To help the VA carry out their mission of serving America’s veterans, Congress established the Veterans First Contracting Program, also known as Vets First. This program gives the VA authority to award sole-source contracts to veteran-owned small businesses so long as they are a responsible source. The contract falls between $150,000 and $5 million, and the contract can be made at a reasonable price. “Despite this authority, the VA has continued to impede its own authority and work against the intentions of Congress by creating internal regulations and policies that make it harder to award contracts to veteran-owned small businesses,” said Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Miss. The VA filed a justification and approval to move thousands of medical products under the control of four prime vendors, according to Kelly. Many of these products could be purchased from veteran-owned small businesses. Instead, the VA is including small businesses at the subcontracting level and have provided no details for a plan. “The VA has used many excuses for these actions, the most common being that it’s too burdensome or too expensive to work with veteran-owned small businesses,” Kelly said. The American Legion is an advocate for reasonable number of federal contracts to be set aside for veteran-owned small businesses, according to Resolution No. 154. “It is clear from today’s discussion that the theory that contracting with veteran-owned small businesses is expensive and burdensome is nothing more than a misconception,” Kelly concluded. “Therefore, the VA needs to take their responsibility to help America’s veterans succeed in all aspects of life seriously. We shouldn’t try to meet goals for veterans — we should try to exceed them.”   More Legion Stories:
VFW Response to Joint U.S./North Korean Summit Statement 'We must have hope that this agreement will ... help bring closure to thousands of families of missing American servicemen from the Korean War' Washington — "We must have hope that this agreement will finally bring peace to the peninsula and help bring closure to thousands of families of missing American servicemen from the Korean War. The VFW salutes President Trump for bringing this issue to the table, and we thank the North Korean leader for agreeing to it. Now the hard work to bring the initiative to fruition begins.” — Keith Harman, National Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States   Read the Joint U.S./North Korean Summit Statement Read VFW’s letter to President Trump
June 14: VFW Salutes Flag Day and US Army’s Birthday VFW offers past and present soldiers its sincere gratitude KANSAS CITY, Mo. – June 14 is Flag Day as well as the United States Army’s 243rd birthday. The 1.7 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliary extends a happy birthday to all soldiers past and present, and to their families, too. You selflessly and faithfully protect the flag of a country you helped to create. You march behind it, been buried under it, and wear it proudly as you continue to protect and secure our nation and allies from tyranny and evil. Happy Birthday, Army. Hooah!
WASHINGTON — For the second consecutive year, a House committee blocked lawmakers from voting on a measure that aims to allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states where the drug is legal. The House Rules Committee shot down the measure Wednesday evening when deciding which amendments could be introduced during debate on the VA spending bill for the 2019 fiscal year. The spending bill is expected to move to the House floor this week. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., condemned the decision to deny consideration for his amendment, titled “Veteran Equal Access.” He blamed Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, the chairman of the Rules Committee. “For the second year, Pete Sessions has shown that he does not care about the health and well-being of our veterans – who are speaking out across the country,” Blumenauer said in a prepared statement. “By blocking this vote, Chairman Sessions has turned his back on our wounded warriors, commonsense, and the will of the American people. He should be ashamed.” Blumenauer argued the measure could pass through the House if lawmakers were given the chance to vote on it. The Rules Committee struck down the amendment last year when Blumenauer sought to make it part of the VA spending bill for the 2018 fiscal year. It passed in 2016 with a vote of 233-189 but was removed from the final spending bill that year during negotiations. Veterans Equal Access would allow VA doctors to recommend marijuana to veterans who are eligible for it under state laws. The VA currently prohibits its doctors from completing forms for patients that would admit them into medical marijuana programs. In addition to Blumenauer, nine Republicans and eight Democrats signed on as co-sponsors. “All they want is fair and equal treatment, and the ability to consult with their own physician on all treatment options,” Blumenauer said. In the past year, more veterans have rallied behind marijuana as a potential treatment for ailments such as chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and other health problems that disproportionately affect people with military service. Many people view it as an alternative to addictive opioids. The effort recently has made slight progress in Congress. In May, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs unanimously approved a bill that would push the VA to research the safety and effectiveness of medical marijuana. It’s uncertain when the bill might go to the full House for a vote. The American Legion began advocating for marijuana research two years ago. The group supports reclassifying it from the list of Schedule 1 drugs, which are defined as having no medical use – making research highly restricted.
FENTON, MI – Growth Management Group (GMG), the Michigan-based tax consulting firm which has recovered over $500M in specialized tax incentives for its clients nationwide since 2004, has just launched SparkMyResume, a free online tool designed to help certain job-seeking military veterans, the disabled, and others float their resume to the top of the stack. This free service pre-screens a job-seeker for potential tax credits — up to $9,600 — they may bring to any employer if hired, then generates a certificate for the applicant to attach to their resume.  This certificate is designed to pique the curiosity of the hiring manager. Compelled to learn more, the intrigued hiring manager can look up online the potential tax credit eligibility by entering the applicant’s unique Candidate ID# found on the certificate. Should the hiring manager decide to hire a tax-credit-qualified applicant, they can instantly activate GMG’s service to outsource the procurement process. “SparkMyResume effectively bridges the gap between awareness & implementation of hiring tax credits,” notes Wynn Yin, a Senior Advisor with GMG.  “Not only are job-seekers now able to benefit themselves and educate prospective employers through this service, but now we’ve made it easy for employers to actually cash in on these tax credits without having to do it themselves and go through the hassle of learning how to process the paperwork.  It’s a win-win for everybody.” A noteworthy aspect of this service is that a candidate’s exact reason for tax credit eligibility is withheld from prospective employers. Previously, in order to play the “hire-me-I-come-with-a-tax-credit” hand, a candidate must disclose their reason for eligibility. SparkMyResume now helps the applicant retain their ability to disclose their disability or veteran status, for example, at their discretion. SparkMyResume primarily screens for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC).  WOTC was created to incentivize employers to hire individuals belonging to certain disadvantaged groups, including select military veterans, disadvantaged youths, those on government subsidy programs, and the long-term unemployed.  For more information on WOTC, please visit the U.S. Department of Labor website. Register for a free account at to see if you’re eligible to generate your free tax credit certificate.
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. thanks President Donald Trump for signing the VA MISSION Act. The VA MISSION Act was the result of a bipartisan and bicameral effort led by Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson, Ranking Member Sen. Jon Tester and House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Rep. Phil Roe. The legislation passed in the House on May 16 with a vote of 347-70. The Senate passed the bill on May 23 with a vote of 92-5.  “President Trump signaled his support for this bill early on in the process which shows that he puts veterans before politics,” said Keith Harman, national commander of the 1.7-million member VFW and its Auxiliary. “This historic legislation will help our veterans get the care they earned when they joined the military.”  “The VFW and other veteran service organizations worked closely with Congress and the White House to help create a carefully negotiated bipartisan deal with the fingerprints of veterans who rely on the VA all over it,” he said.  The VA MISSION Act will improve the Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability to hire high-quality health care professionals, streamline VA community care programs, expand caregiver benefits to pre-9/11 veterans and create a process to examine VA’s capital infrastructure to better serve veterans.  “The VA MISSION Act will help improve the care our veterans get at the VA while leveraging the capabilities of the private sector when needed. It will help recruit the best talent at the VA, which is what our veterans deserve, and it also extends caregiver benefits to every veteran who needs it,” Harman said. 
Are you a veteran who wants to be a pilot? The Department of Transportation has a new program just for you. The Forces to Flyers program is a three-year research initiative led by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) and its Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. This program is designed to help ease the critical shortage of commercial pilots. HOW IS THIS PROGRAM DIFFERENT FROM THE GI BILL? If you want to use the GI Bill to get commercial flight certification you must already have a private pilot's license. You aren't eligible to participate in this program if you already have your private pilot’s license. However, you can enter the program and get your private pilot's license then use your GI Bill for the remainder of the program. To participate in this program you must have: A first-class medical certificate, A student pilot certificate, and A letter of reference from a previous or current commanding officer, teacher/instructor/professor, or supervisor/manager. HOW MUCH DOES THE PROGRAM COST? Under the Forces to Flyers program flight schools must deduct $13,526from the cost of training. This amount represents the 100% annual benefit level for the Post-9/11 GI Bill for vocational flight school training. So, if you are eligible for the GI Bill you could possibly get certified for free. If you don't have GI Bill eligibility you will have to come up with the $13,526 yourself. WHAT EXACTLY DOES THIS TRAINING ENTAIL? This is an accelerated training program, some people have reported completing it in 4 months. According to the DOT, flight schools offering this training will provide the training necessary for up to 40 students to earn the following certificates and ratings: Private Pilot Certificate Instrument Rating Commercial Pilot Certificate Multi-Engine Rating Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) Certificate CFI-Instrument (CFI-I) Certificate                                                        After receiving a CFI-I Certificate, participants will be able to seek employment as flight instructors while obtaining the flight hours necessary to qualify for an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP) and become an airline pilot. WHAT SCHOOLS ARE PARTICIPATING IN THE PROGRAM? Currently, this is a test program to determine the interest in a training program for veterans to become pilots. As such, there are only four schools nationwide participating: Western Pacific/Northwest/Mountain/Alaskan Region: Leading Edge Aviation, Inc. – Bend, Oregon Central/Great Lakes Region: CTI Professional Flight Training, LLC – Millington, Tennessee Southwest Region: U.S. Aviation Group, LLC – Denton, Texas Eastern/Southern Region: CTI Professional Flight Training, LLC – Fort Lauderdale, Florida HOW DO I ENROLL IN THE PROGRAM? Since this is a test program, vacancies are extremely limited, so don't delay in applying if you are interested. Check out the Dept. of Transportation Forces To Flyers website for details.
Members of VFW Post 1926 in Simsbury, Conn., hope a new program will allow them to be more involved in the lives of veterans who need help (Pictured) Members of Cub Scout Den 11, of Boy Scout Pack 276 in Simsbury, Conn., were recognized for donating $486 to the Post’s Adopt-a-Vet program. The four Cub Scouts, in the front row, responsible for the donation are: (from left to right) Brett Osborne, Dylan Soto, Aiden Drake and Phelps Merriman. Caleb Deems, who is missing from the photo, also participated. Those in the back row are: (from left to right) Post Commander John Romano; Den Leader Suzanne Osborne; her son, Josh; Post Quartermaster John Lamb; and Senior-Vice Commander John Fox. The Post’s long-standing veterans’ relief fund program wasn’t getting the job done, said Post 1926 Senior Vice Commander John Fox. That’s why the Post started the Adopt-a-Vet program last year. It not only helps veterans financially, but also helps them find jobs, transportation and housing. It also gives veterans additional help as time goes on, and veterans are given goals to meet in order to receive help from the program. “It’s about accountability,” Fox said. “It’s not only accountability for the veterans, but for us, too. We want to make sure we are providing the help that the veterans need and to be a safety net for them if we need to be in the future.” The new program is led by co-chairs Fox, a Vietnam War veteran who was an electrician’s mate in the Navy from 1968-72, and Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran Jason Lill, a retired Army National Guard chief warrant officer 5 who was a helicopter and fixed-wing pilot.   “Our goal is to give a hand up — not a hand out,” Fox said. “We don’t want to just give veterans a grant to pay their bills. We want to give those veterans help and guidance to get them back on their own two feet and not let them fall into traps that made them dependent to begin with.” Fox said the program ensures that veterans have goals and that the proper help is given in order for them to succeed. “We sit down with the veteran and have a conversation about what their needs are, and lay out a plan for them,” Fox said. “We help them through every step.” The first veteran to receive help through the program was a homeless veteran named Matt. He was a Marine stationed at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Fox said Matt suffers from depression and was discharged from the Marine Corps because of his condition. The Adopt- a-Vet program helped Matt secure a job, find a place to live and provided him with a car that was donated from a local resident. In December, the Simsbury Cub Scout Den 11 of Boy Scout Pack 276 donated $486 to Post 1926’s Adopt-a-Vet program. “It was great receiving that donation from Cub Scouts,” Fox said. “For them to be so young and take the initiative to raise that money for veterans is a story in itself.”