AMVETS in Action

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Poster and Essay Contest Winners

AADAA Contest Winners

Kindergarten – 2nd Grade
Dayton Dawson, Baltimore, MD – 1st Place
Latonia Harris, Killeen, TX – 2nd Place
Alexadra Helbing, Berwick, PA – 3rd Place

3rd – 5th Grade
Madisyn Fogle, Sabillasville, MD – 1st Place
Brianna Hoyle, Lincoln, NE – 2nd Place
Jiselle Sanchez, Killeen, TX – 3rd Place

6th – 8th Grade
Jeremy Jackson, Rosedale, MD – 1st Place
Avery Johnson, Hayes Center, NE – 2nd Place
Lauren R. Reinhart, Lititz, PA – 3rd Place

9th – 12th Grade
James Stauss, Grand Island, NE – 1st Place
Rachael Lozano, Mexia, TX – 2nd Place
Austin Growney, Fawn Grove, PA – 3rd Place

Americanism Contest Winners

Kindergarten
Ethan Peppers, Paris, TN – 1st Place
Aubrey Phillips, Toledo, OH – 2nd Place
Erika Cruikshank, Valley, NE – 3rd Place

1st Grade
Adrian Lang, Bismarck, ND – 1st Place
Meghan Eagle, Kannapolis, NC – 2nd Place
Anthony Hoyle, Lincoln, NE – 3rd Place

2nd Grade
Alexandria Helbing, Berwick, PA – 1st Place
Jasper Mitchell, Grand Rapids, MI – 2nd Place
Grace Johnson, Stafford, NH – 3rd Place

3rd Grade
Kacy Eggebrecht, Phillips, WI – 1st Place
Lynna Vu, Anaheim, CA – 2nd Place
Libby Kadrmas, Bismarck, ND – 3rd Place

4th Grade
Adrianna Oto, Monroeville, PA – 1st Place
Laci Hartman, Shasta Lake CA – 2nd Place
Ed Rosenthal, Arlington, NE – 3rd Place

5th Grade
James Corley Sanders, Trout, LA – 1st Place
Jada Eggebrecht, Phillips, WI – 2nd Place (TIE)
Brianna Hoyle, Lincoln, NE – 2nd Place (TIE)
Ellora Chapin, Milton, NH – 3rd Place

6th Grade
Peter Sinclair, Wortham, TX – 1st Place
Grace Barto, Findlay, OH – 2nd Place
James Mackinder, Grand Rapids, MI – 3rd Place

7th Grade
Dalton Rudd, Ellsinore, MO – 1st Place
Jack Conrad, Findlay, OH – 2nd Place
Chloe Hoffschneider, Blair, NE – 3rd Place

8th Grade
Madison Oliverio, Carlisle, PA – 1st Place
Alejandra Collier, Liberty Hill, TX – 2nd Place
Trevor Lambert, Columbus Grove, OH – 3rd Place

10th Grade
Kenneth Ray Gregg III, Robinson, TX – 1st Place
Pierce C. Burgin, Sewell, NJ – 2nd Place
Hunter Olstad, Valley City, ND – 3rd Place

11th Grade
Sarah Prohaszka, Armada, MI – 1st Place
Austin Stone, Newport, TN – 2nd Place
Rebecca Schmidt, Steele, ND – 3rd Place

12th Grade
Rachel Trexler, Lexington, NC – 1st Place
Michael Wilt, Washington Court House, OH – 2nd Place
Matthew M. King, Poplar Bluff, MO – 3rd Place

America Works Campaign

America Works Because... Download PDF file
Click to download
Download your postcard here. Learn how to print double-sided here, courtesy of Adobe.

Use the space on the back of the postcard to tell us why you think America Works! When you mail in your post card, AMVETS will collect and sort it with the others. It will then be hand-placed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for Veteran’s Day 2015.

Don’t have a printer? Fill out the form below and submit your thoughts digitally!

There are more than 1.2 Million post cards being distributed this Summer, 2015. Please take the time to share one with family, friends, grandchildren, neighbors and any other members of your community. We invite you to come see it on the National Mall on Veteran’s Day, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

Twitter: @mericaworks #mericaworks

AMVETS Supports Veterans, Not Politicos

Lanham, MD – In response to the comments over the weekend from Donald Trump in regard to Senator McCain’s military service and record on VA reform, AMVETS (American Veterans), National Communications Director, David Gai, issued the following statement on behalf of AMVETS.

“When the dust settles and the rhetoric is gone, what is the true impact on veterans? Let the politicos open their mouths and insert their foot. That’s what they do; they don’t need our help. We refuse to sink low and get involved in the mud-slinging and political jabs because it has no benefit to supporting veterans, which is our organization’s focus.”

For media inquiries, please contact amvetscomms2@amvets.org.

About AMVETS:
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit www.amvets.org.

AFGE Opposes VA Accountability Act

Congress’ latest attempt to reform the Department of Veterans Affairs by expanding firing authority to include all employees has been met with stringent opposition from the American Federation of Government Employees.

Last year, Congress passed the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. This piece of legislation allowed Robert McDonald, the secretary of the VA, to fire senior executives in the department. Critics noted that the act neglected a very large portion of the employee population also engaged in questionable activities.

Some have pointed out that the legislation doesn’t have much to show for itself. Since it was passed, McDonald has only fired two senior executives. Those firings came within the last couple of months, which is over a year after President Barack Obama signed the legislation. None of the firings were in connection with manipulated waitlists. Two executives at the Phoenix VA, the branch which kicked off the scandal resulting in increased scrutiny of the department, are still on paid leave.

Firing regular employees is also incredibly difficult. In another recent example, it took more than a year to fire a VA employee in Alabama who brought a veteran suffering from drug addiction to a crack house and left him for the night. Legislators have continually expressed frustration in hearings that the VA has refused to exercise any measure of internal accountability for inexcusable mistakes and problematic behavior.

A new House bill, HR 1994, aims to expand firing authority to all VA employees. Veterans’ advocates like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, have backed the VA Accountability Act of 2015. The bill would allow McDonald to remove employees for performance or misconduct.

Employees would be permitted to file a claim with the Merit Systems Protection Board within seven days, which then would need to provide a decision in 45 days.

When testifying before the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on the Senate version of the bill, Pete Hegseth, CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, stated that “all VA workers will retain the same federal protections afforded other government workers. S.1082 simply condenses the appeal and adjudication period for fired workers—placing them on unpaid administrative leave in the process. VA workers retain full protections and full appeal rights; they just won’t be sitting on paid administrative leave for months and years.”

But a union representing federal government workers stands in the way. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) argues that the move would endanger its employees.

Beth Moten, legislative and political director for AFGE, asked legislators in a letter to oppose the legislation, saying House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman Jeff Miller misrepresented the purpose of HR 1994. According to Moten, the bill removes fundamental due process rights from employees, including the small subset of whistleblowers.

But Shaun Rieley, outreach and research analyst at Concerned Veterans for America, thinks the fears over decreased protections for whistleblowers are over-hyped.

“The legislation plainly states that the Secretary cannot use this new power against whistleblowers who have an active case with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC),” Rieley told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

While Moten does take note of this provision in the letter, she thinks the legislation will create a perverse incentive and overwhelm OSC with bogus claims from employees who are only declaring whistleblower status to avoid termination.

“This is unlikely, not least because it’s not exactly true that the employees will be “at will” — they still must be fired for cause, and the burden of proof remains the same under the new law,” Rieley added. “The difference is that if the Secretary determines that the employee needs to be terminated, and the OSC approves, the employee can be immediately relieved, instead of the red-tape that currently keeps bad employees from simply being shifted to another assignment, or being placed on taxpayer-paid leave for months.

Courtesy of Jonah Bennett, The Daily Caller

Republishing does not constitute endorsement or political stance of AMVETS. For an official statement, please contact the Communications Department.

AMVETS Featured on SCOUT Military Discounts

Every month, SCOUT Military Discounts​ selects two nonprofits to be featured on their loading screen. #AMVETS will be featured for the second half of July, from the 15th-31st as the Scout Featured Nonprofit of the Month.

SCOUT Military Discounts is the most comprehensive military discount app. It puts information about hundreds of thousands of military discounts, freebies and more at the fingertips of veterans, active military & their families. SCOUT is now available on iOS and Google Play.

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Find #SCOUT on Google Play and iOS.

www.scoutmilitarydiscounts.com

Daddy’s Deployed Helps Military Children Cope

This Company Helps Military Children Cope When their Parents Deploy

One toddler helped inspire a company that now helps hundreds of military children deal with one of the most stressful times of their lives: seeing their parents leave for deployment.

“It doesn’t have to be sad,” said Bridget Platt, the founder and CEO of Daddy’s Deployed and wife of a Marine Corps aviator. “And that’s what I wanted to do. Create this story where [kids] are the star even if their family is separated at the time.”

Founded in 2012, Platt’s company creates custom-designed children’s books that explain where mom or dad are going, what they’ll be doing, and how they’ll stay in touch through tools like Skype. The first book she ever created was for her own daughter, with pictures of the family literally cut out and glued onto the pages.

But her inspiration came three years before, while working with a two-year-old girl named Claire at the child development center on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.

“She was perfectly behaved, would eat every meal, play outside, and she shared. She was potty-trained and would nap everyday,” Platt said. “And then her dad deployed and all of that changed. She started having accidents. She wouldn’t eat. She would literally cry out for him at naptime. And I remember thinking that somebody has to do something to help these kids but I was just too far from it at that point. We were newlyweds. We didn’t have any children so I couldn’t wrap my head around what that concept might be.”

Once she had her own children, and with the help of her brother — a Harvard Business School graduate — she put together a business plan, copyrighted a logo, and brought on a great illustrator to help with creating the book’s artwork.

Now, parents can go on the Daddy’s Deployed website (there’s a Mommy’s version as well) and order their books, after putting in their information such as their name and rank, branch of service, what kind of job they have, and their children’s names. In about three weeks, Platt and her team will send back a personalized book with the family drawn into their own story.

“The whole point of it is that when the kids open page one they see their family in the story,” Platt said. “They see themselves in the story. They see their dog in the story. So that they know that it’s this happy, brightly colored vision of what their life could be or is going to be.”

Beyond the custom books relating to deployments, Platt told We Are The Mighty she has plans to expand her offerings. The company recently launched a book about military moves, and it is currently looking into selling eBooks and other interactive materials, such as audiobooks where the deployed parent can read the story to their loved ones.

“My favorite thing is when people first look at the book that didn’t know about the company beforehand,” she said. “The most common thing that is said to me is, ‘why didn’t I think of this?’ And that shows me that there was a problem and we are answering it. And that is the best thing. My response is always the same: ‘I’m really glad you didn’t.’ But in my mind I’m like, ‘Yes! Thank you for saying that.’”

You can see more of Platt’s work on her company’s Facebook page or website.


Paul Szoldra
Executive Editor at We Are The Mighty

After serving nearly a decade in the U.S. Marines, Paul created Duffel Blog, a site often called “The Onion of the military.” Before joining WATM, he reported on defense, tech, and breaking news as the west coast editor for Business Insider. You can learn more at his website.


More from We Are The Mighty

About We Are the Mighty
We Are The Mighty (WATM) is the first entertainment and lifestyle brand for and by the military community and those who love it. We create and distribute authentic content across all genres and platforms that entertains, informs and celebrates military life.

VA Expands Disability Benefits for Air Force Personnel

VA Expands Disability Benefits for Air Force Personnel Exposed to Contaminated C-123 Aircraft

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today published a new regulation that expands eligibility for some benefits for a select group of Air Force Veterans and Air Force Reserve personnel who were exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange through regular and repeated contact with contaminated C-123 aircraft that had been used in Vietnam as part of Operation Ranch Hand (ORH).

VA published this regulation as an interim final rule so that it could immediately begin providing benefits to eligible Air Force veterans and Air Force Reserve personnel who submit a disability compensation claim for any of the 14 medical conditions that have been determined by VA to be related to exposure to Agent Orange.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald made the decision to expand benefits following receipt of a 2015 report by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM) on Post-Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange-Contaminated C-123 Aircraft. This VA-requested report found evidence that as many as 1,500 to 2,100 Air Force and Air Force Reserve personnel who served as flight, medical and ground maintenance crew members on ORH C-123 aircraft previously used to spray Agent Orange in Vietnam were exposed to the herbicide.

“Opening up eligibility for this deserving group of Air Force veterans and reservists is the right thing to do,” said Secretary McDonald. “We thank the IOM for its thorough review that provided the supporting evidence needed to ensure we can now fully compensate any former crew member who develops an Agent Orange-related disability.”

Under this new rule, Air Force and Air Force Reserve flight, medical and ground maintenance crewmembers who served on the contaminated ORH C-123s are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides during their service, thus making it easier for them to establish entitlement for some VA benefits if they develop an Agent Orange-related presumptive condition. In addition, for affected Air Force Reserve crew members, VA will presume that their Agent Orange-related condition had its onset during their Reserve training. This change ensures that these reservists are eligible for VA disability compensation and medical care for any Agent Orange-related presumptive condition, and that their surviving dependents are eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation and burial benefits.

The interim final rule can be found on the Federal Register: www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection. VA will immediately begin processing claims and issuing benefits to eligible Air Force crew members.

VA encourages reservists who were assigned to flight, ground or medical crew duties at Lockbourne/Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio (906th and 907th Tactical Air Groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadron), Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts (731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron) or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, International Airport ( 758th Airlift Squadron) during the period 1969 to 1986, and developed an Agent Orange-related disability to file a disability compensation claim online through the joint VA-Department of Defense web portal, eBenefits (https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/).

VA also has identified several active duty locations where ORH C-123 aircraft may have been used following their service in Vietnam. Active duty personnel who served in a regular USAF unit location where a contaminated C-123 was assigned and who had regular and repeated contact with the aircraft through flight, ground or medical duties during the period 1969 to 1986, and who develop an Agent Orange-related disability, also are encouraged to apply for benefits. For more information on applying for these benefits, including the affected units, Air Force Specialty Codes and dates of service for affected crew members, and a listing of Agent Orange-related conditions, visit www.benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/claims-postservice-agent_orange.asp.

In order to avoid unnecessary delay of benefits, claimants should annotate “(C-123)” after each Agent Orange related disability in Part II, Block 14 of VA Form 21-526 or Section I, Block 11 of VA

Form VA Form 21-526EZ when filing on eBenefits. Example: Diabetes (C-123). If claimants have any of the following documents, they should be attached to their application:

  • Discharge, separation papers, (DD214 or equivalent)
  • USAF Form 2096 (unit where assigned at the time of the training action)
  • USAF Form 5 (aircraft flight duties)
  • USAF Form 781 (aircraft maintenance duties)
  • Dependency records (marriage & children’s birth certificates)
  • Medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports)

VA will process all claims related to C-123 exposure at the St. Paul, Minnesota, VA Regional Office. Claims not filed through eBenefits should be mailed to the following address (or faxed to 608-373-6694):

Department of Veterans Affairs
Claims Intake Center
Attention: C123 Claims
PO Box 5088
Janesville, WI 53547-5088

Individuals with specific benefit questions related to herbicide exposure on C-123s may call VA’s special C-123 Hotline at 1-800-749-8387 (available 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. EST) or e-mail VSCC123.VAVBASPL@va.gov.

2015 Scholarship Recipients

WASHINGTON DC – AMVETS announced the 2015 recipients of its National Scholarship Program recently.

Graduating high school seniors selected to receive four-year undergraduate scholarships of $4,000 are:

  • Karl Salzmann of East Northport, New York
  • Ryan Kinney of Matthews, North Carolina
  • Alexis Scott of Powder Springs, Georgia
  • Michael Thompson of Elizabethtown, Kentucky
  • Kendall Langum of Friendswood, Texas
  • Haley Kestler of Santa Maria, California

Graduating high school senior selected as the $1,000.00 scholarship recipient of the JROTC scholarship:

  • Mathieu Zamora of Colton, California

Veterans selected to receive four-year scholarships of $4,000.00 are:

  • Kacey Milligan of Winston Salem, North Carolina
  • Benjamin Elliott of Mount Clemens, Michigan
  • Bobby Linnane of Lewiston, New York

Veterans selected to receive the Dr. Aurelio M. Caccomo Family Foundation Memorial Scholarship of $3,000.00:

  • Kiel Edson of Pasadena, Maryland
  • Franklin Palacios of Portland Oregon

Veteran selected to receive The Henry G. Huestis Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $1,000.00:

  • Jo Young Chan of Newton Highlands, Massachusetts

The winners were selected on the basis of academic excellence and financial need. Since its inception in the 1950s, the AMVETS National Scholarship Program has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships to veterans and graduating high school students who are sons and daughters or grandchildren of American veterans.

University of Phoenix and AMVETS Offer Full-Tuition Scholarships

Scholarship program provides active-duty service members, their families and veterans with education opportunities this Memorial Day

LANHAM, Md, May 22, 2015 — University of Phoenix and AMVETS, a vocal advocate for veterans’ education, are committed to helping America’s military stand out among job seekers in today’s competitive employment landscape and pursue their civilian career. To reinforce that commitment, the University and AMVETS are awarding 20 full-tuition scholarships to active-duty service members, eligible family members and veterans to pursue an undergraduate or master’s degree from University of Phoenix. AMVETS has teamed with University of Phoenix since 2007, offering 345 scholarships in appreciation of the sacrifice these individuals make for the country and to assist them in transitioning from the military to the civilian sector.

“We must do all we can to help all veterans, particularly our post-9/11 veterans, attain their educational goals as they strive to make a successful reintegration back into the civilian world,” said AMVETS National Commander Larry Via. “We are so very grateful for our long standing education partnership with University of Phoenix, and extremely proud to announce the new scholarships available. This commitment will truly change the lives of those selected.”

“We all have a responsibility to the servicemen and women who have and continue to protect our freedoms, including helping them prepare for careers as they transition from military to civilian life,” said University of Phoenix Military Relations Vice President retired Army Col. Garland Williams. “University of Phoenix and AMVETS share a common mission in providing America’s active-duty service members, their families and veterans access to the education they need to enhance their professional skills and pursue their career goals.”

Applications for the 2015 University of Phoenix AMVETS Scholarship are being accepted now through Sept. 8, 2015, and scholarship recipients will be announced on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2015.

More information on the 2015 University of Phoenix AMVETS Scholarships, including eligibility requirements, terms and conditions and how to apply can be found at www.phoenix.edu/amvetscholar.

About AMVETS
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserve. To learn more, visit www.amvets.org.

About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.

AMVETS Announces Summer Sweepstakes Winners

LANHAM, MD, May 21, 2015 — AMVETS leaders this week congratulated AMVETS 2015 Memorial Day Weekend Sweepstakes grand prize winner Robert Davis. AMVETS National Commander Larry Via personally called Mr. Davis to congratulate him on winning the $10,000 sweepstakes grand prize.

AMVETS selected the 10 lucky sweepstakes winners from over 100,000 entries from around the country for prizes ranging from $500 to the $10,000 grand prize. The drawing took place today at the AMVETS National Headquarters in Lanham, MD.

Proceeds from the sweepstakes will help support AMVETS’ continuing mission to deliver quality of life programs for veterans and their families. Be sure to look for the next AMVETS Sweepstakes entry form in the mail in September 2015.

2015 Memorial Day Weekend Sweepstakes winners:
$10,000.00 – Robert Davis, Newark, DE
$5,000.00 – Rita Ludlum, Skillman, NJ
$2,500.00 – Anthony J, Picciuto, Grosse Ile, MI
$1,000.00 – Steven R. Clark, Lakewood, OH
$500.00 – Alice S. Dempsey, Barboo, WI
$500.00 – Gerald Maccombs, Elyria, OH
$500.00 – Gary E. Haines, Middleton, NH
$500.00 – Robert H. Boyd, Orange City, FL
$500.00 – Charles David Petty, Callaway, FL
$500.00 – Les Henriksen, Fort Wayne, IN

About AMVETS:
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more visit www.amvets.org.

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