Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Memorial Day Message From Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki


A Memorial Day Message
From Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki

WASHINGTON (May 24, 2013) -- This weekend, Americans in large numbers will visit our national cemeteries and other final resting places to honor their loved ones, their friends, neighbors, colleagues, even some unknown to them—men and women who gave their lives in defense of our Nation. 

Memorial Day is a time to reflect on their service and their sacrifice, even as our Armed Forces are performing difficult and dangerous missions in distant lands.  They continue to safeguard our American way of life.

Memorial Day is set aside to honor the more than one million of our fellow citizens who have fallen in battle since the founding of our Republic.  Their service helped to shape us as a Nation and secured, for us and our friends and allies, our security in a troubled world.  Except for their service, we all would be facing different circumstances today. 

During World War II, American forces literally helped to save the world from tyranny and oppression.  Those who marched to the guns in the 1950’s saved a Nation.  And the most devastating conflict in our history, the American Civil War, preserved a Union that would, within a hundred years, emerge as a world power, dedicated to preserving freedom and liberty. 

Every generation has done its duty, just as today’s 1.37 million members of our Armed Forces are doing theirs under difficult circumstances.

On Memorial Day, their service in uniform stands in contrast to our ball games and backyard barbeques.  Our defenders are ordinary Americans performing extraordinary deeds, bearing all the risks for our way of life.  In remembering the Fallen, we honor the men and women who kept faith with our enduring principles of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  We remember, as well, those who keep the faith today and honor their patriotism, valor, dedication, and loyalty.

A memorial written by Civil War-era orator, Robert Green Ingersoll, eloquently captures the significance of Memorial Day for all generations of our Fallen:

They died for liberty—they died for us.  They are at rest. 
They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless. . . . Earth may run red with other wars, but they are at peace.
In the midst of battles, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.

I join with all VA employees in honoring those who have been called to the Altar of Freedom, in offering prayers for them and their families, who sacrifice still today, and in asking for the Almighty’s continued blessings on this great Nation.

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The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 70,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day message from National Commander Jim Koutz

Dear Legion Family Members and Friends,
All of us cherish the memories of our fallen comrades, friends or loved ones.
Not a day goes by when I don’t think about the friends I’ve lost. I think about the young 20-somethings I knew from Vietnam who made the supreme sacrifice serving our nation. I think about the heroes from other eras – the Great Wars, Korea, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan – who gave their lives so all of us could enjoy our freedoms.
This weekend, of course, another Memorial Day is upon us. I hope that you will join me in remembering to honor not only veterans who were close to you but also all of our veterans who gave their all. While the mass media often makes this weekend out to be about barbecues and department store sales, it is up to each one of us to remind our communities about the true meaning of this day.
I also encourage you to take a moment and visit The American Legion’s new web page dedicated to honor and remembrance, www.legion.org/honor. Scores of wonderful tributes to the men and women who served our nation with honor, courage and dignity can be found there.
Some of these tributes were contributed by the veterans themselves, or their family members. It’s easy – and free – to add your story, or your family’s legacy, to this growing collection of American military history. Just visitwww.legiontown.org to submit a story, or read more about how to participate here or here.
Thank you for what you do every day – for veterans, their families and the communities in which they live. May our fallen never be forgotten.

For God and Country,
 
James E. Koutz
National Commander

The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 70,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.

Friday, May 17, 2013

VA Mandates Overtime to Increase Production of Compensation Claims Decisions


Press Release from VA

 VA Mandates Overtime to Increase Production of Compensation Claims Decisions
Latest Initiative aimed at reducing the backlog

WASHINGTON (May 15, 2013) – As part of its ongoing effort to accelerate the elimination of the disability compensation claims backlog, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is announcing today that it is mandating overtime for claims processors in its 56 regional benefits offices. This surge, which will be implemented through the end of fiscal year 2013, will be targeted to eliminating the backlogged status of claims. The additional overtime hours that will be worked during this period will be used to help eliminate the backlog with continued emphasis on high-priority claims for homeless Veterans and those claiming financial hardship, the terminally ill, former Prisoners of War, Medal of Honor recipients, and Veterans filing Fully Developed Claims.

“VA is dedicated to providing Veterans with the care and benefits they have earned and deserve,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. “This increased overtime initiative will provide more Veterans with decisions on their claims and will help us achieve our goal of eliminating the claims backlog.”

This is the latest effort in support of the Secretary’s plan to reduce the backlog. Last month, the VA announced an initiative to expedite compensation claims decisions for Veterans who have waited one year or longer.   On April 19, VA began prioritizing claims decisions for Veterans who have been waiting the longest, by providing provisional decisions that allow eligible Veterans to begin collecting compensation benefits quickly.  With a provisional decision, a Veteran has a year to submit additional information to support a claim before the decision becomes final.  More information can be foundhere.

“We’re committed to getting Veterans decisions on their claims as quickly and accurately as possible,” said Undersecretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “We need to surge our resources now to help those who have waited the longest and end the backlog.”

Claims for Wounded Warriors separating from the military for medical reasons will continue to be handled separately and on a priority basis with the Department of Defense through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES). On average, Wounded Warriors separating through IDES currently receive VA compensation benefits in 2 months following their separation from service.

Veterans can learn more about disability benefits on the joint Department of Defense—VA web portal eBenefits athttp://www.ebenefits.va.gov.

More information about filing Fully Developed Claims is available at: http://www.benefits.va.gov/transformation/fastclaims/

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The American Legion Department of Michigan represents over 70,000 members in the State of Michigan. The American Legion was founded in 1919, based on “The Four Pillars”; veteran rehabilitation, Americanism, child welfare, and national security and continued above all its mission as a consumers’ advocate for veterans. For more information contact the Michigan Legion at 517-371-4720 ext 16, mark@michiganlegion.org, or visit our website at www.michiganlegion.org.