Nearly 200 veteran jobseekers attended an American Legion-sponsored Hiring Our Heroes job fair May 31 in Guyanilla, Puerto Rico.
The job fair fielded 28 employers, five service providers and a total of 182 job seekers. Overall there were 559 resumes accepted, 186 interviews conducted, 15 tentative job offers and eight on the spot hires. The event was sponsored and hosted by The American Legion Department of Puerto Rico. Partners included the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), The American Legion, Department of Labor, Department of Veteran Affairs and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR), and the Puerto Rico National Guard.
Meanwhile, the Economic Division met with the partners regarding the job fair that The American Legion will be co-hosting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the 95th National Convention in Houston this August. Partners include The American Legion Department of Texas, The Texas Veterans Commission, The American Legion Auxiliary, Greater Houston Partnership (local Chamber of Commerce) and the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR). The website and registration are up on the chamber's website, and the Economic Division has contacting nearly 100 employers in the Houston regarding participation.
Also last week, planning continued for job fairs in Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey and New York.
In other news:
Flag amendment: As another Flag Day approaches, support is still needed for a constitutional amendment to protect the American flag from desecration. On May 22, House Joint Resolution (H.J. Res.) 47 was introduced by Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama. This legislation is a proposed constitutional amendment to protect the American flag from physical desecration. Its text states simply: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." The measure now has nine co-sponsors.
The next task is finding more co-sponsors for this legislation. Please contact your representative and senators, and ask them to become cosponsors of the flag amendment in their respective chambers (supporting resolution ).
Obama signs Stolen Valor Act: On June 3, President Barack Obama signed P.L. 113-12 , the Stolen Valor Act of 2013. This law makes it a crime for individuals to knowingly benefit from false statements about receiving certain military awards and decorations. Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada – a fellow Legionnaire – introduced the bill in January, right after the start of the new Congress.
House Approves MilCon-VA Spending Measure: On June 4, the House of Representatives voted 421-4 to pass H.R. 2216, the fiscal year 2014 Military Construction and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) appropriations bill. It was the first spending bill for the upcoming fiscal year approved by the House, with the Homeland Security funding measure being approved two days later.
The legislation provides FY 2014 funding mainly for two accounts: Military Construction funding for the infrastructure to house, train, and equip military personnel, provide construction funds for projects pertaining to the quality of life of troops and their families, and for military base structure; and VA funding for veterans' benefits and programs. The measure now goes to the full House for passage.
The measure contains a total of $157.8 billion, with $9.95 billion going to Military Construction accounts, $147.58 billion being assigned to VA – $84.46 billion in mandatory spending and $63.12 billion in discretionary funds. The bill's total is $1.4 billion above the enacted level for FY 2013, and approximately $2.4 billion above the current level caused by automatic sequestration spending cuts, which do not affect the Veterans spending portion of the bill. This level is nearly $1.4 billion below the President's request for these programs. The increase is primarily due to advance funding approved last year for veterans' medical care and an increase in veterans' spending for benefits and programs, such as those to reduce the backlog in claims processing. Some of this funding is offset by reductions in the Military Construction portion of the bill.
Action Alert Update: The American Legion Legislative Division continues to work with the VA&R Division and Congress to ensure Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) leases are protected from a change in Congressional Budget Office scoring methods that threaten them.
Two weeks ago, an Action Alert was sent from the Washington, D.C., office requesting that American Legion members contact their members of Congress, urging them to sign on to a bipartisan, bicameral letter to House and Senate leadership prepared by Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Rep. Charles Boustany of Louisiana aimed at finding a solution to the problem. Almost 4,000 emails to Congress and the White House resulted from that alert. Next week adjutants in the 22 states currently affected will be notified and provided with one or more one-pager(s) describing how the facility or facilities in their state will be impacted should this issue not be addressed, along with the Action Alert link to continue the push to pressure Congress to solve this problem.
On Wednesday, June 5, 2013, Jacob Gadd, Deputy Director of Healthcare, and Edward Lilley, National Field Service Representative worked with Legislative to draft a generic email that will be sent to all department adjutants whose facilities will be impacted by the recent policy shift by Congress. With the policy shift, some currently operating clinics may have to close after their old leases expire and other long-planned expansions will not go forward. Within the email, the department adjutant will be given a link to the Action Alert that contains a prepared message that can be sent to their House and Senate representatives. Along with the generic email, there is a one or more one-pager(s) that describe how the facility or facilities could be impacted.
Veterans' access to health care in your state may be in jeopardy and we need your help.
A recent change in the way Congress approves new or expanded veterans' health clinics is affecting your department and we here at The American Legion national office in Washington, DC are writing today to notify you of this situation and request your assistance in spreading the word. We are hoping to generate as much public pressure as possible on your congressmen and senators to solve this issue. We need the Legion family to act!
If no action is taken, some currently operating clinics may have to close after their old leases expire and other long-planned expansions will not go forward. Veterans will then have to travel further and wait longer for needed treatment.
In May we sent out the following Action Alert on the issue which provides additional background and contains a prepared message which can be sent to your House and Senate Congressional Representatives.
The Action Alert is here .
Also, attached to this email is one or more one-pager(s) that describe how the facility or facilities in your state will be impacted should this issue not be addressed.
I appreciate your consideration on this matter and hope you can send this message to department leadership at the state, district and post levels to ensure Members of Congress in your state do the right thing by veterans.
Panel experts: Economic Division staff attended and participated on panels at the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities 2013 Annual Convention & Expo last week. Steve Gonzalez was a panel member on APSCU Best Practices for Military & Veterans Education and Implementation of the Principles of Excellence.
Twitter chat: The Economic Division and the Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service are planning their second joint Twitter chat on June 12.
Claims: During the week ending May 31, the Board of Veterans' Appeals reached dispositions on 105 American Legion represented appeals. Of those dispositions, 64.7 percent of the denials were overturned with outcomes favorable to the veteran. In 24 cases, the board granted benefits outright after considering The American Legion's arguments. In 44 cases, The American Legion was able to point out errors in the development of the veterans claims that mandated corrective action under the law. Of the total number of dispositions, 32 (30.5 percent) were outright denials.