Attention turns to Hispanic vets

The American Legion's Economic Division is focusing attention on the needs of Hispanic veterans, as demonstrated by two recent initiatives.

The division, along with the Department of Texas, on Oct. 26 attended the LATINA Style Heroes Initiative to help military servicemembers and veterans transition into the civilian workplace. This program was created in the spirit of empowerment for America's finest to be honored and celebrated due to their commitment and accomplishments in serving the country. Those who participated in the event in San Antonio were able to:

  • Learn what corporations are seeking in their search for veterans, transitional active-duty servicemembers and spouses.
  • Network with various local community vendors who are hiring veterans and military spouses.
  • Have their résumé reviewed by professionals.
  • Learn how to balance a military life as well as your personal life.

    Additionally, the Economic Division was interviewed on Oct. 16 by reporter Santiago Wills, Univision News, to discuss Hispanics in the military. The interview highlighted the perceptions and experiences Hispanic veterans transition from a military setting to a higher education setting. Also discussed, was how transitional educational programs of studies are designed to provide coping skills that foster resiliency so as to minimize stigmatization and traditional psychological interventions while increasing the likelihood of retention and graduation. Univision, a Spanish-language television network in the United States, has the largest audience of Spanish-language television viewers in the world according to Nielsen ratings.

In other news:

  • Obama signs military driving law: On Oct. 19, President Barack Obama signed into law Public Law 112-196, the Military Commercial Driver's License Act of 2012, which allows - but does not mandate - states to issue commercial driver's licenses to properly trained and skilled active-duty servicemembers and reservists living in a state due to their military service. The American Legion was the sole veterans service organization to formally support the legislation. The endorsement was part of the Legion's longstanding and continuing campaign to streamline the process of granting civilian licenses and credentials to appropriately trained and experienced military personnel and veterans.
  • Veterans jobless rate concerns Economic Division: The U.S. unemployment rate is 7.8 percent (September 2012). The rate for veterans of the Iraq war is 9.7 percent. Currently, the unemployment rate for women veterans is 19.9 percent, which is double that of their male counterparts. The Economic Division will follow up with DoL, DoD and the Office of Personnel Management to discuss and identify trends, challenges that face women veterans in finding meaningful employment.
  • Job fair events: On Oct. 11, a Legion-sponsored veterans hiring event was hosted by Morvay/Miley Post 524, in Ocean City, N.J. More than 60 employers and 200 job seekers attended. On Oct. 23, a similar event was held at the Bossier City Civic Center in Bossier City, La. There were 54 employers present and more than 200 veteran jobseekers. More than 100 veterans were interviewed, of which 14 were hired on the spot and 36 were provisional hires.
  • Silver Star honorees: The Department of Defense has added the names of those who have received Silver Star awards to its website listing recipients of the nation's highest awards for valor. The site was launched in July with the names of those who received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, since Sept. 11, 2001. 
  • Update on Flag Amendment bills: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, continues to solicit additional co-sponsors for Senate Joint Resolution 19, 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 co-sponsor total for the Senate legislation stands at 36. The companion bill in the House has 90 co-sponsors. Please contact your representatives' and senators' offices, and ask them to become co-sponsors of the flag amendment in their respective chambers. If they are already co-sponsors, be sure to thank them for their support.
  • Military review boards: The Military Review Boards staff assisted 33 former servicemembers with new, upcoming and pending petitions prepare their cases for review. Case development included 37 phone calls, 25 emails, six correspondences and three service officer inquiries.
  • Board of Veterans' Appeals: During the week ending Oct. 19, the Board of Veterans' Appeals reached dispositions on 199 American Legion-represented appeals. Of those dispositions, 74.3 percent of the denials were overturned with outcomes favorable to the veteran. In 58 cases, the board granted benefits outright after considering The American Legion's arguments. In 90 cases, the Legion was able to point out errors in the development of the veteran's claims which mandated corrective action under the law. Of the total number of dispositions, 41 (20.6 percent) were outright denials. Also during this period, the BVA Appeals Unit reviewed, prepared written Informal Hearing Presentations, and/or orally argued 175 veteran's appeals.