A Community of Volunteers Serving Veterans, Military, and their Families

Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation

Department of Alaska
Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Chairman - 2020-2021
April Sinclair Email: a2sinclair2008@gmail.com

WHAT TO DO BEFORE A VETERAN DIES - A guide to pre-planning - Click to download

2020-2021 American Legion Auxiliary Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation

What is this program, and why do we have it?

The Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation program promotes our mission to enhance the lives of veterans, military and their families. Initiate, sponsor, and participate in programs and services that assist and enhance the lives of veterans and their families, ensuring restoration and/or transition to normally functioning lives physically, mentally, socially, and vocationally.

What can you do?

A) Assist in activities that help homeless veterans.

Ideas for an Individual Members and Units:

  • Give a helping hand to the Legion's homeless veteran coordinator in your department and offer to assist that coordinator in responding to requests for assistance from homeless veterans or homeless veteran service providers.
  • Crochet hats, scarves or mittens to be distributed to homeless veterans. Use information provided by your department chairman to contact the homeless veteran coordinator at the VA health care system nearest you to explore what the unit or you can do to help homeless veterans in your community.
  • Participate in the VA Project CHALENG organized by the VA health care system nearest to you. (Project CHALENG for Veterans enhances the care for homeless veterans provided by your local VA and its surrounding community service agencies.)
  • Contact your local post chairman and offer your assistance if requests for help come through the Legion’s Family Support Network (FSN).
  • Raise funds for local American Legion posts to help veterans and their families through the Family Support Network for veterans at risk of losing their housing or homeless veterans transitioning to permanent housing.
    • Make payments of overdue rent, utility payments or deposits and security deposits.
  • Host or volunteer at homeless veterans’ stand downs, events where homeless veterans receive free goods and services such as haircuts and medical exams.
  • Contact homeless veteran emergency shelters, transitional housing projects and permanent housing projects in your community and identify the organization's volunteer and in-kind contribution needs, including:
    • Meal preparation and serving
    • Clothes collection and distribution
    • Assembly and delivery of hygiene kits, buddy baskets
    • Purchasing or securing household items or furniture
  • Reach out to specific homeless veterans, such as residents of projects mentioned above to provide her/him practical, social and moral support.
  • Compile “blessing bags” to be given to the local police department or other organizations that deal with the homeless veteran population.
  • Create a “Tree of Warmth” by collecting scarves, mittens, hats and attaching them to a tree in a location the homeless frequent. Include a sign that says “Please Take if Needed,” “Free if Needed,” or something similar.

B) Support rehabilitation and healing of veterans through arts, crafts and hobbies.

National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF) NVCAF is the national, annual competition and festival that recognizes the progress and recovery made through recreation therapy and raises the visibility of the creative achievements of our nation’s veterans after disease, disability or life crisis. As the national presenting sponsor, the American Legion Auxiliary should strive to increase monetary support by encouraging departments to sponsor fundraisers that will contribute

Ideas for Individual Members and Units:

  • Obtain and become familiar with the ALA Guide for Volunteers.
  • Help your unit and department earn recognition at National Convention through donations to support VA Creative Arts Festivals. Volunteer individually, with a fellow member, or as a unit at a local Creative Arts Festival.
  • Identify arts, crafts and hobby projects targeted to veterans (such as writing, oral history recording, visual and performing arts, quilting and gardening). A unit may organize a project of its own or introduce a unit to veteran arts, crafts and hobby projects already operational in the community.
  • Contribute donated supplies to help supplement visual veteran artists’ needs for their projects.
  • Contact your department chairman or your local VA hospital coordinator Donate, through departments, funds that help local veterans attend state and national Wheel Chair Games, Veterans Creative Arts Festivals, Paralympics, etc.

C) Help The American Legion, State Department of Veterans Affairs and Chamber of Commerce promote job fairs for veterans and their families.

Ideas for the Individual Members and Units:

  • Take part in a veteran job fair by organizing or working at an informational table. Other opportunities include helping implement a Legion-sponsored job fair and/or co-hosting a Legion Family information table at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation-sponsored job fair. Additionally, Auxiliary members may initiate and host a job fair for veterans in their community.
  • Serve as a career e-mentor for women veterans.
  • Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, specifically if it’s a build supported by The American Legion.
  • Host an informational table at a local job fair.
  • Support the Legion by helping host a local job fair at your post home.

D) Enroll members as VA Voluntary Service (VAVS) Volunteers at VA health care facilities.

Ideas for the Individual Members and Units:

  • If you live near a VA facility, become a regular VAVS volunteer and invite others to become VAVS volunteers with you.
  • Send notes and provide supplies to support those who volunteer at VA facilities.
  • Enter all your VAVS hours into the VAVS tracking system. Note: VA Healthcare facilities volunteer hour tracking system is different from the tracking utilized for ALA hour bars. Please consult your department.

E) There isn’t a VA hospital close to your community? Find opportunities for Auxiliary members to serve veterans in your area.

Service to Veterans recognizes volunteers who provide service to veterans, service members and their families outside a VAMC.. A Guide for Volunteers available for download at www.alaforveterans.org. To purchase a printed copy, please visit www.emblem.legion.org.

Ideas for the Individual Members and Units:

  • Read the Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation: A Guide for Volunteers
  • Sew quilts for the Quilts of Valor Foundation, for more information visit www.qovf.org
  • Help a veteran use the Internet.
  • Supply postage for local veterans in rest homes or assisted living facilities.
  • Organize transportation for veterans to assist them with essential errands or medical appointments; many live far from a VA facility and shouldn’t be driving if they don’t feel well.
  • Contact the Legion Service Officer at your post and offer to be on the list of people to call when a military family needs help.
  • Buy school supplies, throw a baby shower, or send care packages to military kids who are headed to college.
  • Report your Service to Veterans hours to your unit VA&R chairman.
  • See Awards section of this plan for information on Hour Bar Recognition.
  • Become the catalyst to find needs and encourage members to help veterans in their community.
  • Provide hospitality for a job fair for veterans.
  • Coordinate with local quilt shops to help your unit sponsor a quilting event in support of Quilts of Valor.
  • Contact members, including those who never or only occasionally attend meetings and events and invite them to participate for specific limited duration projects that would help area veterans.
  • Compile and record hours provided by your members.
  • Coordinate with your PR chairman to tell the community what work your unit members are doing for veterans.
  • Encourage units and individual members to participate in the Quilts of Valor project through the Quilts of Valor Foundation: www.qovf.org.

F) Transitioning back to civilian life is one of the biggest challenges veterans face today. Educate yourself about resources so you can help veterans access all their VA benefits, not just health care. Work with your local American Legion Post Service Officer.

Ideas for the Individual Members and Units:

  • Coordinate with local American Legion posts to identify the local Service Officer or see list at www.legion.org/serviceofficers.
  • Help eligible veterans attain benefits through referrals.
  • Encourage eligible veterans to use the VA health care system and its services, including hospitals, Community Based Outpatient Clinics, Vet Centers, etc.
  • Participate in and encourage veterans and their family members to participate in town-hall meetings organized by The American Legion in advance of the Legion’s System Worth Saving site visits to VA health care systems: www.legion.org/systemworthsaving.
  • Invite the local, county or state Service Officer to be the guest speaker at a unit/department event.

G) Assist and support caregivers of veterans.

Ideas for the Individual Members and Units:

  • Familiarize yourself with the service of the VA caregiver support program.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Military and Veteran Caregiver Peer Support Network.
  • Become a veteran caregiver peer support trainer or volunteer.
  • Become a Legacy Corps AmeriCorps member if the Legacy Corps project is offered in a state or locality near you.
  • Volunteer as a VA Voluntary Service volunteer support caregiver if the VA health care system closest to you offers such volunteer opportunity.
  • Invite the VA caregiver support coordinator in the VA healthcare system closest to you to make a presentation to your unit, district or community-wide meeting.

Additional Resources You Can Use

Additional Information

Welcome Home Celebrations - Provide assistance to your local VA health care system in supporting returning servicemembers and their families in the community. VA supports this initiative by providing information about the opportunities available to them through the VA. Every VA health care system sponsors welcome home celebrations in their facilities and community.

National Salute to Veterans - This initiative salutes America’s heroes, the more than 98,000 veterans of the U.S. Armed Services who are cared for every day in VA Medical Centers during the week of February 14 annually.

How-to Sheets

VA&R Reporting

Mid-Year Reports - Mid-Year reports reflect the program work of the Units in our Department, and are intended as an opportunity for mid-year adjustment. Each Unit is required to submit a narrative report to the Department VA & R Chairman by December 5, 2020.

Year-End Reports - Annual reports reflect the program work of the Units in our Department, and may result in a National award, if award requirements are met. Each Unit is required to submit a narrative report to the Department VA & R Chairman by April 15, 2021.

As part of your narrative report, please include answers to the following questions:

  • How did the units participate in the caregiver support program?
  • Describe any exceptional efforts members made in earning their Service to Veterans hours.
  • What assistance did units give at a stand down in your department? What did units learn about hosting a stand down? What went well; what would they do differently?·

VA & R Awards Deadlines and Submission Requirements:

Taking the time to share a favorite story about the positive impact you or someone you know has had on our mission is worth doing! It helps us tell the world who we are, what we do, and why we matter. Just three simple steps to add your part to our national success story:

  1. Please follow instructions as you fill out the National Report and Awards Cover Sheet found in the awards section of the Programs Action Plan.
  2. Provide details/examples about the activity as outlined in the award’s materials and guidelines section.
  3. Submit as indicated in the Annual Supplement to the Programs Action Plan.

Service to Veterans

A. Member Award: Hour Bar Recognition for Service to Veterans Volunteers

Award: Hour Bar

Presented to: Member by her department via ALA National Headquarters

Materials and guidelines:

  • Volunteers are recognized when specific hour milestones are reached: 50, 100, 300, 500, and 1,000.
  • After the first 1,000-hour bar is awarded, the next bar will be earned in 1,000-hour increments up to 20,000 hours. Hour bars are also offered in increments of 25,000 and 30,000 hours. After achieving 35,000 hours ALA National Headquarters will issue a separate Lifetime Service to Veterans pin.
  • Hour bars are provided at no cost to departments; however, the appropriate pin (from which the hour bar is affixed) can be obtained from Emblem Sales at the department’s expense. See Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation: A Guide for Volunteers.

B. Unit Award: Most Outstanding Unit VA&R Program

Award: Citation Plaque

Presented to: One unit in each division (5) announced by the national VA&R committee at the pre-convention meeting.

Materials and guidelines:

  • The entry must be typewritten in narrative format, not to exceed 1,000 words
  • Include pictures, clippings, scrapbooks, folders, etc.

National Veterans Creative Arts Festival (NVCAF) support recognition

A. NVCAF Award: NVCAF Support Recognition

Award: Recognition during VA&R chairman’s remarks at the ALA National Convention

Presented to: Departments, units, and/or members who qualify for stated contribution level to NVCAF. Donations are made through the American Legion Auxiliary Foundation.

Materials and guidelines:

  • To be considered, donations to the ALAF must be received by the ALA Foundation from Aug. 1-July 31 of the following year.
  • ALA National Headquarters will submit qualifying donations to NVCAF in August.
  • NVCAF will recognize departments/units/members that contribute:
    • Bronze: $1,000-$2,499 to the NVCAF from Aug. 1-July 31 of the following year.
    • Silver: $2,500-$4,999 to the NVCAF from Aug. 1-July 31 of the following year.
    • Gold: $5,000-$14,999 to the NVCAF from Aug. 1-July 31 of the following year.
    • To be considered, donations to the ALAF must be received by the ALA Foundation from Aug. 1-July 31 of the following year.
    • ALA National Headquarters will submit qualifying donations to NVCAF staff in August.

Veteran Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS)

A. National Award: VAVS Volunteer of the Year Award/ALA NAC Nominee

Award: Citation + $500 donation to VAVS facility or VCAF of her choice presented by the American Legion Auxiliary

Presented to: Member

Materials and guidelines:

  • Candidates for VAVS National Advisory Committee (NAC) Volunteer of the Year will be submitted by the chiefs of voluntary service to the national VAVS deputy (please see supplement for deadline and contact information).
  • Awarded to the nominee who has given extraordinary service to our nation’s veterans through the ALA VA&R program and the VAVS program.
  • Nominee must serve in an established VA assignment and be defined as a regularly scheduled volunteer.
  • Should be actively involved in working with veterans in any one of the following areas: outpatient clinics, nursing homes, homeless veteran programs, hosted veteran-related functions outside the VA, or visited veterans confined to their homes (as assigned by VAVA).
  • The American Legion Auxiliary selects the ALA Volunteer of the Year. The name of the ALA Volunteer of the Year is forwarded for consideration as the NAC Volunteer of the Year.

B. Member Award: 10,000 Hour Volunteer Service Award

Award: Citation plus $100 donation to VAVS facility or VCAF of her choice presented by the American Legion Auxiliary

Presented to: Member

Materials and Guidelines:

  • Given to volunteers who have reached 10,000 hours of service in a VA facility from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.
  • Verification of hours must be received at National Headquarters by the first Friday in June.

C. Member Award: 20,000 Hour Volunteer Service

Award: Citation plus $200 donation to local VAVS facility or VCAF of her choice presented by the American Legion Auxiliary

Presented to: Member

Materials and guidelines:

  • Given to volunteers who have reached more than 20,000 hours of service in a VA facility from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.
  • Verification of hours must be received at National Headquarters by the first Friday in June.

D. Individual Recognition Award: Volunteer Recruitment & Service Department

Award: Citation presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs

Presented to: Hospital Representative

Materials and guidelines:

  • No entry form required
  • Awarded to the hospital rep at every facility that shows an increase in both volunteers and volunteer hours at a VA Medical Center from April 1 to March 31 of the following year.
  • The award winners will be determined by the national VAVS representative through verification of hours and number of volunteers as recorded by VAVS.

E. Individual Recognition Award: 100 Percent VAVS Meeting Attendance

Award: Attendance Card presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs

Presented to: Hospital Representative and Deputy

Materials and guidelines:

  • No entry form required.
  • An “Attendance Card” will be awarded to each representative and deputy who has 100 percent attendance to VAVS committee meetings at her assigned facility.
  • The national VAVS representative will verify the winners from VA records.

F. Department Recognition from The American Legion Award: Michael Guty Homeless Veterans Outreach

Please note this is not an ALA award, it must be submitted to The American Legion.

Award: Plaque presented by The American Legion National Commander at The American Legion’s National Convention

  • This award will be given to The American Legion department that demonstrates American Legion Family involvement in homeless veteran initiatives that show outstanding support for activity in any or all of these areas: volunteerism, prevention, supportive housing, advocacy, and fundraising.
  • The required nomination form is available at www.legion.org or by writing or calling the Veterans Employment and Education Commission, The American Legion, 1608 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006; phone 202-861-2700; by email at VE&E@legion.org ; or on the VA&R program page at www.ALAforVeterans.org .

G. James H. Parke Scholarship

This substantial scholarship is awarded annually by Veterans Affairs to a student volunteer.

The American Legion Auxiliary contributes $2,000 annually to this scholarship fund.

  • To be eligible, candidates must:
    • Have completed 100 hours of regularly scheduled VAVS volunteer service during the calendar year prior to September 1
    • Be a student in the 10th grade or above
    • Not have reached their 19th birthday.
    • The Medical Center director nominates a candidate for the award by submission of the nomination form to the president of the fund by November 1 of each calendar year, late nominations will not be considered.
    • The nomination form should be completed to reflect the volunteer service and background of the candidate and include: age, years of volunteering, number of volunteer hours, areas of service and affiliated/supporting organizations, if any. See www.va.gov for information on VAVS, James H. Parke Scholarship.
    • The national winner receives a plaque and a letter of commitment. This presentation is usually made at the Annual Meeting of the VAVS National Advisory Committee.


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