The American Legion Newsclips, Tuesday 3/24/20

Good morning Legionnaires and veterans advocates, today is Tuesday, March 24, 2020 which is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, National Agriculture Day, World Tuberculosis Day, National Cocktail Day and National Cheesesteak Day.

This Day in History:


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Spartanburg Herald Journal
American Legion Spartanburg Post 28 offers food to those in need
BySamantha Swann
Posted Mar 23, 2020 at 3:49 PM
American Legion Spartanburg Post 28 has opened its doors and pantry to those in need who have lost their jobs because of businesses shutting down during the coronavirus outbreak.
The initiative was started last week by the group’s chef and activities director Mike Fowler. By Monday, he and Post Commander Carroll Owings had filled two large tables in the post’s main hall with canned and dry goods for every meal of the day, as well as items like board games and coloring books for kids stuck at home.
“A young lady brought her daughter here Tuesday when they’d just started to shut down and she came for lunch and she said, ‘Are you giving away lunches to kids?’ And I said, ‘Grab a bag and follow me,’ ” Fowler said. Fowler let her take food from the pantry the Post keeps filled for veterans in need.
Fowler said he started receiving calls and seeing posts on Facebook of people asking for help. He looked at the full pantry at Post 28 and knew what they needed to do.
Owings said they’d served 60 families so far. Anyone is welcome to come and take what they need Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Fowler said.
“You don’t have to be associated with the American Legion. You don’t have to be a veteran. You don’t need any documentation, you don’t need ID. You just have the need. If you have a need, we’ll feed you,” Fowler said.
They’ve had some donations from the community, as well. The group is taking both perishable and nonperishable items — they have many dry and canned goods and can take refrigerated and frozen items as well.
Owings said the project had introduced many in the community to the American Legion and what they are doing at Spartanburg Post 28. Owings said his goal while the commander is to connect with and help the community.
“This is my sixth year as commander, and I want people to know that this is not a bar. This is a place for community and veterans and that’s what we use it for,” Owings said.
The post’s location also makes it convenient for families living on the south side, and Fowler said if anyone is unable to come to the Post to get food, they will deliver.
Donations of food or money can be made in-person at American Legion Spartanburg Post 28, located just past the Duncan Park ballpark or mailed to 94 W. Park Drive, Spartanburg SC, 29306. Anyone who needs food from the pantry or would like to donate food or other items, but cannot drive to the post, should call the group at 864-253-0376.
Military Times
Commentary: VA is responding to the coronavirus outbreak
Robert Wilkie
Robert Wilkie (@SecWilkie) is secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic around the world, many Americans are concerned about the impact it will have on our healthcare system. But every American can be assured that the administration of President Donald Trump is bringing the full power of the federal government to slow the spread of the virus and keep them safe.
The President declared a national emergency and stopped all travel from China and Europe, where the virus has spread the most. President Trump started quarantine efforts for Americans returning home and is working in close partnership with state and local leadership of both political parties across America. These are important steps that have made us all safer.
I’m proud that the Department of Veterans Affairs is a key part of the President’s efforts to protect the American people. With more than 330,000 health care professionals across the nation, we’re one of the largest providers of health care in the world, with special capabilities that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

As soon as the outbreak began, President Trump directed this administration to hit the ground running. In fact, before there was even a single confirmed case in the United States, the VA was already conducting emergency preparedness exercises. And thanks to the president’s decisive leadership, VA facilities have enough supplies to handle an influx of patients.
We are taking new precautions, like screening every veteran who walks through the doors of a VA facility for flu-like symptoms. We urge any Veteran with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath to call their local VA facility right away.
We are administering coronavirus tests to veterans who have been in close contact with the virus or who live in an area where it is spreading. We’ve already administered more than 800 tests, and we’re ready for thousands more, if necessary.
Sadly, we are seeing cases where our heroes have tested positive for the coronavirus. In those cases, we are providing them with the care that they need and that they earned while serving our country.
We are taking special care of two of the most vulnerable groups of veterans: veterans in nursing homes and those with spinal injuries. The VA itself runs 134 nursing homes where thousands of Veterans live. These Veterans are mostly older, and many have multiple health conditions that make them vulnerable to the coronavirus. To prevent the spread of the virus among these veterans, VA has adopted a “no visitor” policy, except for when patients are in the last stages of life in a hospice unit. While we recognize how difficult this policy must be for thousands of American families, it is in their best interest that we keep their loved ones safe.
From the very beginning of the VA, we have followed through on the task President Lincoln gave to us in his Second Inaugural Address: “to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”
Three of our missions are derived from that historic statement: providing health care services, ensuring Veterans get the benefits they’ve earned, and making sure they are never forgotten by maintaining national cemeteries that honor their service and sacrifice to this nation.
But for all that we’re doing for our nation’s veterans and their families, VA is preparing once more to take on its fourth mission of assisting non-VA health care systems if they hit their capacity to care for patients.
The VA has proudly served as a frontline responder after natural disasters such as the hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico and our southern states, and VA is preparing to play that role again during this national emergency.
In fact, we have already deployed some of our staff to assist the Department of Health and Human Services, and we are working directly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal partners to monitor the outbreak.
The American people can be proud that we have the most comprehensive veterans assistance of any nation in the world. And all of us can be assured that the VA is ready to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

To find the VA facility nearest you, please visit
Spike in Jobless Rates Could Hit Post-9/11 Vets Hard, Numbers Show | By Richard Sisk
Dire early numbers on jobs from the Labor Department for March and even more alarming figures from the states point to the obvious in the age of coronavirus: historic spikes in unemployment rates that could hit the post-9/11 generation of veterans especially hard.
"We know it’s coming; everybody does," Thomas Porter, executive vice president for government affairs at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), said of the expected jump in unemployment rates when the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the final numbers for March in the first week of April.
"I’ve seen the reports from employment agencies across the country getting a huge spike in applicants" for unemployment benefits, said Porter, a Navy veteran of Afghanistan. "We expect a huge uptick in demand for services."
His concerns were borne out by the BLS report for the second week in March, which showed that initial claims for state unemployment benefits, a key indicator of layoffs, climbed by 70,000 to 281,000.
Related: The Military’s Coronavirus Response
The increase of more than 30% in initial claims from the previous week was "clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus," the report said. "A number of states specifically cited COVID-19 related layoffs, while many states reported increased layoffs in service-related industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically."
Based on the BLS numbers, investment bank Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch projected that initial claims for unemployment could be in the range of 2 to 3 million when BLS issues another weekly claims report Thursday.
The surge in claims threatened to overwhelm the ability of state offices to deal with them. Long waits to get through to state offices were reported nationwide, and New York, Oregon and New Jersey reported website crashes.
Colorado reported that 11,000 claims were filed March 16-17, compared to the usual weekly average of 400.
Louisiana reported that 30,000 new claims for unemployment assistance were filed from March 16-19, up from 1,700 in the previous week.
The blizzard of rules and regulations on who qualifies for unemployment insurance, and when and how to apply, vary from state to state and can complicate the process for a recently laid-off worker seeking to navigate the systems.
Virginia’s Employment Commission advised, "If you are a worker who has been totally or partially separated from your job due to coronavirus, please note that no claim for unemployment insurance may be filed or processed until an actual lay off from employment has occurred, or until there has been an actual reduction in hours."
Washington state’s Employment Security Department advised, "If you are following guidance issued by a medical professional or public health official to isolate or quarantine yourself as a result of exposure to COVID-19, and you are not receiving paid sick leave from your employer, you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits."
However, the Virginia commission said, "Eligibility decisions are made on a case-by-case basis."
No Signs of Pandemic Slowing Down
The coronavirus pandemic that has sent shock waves through world economies showed no signs of abating as it progressed exponentially in the U.S. and elsewhere.
By mid-morning Sunday, the number of confirmed cases in the U.S. had passed 27,000 — up 3,000 from the day before — and the number of deaths approached 350, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and other estimates.
Worldwide, there were more than 318,000 cases and more than 13,600 deaths. Italy was the hardest hit, with more than 53,500 cases and more than 4,800 deaths.
As a result, the near-historic lows in unemployment rates for veterans and the general population recorded in 2019 are expected to come to an abrupt end when BLS reports the figures in the first week of April.
In its last monthly report before the impact from coronavirus could be gauged, BLS said that the economy had added 273,000 jobs in February.
The overall unemployment rate was little changed and stood at 3.5% in February, a tick below the 3.6% in January, to remain in the range of a 50-year low.
The jobless rate for all veterans was 3.6% in February, compared to 3.5% in January and 2.7% in February 2019, the BLS report said.
As is usually the case, the rates for post-9/11 veterans were higher. The unemployment rate in February for post-9/11 veterans was 4.5%, compared to 4.4% in January and 3.4% in February 2019, BLS said.
There have been numerous reports, surveys and academic papers on joblessness among those who served since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, but the BLS, in separate report last week on the employment situation for veterans, noted the high disability rate for post-9/11 veterans, referred to as "Gulf War II-era" veterans by the bureau.
"In August 2019, 41% of Gulf War-era II veterans had a service-connected disability, compared with 25% percent of all veterans," the report said.