We are in the process of videoing individuals who have agreed to be on screen and tell their story of the help our VSOs have made available.  Many fought for numerous frustrating years before finding out that there was help available. With the suicide rate as high as it is today, 17 – 22 per day, when you read the statements below, you will see why so many just throw up their hands in disgust and walk away into deep depression, turning to drugs, alcohol and finally suicide.  We can prevent this by making veterans aware of what is available and by supporting our Department’s VSO program with either a one time gift or a pledge of a monthly dollar amount you choose. 

It is time we begin taking up our VSO program at our Post, District and Area Meeting to keep the fire lit and fresh in the minds of our members to be aware of veterans in their area who are in need, whether they are Legionnaires or not.  We need to at least get them in touch with the VSO in their area for an initial appointment and see where it goes from there.  


I was diagnosed in 2017 with Glioblastoma IV and given 12 – 15 months to live.  Unable to work, I begin filing for a claim to cover overhead and help take care of my wife after I’m gone.  The Greater Los Angeles VA has now twice performed brain surgery on me which I am very thankful for.

After a long and exhausting period of trying to get my claim through; weary and beaten down, in frustration I went to an American Legion VSO and she cut through the denials and not only got me 100% compensation allotted by the VA for my medical situation but also I can now rest assured that my wife will be taken care of as well.

As far as I’m concerned, the American Legion VSO offices remain one of the most important services for veterans who have legitimate issues that require an advocate to address.  Don’t try it on your own, you will only get tired and depressed in the process.

Los Angeles, CA


The American Legion VSOs are incredible! I tried doing the claim on my own and get it through, only to receive a series of denials and finally after several years I got a whopping 10% disability rating. I tried attorneys who then wanted to take a portion of my disability pay. I tried other organizational VSO programs and the individuals remained detached and really unmoved as they were totally impervious to my medical situation; shrapnel wounds received in Afghanistan.

After constant prompting from an American Legion member and friend, who insisted I seek help from one of their VSOs as they can do what nobody else could do to get a claim through.  After the first meeting with the Department of California VSO I immediately realized that she was there to listen and was going to act on my behalf.  Besides being professional and courteous, she did what nobody else could do; she got the claim through at 80%.  She encouraged me to go in for  Combat PTSD therapy and counseling and we are now working on putting the claim at 100%.  I am so thankful and grateful for her help, I can’t thank her enough!

Oakland, CA


First of all, I would like to salute and thank you from the bottom of my heart for representing my recent VA Disability compensation.  On Jan. 25, 2021, I contacted the VA and see if I could file another claim regarding the Vietnam Blue Water Navy Veterans Law. I strongly believed that I was eligible as I was in 1968, on board the USS Borie DD-704 Battle station assigned to one of the 5″/38-caliber” Gun Mount crews as a Hot Shell Guider. I had been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer since 2014, but not at full disability.

A very helpful and friendly VA Representative initially helped with the “Intent to File” and encouraged me to contact an American Legion VSO for consultation prior to going further, as he said they could get the job done for me expeditiously.  The way the application and request are written up are key to successfully getting a claim through.  The Legion VSOs are trained in how to present a request for  Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits. I’m so happy that I took that advice; Salute!

San Diego, CA


To who this may concern, I am veteran that got out of the Marines after doing 2 tours in Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan.  I didn’t know then what I know now, but everyone was saying I had changed and wasn’t the same before going into the service.  I was optimistic, happy and often times the life of the party.  When I got back, I didn’t want to see or hang around my friends, I would have explosive burst of anger over every little thing, and I made life miserable for my parents and girl friend; she quickly left me.  Once I accepted the fact that I needed help, I tried to file a claim a few times and it got me nowhere; constantly getting the run around.  After several years of going through this rejection, I was introduced to the veteran service officer in the San Diego area, one of your representative.  This man was a God send and is the reason I am writing you.  He took all of my paperwork and walked me step by step through the process.  He made this process so easy and set my mind at ease the first time we met that he would take care of it.  It has only been a few months and I can tell you I have never made so much progress.  He not only helped me with the paperwork and showed me where I was doing it incorrectly, but also got me medical help, counselling therapy and into various therapeutic programs which are beginning to turn my life around and I starting to see my old self emerge to the surface.  Even my parents and I are now getting along.  I am more than thrilled with his customer service and he has helped to restore my faith in the VA system.  I feel that if more veterans had the knowledge of the American Legion’s VSO program and ability to accurately assist and file claims our future veterans wouldn’t have to endure the transition from military to civilian suffering I have had to experience the last few years with denials and low disability ratings.

San Diego, CA


I had always heard what many called the VA slogan “Deny, Deny and Then They’ll Die” but I wasn’t going to go with that and figured I could cut through the red tape and make it happen on my own.  Was I ever in for a surprise; the best I could do after surviving an IED explosion in Iraq, was to get a 10% disability rating.  Then they required that every 6 months I had to go in for a reevaluation to determine if I was now healed and no longer qualified for disability pay; even though I walk with a limp and have limited use my right arm.  I served my nation and fought in their war, yet this was the thanks I received.  I became frustrated, depressed, angry and begin to withdraw and turn to other areas of escape.  Suicide often plagued my mind and begin to look like the only way out.

I was sharing with a friend of mine that I had to go into the VA for another reevaluation, he emphatically insisted that I see our Legion Post VSO who then referred me over to a VSO in the Department. That rep was able to hear and understand my story and said, “let’s do this together.”  She answered all my questions, helped fill out all the paperwork, get the medical records and in just over 30 days, she had my rating raised to 75% and now with additional medical issues surfacing and going through counseling for anger management and PTSD, we are certain it will soon be at 100%.  How do you say “Thank You” to an angel like that – except, Thank You!

Bakersfield, CA


I have and always will recommend the California VSOs to veterans I meet who are having trouble with their disability claims. The key to filling a claim is not the filing, but how it is filed.  Legion VSOs have been professionally trained in the “do’s and don’ts) of how to file the claim so it gets noticed and not put on a huge stack of backlog filings. The can also identify disabilities that you may have overlooked or don’t realize are even covered by the VA Disability Compensation.  If more veterans knew what the American Legion VSO program offers, they will find they qualify for benefits they have earned and deserve as well as receive higher compensation than when doing it on their own.  I learned the hard way and wasted almost 20 years before contacting a VSO and within 90 had my claim.  I can’t stress enough, contact your American Legion VSO today, you’ve been to hell and back, you don’t need to live where you’ve been, live for a new day.

Napa, CA


Warning to Veterans who may qualify for Disability through the VA but you are not sure if you do or even what is available.  I have talked to several of my fellow veterans who just don’t know.  I thing really key to remember when filing a claim, do not rely on your VA doctor’s evaluation alone to determine your qualification.  Even though there are really good doctors at the VA, I’m sure you have more than once experienced doctors who are there doing their residency and then plan to move on.  They are more often than not veterans who lack the compassion to understand your situation, what you’ve been through and often times unwilling to take your word on your symptoms.  Relying on them to write an accurate and compelling report that is needed in the evaluation of your rating will be a letdown.  Then too, with the constant changeover of resident doctors, there is often a inconsistency between the reports they write.

The key is how the claim request is written and how each disability area is described and brought back to its origin of cause, making it service or combat connected. This is where the American Legion VSOs step in.  There insight to my situation boosted my 30% claim to a 90%, then I told her about my father and she worked with him, a Korean Veteran and got his claim boosted from 40% – 100%.  We need to get the word out to our Veterans so they become aware, but then we will need more VSOs; but then I guess we can’t have too many.

Mendocino, CA