Why I’m an American Legion Member


StacyAfter attending a monthly meeting at Post 166 nearly ten years ago, I joined the American Legion. My new Post was smoke filled and dated, but that didn’t matter. What was most important was their local community endeavors and support they offered fellow veterans. The rest could be addressed in time. I’m a believer that we all have a choice to either sit on the sidelines and complain about what’s wrong or step up and be part of the solution to make it right.

I admit, I’m not as active in the American Legion as I’d like to be. The Veterans Portrait Project has consumed most of my time. That said, I continue to support my Post because their mission is important both locally and nationally.

Veterans issues are always in the forefront of my mind. The majority of my fellow American Legion members feel the same. Every week, members from Post 166 travel to the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center to visit with in-patient veterans and deliver clothes and toiletries to those in need. They continue to raise money to help youth sports, provide scholarships, promote youth civics and help veterans in need.

I will concede, there’s an old “Cantina” culture within the Legion I wish would take a backseat. While the cantina is a source of income, it is also a source of trouble. What’s the solution? Trade bartenders for baristas. As a private facility, each post can choose to allow smoking. Why would they? Again, the answer is driven by the “Cantina” culture. By changing from a liquor bar to a coffee bar, the Legion would effectively change the environment and culture. Trade slot machines for public computers with free WiFi where veterans can log on to “My Health e VA” and file for their VA benefits with the help of a trained volunteer American Legion veteran service officers.

Is the American Legion perfect? No. We are only as strong as our weakest link. I saw that firsthand yesterday when a fellow American Legion member posted an offensive, sexist meme they thought was funny. I brought this to the attention of the National Headquarters and they acted swiftly to have the offending post removed. Many of you were as outraged as I. Some of you expressed that behavior as a reason why you have not joined a VSO like the Legion. I implore you to reconsider. We share the same vision and voice. To affect change, we must first stand up and have our voice heard. I cannot do this alone.

Together we can steer the organization from the past to the present while staying relevant and inclusive. Together we can overcome anything. As my brother and sister veterans, you know we are stronger together. Stand with me.

As yesterday demonstrated one individual’s stupidity, which brought shame upon themselves and through them, the entire American Legion. Today, I want to share the MANY stellar American Legion members, who daily demonstrate honor, goodwill, commitment, service before self, loyalty and comradeship.

One thought on “Why I’m an American Legion Member

  1. Amen, sister !   Well said and the sentiments are spot on.  The Legion is no longer an old man’s drinking and smoking lodge.  The days of smoke filled, “yellow walled” rooms are gone.  In order to attract new members AND the veterans from our current conflicts those halls and attitudes must change.  We are veterans first, brothers and sisters all, having shared that which the majority of our populace will never understand.  WE are one, … older AND younger and that alone is our strength.   Just as interbranch rivalries will continue to exist, woe to those that would choose to awaken the tiger that we represent.   The Legion is for ALL veterans.   Open the doors and welcome our brethren.  We CAN do this.

    Dennis Madden


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