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‘It’s what we do’

Last year, Dr. Ray Gaskins wrote a series of articles in The Herald on World War I and the Farmville American Legion. With April being the centennial anniversary of the United States’ entry into “The Great War” and the 98th anniversary of the American Legion — which was formed by veterans of that conflict — I’d like to remind readers that the American Legion is an asset to the community and explain what it is that we do.

The American Legion is the nation’s largest veterans service organization and represents two million wartime veterans and their families. It was founded in 1919 on four pillars: veterans affairs and rehabilitation, national security, Americanism and children and youth. Each of these pillars encompasses a variety of programs that benefit our nation’s veterans, military service members, their families, the youth of America and ordinary citizens. These programs make a difference in hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

Also founded in 1919, the American Legion Auxiliary has nearly one million members. It administers hundreds of volunteer programs and gives thousands of hours and millions of dollars to support its own programs and other worthwhile charities familiar to Americans.

Our organizations’ positions and programs are guided by resolutions of the American Legion National Convention, the Department of Virginia and our local posts, which there are 222 of in Virginia. Our programs, and the men and women who take the time to orchestrate them, are what allow the American Legion and Auxiliary to make a difference locally and on the state and national levels.

The primary focus of the Farmville “Jack Garland” Post Legion and Auxiliary has been helping veterans obtain benefits from the Veterans Administration (VA) and in sponsoring youth for the American Legion’s Boy’s State and Girl’s State programs. Over the past year our veterans service officer in Farmville assisted more than 1,300 veterans and surviving widows in obtaining benefits and compensation from the VA. We also co-sponsored an “Agent Orange Symposium” for Vietnam Veterans here in Farmville last December.

I urge veterans to join the American Legion. All veterans who served during wartime are eligible, including all who have served from August 1990 until the present in the global war on terror.

We meet the third Thursday of each month at the Thomas Hardy Graham VFW Post in Farmville.

The American Legion exists to make a difference for the better in the community. It’s who we are, and it’s what we do.

Ed Dunn is the commander of the Jack Garland American Legion Post in Farmville. His email address is edbdunn@gmail.com.