The American Legion: Still serving our warriors

Submitted by Andrew M. Leon   

Those who have served in the American military do not have to go to war to have the bonding experience of military culture. Yet certainly those who have gone, lost friends, or survived the terror of combat, are even more deeply affected by the bond. It is unspoken except in rare cases. It is as if no one could comprehend the feeling except another brother or sister under the cloth of the uniform. But the service experience eventually comes to an end. What then?   

The American Legion was created after World War I because so many Americans had participated in that great drama and had a need to make something positive of their experience. These were people who had learned the value of organized effort in obtaining an objective. The mission expanded to take in service to the veterans in need and the needs of the veterans’ survivor families. Over the years, the American Legion has been at the forefront of advocacy for laws that support and enhance the status of our veterans who served and were ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. The Legion has grown in membership and purpose to serve the veterans and their families, especially the survivors of the fallen.    

Today the American Legion continues in its advocacy and representation of the veterans that our nation continues to create with every war our men and women engage in, especially since Sept. 11, 2001. In the present century, the American Legion has advocated for the improvement of medical services to veterans, especially in the VA system. It has successfully lobbied for extensions of the GI Bill to provide benefits to veterans of post-Sept. 11 service, especially for those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury. The American Legion Legacy Scholarship was increased to cover children of the post-Sept. 11 veterans with greater than 50 percent disability. The Legion was instrumental in obtaining passage of the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017, which eliminates the cap on educational benefits for veterans. 

Still, one of the most significant public services of the Legion is the military honor guard and firing squad that turns out to play Taps and give a final farewell to any veteran if requested by the family. In Fluvanna County, that service is provided by American Legion Post 2003 out of Fork Union. 

When we watch a parade on national holidays, we often see the “old men” marching in American Legion hats. It is important to remember that, once upon a time, they were the brave young people who were willing to go forward into danger for this nation. Newly created young veterans can be secure knowing that upon return to civilian life, the American Legion is a place where they will always be heard and welcomed. 


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