Veterans are Still Serving Through American Legion Posts
by Lou Furry
HARDWICK – In 1919, after World War I ended, a new veterans’ organization was founded in Paris, France. One hundred and three years later, with posts around the world, the American Legion is still advocating for veterans, their families, and their communities. Along with the American Legion came the American Legion Auxiliary, then the Sons of The American Legion, and most recently the American Legion Riders. All of these organizations together form the American Legion Family, all working together to advance the cause of veterans and their communities.
Through the years American Legion Programs have been created and evolved to meet the needs of their time. The G.I. Bill is arguably the best known American Legion creation. Along with that are the other assorted programs sponsored by the American Legion, such as the Legacy Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to the children of service members who have passed away while on active duty; baseball, which offers young athletes the chance to participate in organized sport; the Oratorical program, combining public speaking with Constitutional education and the opportunity to earn scholarship funds; to the newest Be The One program, an effort to reduce the veteran suicide rate through one-on-one communication between veterans in order to show a troubled veteran that he or she is not in it alone. These, and more, are provided at a national, state and local post level.
The organization itself has evolved with the times. Gone are the days when the local post was viewed simply as a bunch of old veterans sitting around the bar telling war stories. While the simple act of doing just that does have some therapeutic value for veterans who need to know that someone else went through some of the same horrors that they did, the modern American Legion Post goes far beyond just that. Local posts offer many of the same programs offered nationally as well as their own programs, such as scholarship awards and community service.
There is one of these posts in Hardwick. American Legion Post #7, on North Main Street was formed in 1946 and has operated continuously since then. With the support of its membership and the community, the local post provides a meeting place for veterans and the entire Legion family. The upstairs hall is available for rental to the community at reasonable rates, for an assortment of functions including birthday celebrations, baby showers, wedding receptions and celebrations of life after a funeral.
In the time period of July 1, 2021, through June 20, 2022, in the midst of a pandemic, the Hardwick Post has contributed almost $19,000 back into the community. This includes such things as family death benefits, charitable donations, lighting for the Memorial Park, aid to veterans with illnesses and other projects to aid veterans, aid to the auxiliary for meals to members, sponsoring Junior Auxiliary members for annual meeting trips, scholarships to Green Mountain Conservation Camp, and scholarships for higher education. Adding employee salary and bonuses into the equation puts the total at almost $90,000 that finds its way back into the community.
In addition to the economic contributions, the local post provides Memorial Day Ceremonies at the Veterans’ Monument prior to Spring Festival, and at the Main Street bridge and four area cemeteries on Memorial Day. Members also donate hundreds of hours in service to the community.
The Sons of The American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary and the American Legion Riders also donate tens of thousands of dollars and many hundreds of hours of service in their own programs.
American Legion family members are proud of the work they do on behalf of all veterans and their communities. Anyone who is eligible for membership in any branch of the American Legion family is urged to join and participate in this valuable asset to the community.
[Lou Furry has served as a 10-year Past Post Commander, as well as Adjutant, First Vice Commander, and Post Service Officer at the post level, as well as having served on the National Americanism Committee, currently serving as Second Vice Commander at Post #7, Northern Area Commander for The Department of Vermont, and Department of Vermont Director of The American Legion Riders, along with an appointment to the National Law and Order and Homeland Security Committee.]