Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

Post hosts national commander

 


Four years ago, there wasn’t much of an American Legion Post 28 to visit.

The post, long dormant, was kept alive by infrequent meetings and a small, core group of members. It didn’t even have a physical post location.

Fast forward to Sept. 4, and Post Commander Tony Niemiec is showing the newly elected National Commander of the American Legion, around their building on North Center Street. A simple blue flag with the words “Beat Navy” embroidered in the center, catches their attention.

“One of our members liberated that from West Point,” Tony says with a hint of pride in his voice.

Charles E. Schmidt-Hines, the legion’s national commander and an Air Force veteran, smiles as Tony talks about the flag and other decorations near it.

Tony, his brother Tom, and a few dedicated members were able to transform the Tom Whitmore Post 28 from a dormant organization to a thriving group boasting more than 500 members between the American Legion proper, the legion auxiliary, and the Sons of the American Legion organizations. The transformation, which started nearly two and a half years ago, was the focus of an article and video titled “The Resurrection of Green River,” published on the American Legion’s website.

However, the post didn’t just go through a resurrection, it also underwent a revolution in regards to what an American Legion Post can be. Many posts are mostly smoke-filled bars catering to members. Post 28 does have a bar, but more thought regarding creating a family-friendly atmosphere was utilized. Gone is the smoky miasma and in its place is a large space where members, their friends and families can enjoy a few hours together.

“We’re very successful with younger vets, and that’s why,” Tom said as he points to the open, family area.

For an organization that has 49 percent of its membership originally serving during the Vietnam Era, attracting younger veterans is quickly becoming an important task for the American Legion.

Schmidt-Hines spoke to members of Post 28 expressing how important it is for the group to help vets, both younger and older, while introducing his ideas regarding a temporary grant that could be used to help a veteran or their family member in need. He also suggested the legion do what they can to help kids interested in going to the Legion’s Boys State and Girls State events, saying the events can be a major accomplishment for the high school students involved.

“The mission is still relevant today,” he said.

 

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