American Legion seeking to re-establish presence in SH

Sean C. Morgan

Dale Jenkins, commander of Sweet Home’s American Legion Timber City Post 133, is leading a charge to revitalize the local organization.

The Timber City post hosted an open house at its headquarters, 1127 Long St., on Oct. 2, specifically inviting all wartime-era veterans to join the revitalization effort.

“Sweet Home is an active post,” said David Bowman, District 3 commander, of Newport; but it needs new members.

Walt Rasch of Sweet Home is a member of the Lebanon post, but he remembers when the American Legion shared duty with the Veterans of Foreign Wars in putting up street flags. Each would put flags up on one side of the street.

“We’ve had some lean times here recently,” said Bowman during a visit to Sweet Home last week. “We’re trying to get their numbers up. There’s a lot of things you can do to get the younger people involved too.”

“Number one, I want to build membership so that we can start putting out the scholarships for veterans’ children that they’ve been missing,” Jenkins said. He wants to get the American Legion back out into the community, “and we need to put patriotism back into this town.”

Jenkins served as an officer off and on for 17 years in Missouri. After that, he served a couple of years in Canby. He moved to Sweet Home in 2006 because, he said, he liked the area, having logged here with his father.

“It took me quite a few years to find out we had an American Legion post,” Jenkins said.

Then he met Cmdr. Marvin Wilson. He became commander when Wilson died earlier this year. The post has 41 members, two of whom are active and working, he said.

Jenkins wants to expand the scope of the effort too, he said.

“One thing I’d like to do is get more women veterans in here.”

Women are becoming more active in the American Legion, Bowman said. Newport currently has its first female commander.

The American Legion is the nation’s second largest veterans organization. Wartime veterans are eligible to join. They need not have served in a war zone.

The newly reformed American Legion post will focus on community service and assistance to veterans, Jenkins said. The scope and nature of the post’s community service will be determined by its members and input from local civic and community officials.

The American Legion bases its service on four pillars.

The first is veterans affairs and rehabilitation, with an emphasis on programs, services and advocacy efforts. Each post should have a veterans services officer, who helps veterans work their way through the Veterans Administration processes for healthcare and disability benefits. The officer works one-on-one with veterans, providing expert assistance free of charge to veterans and their families.

The organization’s second pillar is national security. The American Legion’s positions on national defense, homeland security, border patrol and military support are all part of a long-held Legion value that the key to peace and world stability is a strong, well-resourced defense.

Posts across the nation adopt military units, deliver care packages, provide emotional support for families of deployed service members and welcome the troops home.

The third pillar is Americanism. The organization runs American Legion baseball and organizes Boys State, among its efforts to promote Americanism.

The American Legion’s fourth pillar is children and youth, with three main objectives: Strengthening the family unit, supporting organizations that help children in need and providing communities with well-rounded programs to provide hope and opportunity for young people facing difficult challenges.

For example, the organization offers temporary financial assistance to veterans and military families who are struggling and have minor children at home.

The American Legion Auxiliary also is attempting to bolster its membership and activity.

President Linda Paddock said the auxiliary has about 30 members, with about 10 active. Among activities, the auxiliary is planning a chili feed and a yard sale. Members also crochet socks, caps and lap robes and make quilts, which they deliver to veterans in the hospital at White City.

“This year, we’re going to get involved in a lot of things,” Paddock said.

Interested veterans should contact Jenkins at (503) 867-5409.