The New Era - All about Sweet Home since 1929

Local American Legion leader named district commander


July 11, 2018

Dale Jenkins

Dale Jenkins of Sweet Home is the new American Legion District 3 commander in Oregon.

The district includes 15 posts in Linn, Benton, Lincoln and Lane counties. His installation was during the American Legion's annual convention at Three Rivers Casino in Florence at the end of June.

Jenkins, also the commander of Sweet Home's Timber City Post 133 and the Sweet Home AmVets, is particularly excited to be district commander this year.

"This is the beginning of the American Legion's year and a half of celebrating 100 years of the American Legion," Jenkins said. "I'm happy about it because I became commander of my post on the 75th Anniversary."

That happened while he was living in Missouri, where his post had 450 members.

Jenkins served as an officer off and on for 17 years in Missouri. After that, he served a couple of years in Canby. He has been a member of the American Legion continuously for 29 years, and prior to moving to Missouri had been a member in Seaside.

He moved to Sweet Home in 2006 from Clackamas County. He liked the area and was familiar with it after logging in the Sweet Home area with his father before graduating from high school. Jenkins became commander of the Sweet Home post in 2014. He spent the past five years moving through the district officer positions.

The American Legion's last century is the reason Jenkins has committed to the organization, he said, and it's the answer to one of the most common questions he hears about the American Legion.

"They always ask, 'well, what can the American Legion do for me?'" Jenkins said. "The answer is, what have we already done – starting March 15-16, 1919?"

American Expeditionary Force members formed the American Legion in Paris, France, then, Jenkins said. On Sept. 16, 1919, Congress chartered it as a patriotic veterans organization. Focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities, the Legion has evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States, according to its website.

The American Legion has accomplished much over the years, Jenkins said, producing a brochure describing the 100-year history of the organization.

The American Legion led the way to the Veterans Bill of Rights, Jenkins said, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the GI Bill into law June 22, 1944.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the American Legion created American Legion baseball, inaugurated Boys State and launched the National High School Oratorical Championships.

On Aug. 29, 1946, the American Legion and Auxiliary presented $50,000 to a struggling nonprofit organization, the American Heart Association.

The organization contributed funds to three mental health organization on the condition they combine into a single organization, the National Association for Mental Health.

The American Legion contributed $1 million to the construction of the Washington, D.C., Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It helped fight to make the Veterans Administration a cabinet level department.

The list goes on, and most recently, in 2005, the American Legion lobbied successfully to remove various increases in co-payments and user fees from VA funding legislation. In 2008, President Bush signed the Post-911 Veterans Education Assistance Act, a modern GI Bill, strongly supported by the American Legion.

The American Legion is the second largest veterans organization. Veterans of wartime are eligible to join. They need not have served in a war zone.

The American Legion bases its service on four pillars: veterans affairs and rehabilitation, with an emphasis on programs, services and advocacy efforts; national security; Americanism; and children and youth.

Sweet Home's American Legion meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Thursday of the month at the Veterans Club, 580 Main St. The auxiliary meets the second Thursday of the month in members' homes.

For more information about the American Legion or to join, contact Jenkins at (503) 867-5409.


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