Sweet Home American Legion faces loss of building – to wear and tear

Sean C. Morgan

The Sweet Home American Legion, Post 133, is looking for help with a deteriorating building that needs to be replaced.

Black mold has infested the building, 1127 Long St., said Cmdr. Dale Jenkins. The walls are cracked and crumbling. Daylight is visible under the walls inside. The restrooms are not handicap-accessible.

“Our kitchen isn’t anything we can cook or sell from,” Jenkins said.

“What I’m trying to let people here know is the American Legion is not dead,” Jenkins said, but the building is falling in on itself.

The post has 41 members, Jenkins said, and he is signing up new ones.

He expects some assistance from the AMVETS and Veterans of Foreign Wars, he said. He has had a couple of AMVETS and VFW members join the Legion and who are willing to help with the building project once it gets rolling, but the problem with the building is substantial.

“Right now, we don’t have a place to meet,” Jenkins said, or to store things.

Jenkins is looking for direct help from the community, and he wants to boost membership in the organization behind the GI Bill that helped so many veterans through college and continues to look out for the interests of veterans and their families today.

In addition to membership, Jenkins, 64, needs assistance with a fund-raising campaign.

“I don’t know how to do it, a Go Fund Me, a place for donations,” he said. He is pounding the pavement looking for possible building donations – in the form of modular or manufactured buildings, he said..

“If I do wind up having to build a new building,” Jenkins said. “I have a bunch of good timbers.”

That’s the one part of the existing building that remains in good shape, he said.

Jenkins has been commander for around five years, he said. He also is The American Legion northern Oregon district first vice commander. He will be district commander when The American Legion celebrates its 100th anniversary.

The Legion has been active in Sweet Home since at least 1946, Jenkins said. It was based at the VFW Hall for a while.

The American Legion, like the AMVETS, is open to anyone who joined and spent at least 90 days in the service, Jenkins said. Veterans can be part of both organizations, and members of the VFW, who served in a foreign country during a war, may be members of the AMVETS and The American Legion.

The Legion’s primary focus is on taking care of veterans, their children and their widows.

Its services can be classified under the organization’s four pillars: Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation; National Security; Americanism; and Children and Youth.

Its numerous programs and scholarships are organized beneath each pillar.

The Legion offers career events nationwide each year to assist veterans with employment and business opportunities. It offers help with education and help to reverse the massive backlog of unresolved benefits claims with the Veterans Administration. It also offers support for homeless veterans, and The American Legion honor guards salute their fallen comrades during funeral services every day.

In other programs, The Legion sends local students to Boys State and Girls State, a participatory program in which students become part of the operation of local, county and state government, Boys State was founded in 1935 to counter the socialism-inspired Young Pioneer Camps.

The Legion provides numerous scholarship opportunities a direct assistance to member families affected by natural disasters.

Veterans sometimes wonder what the organization will do for them, Jenkins said. “What do you have to offer me?”

The American Legion has already done it.

“If it weren’t for The American Legion, there would be no Bill of Rights for Veterans,” Jenkins said. The GI Bill would never have passed. “We’ve already offered it to you. You don’t have to do anything to get the GI Bill.”

For more information about The American Legion, visit http://www.legion.org. For more information about the organization or membership, to donate, or to offer assistance, contact Jenkins at (503) 867-5409.