serving country was a badge of honor
(November 2001) Warsaw, Ky Veterans Day takes
place on Nov. 11. But for many service men and women,
being a veteran is a daily activity. Even though their
time in the service is behind them, the idea of service
is still a important aspect of their lives. Kentuckiana
is filled with many veterans organizations that offer
assistance, not only to each other but the public at large.
We all strive for the same basic goals,
but we each operate a little differently, said David
Stafford, a Recognized Infantryman of the U.S. Army in
Desert Storm. Stafford is now commander at Post 41 of
the American Legion, located in Carrollton, Ky. The Post
has 336 members who have served in a branch of the U.S.
military during a time of war. To qualify for Legion membership,
a veteran did not have to serve in combat.
In addition to Post 41s 336 men are 150 members
of the Ladies Auxiliary, which consists of not only female
veterans but widows, spouses, daughters and mothers of
male veterans. The branch also has 110 sons, stepsons
and grandsons of veterans in the Sons of the American
Throughout the year, Post 41 provides many services to
veterans, regardless of whether they are members. It provides
financial assistance to veterans and their families in
times of need. It also transports disabled veterans to
their necessary hospital appointments and assists them
with insurance claims.
But veterans services go beyond this to help anyone in
need. As the holiday season approaches, the Post is gearing
up food supplies to feed the hungry for both Thanksgiving
and Christmas. Making this task more challenging is the
fact that they will not only be servicing persons in Carroll
County but Carroll, Henry, Gallatin and Trimble counties
as well. The Post has also provided disaster relief in
the past, like it did during the 1993 flood.
The Legion does a lot for anyone who needs help,
said Jack Bates, 76, a World War II, Korea and Vietnam
Navy veteran who has been a member for 25 years. If
someone needs help and we know it, then we get out and
Bates cited a recent example as he sat in the Legion hall
of Post 41. Just that past Saturday, a dance had been
held to raise money for a veteran whose son had been killed
and had no life insurance.
Its like a family type thing that brings people
together, said Doug Burkett, 59, a Vietnam veteran
of the U.S. Armys 4th Armor Battalion. You
get to know a lot of people, and its a place where
you can bring your wife and not worry about fighting and
A lot of people think its just a bar,
said Stafford. But many veterans agree with Stafford in
that there is much more to the Legion, and that the bar
attribute is a misleading representation of what really
The bar is basically a member benefit and a way
to pay the electric bill, he added. Post 41s
bar is open to its members only and the guests who accompany
them. Some posts of the American Legion dont even
have a bar.
Post 39 in La Grange, Ky., is set up quite differently
than its neighbor to the east. The Posts headquarters
is located on the Oldham County 4-H Fairgrounds and is
used only for Post meetings, church groups and an occasional
pancake breakfast. The La Grange Post still has the strong
service aspect present that Post 41 has. Annual activities
include putting flags by veterans gravesides, assisting
with VA claims, sponsoring a picnic on Independence Day
and services on Memorial Day.
The La Grange Post currently has 60 members but does not
have a Ladies Auxiliary or Sons of the American Legion,
although Post members say they hope to one day reach that
point, according to finance officer Don Richey. Post Cmdr.
Bernie OBryan, a 75-year-old Marine veteran of World
War II, said the camaraderie is a strong aspect of what
keeps the organization active.
These people speak the same language I do,
he said. Weve all been in different places,
but the environments weve been in were similar.
We all love God, the country and the flag.
Many other American Legion posts exist across the region,
but there are other veterans organizations as well. Veterans
of Foreign Wars has Post 1969 in Madison, Ind., which
boasts 400 members and 240 in its Ladies Auxiliary. The
VFW differs from the American Legion in that its requirements
for membership are that a veteran had to have served in
combat during a past war. The Madison branch, located
at 3100 Michigan Rd., consists not only of a large hall
and additional meeting rooms but a restaurant open to
Even though its name, setup and eligibility requirements
differ, the VFWs annual services are similar to
those of the American Legion.
Post Cmdr. Roger Chandler reported that this past year,
the post has placed 280 American flags alongside Veterans
graves. During the aftermath of the recent terrorist crises
in New York and Washington, D.C., the VFW helped place
flags around the community. VFW members also care for
disabled veterans, families of living or deceased veterans
and anyone else who has a need that they are able to meet.
In addition, the VFW plays host to events for families,
such as Halloween and Christmas parties and summer picnics.
We serve a lot of purposes, said Chandler.
Its a lot more than people think. For me,
its like a second home.
Most people think this is for old people, and its
not for old people, said member George Evans, a
Korean War Veteran of the 4th Army Division. We
have a lot of young guys, too. We have a lot of people
out there who are veterans, and we want to get them interested
in the projects we do.
VFW members say they eagerly await this Veterans Day and
an annual public gathering at 9 a.m. on Nov. 14 in the
Connor Salm Gymnasium of the Madison Consolidated High
School, 743 Clifty Dr. At this event, area veterans will
be publicly recognized for their years of service. Chandler
reported that at last years event there were more
than 300 veterans present.
This year should be a tremendous turnout because
of the Sept. 11 disaster, said Chandler.