Service is a gift that each of us gives to the world, one that makes us human and gives our lives true meaning. Every one of us who serves has a WHY, a deep-seated purpose, cause, or belief that is the source of our passion and inspiration. So why do I continue to serve?
I am both an American Legion & American Legion Auxiliary Member. I serve as the Commander of my Legion Post as well as the Communications Chair for the Wisconsin American Legion. After only two short years in the Navy, I was medically discharged for injuring my back. For someone who planned to make a career out of my military service, I live with the feeling that I did not do enough, that I was “not done yet.” Becoming involved in The American Legion has given me the chance to do more, to keep going, to make a difference, even with things as small as a five minute conversation with a fellow Veteran, spending a day in Milwaukee helping Veterans get free testing for Hepatitis C, or driving an hour to help a short-handed Post out with a funeral detail.
A few months ago, I spent the day at a volunteer event with an American Legion member, who has had a rough time as of late. We spent our time talking, sharing stories and, at the end of our day, he thanked me for talking to him, allowing him to get his mind off of everything going on in his life. A simple conversation to me meant the world to him. This is why I serve and why I will continue to do so. I’m not done yet.
As much as I feel I need to continue to serve, I know that I need the Legion just as much, if not more than it needs me. The struggles I have encountered trying to find where I fit ended the moment I walked into my very first Legion event. I'm surrounded by my fellow veterans, those who just "get it" without explanation, without question. This is more than just an organization to me. It's my family and each and every time I am surrounded by my fellow legionnaires, I'm home.
For those of you who did not serve in the military, the support you provide to veterans throughout your communities is immeasurable. Whether it’s volunteering at an event, buying a poppy, or taking a few minutes to chat with a veteran, your efforts do not go unnoticed and truly do make a significant impact.
If you are an eligible veteran, consider joining our American Legion Post, or any Veteran Service Organization. You can be active or inactive. Help with one event or none. Simply being a member of The American Legion helps our collective voice to be heard. Never think that your inability to participate discounts the value of your membership. Each and every member within each and every Veterans Service Organization counts no matter of the level of participation.