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Vets dedicated to serving community

The Oskaloosa Herald - 11/20/2018

Nov. 19--OSKALOOSA -- Harry L. Anderson American Legion Post 34 was visited recently by National Vice Commander Steve Sweet.

Sweet was on a trip through Iowa, stopping at posts and visiting with veterans and sharing ways to help boost membership.

The American Legion Riders presented a check to Sweet for $650 raised by the local riders for the Legacy Scholarship Fund.

Post 34 member Jay Guild said American Legion Riders created the Legacy Scholarship Foundation.

"That's a scholarship that pays for college for veterans that either passed during service or had more than 50 percent disability when they were discharged," he said, "so that we can help those families fill in that gap for their service that they're not able to earn past that point, to make sure that their kids are able to go to college if they need to."

Riders on the five-day Legacy Run collect donations from state and local posts for the scholarship.

Sweet said last year's Legacy Run raised $550,000.

"By the time the convention was over, I think it was $1.275 million that we had raised. And every year we've gone up, we've raised more money every year," he said. "We were able to meet two of the recipients."

Both, Sweet said, were nursing students.

"One of them, it was obvious that she needed the help. My wife is a nurse practitioner, but I remember when she was going through RN school, and I couldn't imagine for somebody that young to be going what she went through and having to work too," she said. "So with that money, it alleviated the need for her to have to get out of work so much and then try to do that studying too. But both of them were super nice people. Their mamas, they just couldn't thank us enough. They were going around hugging everybody."

Additionally, $300,000 was raised by Iowa American Legion members for the Vets of Valor program.

Serving locally

Guild said American Legions do a lot of work for veterans locally and nationally.

"The big things are lobbying Congress for veterans benefits. We advise for the VA Board nationally. We have service officers that help process VA benefits and claims," he said. "We also have the Legacy Scholarship, which is what the $650 was donated for today and the $1.25 million that was raised."

At the local level, Guild said, American Legions do a lot in their community.

"The post here, we donate to the fire department, to the children's learning program, to the Mahaska County Recreation Foundation for the soccer program, we help out with the Halloween event that happens at Mahaska Drug," he said. "We get a lot of requests, and we donate a lot of money for some of those community organizations that we feel have a very hands-on approach to helping out the community, and they have people come to them and they need that support from organizations like ours and churches and the Elks and the Eagles. We try to work with all of them to make sure that people that have the face time with the need help have what they need."

Additionally, Guild said, the local Legion Riders work to collect clothing and dry goods to donate to Stand Down in Des Moines and Ames to help area homeless veterans.

Randy Binns explained why he is a member of the American Legion.

"You spend your life in the military, serving your country," he said. "So now that I'm retired from the military, I'm a member of the American Legion and the VFW to help serve the community and the state. To keep the camaraderie going; it's taking care of veterans."

Guild is one of the younger members of American Legion Post 34.

"I'm part of the American Legion," he said, "because I'm looking for a way to reach out and serve the veterans that have served our country."

Robert Nelson, also a younger member of the post said he was there to support veterans and to help out.

"Being a veteran, I know how much you need a little bit of support here and there," he said. "So it's getting to do it for your fellow veterans."

Guild said it's less common to see younger veterans as members of the Legion.

"But it's difficult for those who have young children and families. We have a lot going on already, so it's kind of hard to find more time to carve out. But our family, it's important to us to find time to volunteer for public and community service," he said. "My wife volunteers at the YMCA, we volunteer at our church, this is just one of those groups that we felt like they benefit the community enough that it's certainly worth our time to volunteer here as well."

Managing Editor Angie Holland can be reached at aholland@oskyherald.com and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie.

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(c)2018 The Oskaloosa Herald (Oskaloosa, Iowa)

Visit The Oskaloosa Herald (Oskaloosa, Iowa) at www.oskaloosa.com

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