The American Legion Post 22 in Marion is no different than any other Legion Post in the state of Kansas or the United States in that members desire to offer support to fellow veterans.
Mary Olson’s husband, Warren E. Olson, a World War II veteran, needed legion assistance when he ran into trouble paying for his medication.
“He was service disabled but the Veterans Administration would not allow him medication coverage because of my employment,” Olson said. “If it wasn’t for the assistance I got from the American Legion, I wouldn’t have been able to care for him in my home, and he would not have gotten the medicine he needed.”
Providing support for local veterans, whether it be acting as a liaison with the VA, providing transportation, or simply listening, is a priority for members of Post 22.
“If there is anyone that has served and now needs help, we are here for them,” Gary Chaput, Post 22 adjutant, chaplain, and board member said on Monday. “It doesn’t matter if they are a member of our post or not. We are here to help.”
At a meeting Dec. 12 honoring the visit of American Legion National Vice Commander Glenn Hickman to Marion, State Department Commander Paul Sanford spoke about the importance of broadening membership lists and recruiting new veterans to continue the good work of the organization.
“The Legion is not just about providing lounges and bingo for our veterans,” Sanford said. “We strongly uphold four pillars that are imperative to our society. We provide veteran assistance, national security, promote Americanism, and sponsor many youth activities.”
Sanford went on to say that legion membership made it possible for communities to fund scholarships and sponsor ball teams, shooting clubs and scout organizations for youth.
“People don’t understand how much we really do,” Sanford said. “It is funds raised in our lounges and from bingo games that allow us to take care of our veterans, their families, and provide support for the youth.”
Sanford said that membership was the bread and butter of the organization that supports 35,000 members in the state.
“We’ve set a goal of increasing our membership to 63,000 by 2019,” Sanford said. “If every member went out and recruited one fellow service member to join, we will easily reach that goal.”
American Legion Post Adjutant, Chaplain, and board member Gary Chaput said the Marion chapter currently had 98 members.
“The American Legion is not the same as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization,” Chaput said. “VFW membership is for veterans who served in combat areas. Anyone who served the United States, or is a descendent of someone in armed services, during recognized dates of conflicts can be a legionnaire.”
Chaput said Post 22 reactivated in 2007, growing from 22 members to the current 98.
“We actually have four bodies of membership,” he said. “There are the Legionnaires, Sons of Liberty (for wartime service descendents), Ladies Auxiliary, and Riders. The Riders are made up of member from the other three divisions.”
Chaput said he and Post Command President Kevin Hoffer were available to answer questions at any time from those who would like to join the American Legion, as well as any veterans needing help.
“There is a certain feeling among those who have been in the military that is hard to explain to those who haven’t been there,” he said. “When in active service, you know your buddy always has your back. We just want those veterans who are no long in active service but are trying to make it in regular society that we are still here. We still have your back.”
Chaput is available at (620) 382-2754; Hoffer can be reached at (620) 382-2413.