National Commander James E. Koutz, who took the reins as the American Legion’s chief executive officer in August, will speak at a 6 p.m. Jan. 26 event at the Mableton post, at 625 Ivey Road.
Danny Ray, manager of the post, said this is the first time the 600-member Post 264 has hosted the group’s national leader.
“Our national commander — he’s like President Obama to the American Legion,” Ray said. “It’s an honor to have somebody of that caliber here. He ain’t no slouch.”
Ray said the post is expecting between 250 and 300 people for the speech, with some coming from as far away as Savannah and Augusta. At least 20 hotel rooms have been booked as part of the event.
American Legion national spokesman Marty Callaghan said the national commander regularly visits posts around the country and overseas.
“It’s to touch base with the local leaders and talk about ways they can work with the community,” he said.
Koutz also plans to talk about some of the Indianapolis-based organization’s national programs, including Operation Comfort Warrior, Callaghan said. The program collects donations to buy “comfort items” for active duty military members. Among the items the Defense Department won’t supply that the American Legion helps out with are sweatsuits, DVDs and gift cards.
“Just to make their stay more comfortable,” Callaghan said.
In addition, Koutz plans to discuss ways to help recruit more veterans into the American Legion. Callaghan said veterans from all American wars are welcome.
Information will also be provided to assist Legion members on how to navigate the Department of Veterans Affairs bureaucracy.
According to the American Legion website, Koutz, of Boonville, Ind., is a Vietnam veteran who served in the Army from 1969 to 1971. He quickly joined his local Post 200 after being honorably discharged.