Of the more than 773,000 Veterans in the state of Georgia, approximately 60,000 reside in Cobb County and the number is growing every day. I’m sure you’ve all heard of The American Legion, but may not know much about it. These all-volunteer, all-veteran posts are locally based. They’re established to assist local vets; your friends, neighbors and co-workers. They’re also dedicated to the youth of our communities, assuring that patriotism and leadership are nourished for the future.
I was recently honored to be a judge at their Youth Oratorical Contest, which focused on our Constitution. The organization also helps support many local ROTC groups and awards student veteran scholarships.
The North Cobb Post 304 is called “the little Post that does so much with so little,” and it’s a well-deserved accolade. One vital service it provides is the Veteran’s Information Service Officer. In their own words: “The mission of the VIRO is to provide assistance to veterans in gaining access to their well-earned benefits.
Many, if not most, of these veterans don’t know what benefits they may be eligible for, or much less how to access them. They aim to make it easier for the veterans; as opposed to the alternative of making the trek down to the, often overwhelmed, main VA Medical Center in Decatur and waiting to be counseled.”
The American Legion also offers short-term emergency help to veterans facing financial difficulties. If you’ve read Don McKee’s columns in the MDJ, or Laura Armstrong’s in the past, you can understand the need for an alternative to simply depending on the VA.
Until now, Post 304 did all of this without even a home. Recently, Legionnaire Hervey Ross, donated a property in Acworth. However, it is in need of major renovation. That’s where we, their local community, come in. If you feel that we all have to do more on July 4 than just wave a flag and eat a hot dog, then please help build a home-away-from-home for our local veterans.
The Post Home is a base of operations for programs; a place for information, bonding and even being supported in times of personal hardship.
If everyone reading this column returns from their Independence Day celebrations to click on www.post304.org and donates, that would go a long way toward their overwhelming financial need for this renovation.
Additionally, the Post is also asking for donations of labor, materials and expertise for the renovation. There will be a need for significant work in the areas of electrical, plumbing, HVAC, flooring, lighting, painting (interior as well as exterior), ceiling tiles, etc. The Post will also need some kitchen equipment, cookware, utensils to augment what they have, as well as electronic equipment, security system, tables, chairs, dishes, silverware etc.”
Some of the most community oriented businesses in our county have stepped up to help, including Superior Plumbing and LOUD Security. Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Matthews are strong supporters also. More sponsors and donors can be found on their website. How about donating in honor of your favorite veteran or active service member?
There are many military-focused charities, but you should understand exactly where your money is going. Visit Charity Navigator and you will find out that only half of your donation to some of the most well-known charities actually makes it to the recipients. With the American Legion, neither the Commanders nor the VIRO officers, nor any volunteer, takes a dime for their extensive time helping others. It’s a volunteer organization in the truest sense of the word.
I’m a daughter of a former American Legion Post Commander and can attest to the amount of time and dedication these men put into this charitable organization.
So, this July 4, let’s give back to our veterans. There are many veterans’ organizations doing great work. Pick your favorite one. Whether we help Post 304 build their home, or help through another charity, we all have an obligation to support our veterans and active military.
JoEllen Smith lives in East Cobb with her husband and two children.