The American Legion’s focus is on service to the nation’s men and women in uniform, veterans, their families and communities, according to Commander Kenneth Governor, American Legion, Department of New York.
And that was the message he brought to Crowley-Barnum American Legion Post No. 25 in Mohawk Tuesday, where Herkimer County American Legion, Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion members from around the county gathered to welcome him and other state Legion officials.
Governor, who was elected commander of the Department of New York in July, was in Herkimer County for an official visit along with state American Legion Auxiliary President Barbara Corker and state Sons of the American Legion Detachment Commander John Chang.
After lunch, the American Legion and SAL members visited Remington Arms in Ilion, while Auxiliary members headed for the Herkimer Diamond Mines on state Route 28 near Middleville. A testimonial dinner took place in the evening to honor the guests.
WCV member honored
Edward Falk, of Newport, got a surprise Tuesday evening when Governor paused at the start of his dinner remarks at Crowley-Barnum Post No. 25 and presented Falk with the New York Department Commander’s Award of Excellence.
The award, Governor told Falk, “is gratefully presented in recognition of your 60 years of dedication to our men and women in uniform, our veterans, their families and your community.”
Governor then listed Falk’s “commendable” service - as “Post commander, service officer, honor guard and many other Post positions in West Canada Valley American Legion Post No. 1524, and your service to your community with the Newport Volunteer Fire Department, Kuyahoora Valley Ambulance Corps and blood drive coordinator for the fire department and the American Legion.”
Upon accepting the award, the 83-year-old Falk quipped, “I like to think I’m still trying to be a good Boy Scout.”
Issues and concerns
When asked about current American Legion concerns, Governor said, “At present, we’re concerned about how our men and women in uniform will be affected by this government shutdown. We have urged Congress to make sure they receive their pay.”
He said the Legion would not want to see that situation have a negative impact on military personnel or on future volunteers.
He said the Legion advocates for veterans and servicemen and women at the national and state levels.
Among the concerns the Legion is addressing is the need for servicemen and women to be able to transfer training they receive in the military — for example, operating heavy equipment or serving as medics — to related civilian positions. Another concern is for the spouses. For example, if someone is a teacher in South Carolina and moves to New York to be with his or her spouse, that individual cannot teach in this state without a New York state teacher’s certificate. Governor would like to see states make it easier to transfer those credentials.
Page 2 of 2 - Chang said the Sons of the American Legion has 28,500 members in New York and 350,000 nationwide. “We support the Legion and Auxiliary and are part of the American Legion family,” he said.
Chang is a member of the SAL and the American Legion. He was deployed during Desert Storm and Operation Joint Endeavor and retired in 2005 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He currently resides in Tarrytown. His wife and daughter are members of the Auxiliary and his son is a member of the SAL.
The Auxiliary also serves as an advocate for veterans and active duty personnel, according to Corker.
“We’re 45,000 strong in the Department of New York,” she said. “We’re seeking members to pass it on to future generations so we’ll be her for the soldiers of tomorrow.”
For information about membership requirements, visit www.deptny.org/join/. Women who are not eligible to join can serve as volunteers, according to Corker.
Her project for the year is the American Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors project, which provides “non-essential” items to help wounded warriors in their recovery. These items can include loose-fitting sweatsuits to cover healing wounds, iPods to help drown out tinnitus and other items. Corker said she visited Fort Drum in Watertown in June when OCW donated recreation equipment to the adaptive sports program there.
Governor said one group in Iraq lost all their equipment in a mortar attack and OCW donated funds to replace their laptop computers.
The American Legion has a National Emergency Fund which donated some $750,000 last year to help Legionnaires and their families get back on their feet after Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters. The fund is largely depleted, Governor said, and he hopes to raise money to help replenish it.
Corker said when servicemen and women return from combat they should receive the care they need.
That hasn’t always happened, Governor said, but added, “I think we’re doing much better.”
“Times have changed,” said Chang. “We need to step up and realize we have to do more.”
For information about the American Legion, visit www.ny.legion.org and for the SAL, visit www.sonsdny.org.