American Legion looks to bolster forces

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The American Legion celebrated its 100th anniversary last year across the nation, and Habersham County’s chapter turned 100 right behind it.

The chapter here – Post 84 – was founded Feb. 6, 1920, as folks after World War I felt there were not enough people taking care of veterans. That’s a mission our current American Legion, led by Commander Ed Hendricks, is still working on a century later.

Veterans groups in Habersham County have pooled their resources, as the American Legion, VFW Post 7720 and the Disabled American Veterans all work out of the same building in Cornelia. Their members have come together on various projects, including providing an Honor Guard for military funerals, providing funding for the Boys State program at Tallulah Falls School and a myriad of other small contributions.

When Hendricks got to Habersham County some years ago, the American Legion was more or less five guys meeting at McDonald’s. The group has grown to 100 members, but only 20 who are particularly active.

“It’s improvement, but it’s not enough,” Hendricks said Thursday, as the American Legion prepared for its 100th anniversary banquet on Tuesday, Feb. 25. “We need more veterans who want to be involved in our community to join us. A lot of our active members are like me – they’re old. We need new blood to help us grow.”

Hendricks said there are thousands of veterans in this area, but their Legion membership has not grown proportionally.

“I was in a larger organization back in the day that when they took on a project, it got done,” Hendricks said. “But we need the members and the money to make it happen.”

Members of Post 84 have quietly helped a widow of a veteran get heat in her home, find temporary housing for homeless veterans and other small services for which they do not ask for a medal.

This is an important organization, as our veterans have made great sacrifices for not just their country, but the communities they live in as well. Many of these veterans lost friends and suffered permanent damage to their health and well being while serving as patriots, and we must find ways to support their continued existence.

We would encourage local veterans who have their lives together to stop by the American Legion and find out how they can help others who have faced the same challenges they have.

Hendricks also stressed the reverse – if a veteran needs help out there, come in and ask for it, and they will see what they can do.

“If you need help, ask, and if you want to help, we welcome you,” Hendricks said.

Veterans helping each other is a good way to ensure that the American Legion has their backs for another 100 years.