By Shawn Nowlin email@example.com
The local American Legion Post is doing its best to continue its mission of enhancing the well-being of America’s Veterans, their families, the military and communities by the devotion to mutual helpfulness. Located at 710 Apperson Drive in Salem, the organization is currently looking to expand its membership and encourages interested individuals to contact 540-389-3773.
Steve Fleming, a former US Marine, has been assigned the Athletic Director for the Legion’s youth sports. New blood, he said, is always needed for any organization to grow.
“I have learned so much about the community. Had I not joined the Legion, there is no way I would have understood the value of the City of Salem. I love giving back to the community and making a difference. Something as simple as a free coat could make all the difference in the world for somebody,” Fleming added.
Formed on March 15, 1919, the Legion is made up of state, U.S. territory and overseas departments. Historically speaking, the American Legion played a vital role in the drafting and passing of the G.I. Bill, or the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, which was a law that provided a range of benefits for some of the returning World War II Veterans.
By lobbying on behalf of the interest of Veterans and service members, the Legion has been able to significantly improve pensions and the Veterans Health Administration, among other things over the years. The Legion promotes Americanism which is an attachment or allegiance to the traditions, institutions and ideals of the United States.
During a gathering last December, the Salem Legion hosted a coat giveaway and catered dinner for all Veterans.
“The coat drive came up during our monthly meeting several months ago. As a Post, we want to serve the community. We have never had a coat drive, so we tossed the idea around and most of the members loved it,” Fleming said. “It went from a small idea to a bomb! The Salem VA got behind the concept and that made a huge difference.”
Long before he ever volunteered for any Roanoke Valley Legion, Charles Smith says he encouraged those around him to give back to the less fortunate. “This is how I see it. Everyone goes through adversity in life, but everyone’s adversity is not the same. One person thinking, ‘I have to budget groceries to make ends meet’ is entirely different from someone else saying, ‘I hope when I sleep in my car tonight, I don’t get attacked.’ Life is about perspective. You don’t have to have a lot of money to be nice to a stranger,” Smith explained.
A few years ago, the Salem Legion Post had just a few members. Today, that number has grown, but members want to expand even more.
“We have some amazing ideas that we’d love to bring to the area. I’ve personally been working behind the scenes to make some things happen,” Fleming said. “Without support from the community though, it’s almost impossible to things done. I’m hopeful that more people will choose to get involved.”