National Legion Commander Visits Northfield
The National Commander of The American Legion, Daniel M. Dellinger, found time during his whirlwind tour of Vermont to make two stops in Northfield last Friday. He visited The Veterans’ Place on Vine Street for a tour of the facility and breakfast at 8 a.m. and finished up his very busy day to take advantage of Northfield’s Legion post Friday Night Dinners and to meet and greet post members. His round trip, from Burlington to White River, included stops in Northfield, Barre, and Montpelier. During his time at The Veterans’ Place (and between bites of bacon) the Commander explained both the purpose of his visit to the state and why he came to The Veterans’ Place in particular. “I’ve come to Vermont to talk about veterans about their concerns- health care mainly, and this ties into the home right here. We’re here to make sure our veterans are getting the best care possible in the VA system and this (The Veterans’ Place) is linked to the VA. It’s essential that no one is left behind. They put the uniform on and took care of the country and now it’s our turn to take care of them. This is my first time at this facility. I have been to facilities in places like this in other states they take good care of our veterans. They really help him or her get back on their feet,” the Commander said.
Stephen Weston, President of the Board of Directors, The Veterans’ Place was pleased to explain the importance of the role The Veterans’ Place plays in aiding homeless veterans and to show off the facility to the National Commander. “It’s basically to demonstrate to him what we do here in the State of Vermont to help our homeless veterans to get back into society and to contribute to the overall economy of the state. Vermont has a problem as does every state with homeless veterans and veterans who have kind of dropped out of society and this is a way to provide help for them. We like to get the chance to explain what we are doing to national organizations,” Mr. Weston said.
National Commander Dellinger also took time to explain his goals as National Commander and the overall philosophy of The American Legion (short version) on a national level. “My main goal is make everyone aware of the veterans. I think we’re one of the best kept secrets around and I don’t think that we tell people who we are and what we do. I think its’ essential that we get that word out. It’s just like “The Field Of Dreams” you build it and they will come. The American Legion has been doing great things for 95 years for our community, or state and our nation. I think it is very important that we continue that tradition because I think the American Legion is needed now more than ever before. With the cuts in Washington and the cuts to the military it’s up to us to see that our veterans are taken care of. We have to make sure they have jobs. We have to make sure they can take care of their families. It’s all right there. The American Legion can help. My project for the year (every Legion National Commander has his own special project during their one-year post as National Commander.) is a national emergency fund. Last year we gave out over $750,000 in grants across the country. We were able to help in places like Moore, Oklahoma last summer, and New Jersey when Hurricane Sandy hit in September. We helped when wildfires hit out west. We have to make sure we are there for our veterans every day and that takes money. So I am trying to raise a million dollars this year all across the country,” the National Commander said.
He wrapped up his very busy day with a short visit at Northfield’s Legion post where he was able to meet with and hear the concerns of local legion members (in between photo ops) and enjoy the Legion’s Friday night cuisine.