Needs of veterans at the forefront of the Valley legion meeting

Published 10:00 am Thursday, January 12, 2023

VALLEY — American Legion Post 67 met Tuesday evening to discuss ways the local organization can be more responsive to the needs of local veterans. The local post has 81 members but has lost many long-time active members in recent years, partly due to the passing away of the few remaining World War II veterans and the aging of those who fought in the Korean War. Another factor is that the Covid-19 pandemic changed the way society functions. Some people aren’t as active as they once were.

Post Commander Lanny Bledsoe, a former Marine, is looking at the possibility of the Legion hosting a monthly program at Valley Community Center. It would be a means of connecting local veterans with an official from an organization such as the VA to discuss their needs.

In recent years, Post 67 has organized A Day for the Veteran programs at Valley Community Center where local veterans could drop by and discuss their needs with someone who could help them. These programs sometimes drew more than 100 local veterans who had the opportunity to discuss their needs with a number of representatives of such organizations as the VA, Vet to Vet, DAV and so on.

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Bledsoe said he’d like to have such an event in February. When the date, time and location is agreed on, the Post will be making an announcement. It will be published in The Valley Times-News, on social media, and posters will placed at public places throughout the Valley.

Bledsoe said he’s convinced such events are needed because of the fellow veterans he comes across while going to places like the Community Center, Walmart and Givorns. 

“I recognize them with the caps they are wearing,” he said. “If they served in the Vietnam War, many of them are proud to have served their country and like to wear a Vietnam Veterans cap. I always like to talk to those who served in the armed forces and to ask if they are getting the help they have earned.”

Bledsoe said that he’s troubled over reports he reads of veterans having high rates of homelessness and suicide. 

“I’ve read that every day as many as 38,000 veterans get their meals out of trash cans,” he said. “Anyone who has honorably served their country deserves much better than that. We need to be doing better than that as a country.”

For now, the Post wants to get the word out that they want to be hosting a monthly event where veterans can come and talk about the problems they are having and their needs. It will give them a chance to meet with officials who can offer them advice on help that’s available to them they may not be aware of.