ALL ROADS LEAD TO NEWPORT, OREGON THIS LAST WEEK
.........For Oregon Veterans at the Annual American Legion Convention
Highway 20 starts at the Pacific Ocean in Newport and extends all the way to Corvallis and cities beyond. Newport’s handsome American Legion building sits on Olive Street not far from the Ocean. The building got a fresh coat of paint in preparation of the arrival of the National Commander of the American Legion, James E. Koutz.
National Commander, James E Koutz met with local legionnaires at the first break of the first day of the 2013 Oregon American Legion convention at Newport’s Shilo Inn. Mr. Koutz was the keynote speaker for the four-day convention and kicked things off on this last Wednesday.
The occasion is the annual state American Legion Convention held at various posts around the state each year. The mission is to craft issues to convey to the National American Legion Headquarters for consideration at the national meeting.
It is fitting with the recognition of women at all levels of public participation that Newport’s American Legion has chosen, as their Commander, Shirley Gilmore.
Shirley is the first female Post Commander of the Newport American Legion.
Shirley joined the Air Force in 1954 fresh out of Seaside High School. She served for four years and met her present husband of 57 years at Eglin AFB in Florida. Her military job was an air traffic controller.
Shirley is not alone. The American Legion also has a large program for the wives and children of veterans through the American Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of American Legion known as SAL. Their program at the annual conclave is as ambitious as the veteran men’s program. Their patriotism too.
When asked, why American Legion; two words reoccurred: Support Veterans.
Newport has many programs to do just that. Active at this convention is veteran Jerry Flores and his wife. Jerry is the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist for the State of Oregon Employment Department.
Many veterans are reluctant to reach out to the various resources for them because they are raising a family and creating a career for themselves. Moreover, they may just be tired of the military environment of whatever shade. So, says T. Les Galloway a WW II veteran and past commander of the Oregon American Legion from 1975 to 1976 from Clatskanie, Oregon. Les served in the South Pacific beginning in 1943. He observes that the current majority of people in the Legion are Vietnam Veterans who entered a black hole after their overseas service. Now, all veterans organizations are trying to make up for this gap. Les encourages all veterans to get involved in their local Legion programs, with are extensive.
As with any such statewide meeting there are local veterans who gave their all to put it together; a task of a thousand details. David Bowman, Vice Commander of Newport’s Post #116 together with food mavens, Ralph Janes and Tracey Hubbard worked tirelessly to be sure the veteran’s insides were as warm, satisfied and cozy as their treatment of all veterans on the outside.
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