American Legion Henry L. Dabbs Post 103 of Alexander City recently became active again and is recruiting local veterans to join.
The American Legion is a national organization for U.S. war veterans and has local posts around the country.
Post commander Danny Wright said he was emailed a few months ago from the post’s district and was requested to meet with Alexander City members. Wright and other members who attended were given positions and the group started holding meetings three months ago.
The meetings have been steadily growing with people and about 50 veterans attended the American Legion meeting last week. Wright said he has a list of 75 to 80 names of vets who haven’t paid their dues in years.
“The word is getting out that we’re back,” Wright said. “Each week, like our first meeting, we started with 12 people and four of them were visitors. Our next meeting we ended up with 15 to 20 (people).”
The group has been meeting every third Thursday of the month at the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex.
Wright is unsure how many years the organization was inactive. Post vice commander Matt Moss said the post remained inactive for so long because as the former leaders got older no one replaced them.
“From my understanding it was older guys got up in age and there wasn’t a younger generation to pick up the torch,” Moss said.
What has helped the American Legion post add people is younger veterans under 50 attending, according to Moss. About seven younger veterans are a part of the organization.
“What makes our post unique out of the district (we’re in) is we have a lot of younger guys and ladies,” Moss said. “Since I’ve been involved with it for about four months now what I’ve learned is serving other veterans is the key for the younger generations helping out the older guys.”
Moss served in the U.S. Army from 2002 to 2005 and was deployed to Iraq from October 2004 to October 2005. Moss said joining the American Legion has helped him connect to older veterans and have someone to talk to about post-traumatic stress disorder.
“To me as a younger veteran I love being around older vets to learn life lessons because most guys when they get out they struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder,” Moss said. “That’s a big thing right now and hanging around older veterans you can learn about what triggers that. That’s one thing I’ve learned and being involved in the American Legion has taken that loneliness away because I’m around other veterans.”
Moss encourages all younger veterans to join their local military organizations.
In addition to recruiting younger veterans, the post also works to keep its two World War II veterans attending the meetings by transporting them.
“One of our biggest goals for those two members is to make sure they have transportation to the meeting and they have transportation home,” Wright said. “Those are few and far in between now.”
The post’s goal for this year includes recruiting more veterans for the year. Wright and Moss will be at Alexander City’s National Night Out tonight and Oktoberfest on Oct. 12. They also make sure to approach veterans when they see them in the community.
“We try to keep some forms very close to us,” Wright said.
Next year’s goal is to get members trained to help veterans get started with making claims, according to Wright.
“The revitalization of the Alexander City American Legion Post 103 is long overdue and we look forward to being a vital part of the community again,” American Legion service officer Nicole Goodman said. “We encourage all veterans to come to a meeting and to consider joining.”
Anyone interested in joining the post can contact Wright at 256-675-6208.