Legion hopes to reconnect

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 26, 2000

American Legion Post No.

Tuesday, December 26, 2000

American Legion Post No. 91 wants to connect with today’s soldiers.

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The veterans want to help their modern-day counterparts.

World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans say they can be a "voice" for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces today.

The veterans marching in patriotic parades and holding flag-raisings to celebrate America are growing older and their numbers are decreasing every day.

Now, the American Legion is attempting to recruit young blood into its ranks.

It’s called "Operation Reconnect" and it’s about building a bond, according to Jim Kellogg, Adams. Kellogg is a member of Adams American Legion Post No. 146 and membership director for the First District Minnesota American Legion.

Along with Dave Towne, Adams, the Minnesota Department of American Legion vice commander, the pair were joined by representatives of the Austin post Saturday morning at the Austin National Guard Armory.

They visited with Capt. Jason Graaf, commander of "Bravo" split company of the 434th Main Support Battalion of the Minnesota Army National Guard greeted the American Legion delegation and heard their presentation.

The National Guard was holding a regular monthly weekend drill at the Austin armory.

Operation Reconnect is a national American Legion program designed to link with active duty soldiers as well as National Guard and Army Reserve units everywhere.

"We’re focusing on National Guard and Army Reserve units, because they are being used more and more today for active duty missions of the U. S. Armed Forces," said Kellogg. "The American Legion wants to help and work with them on any of their needs."

According to Kellogg, one of the ways the First District Minnesota American Legion has been able to help accomplish its mission is to arrange for weekend child care services for soldiers attached to the Rochester unit. "The American Legion Auxiliary helped by providing the weekend child care services to soldiers who have children and don’t have the resources to place them in good hands when they’re on duty," Kellogg said.

"One of the most important things we can do is represent your group of soldiers on veterans issues," said Ray Waters, who was a member of the old 47th Transportation Battalion of the National Guard in Austin.

"We can be your mouth-piece. We can be your voice before Congress," said Towne.

"Before the United States sends you on a new mission, we can be there to assist with any special needs you may have or your family may have," said Jim Goudy, past-commander of the Austin post.

"There’s the American Legion, Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion. That’s a lot of help," said Waters.

The delegation, which included Ron Oman, commander of the Austin post, and Ray Sellers, the Mower County American Legion commander, distributed brochures about their organization with Graaf to promulgate among the National Guard soldiers.

According to the company commander, Graaf, the local National Guard unit is slated to be activated in 2003.

Oman said, "We want to make the National Guard personnel aware they are eligible to become members of the American Legion and of the services that are available to them."

According to Oman, more than 50 percent of today’s U.S. Armed Forces presently stationed around the world on eight different missions are National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers.