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American Legion posts to help Great Bend veterans
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Military veterans in Great Bend and surrounding areas are invited this week to visit Argonne Post 180, 1011 Kansas Ave., to learn more about the organization. State headquarters staff from the American Legion will be in town Thursday through Saturday to discuss veterans’ benefits and service to the community.
Paul Sanford, Kansas membership chairman, said all wartime veterans are invited to learn more about the American Legion and veteran benefits. Membership and veteran information staff will be available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, along with members of American Legion Posts in Great Bend and surrounding areas to kick off this community and veteran service campaign.
There will be a “meet and greet” event from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday. Refreshments will be served, and a Veteran Service Officer will also be available to assist with claims or other veteran-related questions during this time.
In keeping with the over 95-year tradition of The American Legion, the rejuvenated American Legion posts in these areas will focus on community service and assistance to veterans. The scope and nature of the posts’ community service will be determined by its members and inputs from local civic and community officials.
“Service!  That’s what the American Legion is all about,” said Gaylord Sanneman, commander of The American Legion for the Department (state) of Kansas. “We exist to help each and every veteran, their families and the communities they live in.  
 “The Great Bend area is an ideal place to strengthen partnerships between the veterans and the community,” Sanneman added. “The people here care about their community and practice good citizenship every day. Now, wartime veterans have a special place from which they can make a difference.”
Since its inception in 1919, The American Legion has been a key advocate for veterans’ benefits, children & youth, patriotic American values, a strong national defense and quality-of-life issues for those serving in today’s armed forces.
The organization, which spearheaded the original GI Bill, has been advocating reform of the veteran’s health care system under its GI Bill of Health.  Creation of the federal forerunner of the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as the agency’s ascent to cabinet-level status is due in part to The American Legion’s advocacy. The American Legion was also instrumental in the establishment of the Veterans Home Loan, veterans hiring preference and just compensation to veterans suffering from illnesses related to their military service, including those whose ailments stem from exposure to Agent Orange and mysterious Persian Gulf origins.
Equally aggressive are The American Legion’s efforts to instill values in young people through numerous programs, including American Legion Boys State, American Legion Boys Nation, Junior Shooting Sports, the National High School Oratorical Contest, American Legion Baseball, Teenage Suicide Prevention, Child Health and a McGruff Safe Kids Program.  The American Legion has supported Scouting since 1919.  Many American Legion posts also support Junior ROTC high school units, fund-raising for handicapped children, and partnerships with other nonprofit organizations such as Special Olympics.