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American Legion holds state convention in Great Bend
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The American Legion of Kansas held its 94th annual convention in Great Bend this weekend in conjunction with the 92nd American Legion Auxiliary, and the Sons of the American Legion. The convention alternates each year between Topeka and Great Bend.
There were an estimated 550 people from across the state who attended to elect new officers, amend the Department Constitution and elect delegates to the National Convention. The 7th District Ladies Auxiliary (Great Bend area) was in charge.
Speakers for the American Legion included Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, VA Service Central Manager Jason Ware, National Vice Commander David Voyles, Commander of the Wounded Warrior Battalion Lt. Col. Christopher D. Zielke, Director of KCVA Gregg Burden, and the National Auxiliary President Kris Nelson.
Officers and those in charge gave year end reports that will go on to the national convention. The organization supports 25  programs for veterans, children and the community
But that is not all, the participants also enjoy the camaraderie.
Sixth District Commander of Concordia, Dave Hazelwood, said, “I wouldn’t miss it. We come for the camaraderie, friendship- seeing old friends.”
Kobach spoke about budget cuts and about groups that have nonprofit status.
Also honored were the youth champions supported by the American Legion including Boys and Girls State, along with many other speakers.
The new commander for the American Legion is Paul Sanford. Locally, LaVeta Miller, who was in chair of the organizing  committee, was named to the National Board, including Trish Ward, Louisburg, and Katie Jo Baumgardner.
Nancy Hayes, Lyons, was named woman of the year and her name will be submitted to nationals.
Cherie Thomas of Leavenworth was named president of the auxiliary for the 2012-13 year.
Pages named to the National Convention were  Mary Nelson and Miller.
“We are members of the American Legion Auxiliary because of a veteran in our life,” said Nelson. “Everything we do is in their honor. Our country is at war; the need to support our veterans, military and their families is great.”