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Turning a negative into a positive

Turning a negative into a positive

It started out as an incredibly sad situation: An 81-year-old veteran, unable to physically get himself to the grocery store, calls 911 and tells the dispatcher he has no way of getting food. But thanks to the actions of Post 202 in Fayetteville, N.C., the story has a happy ending.

Clarence R. Blackmon, Jr., who served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956, called 911 after returning home from being in the hospital for cancer treatments and rehabilitation. According to the Fayetteville Observer, Blackmon told the dispatcher, “I can barely walk without holding on to a chair.”

The dispatcher and a Fayetteville police officer took Mr. Blackmon to get some food. In the meantime, members of Post 202 had seen the story in the newspaper and sprang into action. Post Commander George C. Cade called an emergency meeting of the post’s executive committee, and a fund was immediately established to provide Mr. Blackmon with money for groceries and take him shopping.

That Mr. Blackmon’s situation had come to this was difficult for Post 202 Adjutant Crystal Renee Saunders to swallow. “It really hit me hard because it showed that some veterans don’t know there are many veterans organizations in Fayetteville that can assist them,” Saunders said. “Mr. Blackmon did the best he could by calling 911. But even though this was a very unfortunate story, it did help us get the word out that we’re here to help all veterans in this area. So something very positive came out of this.”

The story doesn’t end there. Saunders also doubles as an assistant department service officer and has traveled across North Carolina on her own dime helping with the department’s Veterans Benefits Action Centers this year. But working in her own backyard, she was able to file compensation, pension, and Aid and Attendance paperwork on behalf of Mr. Blackmon so he can start getting help from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Saunders also picked up the tab for Mr. Blackmon’s first year of membership in Post 202 and plans on taking him to future post events. And the post will take him grocery shopping again in the next few weeks.“(Blackmon) was ecstatic through all this,” Saunders said. “He was very appreciative of everything we were able to do for him.”

Cade said that’s why the Legion is in Fayetteville. “It makes me feel good we were able to carry out The American Legion’s mission by helping this veteran,” Cade said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Saunders said that Mr. Blackmon calling 911 to get help is proof that too many veterans needing help are falling through the cracks. Fortunately, American Legion posts like Post 202 in Fayetteville stand ready to assist those veterans. Feeling alone and helpless in May, Mr. Blackmon now knows that The American Legion is there for him.
Convention sergeants-at-arms needed
Department Adjutants are asked to submit their recommendations for National Convention Assistant Sergeants-at-Arms to Jeff Brown, executive director of the Indianapolis Office. It is important that they include the complete mailing address of each recommendation, since a letter of appointment is mailed to each nominee.