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MAY 18, 2012 CAREERS Wong, post tackle challenges veterans face

National Commander Fang A. Wong and Post 754 members discuss veterans challenges with jobs and education during a New York City dinner reception.

By Cameran Richardson In early 2011, American Legion Post 754 in New

York City hosted a special screening of “Chosin,” a documentary fi lm on the Korean War, for more than 300 Legionnaires and locals. T e fi lm leſt an immediate impact on those in attendance – especially the Post 754 members. “Part of the fi lm deals with interviewing veterans

who came back from the Korean War looking for jobs,” said Post Commander Richard Sweeney. “T ere wasn’t a dry eye in the house, because it’s the same kind of challenges we see today with our returning veterans … they’re unemployed, looking for jobs and trying to target their skills to a business.” T e fi lm inspired Post 754 members to tackle these

challenges, and they are doing so by networking with local organizations who have the same mission: helping returning veterans with employment and education. In an eff ort to spread awareness of its mission, the post recently hosted a dinner reception at the New York Athletic Club, the post’s home. T e reception featured National Commander Fang A. Wong as guest speaker. Wong emphasized the need to fi nd an answer to how

servicemembers will be taken care of upon their return home. “I’ve had a lot of opportunity to talk to troops, and I always get the feeling that they are ready to do their job if we give them our support,” Wong said. “We are doing that. But then, when you look at when they come home, how are we supporting them? I’ve realized

that when the troops come home, three things, not necessarily in this order, are most important to them: job, education and family.” Post 754’s alliance with veteran-

focused organizations that share their mission is one of the many ways NYC locals are supporting returning servicemembers. Sweeney and Post 754 member Rick Miners are currently creating relationships among the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, the NYC Mayor’s Offi ce of Veterans’ Aff airs, VA and the Robin Hood Foundation. “We are all putting together a concerted eff ort to

American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong addresses the crowd at a New York Athletic Club dinner held in his honor. Photo by Amy C. Elliott

identify what exactly is the problem with veterans fi nding jobs, how many veterans are looking now for a job and how many New York residents will be coming back looking for jobs,” Sweeney said. “And rather than put the veteran out looking, we want to train them beforehand on how to look and prepare for a job. “T e good thing about this (alliance) is that if we

can get something successfully done in a huge metropolis like New York, then it’s easily transferable to regionalize it.”

Miners then

emphasized, “We want to give veterans the confi dence to go out there and present their credentials successfully so they can engage with whoever is interviewing them. We want to help veterans portray their skills in a positive light.” Wong echoed

Sweeney’s and Miners’ sentiments on ensuring that veterans are well- prepared for fi nding and interviewing for a job.

Colin Neill, president of the New York Athletic Club, American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong and Richard Sweeney, commander of Post 754, attended a dinner at Post 754 in New York City. Photo by Amy C. Elliott

SCHOLARSHIPS Virginia teen is Eagle Scout of the Year Jason E. Dreyzehner, an

18-year-old high school senior from Abingdon, Va., has been named T e American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year for 2012. An announcement of Dreyzehner’s achievement was made during the National Americanism Commission’s Spring Meetings in Indianapolis. As the recipient of the

prestigious award, Dreyzehner will receive a $10,000 college scholarship. Dreyzehner was recognized for his practical

citizenship at school, Scouting, and his commitment to community service. His Eagle Scout project consisted

of researching, planning and building a

commemorative marker bed that identifi ed the site of a fort built in Abingdon by Revolutionary War Capt. Joseph Black. With assistance from a local planner and geologist, as well as Abingdon’s town council and historical society, Dreyzehner was able to acquire a location and build a raised triangular bed made of railroad ties to closely match a current bed nearby. His completed project was unveiled during the

Virginia Highlands Festival last summer, and featured a 21-gun salute fi ring a volley in memory of those men who fought for freedom in the Revolutionary War. Dreyzehner’s commitment to community service

has earned him multiple awards, including the President’s Call to Service lifetime award for more than 4,000 hours of community service, the Presidential Volunteer Service Gold Award and the Gold Congressional Award Medal. Additionally, in 2007 he

was awarded Scouting’s National Heroism Award for rescuing a child in the ocean off Fort Fisher, N.C. T e child had been pulled out by a strong riptide during high waves associated with Hurricane Dennis. Dreyzehner plans to major in nanomedicine at the

University of Virginia with future plans to become an entrepreneur, developing solutions to complex medical problems. As the 2012 Eagle Scout of the Year, Dreyzehner will join other Legion youth program champions during the 94th Annual National Convention in Indianapolis, Aug. 24-28. T e Legion also awarded $2,500 scholarships to

Eagle Scout runners-up Jonathan Chapman III of Germantown, Tenn.; Robert Kawecki of Charlotte, N.C.; and Sean Chmielewski of Salem, Conn. Visit to read Dreyzehner’s

account of his passions for citizenship, Scouting and community service.

“People hiring like to look for those buzz words – words

that will fi t exactly what they are looking for,” Wong said. “If you put yourself down as an infantry offi cer, they don’t understand what that is. Human Resources has no clue what military personnel will bring to their company if the veteran doesn’t highlight his or her skills. T ey are the best-trained, the most intelligent, the most dependable, the most capable and the most disciplined employees you can fi nd.” In addition to its focus on veteran employment and

education, Post 754 is looking to educate the hiring population on how to interview veterans. “We see, time again, where people who are interviewing the veterans don’t know what to ask them,” Miners said. “T ey never ask about their service, branch of service, what they learned or what skills they had.” Sweeney has been searching for organizations or

individuals who train employees on how to interview veterans; his search has come up empty. “It’s important that those interviewing veterans recognize his or her service, because if not, oſt entimes the veterans walk away saying, ‘I’ve been humiliated, and it’s already tough enough that I have to look for a job,’” Sweeney said. “Educating the hiring population is one of the simple things that we can work on to make a diff erence for our veterans.” Post 754 was chartered in 1919, is located on the 12th

fl oor of the New York Athletic Club and has nearly 230 members. A few of its former members include World War I Army Gen. John Pershing; and political leader, Medal of Honor recipient and Legion founder T eodore Roosevelt Jr.

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