“It is very important that seasoned members of The American Legion reach out to the younger members and bring them in to make them feel welcome. You have to let them know their presence is important.”
Mentorship matters to retired Lt. Col. Patricia Jackson-Kelley, Los Angeles County Council commander of The American Legion and a member of Jackie Robinson Post 252.
She remembers living in New York decades ago, a mother in her mid-30s working as a nurse and studying for a bachelor’s degree. She joined the Navy Reserve and embarked on a career that led to active-duty service, an officer’s commission, and a passion for veterans that has brought accomplishments, awards and appointments her way.
“The American Legion is about compassion, caring, humility, respect, honesty, integrity and guidance,” she says. She learned that from Barbara Henry, the woman who mentored her. “At the meetings, she had me sit beside her and (she’d) tell me about the Legion. Barbara taught me the importance of embracing new members and mentoring them.”
Now herself a mentor of young people, Jackson-Kelley is closely involved with Junior ROTC and the American Legion School Award Medal Program. As a veterans advocate, she states her mission clearly on her résumé: “To empower women veterans to live up to their full potential.”
A former Greater Los Angeles VA women veterans coordinator, Jackson-Kelley has been recognized at the local, state and national levels for her work on behalf of veterans, women in particular.
Branch of Service: Navy Reserve, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Army Reserve
Rank at Discharge: Lieutenant colonel
MOS: Nurse, instructor, counselor
American Legion Post: Jackie Robinson Post 252, Los Angeles
Years in the Legion: 17 (paid up for life)