American Legion staff and volunteers are in Las Vegas all week to spread the word about Legion programs to a rather large audience – attendees of the annual Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show and Conference.
The SHOT Show is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law-enforcement industries. More than 1,600 exhibitors – including Smith & Wesson, Remington, Glock and Swiss Army – are filling the Sands Conference Center; their products are being perused by more than 62,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries.
"What a great backdrop for us to have to spread the word about American Legion programs," said Mark H. Ochsenbein, one of the Legion volunteers at the SHOT Show and a consultant to the Legion's National Security Commission. "That's why I'm here: to represent the Legion, and to show how we support and help veterans. It's a great audience for that here."
The Legion representatives will be handing out brochures that promote programs and services provided by The American Legion, such as the Legion's Junior Shooting Sports program and veterans benefits assistance.
The Legion's booth is set up within the mammoth Otis Technology display. Also within Otis' area is the Stars and Stripes Foundation, featuring Medal of Honor recipients Michael Thornton and Thomas Norris.
"It's important to see the Legion associated with some of the greatest warriors in the world," Ochsenbein said. "I think that's really pretty neat."
National Finance Commission Chairman Kenneth Danilson and Past National Commander David Rehbein are the other Legion volunteers at the SHOT Show.
"This is really pretty amazing," Rehbein said of the show. "I've been to other trade shows, and I don't know how you could come here and see everything."
Rehbein said the Legion's presence at the SHOT Show is a natural fit. "So many of the people here share many of the same values that we have in The American Legion," he said. "By being here, we're effectively showing our support and concern we have for Second Amendment rights and issues.
"This is just speculation on my part, but I think those issues may be more important to our newest generation of veterans. They may have stronger feelings about it because they volunteered for the service. They had those same values before they joined."