A wall of war heroes

I recently had an opportunity to visit a newly chartered post at Grasslands Estates, an independent senior living facility in Wichita, Kan., and the home of Grasslands Estate American Legion Post 422. My visit their reminded me that we cannot forget the prospective Legion members at nursing homes and retirement centers where a large number of our aging veterans reside.

In December 2011, Department of Kansas Commander Paul Sanford visited Grasslands Estates to speak about Pearl Harbor Day. When Sanford walked inside, he saw a "Wall of War Heroes" that featured photographs and biographies of 40 veterans living in the independent senior living center. After his speech, nearly 20 of them asked if they could join The American Legion.

Sanford could have easily located a nearby post for them to join, but instead he saw an opportunity for the veterans to become a part of something that they personally created. As a result, Grasslands Estates Post 422 was chartered in January 2012. And with Sanford’s guidance, Post 422 members set dues, elected post officers and became the only post in the state of Kansas to have all members living under one roof.

When I visited Post 422, each member greeted me dressed in a suit and tie, and I watched them post colors and conduct their monthly meeting by the book. The men are full of energy and have a new lease on life, and I know for certain it’s because they are now a part of The American Legion family. The members’ unending energy keeps them active in the community by attending Legion state conferences, hosting fundraisers and sponsoring young men to Kansas Boys State.

The Wichita community and Grasslands Estates administration also are proud of the veterans’ ambition to charter a Legion post. To show their support, nearly 100 people attended Post 422’s first meeting, where they were presented their charter from Sanford. Attendees included local Legionnaires, Legion Riders, state and district officers, news reporters and family members.

Grasslands Estates Legion Post 422 is a great example of the number of veterans still waiting to become part of the Legion family. I encourage you to visit your local senior living facility or nursing home because they too may their own heroes waiting to join.