I Am The American Legion: Bill Czmyr

Bill Czmyr doesn’t take no for an answer, especially when he’s working on behalf of veterans. His post – Post 15 in Jewett City, Conn. – was forced to close in 1993. That Memorial Day, he placed flowers on veterans’ graves, working with another member who complained that no one was around to raise the colors. That’s all Czmyr needed to hear. He immediately began to revitalize the post, raise money to erase its debt, and repaint the building inside and out. “Some said, ‘Bill, you are going to need a miracle,’” says Czmyr of the post, which reopened in 1995. “They used to laugh. When we were about to open, I said, ‘Hey, about that miracle ....’” And thanks to Czmyr and others, 18 once-homeless veterans live in individual, two-room furnished apartments in a building attached to the post. They have access to medical care, shopping and a public library. The residents, many of whom were homeless for a decade or longer, are grateful for their new home and what Czmyr’s post has done for them, calling it a blessing. “I always say that I like to help veterans,” he says. “It was the most logical thing to do. Veterans need a place to live.”