As a Tulsa, Okla., police officer and director of Oklahoma American Legion Boys State, Clay Ballenger knows how important it is for young men to have positive role models.
“To me, it all goes back to what you’re exposed to and taught growing up,” he says. “It really shapes the type of adult you’re going to be and what impact you have on society, good or bad.”
What Ballenger appreciates most about The American Legion, especially the Boys State program, is that it offers youth opportunities they may not get anywhere else. “Many of them, if they come from broken homes or have difficult situations back home, they can come here and meet some positive role models who truly care, who are taking their time to try to inspire them to make something of themselves, to serve the greater good and to do the right thing.”
In 1990, Ballenger participated in Oklahoma Boys State as a high school student. He says his time as a delegate shaped the man he is today.
“I was a good kid and had a good family, but I’ve had a more positive impact on the world around me because of my experience at Boys State, because I went on to serve. I want to pass that on to others.”
Branch of Service Army Reserve (1995-2006)
Military job Quartermaster officer
American Legion post Post 1, Tulsa, Okla.
Years in the Legion 13
• Oklahoma Boys State director (2004, 2015-present)
• Oklahoma Boys State staff (1993-2004, 2015-present)
• Boys Nation staff (2004, 2015-present)
• National Americanism Council (2016-2018)
• Department Americanism Commission chairman (2016-2017)
• Department Legionnaire of the Year (2016)