In 1978, Army veteran Bill Feasenmyer belonged to an athletic club in his hometown of Colonial Heights, Va., along with some friends. Seeking a sponsor for their softball team, they approached American Legion Post 284, which agreed to do it – with two conditions. “They said, ‘We’ll sponsor you, but anyone who is eligible to join (the Legion) needs to join, and anyone who is not eligible we can put to work doing other things around the post,’” he recalls.
Feasenmyer, who had been sponsored by Post 284 for Virginia Boys State in 1969, became a member and one of the post’s most committed volunteers. More than 40 years later, the former 82nd Airborne paratrooper is still active at the post, department and national levels of The American Legion, including serving as director of the Department of Virginia’s Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Academy. The program brings high-school students to Virginia State Police Academy in North Chesterfield for a week of training, drilling and education in preparation for a possible career in law enforcement.
“No matter what (career) field, no matter what they do in life, (the program) will make them a better person,” Feasenmyer says. “The main theme is, ‘It’s not about me anymore. It’s about what we do as a team.’
“The transformation from Sunday when our academy starts to Friday at graduation, it’s astonishing to me. When their parents come, I see their mouths drop, and I see how proud they are. It makes me feel good and makes me come back every year. That’s what I love: just being able to make a difference in one of those 50 kids’ lives.”
Branch of Service Army (1971-1973)
Rank Specialist 4
Military job Parachute rigger
American Legion post Post 284, Colonial Heights, Va.
Years in the Legion 41
• Post commander (2005-2006)
• District commander (2008-2009)
• Department vice commander (2011-2012)
• Department Americanism chairman (2013-2015)
• Department Law & Order chairman (2015-present)
• Department Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Academy director (2015-present)
• Department treasurer (2017-present)
• National Foreign Relations Council (2012-2013)
• National Legislative Council (2011-2017)
• National Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Committee (2016-present)
• National Law and Order & Homeland Security Committee (2016-present)