After her time in the Michigan Army National Guard, Jena Wilmers wanted to serve her community and fellow veterans, leading her to join Neal E. Fonger Post 179 in Walker, Mich.
“My love for The American Legion is rooted in my faith,” Wilmers says. “I have a servant’s heart.”
In 2016, she launched the post’s Veterans Day Student Education Program, an annual event in which American Legion Family members bring to life prominent characters in military history for area fourth- and fifth-graders.
To date, the program has brought nearly 1,000 children into Post 179 to learn about Rosie the Riveter, Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, “Poppy Lady” Moina Michael, World War I military dog Sgt. Stubby, Korean War horse Staff Sgt. Reckless, the Tuskegee Airmen and more. The West Michigan Military Round Table Association brings in military uniforms, weapons and other items for hands-on learning, while the Michigan Army National Guard lands a Black Hawk helicopter outside the post.
The event has made a lasting impression on students, says Wilmers, who hears from teachers that “the kids beg to attend the program again and even talk about it months later.”
Wilmers is now commander of the recently chartered Stars & Stripes Post 1111 in Walker, where she plans to continue the event as one of the post’s youth programs. Not only do educators see its value, but she is passionate about instilling patriotism in the next generation.
“Through the program, I pray that each student is inspired to uphold the Legion’s Americanism and Children & Youth pillars.”
Branch of Service Army National Guard (2006-2014)
Military job Aviation unit weapons and supply specialist
American Legion post Stars & Stripes Post 1111, Walker, Mich.
Years in The American Legion 8
American Legion activities
- Post 1111 commander (2020-present)
- Post 179 adjutant (2017-2020)
- Post 179 first vice commander (2014-2015)
- Post 179 second vice commander (2013-2014)
- District senior vice commander (present)
- District junior vice commander (2019)
- Department Media & Communications Committee member (2019-present)