Iowa Legion post gets $20,000 'surprise'

When USAA – The American Legion’s preferred provider of insurance and financial services – announced last fall its Salute Your Post contest, Bradley Anderson decided to enter it. And then he forgot about it.

So it was a nice surprise to Anderson, the adjutant of George G. Luckey Post 57 in Vinton, Iowa, when he found out his post had won a $20,000 donation from USAA. Anderson and Post 57 got the ceremonial check from USAA representatives during a ceremony Dec. 19 that was attended by state Legion leadership and American Legion National Commander Denise H. Rohan.

“I’m a member of USAA, so I thought, ‘What the heck? I’d give it a shot,’” Anderson said. “I didn’t think I’d win. I was shocked because I’d forgotten I’d entered. I was excited once I figured out it wasn’t a hoax.”

Post 57 – which was drawn from approximately 7,000 contest entries – was chartered in 1919 and regularly sponsors participants at Hawkeye American Legion Boys State. It also participates in the local elementary school flag essay contest and provides Vinton and the surrounding area with a color guard and honor guard.

“We’ve got some repairs that we need to do, which will help a lot,” Anderson said. “We’ve got other projects that we wouldn’t mind contributing to.”

The check was presented by USAA’s Steve Cochran, assistant vice president for Military Affinity Business Development. “We try to (engage) The American Legion members and get them interested in USAA, know what we’re doing and our mission,” he said. “Our mission is aligned with The American Legion. It’s all about serving current military, the veterans and their families. It’s about financial readiness and us providing our financial services and products. To sponsor a contest like this, you get people energized. And a donation goes back to the post. You couldn’t ask for a better outcome.”

Cochran, a member of Post 2 in San Antonio, said his company’s relationship with The American Legion is “extremely important. And to go down to the post level, you understand what the individuals are at the local level, and you get to have a personal relationship with them.”

Rohan, who was born and raised in Elkader, Iowa, until she joined the Army, said she and her husband Mike have been USAA customers for more than 30 years.

“We’re not only impressed with their service, but in their outreach to the public that they have as well,” Rohan said. “Less than 1 percent of Americans served in the military. And in actuality … it’s closer to half a percent. That means fewer people understand the sacrifices that are routinely made not just by our military members, but the sacrifices also being made by their families as well.

“Those television advertisements by USAA are not just about selling financial and insurance services. They are great reminders that military service is not just about our heroes, but includes those individuals’ families as well. The American Legion and USAA are all about putting our families first.”