Kansas ALR chapter keeping tabs on community’s aging veterans

Kansas ALR chapter keeping tabs on community’s aging veterans

Last November, members of American Legion Riders Chapter 140 in Lindsborg, Kan., provided an escort for a World War II veteran celebrating his 100th birthday riding in a 1942 Cadillac limousine.

That ride – and the interaction with the veteran – has led the chapter to take on an even larger role with the aging veterans in the community.

Since providing the escort for U.S. Marine Corps veteran Will Vargus, members of Chapter 140 have been spending Tuesday evenings visiting Vargus and the other veterans living at Bethany Village, a non-profit continuing care community in Lindsborg. Chapter 140 Director Kyle Ableman Sr. said it’s a chance to learn more about those veterans while also providing some assistance.

“We’ve been meeting with other veterans and helping them with any needs they have,” Ableman said. “We’ve been setting up some service officer meetings. Just making sure they have everything they need.”

The Tuesday meetings came about after Chapter 140 learned about Vargus’ wish to ride in the limo and volunteered to provide an escort. The Riders followed alongside the Cadillac while members of the community came out of their homes to observe the procession and honor Vargus.

“It’s a pretty small town, and a lot of the town turned out on the side streets with flags and put their hands over their hearts,” Ableman said. “There were veterans saluting. It was just an amazing ride.

“And it turns out that Will used to ride motorcycles back in the day. He was super excited. He and I got to spend a few minutes talking before the ride. He was telling me about his motorcycles and how he missed it. Seeing his excitement … and then this all just bloomed from there."

Ableman said in addition to providing assistance, meeting with the veterans at Bethany Village is a chance to talk about shared experiences and learn more about the veterans. “I think it’s our duty to remember those veterans,” he said. “That’s pretty much in everything we say we do as Legion Riders: supporting veterans, community and everything like that. This is really important to all of us.

“We’ve heard a lot about veterans being forgotten in homes. To see these guys happy that we come and hang out with them Tuesday nights … we talk about everything. Their history. There are some amazing stories we can get from some of these veterans.”