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American Legion post honored to help veterans


American Legion Glen Hill Post #287 is on a mission to help veterans. Post file photo.

By Judy Reed


Glen Hill Post #287 is named after Glen Hill, a young corporal from Cedar Springs killed in action during World War I. Photo courtesy of the Cedar Springs Historical Museum.

If a veteran or their family needs help, there is one place they can count on to give them some help—their local American Legion post. And the American Legion post here in Cedar Springs is no exception.

The post is named after Glen Hill, a young man from Cedar Springs drafted into World War I in 1917. He participated in the battles of Champagne, Aisne, Saint Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne. After being decorated twice for gallantry in action, Corporal Glen Hill died of wounds received in battle in the Argonne Forest in France, on October 19, 1918. (Some sources say October 17.) He was 25 years old, and was laid to rest in Solon Cemetery.

Glen Hill Post #287 received their temporary charter in June of 1920, followed by their permanent charter in August 1921. And they’ve been helping veterans ever since.

“We are a veterans organization and our main goal is to help veterans,” explained Post #287 Commander Skipper Townes. “We lobby Congress for a better budget for active and inactive personnel; lobby for better conditions in VA hospitals; more recognition for vets, and try to get more help for those with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). They never really looked at it during previous wars. Guys would come home and commit suicide. We want more help for them.”

He also noted that they try to get more adequate wages for those serving. “Privates live under the poverty level. They would lose money if they tried to get food benefits,” he explained.

Townes said one of the things they’ve tried to do is to get the VA to treat Veterans sooner rather than making them wait years. He said their Post can help veterans with their claims to get the benefits they need. All they have to do is ask for help.

The Post holds Bingo nights often and the proceeds are put in a fund for veterans and families that need help. You don’t need to be a member to request help. The funds are also used to donate to the Grand Rapids Home for the Veterans. They recently had them at the Post for a dinner, and other times (usually once a month) they go to GR Home for Veterans and hold a dinner there. They also give money to many other community entities, such as the ministerial association to help with food. “We give wherever help is needed,” explained Townes.

But there’s a lot more that goes on than just Bingo nights and dinners. They annually organize Memorial Day activities in area cemeteries; hold Veterans Day activities, and march in area parades, such as the Grand Rapids Veterans Parade. They will be at Metron of Cedar Springs on November 11 at 2:15 p.m. to do a flag ceremony. They will do a reading of the folds of the flag, and explain the POW/MIA table. They will be accompanied by the Cedar Springs Marching Band, who also plays at the Memorial Day ceremonies. In return, the Post donates money to them as well.

The Post holds a lot of youth activities and offers several scholarships through the state legion. They send youth to boys and girls state, where youth can learn about the government and earn scholarships there. There is an oratorical contest scholarship, baseball scholarship; shooting program, and much more. With the oratorical contest, students can start entering in 9th grade, and keep entering until they turn 18. First prize is $20,000. Go to michiganlegion.org to find a list of scholarships, their deadlines, and eligibility rules.

The Post has about 240 Legion members. There are more members under the Auxiliary (spouses) and Sons of the American Legion. “We are trying to get about five members who’d like to create a motorcycle riders group,” noted Townes.

He also said that rules have recently been revised by Congress on who is eligible to join as a member. American Legion is open to those veterans honorably discharged from December 7, 1941 to the current day, as well as WWI. This takes in National Guard, reservists, Air National Guard, and more. “Previously eligibility was based on individual wars or conflicts, and there was always the cold war gap. Congress finally realized we were at war with the communists during that time,” he said.

In the Auxiliary, spouses (male or female) and their daughters can join, and granddaughters, and on, for as many generations as they have. The auxiliary has many of their own programs, such as an upcoming blanket and winter coat drive for homeless veterans.

Similarly, Sons of the American Legion can join under their father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. They also have their own projects that they do.

We’ve only scratched the surface on all the ways the Post can help veterans, and they types of things they do. If you’d like to join, or would like more information, or know of a veteran who needs help, you can contact the Post #287 at 696-9160.

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