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National American Legion officer makes stop in Fort Scott

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Veterans affairs, national security, Americanism and children and youth -- the four pillars the American Legion was founded on -- were the focus of National Vice Commander of the Midwest Region Glenn Hickman's presentation Tuesday.

As part of a 20-post, four-day tour, Hickman stopped at American Legion Post 25 in Fort Scott, meeting with about 22 people in the American Legion Room at Memorial Hall.

"I also talked about the national commander's charity this year, which is Operation Comfort Warrior," Hickman said. All proceeds go to wounded warriors returning from combat, who have stays at VA hospitals nationwide ranging from a month up to a couple of years.

From left, American Legion Post 25 Adjutant Ken Lyon, Marvin Taylor, Delbert Schilling, Commander Wayne Stringer and Pam Henderson, district representative for U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., talk in the American Legion Room of Memorial Hall after a presentation by Glenn Hickman, National Vice Commander.(Ruth Campbell/Tribune)
Hickman, of Grove City, Ohio, was traveling Tuesday with State Commander of Kansas Paul Sanford. Hickman's territory covers Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota and Ohio.

"I'm all over," he said.

Elected in Indianapolis Aug. 31, Hickman will serve a year term as national vice commander. He'll step down Aug. 31, 2013, at the national convention in Houston.

"Fort Scott's got a nice legion post. There were probably 22 people there for my presentation. They have a lot of good members, both the auxiliary and the legion members," Hickman said. He added the state commander has volunteered to help recruit members.

On the political front, Hickman said Congress only has 10 percent veterans, so budget cuts are always on the table. "We want to make sure veterans are welcomed home again and help them in any way we can (to) find jobs and (get an) education. Our nation owes our veterans a deep debt of gratitude for putting their lives on the line for our country. That's the reason we have the freedoms we have today."

He said it's partly veterans' fault that more of their peers aren't in Congress because few run for office after returning from the service. "They (members of Congress) are good people. They just have to be told about why veterans should be taken care of," Hickman said.

Fewer veterans are also running for president. "It's a thankless job, but we elect the president every four years. We have to get behind him in supporting our country. That's the reason the Legion, the VFW and all the other organizations are constantly going to Capitol Hill fighting for veterans' benefits, national security and fighting for children and youth benefits," he said.

Post 25 Commander Wayne Stringer and Adjutant Ken Lyon were pleased with Hickman's appearance here.

"I thought it was a refreshing and useful meeting and it helped our morale," Stringer said.

Lyon said the post takes a lot of pride in supporting American Legion Boys State. "We average four boys each year. We also sponsor American Legion baseball," Lyon said. The legion auxiliary sponsors girls state. Marge Stringer is the coordinator for that program. Both Stringer and Lyon work with Fort Scott High School counselor Patty Smilie to select participants.

"Our goal now is to generate some interest and younger members. Most of our veterans are World War II and Korean War veterans. The VFW is having the same problems," Lyon said.

After Fort Scott, Hickman was heading to Overland Park, Leavenworth and Topeka on Tuesday. "We're about halfway through the tour," Hickman said. "We've had nine stops, so we have another 10 stops to go yet."

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