08/10/11 — New American Legion post looking to grow in Pikeville

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New American Legion post looking to grow in Pikeville

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on August 10, 2011 1:46 PM

They have served their country in Vietnam, Europe and Korea, and decades later they're still serving their community in Pikeville.

Several local veterans got together and launched Pikeville Post 541 of the American Legion in February. Five months later, they are looking to strengthen their foothold in the town and let their voices be heard.

"People will help out if you let them know you're here," District Commander James Moore said. "That's the best way to recruit new members."

And new members is exactly what Post 541 wants, officers said.

Post 541 has a handful of veterans now, but Commander Walter Bridges, a Vietnam Army veteran, said activity has slowed in the summer months. He said he hopes to amp up recruitment for the fall and attract some younger members.

"You can be a member of the American Legion and still be active duty," Bridges said.

Bridges said he wants all local veterans to know how the American Legion can help them live better.

"One of the things we're looking to do is to make sure all the veterans know what kind of help they can receive," he said. "We don't want any veterans to be out here and be sick and without benefits."

Since it kicked off in February, Post 541 has undertaken a few community projects to get its name out. Members participated in a JROTC awards banquet at Charles B. Aycock High School and handed out poppies to veterans around Memorial Day.

And as the Post continues to get stronger, Bridges said it will begin holding pancake breakfast fundraisers and participating in more community projects.

"We've had a lot of interest and people showing interest in it," Bridges said. "There's a lot of good camaraderie in meeting people that have got a common interest. We've got something in common. We served our country."

He said the Post will participate in the Summer Blast in the Park Sept. 10 at Pikeville Park, where it will set up a booth and greet people. Town officials said the event will be a chance for the town to honor the military.

Ultimately members said they want Pikeville veterans to know that they don't have to go any further than their own backyards to find fellow comrades.

Patrick Lenz, a Marine Corps veteran, said he joined because of all the opportunities he would have to serve the community.

"I basically wanted to join a veterans' organization. Really I was drawn to the community service part of it," Lenz said.

He added that he enjoys the camaraderie of Post 541, saying it's similar to the camaraderie he experienced in the military.