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Archive for Sunday, November 9, 1997

VETERANS GROUPS STAND STEADY IN FACE OF TIME

November 9, 1997

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Lawrence's three veterans groups will unite Tuesday to present a Veteran's Day ceremony at the American Legion.

Many of America's soldiers are retired from active duty, but they continue to serve -- on the local front -- through veterans organizations.

"One of the points the American Legion usually makes is that you served in periods of conflict and you can continue to serve in peace," said Legionnaire Alan Fisher, a past commander of the post here.

Through charity work, community service and assistance to fellow veterans, members of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans still serve their nation with steady ranks.

Lawrence's Dorsey-Liberty American Legion Post has maintained a membership of more than 700 for a decade. The VFW's Alforde-Clark Post has held a steady membership of above 500, and the DAV Jayhawk Chapter has almost 200 members each year.

Tom Meek, a past commander of the VFW post here, said the organizations appeal to veterans because they offer service opportunities, as well as social events and veteran aid.

"We do so much it's hard to talk about it all," he said.

Among other things, the groups host patriotic activities, place flags in cemeteries, hold youth and sporting events, and provide entertainment at area veterans hospitals and help with medical aid for veterans.

The VFW and Legion also offer lounges, dining halls and social events for vets. The DAV focuses on helping injured or disabled veterans on a day-to-day basis with financial, medical and personal needs.

The three groups operate independently of each other, for the most part, until they unite each Nov. 11 to celebrate Veteran's Day. This year's ceremony will be presented by the DAV at the American Legion hall, 3408 W. Sixth St.

Although a handful of veterans from the Persian Gulf War and other recent conflicts have joined, many of the three groups' members, both male and female, tend to be older, having served in Vietnam, Korea or World War II.

"A lot of that is the kind of lifestyle they have," Fisher said. "The younger people are still out there working and have kids in school. They have their own social relationships still."

Legion commander Don Martin said joining as a retiree could be the goal of many youthful veterans.

"It takes a lot to put in the time you need to put in," he said, especially for those who chose to be officers in the groups. "It's beneficial to be retired sometimes."

Meek said the social aspect of the organizations is a big bonus for many veterans.

"There are a lot of good things to be involved in," he said. "Here, you especially don't have the trouble you might have at a bar."

Fisher agreed, and added, "There's a desire to maintain comradeship with those people that you had close comradeship with in battle."

Membership can also require veterans to keep their guard up. Occasionally, Fisher joked, veterans need to come to the defense of their service when the argument over which is the best arises.

-- Selena Stevens' phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is selena@ljworld.com.

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