AMERICAN LEGION: National Commander Reistad hails ‘veteran friendly’ South Carolina
American Legion issued the following announcement on March 7.
A sign at Columbia Metropolitan Airport in South Carolina reveals a secret that the American Legion Family there has long known. “Welcome to the most military friendly community in America,” it says to the thousands of visitors who arrive at the terminal each year.
“South Carolina takes its obligation toward all veterans and their families seriously,” National Commander Brett Reistad said before a joint assembly of the South Carolina Legislature March 6. “From offering tax exemptions to free hunting and fishing licenses, this is a state that truly honors military service. It is why more than 400,000 veterans choose to live in the Palmetto State.”
Reistad praised the legislature for funding increases of three new veterans homes. “Your existing homes are filled to capacity and we all know that the high cost of long-term care is out of reach for many Americans, but especially those who spent many of their prime working years in service to their country,” he said.
The testimony was the highlight of a four-day department visit, which included tours of Shaw Air Force Base, several American Legion posts, and the VA medical center and Fisher House in Charleston. The department had a membership gain of more than 600 last year, a trend that its leadership thinks will continue.
“Last year we had a great membership team and set a goal for every post to reach one hundred percent plus one new member,” Department of South Carolina Commander John H. Britt said. “Many posts exceeded that. Before that we had a program called ‘Stop the Slide.’ This year, we are already above 90 percent and closing in on 95 percent. We are asking our post and district commanders to find Legionnaires who had left and those who had not joined.”
The exposure that the organization receives through the national commander’s annual addresses to the legislature can not only reach potential members, but it also strengthens the already strong relationship between South Carolina lawmakers and veterans.
“We have the only state legislature that I know of that allows the national commander to speak to it every year,” Britt said. “It’s good rapport and shows that the legislature cares about what The American Legion stands for.”
Reistad reminded the legislature that The American Legion was only days away from a significant milestone. “This is a very special time in American Legion history. Next week we will celebrate our 100th birthday. A century ago, The American Legion was founded by World War I veterans with a post-war mission. That mission, which continues today, was to care for veterans, provide patriotic programs for our nation’s youth, advocate for a strong national defense and instill a societal pride in what it means to be an American,” Reistad said. “We don’t have to tell you what it means to be an American. The patriotism of South Carolina is apparent for all to see. It is especially demonstrated by your hospitality toward veterans and our military.”
He then closed by presenting plaques to State Sen. Thomas Alexander and State Rep. W. Brian White as “The American Legion Department of South Carolina Outstanding Members of the Legislature” for 2019.
Watch Reistad speak here. In the archives, click March 6, Senate part 1 at 12 pm. Then scroll to the 36-minute mark.
Original source can be found here.
Source: American Legion