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  • Friday, February 05, 2016

    7th District Visitation Reveals Interesting, Active Members in Seneca County

    Interesting things were happening during the New York State American Legion’s leadership visitation to the 7th District, swinging through Seneca, Wayne, Ontario and Livingston counties Feb. 4-7. (See photo gallery.)

    For example, Warner Van Riper Post 435 in Waterloo hosted the Seneca County visitation dinner on Feb. 4 for Department Commander James Yermas, Department President Janet Mahoney and Sons of the American Legion Detachment Commander Joseph SantaCroce.

    County Commander Les King welcomed them to his Finger Lakes county, a narrow swath nestled between Seneca and Cayuga lakes, and to his Waterloo Post, where he is also commander. His predecessor, 2013-2015 Post Commander Barb Ferraro, was the first woman commander in the post’s 94-year history. While she was glad she didn’t have to put on her commander’s hat for the dinner, she did end up helping in the kitchen and serving the meals. Her hands-on service is not surprising, as her brother, Mike Bowen, is a past department commander.

    The post’s Legion Rider Chapter is “28 active members” strong, noted past chapter director/membership chair Bob “Ski” Krupszaski. He and another Rider, Seneca County Auxiliary President Martha Grela, said the chapter raised $7,000 last year for charitable causes, including the Legion’s Operation Comfort Warriors, National Emergency Fund and Legacy Scholarship. They’re planning Sophie’s Run on Aug. 15 – named after the daughter of a Waterloo vet killed in Iraq – to raise scholarship dollars. They’re also planning a Memorial Run in honor of a deceased Rider, Linda Plate, whose husband, Bob Plate, by the way, helped prepare the visitation luncheon earlier in the day at Kirk Casey Post 366 in Seneca Falls.

    President Mahoney called it the “super soup post” after savoring its thick beef barley. Plate pointed out that the soup was a specialty of 3rd Vice Commander Tom Scott, a former army chef who cooked for generals. By the way, the chef’s wife, Julie Scott, is post commander.

    Jan Mahoney went on to laud their tour of the National Memorial Day Museum, especially taken with a display of the original Pledge of Allegiance by Francis Bellamy and moved by the Vietnam Veterans exhibit – where Commander Yermas, himself a Viet vet, hugged Museum Executive Director Cyndi Park-Sheils after she spoke of the trauma of war that plagued her Vietnam veteran father. The leaders posed for a picture with the museum director, with a plaque the museum awarded to the Sons of the American Legion (SAL) for a significant donation.

    In his dinner talk, Yermas pointed to the vital role the Legion plays in just being there for today’s new veterans – as well as those from the Vietnam era who never got a celebratory homecoming. No one understands a veteran like another brother- or sister-in-arms.

    He also touted his favorite charities – Operation Comfort Warriors, where 100 percent of donations goes to helping wounded, injured and ill veterans; and the Legacy Scholarship Fund aimed at helping the children of fallen warriors.

    The Department Auxiliary president’s talk focused on a call for greater Legion Family cooperation in order to recruit members and boost programs in the Legion, the Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion (SAL).

    SAL Detachment Commander SantaCroce pointed to a joint endeavor with the Auxiliary – the April Walkathon, where SAL squadrons and Auxiliary units walk to raise money to help veterans. The Auxiliary and the Sons split the proceeds, and in the case of the Sons, the money goes toward comfort items and other materials for veterans at VA medical facilities and homes.

    The walkathon’s motto is right to the point, noted Detachment Vice Commander Jim Coates.

    “They marched for us. Let’s walk for them.”