Sunday, January 25, 2015
Watervliet Arsenal Commander Addresses Closing Assembly
ALBANY — The Mid-Winter Conference’s closing assembly Sunday morning featured remarks by Col. Lee Schiller, commander of the Watervliet Arsenal.
He spoke of the arsenal’s proud heritage of equipping America’s Armed Forces for every conflict since the War of 1812. He said he saw a parallel between the Watervliet Arsenal and the American Legion, with both advocating for America’s defense, especially at times when the nation is inclined to downsize the military. In the arsenal’s efforts to keep its workload going and the Legion’s efforts to build membership and keep programs thriving, “giving up, rolling over, letting others take charge of our destiny is not in our DNA.”
He added: “ I know you don’t do what you do for the thanks. But as a soldier in uniform…I truly thank you for all you do.”
Over 800 Legionnaires attended the weekend of seminars and workshops, Conference Vice Chair Harvey Martel reported.
VA and Rehabilitation Chair R. Michael Suter reported on the launch of the Department of New York’s VA Visitation Task Force, which so far has conducted six town hall meetings with veterans and visited VA medical centers in Albany and the Bronx, plus four remote community-base outpatient clinics. The task force expects to do several more visitations before the Department Convention in July. With the ultimate goal of assuring that veterans receive quality care in a timely manner, he noted: “This is truly an American Legion Department of New York health care program.”
Department Commander Frank Peters presided over the closing session, which also heard brief remarks by Department Auxiliary President Diane Gerber, National Executive Committeeman Stanley H. Clark, Department Office Manager Barbara Kerr (who described how the Legion’s temporary financial assistance program helped save a Legionnaire from becoming homeless), Department Historian Frank Carletta (who presented several volumes of a souvenir yearbook for Immediate Past Department Commander Kenneth Governor), and Legion College Dean Michael Hannan, who said he was “very excited about the program we will be offering this year,” and added: “Don’t think you’re too old or too young to attend. It’s a great experience.”
The session ended with posts and counties bringing donations for the commander’s project and other Legion programs. Among them was a $5,000 check for the National Emergency Fund from Kings County, presented by executive committee member Marty Connelly.
One of the Legionnaires attending Mid-Winter for the first time was Toba Adeyemi Lacrown, a Nigerian immigrant who served in the U.S. Air Force. Now adjutant of Co-op City Post 1871 and Bronx County oratorical chair, Lacrown showed up Sunday morning wearing his traditional native garb. In civilian life, he said, he is a New York City police officer.