Governor honors American Legion Post 516 for humanitarian efforts

Henry County Times

Jason Smith • April 20, 2022 

Cmdr. Alton Head and his fellow military veterans at the local American Legion post have dedicated themselves to helping those in need. Rather than seeking a pat on the back, however, Head said something more important motivates them.

“We don’t do it for recognition,” said Head. “We do it because of the love that we have for the people.”

Local and state officials gathered Saturday to honor the Willie B. Hatcher American Legion Post 516, during a ceremony at the University of Georgia Extension Office in McDonough.

Members of Post 516, in recent years, have completed numerous home renovations for military veterans in need. They have also been active beyond county lines, sending water to storm victims in Newnan, and to states including Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Alabama, said Head.

He said he is grateful for those who have collaborated with the American Legion in such endeavors, and that he appreciates the recognition on behalf of his group.

State Sen. Brian Strickland (District 17) presented a proclamation to Post 516 on behalf of Gov. Brian Kemp, to recognize the Legion’s humanitarian efforts in Henry County and beyond.

Strickland thanked Post 516 “for how they have served our community and our state.”

“Instead of seeking all the recognition they have received with the numerous awards that have been presented to them over the past couple of years, the post just keeps finding veterans that need help and stepping up to help those that have been left behind,” said Strickland. “They are also always there whenever help is needed on a larger scale, such as gathering supplies for those in need in other states.

“Henry County, in particular, should be proud of this post,” he continued. “I am happy the governor decided to formally recognize what they are doing in our community and [is] highlighting their service as an example for our entire state to see.”

Walter Ivie is an aide to American Legion National Commander Paul Dillard. Both were present at the ceremony honoring Post 516.

Ivie said Dillard is in the process of visiting all Legion departments in the U.S., and wanted to commend Post 516 for its humanitarian efforts.

“The department commander in Georgia chose Post 516 as an exemplary post that he wanted to recognize,” said Ivie. “Whenever we find a post that’s doing that, we like to honor them.”

Post 516 Veterans Service Officer, Phillip Stewart Sr., touted Cmdr. Head for his leadership and service to others. Stewart said Head “has dedicated his life to assisting veterans and their families, including providing Honor Guard funeral support to veterans, to building ramps for elderly disabled veterans and their widows.”

Stewart said he was particularly touched that American Legion National Cmdr. Paul E. Dillard was on hand to honor Post 516.

“The visit to American Legion Post 516 from the national commander means the world to me,” said Stewart. “It’s the first time a national commander has visited Georgia. For me, it’s a validation of many years helping the veterans of Henry County.

“As the Post 516 Service Officer, my job is to assist veterans and their families in getting the support they need,” added Stewart. “This visit by the national commander is highlighting the dedication to service by the veterans of Henry County.”

Cmdr. Head expressed his appreciation for Gov. Kemp’s proclamation. He also thanked Strick- land for supporting him and his fellow veterans.

“It is an honor for the governor to recognize what we do as the American Legion,” said Head. “Brian Strickland has worked with us on a number of projects. Every time we’ve ever called him, he’s been there for us. So this is great for us.”