Recently, we sat down with ten veterans from all branches of the military to hear about their experiences as members of the Minnesota American Legion. In this first of three posts, we interview U.S. Army veteran, Steve Fosness, member of Fairmont Post 36, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Robert Hart, member of Stillwater Post 48 and Army National Guard veteran, Kelley Adelsman, member of Pine Island Post 184.
What persuaded you to join the MN American Legion?
My father was a lifetime member and served as a County Commander in my youth. I remember helping with things at the VA Hospital, parades, summer BBQs and building a town ball diamond through his post. (Steve Fosness)
I was transferred to Minnesota from out of state and needed a place to socialize and meet people with common interests. (Robert Hall)
A desire to be a part of a value-driven organization that is involved at a local and national level in the areas I’m invested in: spiritual health and practice of faith, family and legislation that impacts all veterans and end-of-life observances for veterans. (Kelley Adelsman)
What do you appreciate most about your MN American Legion?
I enjoy interacting with other veterans and watching veterans help veterans. (Steve Fosness)
It’s an organization with a purpose. A true advocate for the needs of Minnesota veterans. (Robert Hart)
The diversity in ages, military service experience, post culture and the welcoming spirit. (Kelley Adelsman)
What is one unexpected benefit you’ve experienced as a member of the MN American Legion?
I’ve made several friends. (Steve Fosness)
I’ve formed lasting friendships and relationships that go beyond the fleeting issues of the day. (Robert Hall)
I’ve experienced many opportunities to be an American asset. (Kelley Adelsman)
If you were asked by a non-member what the biggest benefit of being a member is, what would you say?
I’d say both helping other veterans and their families and gaining a powerful veteran advocate for assistance with the federal government. (Steve Fosness)
There is no stronger voice for the issues affecting veterans than the American Legion. (Robert Hall)
The variety of ways in which the American Legion has touched the landscape of America since 1919. For example, introducing the GI Bill which allowed me to earn my Bachelor’s Degree and purchase my first home. (Kelley Adelsman)
How has being a member of the MN American Legion impacted you?
I like being a part of a unit with a common goal, much like in active duty. (Steve Fosness)
Legion membership has given me a strong social network and lasting friendships. (Robert Hall)
It has awakened in me this ethos of servanthood and of being a part of a movement much larger than myself. (Kelley Adelsman)
What is your favorite activity to participate in through the MN American Legion?
Funeral Honor Guard and Memorial Day and Veterans Day programs in the community and local schools. (Steve Fosness)
Legislative issues and debate, karaoke and casual conversations. (Robert Hall)
Prayer. (Kelley Adelsman)
What veteran services have you taken advantage of through your local MN American Legion post?
I’ve used services at the VA Hospital. (Steve Fosness)
Utilizing charitable gambling contributions to help local vets, veteran priorities and the Four Pillars. (Robert Hall)
I’ve attended VSO monthly and quarterly meetings, helped with fundraising activities, volunteered at Legionville and enjoyed some good food! (Kelley Adelsman)
How does the MN American Legion meet veteran needs?
The Legion advocates for veterans with disabilities, helps with homeless programs and mental health programs, facilitates veteran loans for unexpected problems, provides medical services through the VA hospital system, runs nursing homes and volunteers at military funerals. (Steve Fosness)
The MN American Legion supports the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and advocates for other Minnesota veteran issues. (Robert Hall)
The MN American Legion helps veterans file VA claims, offers youth scholarships, provides fellowship through Legion Riders, runs Legionville Safety Camp which inspires patriotism while teaching safety patrol and is a safe landing place for veterans returning from war or after assault in the military. (Kelley Adelsman)
How does the MN American Legion meet needs in your community?
They provide donations to the local food shelf and they sponsor the local homeless shelter and the cancer walk. (Steve Fosness)
Our local post supports the food shelf, various high school sports and other youth activities and they support the veterans home in Hastings and the veterans camp in Big Marine Lake. (Robert Hall)
The Legion offers Americanism programs, they’re a hosting site for community events, they sell Christmas trees and wreaths and they’re a Chamber of Commerce member. (Kelley Adelsman)
How does the MN American Legion support youth in your area?
They offer a scholarship for all county graduates with military descendants and they run a Legion baseball league and support other school sports and youth activities. (Steve Fosness)
The Legion supports a baseball league, high school lacrosse, archery and other activities. (Robert Hall)
Find a Minnesota American Legion post in your community, click here! If you’d like to learn more about the Minnesota American Legion and what we do for vets and our communities, visit our website. #joinmnamericanlegion