To the Editor:
In a reply to a letter from Mr. Hershel Butts in a letter to the editor Sept. 5 regarding veterans organizations:
I have been a member of the largest veterans organization, The American Legion, for the last 40 years, having served in the U.S. Army infantry during the Korean conflict. I have been an active Legion member and served every office in my post, as State Commander and am currently serving on the National Executive Committee as the representative for Tennessee.
We have just completed our National Convention in Houston, Texas where for seven days we worked on veterans issues and programs to benefit all veterans from all wars. We are constantly working to recruit veterans to our organization, and in the last year Tennessee lead the nation in Legion membership.
American Legion sponsors programs such as government studies at Girl’s State and Boy’s State as well as baseball, Boy Scouts, oratorical, disaster relief, flag protection, community service and aid to wounded warriors and their families. American Legion was selected by the Samsung Corporation to distribute its scholarships to children of American veterans.
American Legion Post 15, located here in Lebanon, is on the forefront in carrying out these goals: from the Veterans Day parade, Memorial Day services the county fair, ROTC recognition and providing transportation to VA hospitals, and the list goes on.
We welcome any and all veterans to into our organization.
Currently, the American Legion is 3 million members strong and is proudly “Still Serving America” and her veterans.
Charles Dornan, Lebanon
National Executive Committeeman, Tennessee American Legion
To the Editor:
In a letter to the editor dated Sept. 5, Mr. Hershel Butts, from Mt. Juliet, has excoriated the Veterans of Foreign Wars and various veteran or service organizations. I cannot speak for any other service organization other then the very place that he frequents on a regular basis. As a past post commander of both the VFW and American Legion, I take personal exception to the many insinuations, erroneous statements and unfounded allegations of which he has no knowledge.
There is no doubt that all of these organizations are struggling to maintain our membership at levels that will sustain us as we continue to perform our duties to our veterans and community. Mr. Butts has never taken the responsibility to become involved in the organizations of which I’ve been involved in for over forty years. I feel as though Mr. Butts is trying to offer constructive criticism; however; he has made some statements, which are patiently untrue. He has claimed that we are violating Tennessee State Law in some of his statements. It is illegal in the state of Tennessee to allow non-members to be signed in by a non-member as he alleges. No V.F.W. or American Legion post that I am aware of is foolish enough to do that.
We at VFW Post 1291 have increased our membership by more than 40% in the last nine years. The VFW has instituted new and important programs to reach out to the younger veterans. We at Post 1291 continue to perform the duties required to maintain our congressional charter.
There are two of the basic problems that all veteran or service organizations face. The first problem is the obvious problem of sheer numbers of veterans out there from which to draw membership. The number of veterans returning continues to dwindle from the all time-high, which, occurred after World War II. The Armed Forces do not tell the service members about fraternal organizations like the V.F.W. or the American Legion. Additionally and perhaps more importantly is the fact of continuing service to the community is not as big a part of our social conscience as it once was.
I am profoundly upset that Mr. Butts has offered his kind of uninformed and biased opinion of organizations for which I have personally volunteered my time and effort for so many years. I challenge Mr. Butts to offer us, the V.F.W. and the American Legion some solutions to our problems as opposed to the public vile criticisms he has slandered us with in his awful letter to the editor.
Bob Mathis, Antioch
Past Post Commander, American Legion Post 88
Past Post Commander, VFW Post 1291
Past 6th District Commander, VFW Dept. of Tennessee