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2013-01-23 / Calendar

Spotlight on:

Imlay City American Legion Post 13

IMLAY CITY — A veteran, by dictionary definition, is one who dedicated time to military service, especially during times of war. The veterans at the Imlay City American Legion Post 135 all fit this criteria, and continue to serve their country by giving back to the local community.

“Be it right or wrong, we served our country whether people liked it or not,” said the organization’s adjudance (secretary) Jerry Stryker, himself a Vietnam veteran. Which, he said, is the purpose behind one of their greatest services.

Last year members of the Legion performed as Honor Guards in 102 military funeral services at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly. In 2012, American Legion members performed at 17 local funerals for veterans.

“We do it (perform honor guard services) to serve veterans and their families and to show respect for what they have done for our country,” said John Mulder, chaplain for Post 135.

Aside from honoring fellow veterans, members also perform as color guards in local parades and at school functions. But their primary goal is to better the lives of veterans and their families.

“The purpose is for veterans (members) to serve the community and serve other vets,” said Stryker.

The American Legion provides $2,000 in scholarship funding to children, or grandchildren, of the current members — a prize split between six recipients last year.

Currently, the Legion is funded from the profit of selling its old building in 1997 when they bought the new location in downtown Imlay City. However, they host a rifle raffle every year at the Woods and Water Outdoor show which provides scholarship funding.

This year the organization has given more than $3,000 to the local community through donations to the Boy Scouts, Relay for Life, and more. Some members donate to

the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, and the organization packaged boxes of food and shaving supplies for the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Every year, Post 135 sponsors an Imlay City Little League Baseball team, which Stryker considers to be a continuation of legacy. He said he was involved with his own kids for nearly two decades, and it’s a tradition he likes to see continue.

Stryker also said the Legion could use some new members, especially “young” veterans as most current members are of retirement age.

“Every vet should belong to a veteran’s organization,” he said. He said the organization helps members find medical insurance, and many other avenues for assistance. The Legion offers help from service assistant Ron Belcher, who works with Veteran’s Affairs of Lapeer County to help assist and ease the lives of all generations of veterans.

“We are a great lobbyist for veteran benefits,” said Stryker and included that the American Legion is the largest lobbyist organization in existence for former military personnel.

One appeal to becoming a member, Stryker said, is the social aspect. The Legion hosts Super Bowl parties, Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day parties as well as events throughout the year.

As men and women who served beneath the stars and stripes of a United States flag — and the presupposition that they exist as a nation under God — members always open with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer.

Membership includes no fees the first year, $35 every following year, and come with a monthly magazine and newsletter on veteran’s affairs.

For more information on how to join, contact 810-724-1450. To donate, take checks to 212 E. Third Street., Imlay City.

— Casey Johnson

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