I was a single mom, losing my battle to stay in the military, due to a head & neck injury while on Active Duty that happened back in June 1999. It was now 2004, facing eviction from my home, a deputy sheriff told me to come down to the American Legion and let those guys help me out. I did, and the next thing I know, I had a whole new family. After getting over my pity party, I came down a couple weeks later and met with the guys that not only helped me to get into a nice apartment, but also helped me move from a 3 bedroom house, to a 2 bedroom apartment way across town.
I didn't know any of them, but these men and a WW2 lady, helped me to get moved in. When I came down to the office, I saw how many other veterans that were waiting their turn to get that same smile and a firm handshake and a pat on the back, and to hear those words that bring hope to a shaken person-"We'll see what we can do to help you some how."
Finally, it was my turn to be seen, and I said, "All, I wanted to do was say Thank you, once again." "No problem, kid. Are you doing okay? " I was asked. I said, "Yes." Then, I asked if he was the only person that does that job and was told there was another, but, he was having surgery, by the end of the visit I was invited to come back the next day and watch and see if I would like to do that too. So, I was working as a Service Officers, speaking at schools, helping with the Honor Guard, three years later, I added the position of Membership Chairperson, then two years later, 1st Vice, then Commander, another two years after that, I was 2nd Vice. Being on the Executive Board every since 2006, only taking 1 year off of that.
I also was the Commander of our POW/MIA Ceremony Team. This past year 2014, I decided to come back on the E-Board and, had no plans for anything else, other speaking at an occasional school every once an d while, because of where I live, the was getting difficult to get there to my Legion Post. I have been asked why not transfer to the one in your town, my answer is because, Post 1, is my home. So, when a friend asked me to check into the Ms. Veteran America competition, I told him, that I didn't do pageants, he said, just into it and see what you think of it.
Well, I did and I discussed it over with a few of my Legion friends and they said, I think you should go for it. At first, I thought I was too old for something like that, but then I'd learned that a WW2 veteran had competed in the previous year and it was opened to all women veterans, no matter which branch they searched in. I learned that it is a program that helps to bring awareness to the public of the plight that many women veterans face- which is homelessness; and that was all that I needed to know. My job was to get as many votes or likes and shares on Facebook, and Twitter, and raise the most money; which will be used by Final Salute Inc., that uses that money to house these women, which many of them have children.
My Legion family helped, it making huge donations and the Auxiliary also gave the money to get my evening gowns, and interview outfit, my banquet dress and shoes. I was extremely touched, when they called me and said they would do this for me. It made feel that I had a chance at this. Well, that weekend came, October 10-12, 2014; it was held in Leesburg, Va. It was quite interesting and I gave it my 101%,
I sang my song for the talent part, my mind when a little blank on a few of the questions and what was so crazy, is that those same questions, I had gave a talk at a school about that same topic. We had our big night, did the run-way walk and then from the top 25, the top 10 were picked and I wasn't one of them. But, I was okay with, I had my Legion back home waiting for me, along with my family and other activities that I was involved in. I mean, I did get a Congressional award for my civic service that I do by helping my brothers and sisters of Uncle Sam.
Everywhere I go I am always wearing my Legion hat, I always have applications on me and I have pamphlets about the Legion and the V.A. Benefits booklets in my truck to pass out. I am thankful that I was able to attend the American Legion College back in 2010, because it has taught me how a Legion post is to be ran, from starting one up to keeping it going to writing resolutions.
I think that every one that joins the Legion, should at least take then written extension course within two years of joining the Legion. Maybe one day the Legion will have some type of competition for their state "king" and "queen", I think that would be an excellent way to get more people involved from the public; that's just my idea of expansion into the public.
I love the American Legion, it's my family although I can't get to a lot of the functions, because I keep the 7th Day Sabbath, I still help out in every way possible.
Thank you, Lisa "Legz" Milner