It all started in 1999 when I was on active duty and was in a severe accident in which I had a neck injury, I had to fight for 2 years to get my neck surgery. I did receive it after having to do a Congressional Inquiry. Then another 2 years later, while I was at the NCO Academy in Knoxville, TN. to be able to put on Master Sgt. I received a phone call that I needed to come home to be out processed for medical reasons. Well, after some calls from the Academy, I was able to stay and graduate. Then I returned home and the battle ensued. I had letters from various military units that I have worked with since my surgery, that proved that I was healthy enough to continue my service in the military. But, I guess it wasn't enough, almost a year later, I was discharged for medical reasons, but I wasn't given a medical discharge,I received an Honorable Discharge instead. In the process, I was looking for work anywhere,doing anything. but wasn't finding any. So, in the process I was in default of my home loan. So, I was losing my home, and I was told by some one to go to the American Legion; and I went down there, and all types of help was given to me. A month later, I came down to visit Post 1 of Tulsa to thank they guys there and I was told to come back that evening for Legion meeting. I was saw how many veterans came in to seek assistance and I wanted to help them all. I asked about doing so, I was told to come back the next day. I did and I was hooked as a Service Officer. A year later, I was doing the membership, then the next year I became 1st Vice, then next the 1st black female Commander of the Legion in the state of Oklahoma, then I was Finance Officer, later, 2nd Vice Cmdr., and I have sat on the E-Board for 8 years. Well, this year I had a new adventure to my life, I competed in the Ms. Veteran America 2014 Competition. Ms. Veteran America, is a competition, that helps to bring awareness to the plight of women veterans who are homeless and many of those have children they are trying to raise. Which is why this was near and dear to my heart. It also raises money to house these women through the Final Salute Inc. It was held in Leesburg, Va. at the National Conference Center, back on October 10-12th, a couple of weeks. I couldn't made it without my friends and family. My Legion Post family, made it possible for me to raise enough money to make my minimum required amount and to get there and to buy my evening gowns, and cocktail dress and accessories. And when I returned, I received all the hugs and kisses for competing and was told that even though I didn't win I was their queen. This is what the American Legion is about, it's a family within a family. Sure, there are disagreements among ourselves, but that is to be excepted within any family; but we are always there for one another, when the time is needed. I am always telling others veterans, that the Legion is a home away from home, to be among those who can understand what you have been through, without feeling judged for what you did while being in uniform. We are all Nieces and Nephews of Dear Ole' Uncle Sam. We need to stick together and build a better community and help each other, not for the sake of being seen by others, but because we have love and respect for one another. Do, you agree?
Lisa Milner, past Cmdr.
Ms. Veterans America Top 25 Finalist