American Legion vies for millennial members

A 24-year Navy veteran and Cookeville local wants millennials from Tech to join the American Legion.

The American Legion, an organization that benefits veterans and their families, is searching for new members in Cookeville. 

The American Legion started in 1919 with a mission statement of “mutual helpfulness” and has grown to over 2 million members on 13,000 posts all over the world. The American Legion’s mission is to mentor youth, promote patriotism and strong national security, and to show devotion to active military and veterans around the country, according to the organization’s website.  

Rich Buford, the membership chairman for the Upper Cumberland district of the American Legion, said he wants to recruit younger members into the organization. He said many students and faculty at Tech are veterans, so they should be taking advantage of what the American Legion has to offer– for example, corporate discounts from 165 companies around the world.

“It makes sense for college students to join just because of the discounts,” He said. “But we hope they join because of patriotism and their love of country.” 

The American Legion does several things to benefit the community, Buford said. This includes writing resolutions to congress to support active duty military and veterans, offering funding for national security during times of war, and putting on programs at schools about patriotism and the government. They also offer a national hotline and various resources to veterans and their families, he said.

The American Legion sponsors 250 programs on a national scale to support the needs of local veterans and help over 160,000 veterans nationally every year, Buford said. 

“Our members are dedicated to continuing to serve our country today,” Buford said. 

Putnam county’s post 64 is one of 40 posts in the state of Tennessee. However, Buford said he would love to start a new post on Tech’s campus, because he believes the American Legion is important to this university. Tech has the largest collection of books on local war hero Alvin C. York, who is a founding member of the American Legion. 

Tech is also home to Tennessee’s Boys State, an event that teaches young men about citizenship, leadership, and how the government works. Boys State at Tech is the highest rated in the country, Buford said. The student who is named Boys State governor even receives a full scholarship to the university.

Buford said he only needs 10 members to start a new post on Tech’s campus, and anyone who may be interested should contact him, the Veteran’s officeor the ROTC office. 

 “If you’re a veteran or a family member of a veteran, you have no reason not to be a member of the American Legion,” he said.