2/13/2014 2:02:00 PM Legion rolls out red carpet for
by DENISE MARTIN
The North Branch Legion Post had a full house for a special visitor Thursday Feb 6. National American Legion Commander Dan Dellinger got a warm welcome from dozens of Legion members representing posts from Hinckley to Wayzata to Anoka. The luncheon was potato soup, sandwich and a variety of dessert bars on every table, provided by the Legion Auxiliary. Dellinger is from Vienna, Virginia. He’s been a Post member since 1982 and he also served as mayor of his town and as council member, so he is no stranger to politics.
As national leader for the 2.5 to 3 million-member American Legion, Dellinger works for many veterans’ issues in Washington D.C. and elsewhere. At the national level he has chaired security, economics and legislative commissions as well as the Legion’s aerospace committee. He served as a presidential appointee on the federal task force on Small Business Administration hiring. He spoke for about 30 minutes telling luncheon attendees he has been greeted by “packed houses” at all his stops so far on this four day Minnesota Tour starting Feb 4. Dellinger became an Army Infantry Officer after graduating with a degree in criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
He served at Fort Benning during the Vietnam War, Army Reserve from 1972 until separating from service in 1984 as a captain. He’s been in construction professionally. He is elected by Legion members for this one year term. Turning to the VIP table, where North Branch Police and the city administrator were seated; Dellinger said when he sees city officials at functions like this he is gratified to know that the Post is obviously an integral part of the community. Dellinger commented that Washington D.C. is suffering not from a failure of GOP or DFL idealogy, but of a systematic failure to do what’s necessary, across the board. He does find congresspeople he can work with, however, and said one issue that has promise is making access to Veterans Administration programs and services more available for all veterans, not just ones who qualify. He also shared that on a recent official trip to South Korea, “Everywhere we went the people thanked us” for what the U.S. did for South Korea.
Dellinger assured the audience that women veterans are making headway in addressing their health needs. Vietnam Era veterans seem to have little knowledge about benefits available to them and he asked Legion members to be sure to reach out. Dellinger added, the budget balancing act by Congress cut one percent of retired veterans’ COLA, and this is not acceptable. The government “promised to take care of veterans” and “It seems like government has forgotten that,” he remarked. The Legion will continue to advocate for more consistent cost of living benefits for retirees. He also asked veterans to go to Legion.org for a survey. The organization seeks your responses to the survey for data to support Legion requests for force readiness, benefits and pay, and he asked all the lunch-goers to be sure and find this website survey. Keep recruiting members, he stressed. Membership is key and the American Legion needs to bring as many members as it can to support its causes. There are 83,000 Minnesotans in approximately 550 Legion Posts