American Legion elects officers at state convention

DOVER — Jackie Etzweiler has been a proud member of the American Legion for 36 years.

“When I was two years old my grandmother signed me up for the American Legion Auxiliary,” she said Friday.

“My father was in the military and when I went in the Army and came out I decided to become a full member of the Legion,” she added. “I’ve been a member of the Legion for six years, but in total I’ve been a member for 36.”

Jackie Etzweiler, who is now 2nd Vice Commander of the Lt. J. Allison O’Daniel Post #10 in Newark has been a member of the American Legion for 36 years. (Delaware State News photos by Arshon Howard)

Jackie Etzweiler, who is now 2nd Vice Commander of the Lt. J. Allison O’Daniel Post No. 10 in Newark has been a member of the American Legion for 36 years. (Delaware State News photos by Arshon Howard)

Ms. Etzweiler, who is now second vice commander of the Lt. J. Allison O’Daniel Post No. 10 in Newark, was joined by more than 200 veterans as they held their 97th Annual State Convention of the American Legion at Dover Downs Friday morning.

The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness.

It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of community programs advocating patriotism and honor, according to its mission statement.

The Legion focuses on service to veterans, service members and communities; the organization has about 2.4 million members in 14,000 posts worldwide.

The convention is held every year. Officers are elected for the coming year and resolutions are offered that will affect the governance of the department as a whole.

Jeff Crouser, who was elected as first vice commander during the convention, said it’s an honor to hold the position.

“I originally started at the post level,” said Mr. Crouser, of Seaford. “But over time as you get more involved with the organization you see that you can do so much more. It’s an honor and privilege to be elected as the first vice commander. One of the most important jobs for my position is to concentrate on membership for the American Legion.”

He said membership is important because numbers count when the organization’s leaders advocate for policies on Capitol Hill.

Jeff Crouser was elected as the First Vice Commander of the Delaware American Legion during its 97th annual convention Friday morning.

Jeff Crouser was elected as the First Vice Commander of the Delaware American Legion during its 97th annual convention Friday morning.

“We are currently the largest veterans organization with over 1 million members nationwide and we would like to continue to grow,” Mr. Crouser said.

U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a veteran of the Vietnam War, emphasized the importance of providing educational opportunities to veterans and military personnel.

“When I got back from the war the GI Bill gave me $250 a month to earn my MBA,” Sen. Carper, 68, said. “Now when our veterans come home a place to live is provided and they have free tuition.”

He said the Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

The bill also applies to individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days.

“We push for veteran rights,” Ms. Etzweiler said. “Our first priority is veterans and making sure they get what they need. It’s great being a part of this organization.”

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