American Legion national leader eyes a new theme

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 11/8/17

National American Legion Commander Denise Rohan visited Cleveland on Tuesday, bringing with her the focus of the national organization this year.Rohan, of Madison, Wisconsin, was greeted by local, …

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American Legion national leader eyes a new theme

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National American Legion Commander Denise Rohan visited Cleveland on Tuesday, bringing with her the focus of the national organization this year.

Rohan, of Madison, Wisconsin, was greeted by local, regional and state American Legion officials at the Post 81 home on Asbury drive.

Rohan's theme for this year is "Family First," which she says she adopted from comments of many military personnel destined for deployment.

"When asked what the American Legion can do for them, most say, 'Take care of my family first,' " Rohan said during a short interview Tuesday.

She said she plans for the American Legion to take more responsibility for military families this year.

"The American Legion family is an extended one," she emphasized. "Beyond the American Legion Auxiliary, and Sons of the American Legion, we share bonds with local businesses, colleges, civic groups, churches, tribal centers, first responders, Veteran Administration staff, public officials, and others. Our family extends to all who believe in the freedoms we swore to defend —  with our lives."

Tuesday's noon stop in Cleveland was a small part of her whirlwind tour of Legion facilities, both across the state and nationally. The visit here was primarily a gathering of American Legion officials.

One veteran who spent time with Rohan was Bradley County's lone living Pearl Harbor survivor, George Allen. Allen, 95, said he is looking forward to Saturday's Veterans Day program at Cleveland's 1st Street Square (11 a.m.), and the Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor Day luncheon at the Elks Lodge, sponsored by the Sons of the American Revolution.

Welcoming Rohan to Cleveland was Post 81 Commander Donnie Hancock. 

Other Legion officers in attendance were Third District Commander Jerry Norton, National Executive Board member Don Mathis of Dayton, Department of Tennessee Commander Bobby Ferrell, and Department of Tennessee Adjutant Dean Tuddle.

Also participating were Bradley County Veterans Affairs Officer Joe Davis, Auxiliary Unit 81 President Janet Allen, and District 3 Auxiliary President Geneva Pettit.

Rohan said she was excited with her visit to Legion posts across the nation. "I'm thrilled to visit with our nation's veterans, who have given so much," she added.

She gave an example of the importance of military service. She said a young man attended Boys State, where he met a number of veterans.

The young man was uncertain about plans for college or another choice, because his parents and grandparents had all attended the same college.

After talking with the veterans about their service time, he decided on the military. As a surprise, his family was proud of his decision to serve his country.

"The veterans made him realize he wanted to make a difference in his life," Rohan said. "He applied and was accepted by the Air Force Academy, because he was thinking of the greater good of this great nation.

"All American Legion members care about the youth of our nation," continued Rohan. "Someone planted a seed in every one of you, and I hope you pass it on."

Rohan, who was accompanied by her aide and husband, Mike, said the two have visited 14 states since her election in September. They've also visited Washington, D.C.

In Tennessee, they met with National Guard  and other military officials in Nashville, and she spent some time talking with the state's adjutant general.

Today, Rohan planned to return to Washington, D.C., and on Thursday she will visit the World War I Memorial in Pershing Park.

Rohan was a quartermaster in the U.S. Army, and met her husband in the military. She left the military when they wouldn't assign her and her husband together.

She said she has since spent a lot of time with National Guard families.


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