New Hawkeye Community College American Legion has Commander Visit
posted on Thursday, April 18, 2019 in
WATERLOO—The national commander of the American Legion visited Hawkeye Community College on Wednesday to honor the college’s new student-based American Legion post.
The Brian Gienau College Post 738 is named after a former Hawkeye Community College student who was killed in action in 2005 while deployed to Iraq.
The visit by National Commander Brett Reistad came as part of a national tour to mark the Legion’s 100th anniversary.
The Brian Gienau College Post 738 was organized by and for student veterans. Post Commander Joshua Meyer, Dan Huntley and other student veterans worked with Robin Knight, veteran services coordinator, to make the post a reality.
The post has 35 members.
“It’s been very rewarding, and I’m just really proud of the students,” Knight said. “They’ve done a great job.”
Huntley and Meyer both served in the Marine Corps at different times.
“It took about a year to get all the paperwork done and get the right amount of people to sign up, and it just took off from there,” Meyer said.
The post is one of five collegiate posts in the nation.
“It’s a new thing the Legion is trying to do to connect with younger veterans,” Meyer said.
Reistad’s visit was a point of pride for several of the young veterans. There are more than 700 Legion posts in Iowa alone.
“He said, ‘I want to come to this one and see what a difference they’re making,’ so it’s kind of a big deal,” Meyer said. “Some guys can spend their entire life in the Legion and never meet the commander.”
For years the American Legion nationwide has lost membership, and a collegiate post like Hawkeye’s could be the future, Reistad said.
“It’s taken 100 years to build what we have,” Reistad said. “We started the year already 70,000 members short of where we were last year.”
The American Legion was influential in establishing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, GI Bill and other things to support service members.
“So many veterans today don’t realize that they’re using programs that were started by the American Legion,” Huntley said. “Today’s veterans need to know that this is our dare-to-be-great moment and if we don’t do it now, at some point in the future our numbers will get small enough and our voice will get quiet enough in Congress that there’s no stopping them from taking away benefits to save money.”
It’s because of the Legion’s impact on his life that Huntley tries to give back and got involved.
“They basically are the only military organization that is actually approved by Congress, so they have a lot of pull and a lot of say,” Meyer said. “If our numbers dwindle, then our powers in Congress dwindle as well.”
By Thomas Nelson, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier
- American Legion
- Military and Veterans