American leaders speak often of their support for those who served their country in wartime, but many veterans don’t feel that support when they’re in need.
It isn’t that the programs aren’t available, said two representatives from a Moultrie American Legion post, but that the veterans don’t know how to access what’s out there.
“A lot of them know some things,” said Post 324 Service Officer Clem Weldon, “but a lot of them don’t know what they’re entitled to.”
Weldon and post Finance Officer Johnny Shiver recently spoke with The Observer about their post and services it offers.
The newest of Colquitt County’s three American Legion posts, Post 324 was chartered in 2007, with some of its members transferring from the Doerun post. Weldon is one of a few members formerly associated with the Moultrie Disabled American Veterans post, which is now closed. There’s also a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Moultrie.
Post 324 currently has 37 members — a bare token of the 3,300 veterans in Colquitt County.
“A lot of our veterans are getting on up in age,” Weldon said. “A lot of our World War II vets are about gone.”
He nodded at Shiver, who is a WW II veteran himself.
“We need the younger members to get in here and help us carry on,” Shiver agreed.
It isn’t all about membership, though, Weldon said. The post hopes to be a service to the county’s veterans, whether American Legion members or not.
As service officer, Weldon said, he can help veterans with forms or help them file claims, or just tell them what benefits they may be entitled to. Servicemembers are supposed to be briefed on these benefits at their discharge, but he said often they’re so focused on getting out they don’t get the message.
“I was,” Shiver agreed with a chuckle.
The post participates in the Veterans Activity Committee, a group of local veterans that, among other things, operates a bus to transport veterans from Moultrie to the VA hospital in Lake City, Fla. About 30 veterans use the bus each week.
“Some [veterans] don’t even know what their entitlements are through the VA hospital,” Weldon said.
Weldon encouraged any Colquitt County veteran in need of assistance to call him at 985-5091 or Shiver at 891-6746 to see how the American Legion can help connect them with federal programs they’re entitled to.