(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- For members of American Legion Post 359, they proudly served their country and now they're workin gfor their communities.
"I've got a passion for this organization. That's why I do what I do," said longtime member David Voyles.
The local post currently has a membership of a little more than 500. It's been decreasing over the years and is a focus of renewed attempts at membership recruitment.
The hope is that a visit by American Legion national Commander Bill Oxford will help in those efforts.
Oxford was named to his post in August and will be spending the next 12 months visiting posts across the country. The former Marine joined the armed forces in 1967. He also served in the North Carolina National Guard.
"I think patriotism and Americanism is strong," Oxford said.
The American Legion was fored in 1919 by some former World War I veterans. One of its main functions is to act as a resource for veterans returning home from duty.
"It helps them out a lot that they can talk back and forth with someone who has been through that with them and they can have a place to come to and hang out," said Jerome Goolsby, Post 359 commander.
Those in the legion say just as importantly, they are proud of developing leadership skills in the next generation through their support of programs like Boys State. Oxford says there have been 18,000 Boys State participants over the years.
"From presidents, to governors, vice presidents, senators, members of the house of represntatives to professional baseball and basketball players," he said.
Oxford says like in the military, the strength of the American Legion lies in its numbers.
"We encourage every veteran out there if they don't belong to a veteran's support organization, get involved," he said. "I'd love to make a pitch for the American Legion. We carry the loudest voice. Whenever we talk, Congress tends to listen."
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