WOODBRIDGE, NJ — Members of the Belleville Sons of the American Legion had the honor and opportunity to meet National Commander Paul E. Dillard of the American Legion at Woodbridge Post No. 87 during Dillard’s official visit to New Jersey in early August.
The national commander, who oversees the national organization of more than 1.8 million veterans and 370,000 members of the SAL, travels around the country each year visiting each region.
Focusing on advocating on behalf of legislation to address issues affecting veterans, the American Legion national commander has both a presence in national politics and in the direction of individual posts and squadrons throughout the country. Throughout its history, the Legion has been instrumental in the passing of bills such as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the “G.I. Bill,” as well as support for benefits such as pensions and the Veterans Health Administration. Dillard, national commander for 2021-2022, will step down at the national convention in late August in Milwaukee, Wisc., at the end of his term.
In Woodbridge, in front of a group of 75 representatives from the American Legion family across New Jersey, Dillard spoke about topics that have been at the forefront of the organization’s attention since his election. Two of the topics he discussed were the high rate of veteran suicides and the pending passage of the PACT Act in Congress, which moved to President Joe Biden’s desk a few days later. The act expands VA health care and benefits for veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic substances, as well as provides generations of veterans — and their survivors — with care and benefits.
Belleville 105’s Steve Sangemino and Rusty Myers attended the event, shaking hands and chatting with Dillard about Belleville and the SAL. Sangemino serves as a detachment vice commander, and Myers serves as a Detachment Executive Committee representative for Essex County, as well as state children and youth chairperson. Both are also members of Belleville Squadron 105. Dillard presented Sangemino and Myers with his pin, a prestigious honor.
Photos Courtesy of Rusty Myers