Tipton American Legion Comes Back Strong
Writer / Seth Johnson
Photographer / Jason Graves
Like many local companies and organizations, those at Tipton American Legion Post 46 found themselves in dire straits due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were closed for COVID from March through June of last year so things just kind of disintegrated,” says current Post Commander Stan Jones. “We actually had a meeting at the end of last June and decided if we wanted to open back up or not. We were in debt because we had to continue to pay bills even while we were closed.”
After deciding to stay open, however, Jones says Post 46 has made an impressive turnaround, thanks to the supportive team he now has by his side.
“I became the post commander last August,” Jones says. “We filled all the offices and got some energetic people in there. We’ve worked hard this last year. We’re not where we want to be yet, but we’re doing really well.”
Now that those at Post 46 can keep the bills paid, Jones says they’ve been able to do more charity work in the community, which is ultimately what the Legion is all about.
“People think we’re just a place to go drink,” Jones says. “That’s not what we’re about. We’re an organization, and we use our proceeds from having a drink or playing one of our games to support a local charity. We support local charities, and we support organizations that take care of Veterans on a local and national level. That’s what the Legion does. We take care of our Veterans.”
According to Jones, Tipton County has a very large population of Veterans, which makes the work of Post 46 even more important.
“Bill Steen, who is the Tipton County Veteran Services officer, told me there’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 15,000-plus people living in the county, and that there are 1,600 Veterans in the county,” Jones says. “That’s 10% of the population who are Veterans, so we’re well represented in the services. It’s amazing how many vets we have in this small county.”
“Probably the most important thing we do is honor the Veteran at his ‘last battle line on earth’ as we fire a gun salute, play ‘Taps,’ and then representatives of the Veteran Services will fold and present the flag and the Legion will present the shells,” Jones adds. “The arrangements for the Honor Guard or a dinner at the Legion can be made through your funeral director and they will contact the Legion.”
In order to become a member at American Legion Post 46, individuals must be Veterans and provide a DD-214 form. Currently, Post 46 has 205 members, while the American Legion has approximately two million members worldwide.
In addition to Post 46 and its Legionnaires, Tipton American Legion is made up of Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion (SAL) groups that also work in the community to support Veterans. To be a part of the Auxiliary group, an individual must be a wife, daughter or granddaughter of a Veteran, and to be a part of the SAL group, an individual must be a son or grandson of a Veteran. Currently, Tipton County has approximately 200 Auxiliary members and 150 SAL members.
In recent years, Post 46 has given back to the Tipton County community in all sorts of ways, sponsoring Little League teams, organizing Humane Society fundraisers and more. Members of the Auxiliary also stay very busy in the Tipton County community, conducting an annual Christmas party for Legion children, contacting national and state congressional members to support Veterans issues, and much more.
“A lot of the stuff they just do and you don’t even know they’re doing it,” Jones says of the Auxiliary and its community efforts.
Again this year, Post 46 will be a part of Tipton County’s Veterans Day service, taking place on the Tipton County courthouse lawn at 11 a.m. on Thursday, November 11.
“The armistice was signed at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, so that’s why Veterans Day is always on the 11th,” Jones says. “We always start the program right at 11. I’ll start the program and will introduce the mayor. He’ll read a proclamation making Veterans Day official for that day.”
As Post 46 members continue to do more work in the Tipton County community, Jones’ hope is that more Veterans in the area will become Legion members, allowing Post 46 to touch even more lives.
“The Legion is picking up, and people are coming in more, which is good in many ways,” Jones says. “That means people are talking, and we’re getting more resources to support our causes. Then, of course, the better resources we have, the more we can reach out to our folks.”