National commander visits Sisters American Legion Post

 

Last updated 10/3/2023 at 10:31am

Photo by Jim Cornelius

Daniel J. Seehafer, national commander of the American Legion, visited Sisters American Legion Post 86.

Veterans from American Legion Post 86 gathered at Spoons café in Sisters on Tuesday, September 26, to greet newly elected National Commander Daniel J. Seehafer, who is on a whirlwind tour of posts across the nation.

Seehafer was elected national commander of The American Legion on August 31 in Charlotte, N.C., during the 104th national convention.

Seehafer says, "It's personal," when it comes to The American Legion's mission of serving veterans and their families. That was evident in the passionate talk he gave at Spoons. He reminded the Sisters veterans organization that The American Legion plays a critical role in giving mission and purpose to veterans after their military service. That can literally be a life-or-death matter.

"We change lives and we save lives," he said.

An ordained minister from Wisconsin, Seehafer earned his American Legion eligibility through service in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve, where he served as a military chaplain. A member of American Legion Post 157 in Horicon, Wisconsin, Seehafer served in a number of American Legion offices at every level, including national chaplain and commander of the Department of Wisconsin.

He was installed as assistant pastor of St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Horicon in 1997 and continues to serve as administrative pastor of the church and its school.

Seehafer's background as a pastor was on display as he spoke before the Sisters Post in what amounted to a sermon on the importance of embracing veterans, even many years after their service. Veteran suicide continues to be a significant problem, one that the American Legion is addressing through its Be the One initiative - as in being the one who reaches out to help a fellow veteran.

The Be the One campaign seeks to

• Destigmatize asking for mental health support, creating opportunity for those with mental health issues to speak freely and get the support they need.

• Provide peer-to-peer support and resources in local communities.

• Deploy FDA-approved therapeutics for veterans to identify issues and find resources for support.

Seehafer said that veterans' struggles often revolve around two elements - fractured relationships and financial troubles. He recounted the story of a veteran struggling with both. He joined his local American Legion post, which reached out to embrace him. The veteran became deeply involved in the post's activities, which gave him a renewed sense of meaning and purpose and pulled him out of what could have been a deadly spiral. The man went on to become his post's commander.

 

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