National Legion commander makes tour stop in Pipestone
PIPESTONE — Dan Dellinger, the national commander of the American Legion, made a stop Monday at the Pipestone American Legion Post as part of a four-day Minnesota leg of his tour to American Legion posts across the country.
“The primary goal for my visits is to listen to our veterans, and figure out what we can do to better serve them,” said Dellinger of his tour, which carries the theme “Building for Tomorrow — Today.”
“I’m also here to just thank them for everything they have done and continue to do,” added Dellinger, a Vienna, Va., native who spends about 330 days out of the year on the road visiting different posts.
He began the program by thanking and recognizing the veterans in each of the wars they served in, and proceeded to discuss important issues facing veterans today.
“I’m sure we’ve all heard about the VA hospital —Veterans Affairs hospital — in Pittsburgh, where a number of veterans died from contracting Legionnaires in the hospital, as well as other unacceptable instances that have happened in VA hospitals across the country,” Dellinger said. “I’m not saying that the VA is a bad system — they do a wonderful job treating our veterans — but there are some incidents that need to be addressed and taken care of.
“Our veterans deserve timely and excellent care, and that doesn’t just include health,” Dellinger added. “We need to help with veterans’ disability claims, making sure our veterans receive disability, and help our returning young veterans with health (as well as) furthering their education and jobs.”
As national commander of the 2.4 million-member American Legion, Dellinger also discussed the importance of membership.
“I have met numerous people over the years who had no idea what the American Legion was and it made me think, ‘How many people in this country don’t know who we are and what we do?”’ Dellinger said. “So, if you see someone with a hat on that says their ship number on it or a ‘Go Army’ shirt, engage them and ask.”
Dellinger also noted the amount of members matter to Congress when it comes to addressing issues regarding veterans.
“Membership needs adequate numbers to administer our programs,” Dellinger explained. “Honestly, Congress should listen to us even if we only had 10,000 members, but when we say; ‘Hey we have 2.4 million members who need this,’ they’re going to listen a little closer to that.”
Dellinger became an Army Infantry officer after graduating with a degree in criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He served at Fort Benning, Ga., during the Vietnam War and entered the U.S. Army Reserve in 1972, separating from the service in 1984 at the rank of captain.
Dellinger will be visiting 11 more posts in Minnesota before heading to West Virginia.
For more information on the American Legion, visit www.legion.org.
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.