Please take a few moments to view our Hurricane Relief video, a testament to the hard work and dedication of our volunteers, donors, and the Legion Family.
We are a little over a month from when Hurricane Ian tore through our state leaving massive destruction to not only to our Legion Posts, but countless homes, and local businesses. In the hardest hit areas, people have lost everything, their homes, places of employment, treasured family items, and now are forced to live in tents or campers without power or water.
Now that the dust has settled and debris cleared from the roads, we have finally been able to check in with all Legion Posts in the Southwestern area. We are dismayed to report six (6) of our American Legion Posts were completely destroyed and left inoperable. The affected area represents approximately 27% of Florida’s Legion Family. Members are working diligently to repair their Post’s infrastructure, as their buildings are a nucleus to their community providing a haven to come and escape reality with friends and comrades.
Our Disaster Preparedness Committee, led by our Department Chairman Bill Hoppner, has been working tirelessly in orchestrating donated hurricane relief items to the impacted areas. In fact, he has driven over 2,625 miles delivering items for distribution to Posts and community centers. It still takes extreme coordination in getting supplies to these locations, so we are still asking for you to inform the department before delivering donated supplies.
We know it will take a long time before we fully recover and are committed to providing service and supplies to our Posts, members, and local communities for as long as we can. It is only because of the support we receive from the entire Legion Family, near and far, that we can continue these efforts.
STORM AND RELIEF STATS
- Made landfall on September 28, 2022, at 3:05 PM in Cayo Costa Island, near Fort Myers and Cape Coral
- High-end Category 4 Hurricane with sustained winds of 155mph
Damage to Posts
- Heavy Damage – 11 Posts, of which 6 experienced total loss / inoperable: Post 11 – Arcadia, Post 110 – Port Charlotte, Post 123 – Sanibel, Post 136 – St. James City, Post 274 – Fort Myers, Post 303 – Bonita Springs
- Moderate Damage – 6
- Minor Debris – 32
- No Damage – 104
*We only had 153 of the 280+ Posts report after the storm.
Support Received from 29 Departments
Hurricane Relief Items Delivered
- Post 25, Lake Placid
- Post 38, Ft Myers
- Post 113, Rotonda West
- Post 136, St James City
- Post 159, Venice
- Post 254, North Port
- Post 303, Bonita Springs
- Post 323, Lehigh Acres
- Auxiliary Unit 336, North Ft Myers
- Post 351, Ft Myers Shores
NEED SUPPORT / ASSISTANCE?
The American Legion Family has been working to provide assistance and relief to all those affected by the hurricane. Our Disaster Preparedness Committee has been busy mobilizing supplies and services to affected areas. We want you to know that we’re all in this together!
The American Legion has programs and are benefits of your membership to assist you during this challenging time! We want to make sure you are aware of and utilizing the resources that are available to you. Visit our website for a full list of support and resources: www.floridalegion.org/relief
Hopefully by now you have started to evaluate and assess the damages at the Post, but we wanted to offer a few suggestions to help.
- Be sure to review the Post’s insurance policy or contact your representative. Hopefully, by now, you have had an adjuster come out to determine the total cost of damages incurred. Please report to Department the total damages to the Post and how much insurance will cover.
- Utilize the National Emergency Fund to potentially receive up to $10,000 for Post damages. A District or Department Officer will be required to assist you in this process. They will need to provide an assessment outlining loss and impacts on the community. The funding is not a replacement for insurance. Application link: https://www.legion.org/emergency
- If you need hurricane relief items at your Post, please contact Department. Tell us a list of supplies that are needed, and whether you have a secured location to store them for distribution to your membership.
- Department has an online fundraising platform that the Post can utilize to collect online donations to aid in the recovery of your Post. Department will not solicit funds on your behalf nor is it responsible for restoring the Post. However, you can share this platform with your friends, family, and local community to help cover your Post’s costs. All funds generated on your fundraising page are entirely for the Post. Department will not charge you any fees associated with your efforts. Don’t pay high fees to other platforms, such as Go Fund Me.
The Florida Legion Family will eventually restore our buildings and preserve the memories we share. In the end, we will come out stronger from working together as one team with one dream!
HOW YOU CAN HELP…
Phase 2 of our relief efforts has officially begun. Our Chairman, Bill, would like to encourage monetary donations to the Department’s Hurricane Relief Fund so we can fill the true need of each area. We are finding that the affected areas need different items, therefore making monetary donations helps ensure we get the right items to the right areas.
Donations can be accepted through our website (www.floridalegion.org/aid) or mailed to our Department Headquarters using the address below. Please make checks payable to The American Legion, Department of Florida, and include “Hurricane Relief” in the memo line.
The American Legion, Department of Florida
Attn: Hurricane Relief
1912A Lee Road
Orlando, FL 32810
Phase 2 – Hurricane Relief Items
We understand that many like to provide physical items, so the list below focuses on building and cleaning supplies as these are currently the most requested items. Unneeded items only clog up our limited storage space.
- Chain or hand saws
- Utility gloves
- Tools (shovel, rake, ax, pry bar, trimmers, etc.)
- Drills & drill bits (battery operated)
- Plywood (5/8″ or roofing thickness)
- Nails or grabber screws
- Peel and stick roofing materials
- Tongue & groove wood panels
- Roofing shingles
- Cement drywall (Durock)
- Utility buckets
- Dust masks
- Cleaning supplies (disinfectant wipes, dust rags, bleach, liquid detergent, brooms, mops, etc.)
- First aid items (bandages, antibacterial ointment, gauze, medical tape, aspirin, rubbing alcohol, etc.)
- Hygiene items (shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.)
- Bug spray
- Children’s toys or activities
- Packaged undergarments and socks (all sizes)
- Rubber or work boots
Our Disaster Preparedness Committee has teamed up with Cajun Navy Ground Force, a nonprofit organization that assists with disaster recovery. They provide an effortless way for volunteered citizens to help neighboring communities during the crisis aftermath caused by natural disasters. Their volunteers go into the most impacted and devastated areas to check on individuals and assist with removing and cleaning up the damage. They are always looking for more volunteers to assist with cleanup, cook meals for the community or provide medical attention for injuries. If you’d like to sign up to help Floridians rebuild through this combined effort, please visit volunteer.gocajunnavy.org.
Our Disaster Prep Chair Bill Hoppner, organized a meeting today with Department Commander Eunice Butts, Auxiliary President Jane Hardacre, fellow Legionnaires, and Department staff members to plan and organize Hurricane Relief Efforts across the state. Donations have been steadily coming in this week, and other states, such as Ohio, already have supplies en route.
Today’s meeting will decide the logistics and distribution of a combined effort among the Legion Family and other volunteers. We hope to provide “boots on the ground” aid and assistance to those affected by Hurricane Ian in the coming days.
If you are in need of assistance, due to damage caused by Hurricane Ian, please go to www.floridalegion.org/relief for resources available to you.
We will continue to provide updates as they become available. Thank you for your continued support! Together we will overcome!
National ~ In over a decade as the Department of Florida’s disaster preparedness chairman, Bill Hoppner has seen plenty of destructive storms.
“I have never seen devastation and destruction to this degree,” he said in a Facebook post after Hurricane Ian.
More than 100 people died from the storm and damage estimates are in the billions. And there’s still much to do before cleanup and relief efforts can begin in earnest in the state’s hardest hit areas.
“Everyone wants to help which is good,” Hoppner wrote. “But we have to understand the logistics. There are still search and rescue missions going on. Still powerlines down. The gas stations are running out of gas and the stations that do have gas have lines blocks long. I don’t want anybody to come in with supplies and not get out because they have no gas.”
The department’s Disaster Preparedness Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday to assess damage, identify distribution centers, and develop a plan of action. In the meantime, the Department of Florida is collecting donated items at department headquarters, 1912A Lee Road, Orlando, FL 32810.
The department is collecting:
Water, non-perishables (canned food, dried meats, hard candies, granola or power bars), dry goods (crackers, nuts, dried fruit, trail mix), peanut butter, hand can openers, hygiene items (shampoo, soap, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc.), bug spray, sunscreen, infant supplies (diapers, wipes, food, formula), feminine products, pet food, batteries (all sizes), flashlights, solar lights, battery operated fans, pocket juice battery chargers, camping stoves, propane, charcoal grills, cleaning supplies (disinfectant wipes, dust rags, dust masks), first aid items (Band-Aids, antibacterial ointment, gauze, medical tape, aspirin, rubbing alcohol, etc.), chain or hand saws, utility gloves, packaged undergarments (all sizes).
Donations can be shipped to or dropped off at Department of Florida headquarters during business hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., until official distribution sites have been designated.
In the meantime, American Legion posts outside the disaster area have also been collecting supplies.
A team of Legion Riders is scheduled to leave Post 104 in Pinellas Park, Fla., early Oct. 8 to deliver donated items.
Post 382 in Navarre, Fla., is collecting donations of water, non-perishable foods, paper products, tarps and more. Drop-off times are from noon to 7 p.m.
Post 221 in Niceville, Fla., is seeking donations of water, canned goods, non-perishable items, tarps, gloves, generators, diapers, baby food, new clothing, and new blankets and sheets still packaged. Drop-off times are from noon to 6 p.m.
Legion posts are also providing for relief workers.
Post 69 in Avon Park, Fla., provided pizzas, sodas and a break for the National Guard.
Post 103 in Punta Gorda, Fla., is serving as headquarters for Team Rubicon for the next 6-8 weeks as the organization helps demolition and cleanup efforts.
Resources for those impacted by the hurricane and ways to donate to the Department of Florida’s Hurricane Relief Fund are available at floridalegion.org/resources/hurricane-relief/.
The American Legion stands ready to assist eligible Legionnaires, American Legion posts and Sons of The American Legion impacted by these and other natural disasters.
Grants from the National Emergency Fund (NEF) are available — up to $3,000 to Legionnaires and SAL members displaced due to damages to their primary residence from declared natural disasters, and up to $10,000 for Legion posts that have been damaged by a natural disaster and whose programs and activities within the community have been impacted.
Click here for the NEF grant application.
NEF grants are made possible from the generosity of donations to the fund. Donate here.
In addition to the requirement that an emergency declaration be made for a natural disaster, applicants must be current on their membership prior to the disaster and at the time of application submission, and must provide photos, receipts, insurance paperwork, and FEMA statements if possible.
The Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program is also available to assist American Legion eligible veterans with minor children in the home who need financial help to pay for shelter, food, utilities, and medical expenses.
For TFA information on eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit legion.org/financialassistance.
By MARGO WILSON For the Chronicle Jul 28, 2022 ~ It’s not the first time, nor the second … but for the fifth year in a row, the over 100 motorcycle riders of Beverly Hills Post 237 of the American Legion have earned the title of “Riders Chapter of the Year,” outpacing the state’s other 138 American Legion Riders’ chapters with a total of 10,000 riders.
“It’s phenomenal,” said rider Bo Boden, who was attending a July 23 celebration at the post. “It’s a lot of hard work by our leader, John (Roby).”
Roby, who’s directed the Beverly Hills riders group since it was founded in 2012, told the partygoers, “It’s not about one individual. It’s about all of you.”
He saluted members who have passed away and dedicated the event to them. He also thanked the veterans’ and other community groups and individuals who support the post and vets.
“In April 2012, there were 20 members,” he said. “We were the little kids on the block.
We had to go out and earn respect,” Roby said.
Since then, the riders have logged over 1 million miles for charitable causes.
“We’ve gone out over and over and over again,” Roby said.
Those rides have earned over $350,000 for veterans’ and community projects and racked up over 1 million hours of community service.
Last year, the riders rode over 300,000 miles, raised $48,425, and tallied about 300,000 hours of community service.
Some of the groups and causes to which they donate include the Race for Fallen Veterans, the Special Olympics, Toys for Tots, Project Vet Relief, Friends of Citrus and the Nature Coast, Veterans for a Cause, Gold Star Families, the VFW, Am Vets, other American Legions, female veterans, and homeless veterans.
They accompany the Vietnam Traveling Wall.
The riders frequently escort, to Bushnell National Cemetery, veterans who’ve passed away. This past year, they placed 5,000 flags at the cemetery.
On “Red Shirt Fridays,” they ride to other American Legions and VFWs to show their support of their fellow veterans.
On Veterans Day, they visit comrades at assisted living sites.
They support veterans’ suicide awareness projects.
Member Alan Oscarson, a Vietnam veteran, said the award and the riders’ group and Post 237 “mean the world to me. When I came home from Vietnam in 1971, I got spit on at the airport. There were protestors outside. … I felt it was a waste of my time being in the service until I came down here.”
Oscarson said after he moved to the area, he was out for a motorcycle ride one day and Post 237 riders cruised past.
“I followed them,” he said.
He pulled up to Ray Roby, who was commander of the post, and asked him what was going on.
“We’re doing a ride for charity,” Roby said. “It’s a veterans’ ride, too.”
“I’m a Vietnam vet,” Oscarson said. Then, Roby reached over, shook Oscarson’s hand, and said, “Thank you for your service and welcome home.”
Oscarson joined the post that same day.
Greg Olynyk, the assistant director of the riders group, said he participates because “I do it for the vets. And I like to ride.”
Danny Elsass, of S&S Electric, donated $500 toward the celebration and has supported the post financially many times, according to John Roby.
Elsass said, “I love this group.”
David Herrington, who met his wife at the post and married her June 27, said, “It’s a nice, small group, a fun group. They do a lot for the community.”
Herrington’s wife, Sgt. Maj. Rose E. Gonzalez-Herrington, who has volunteered with Vets for Vets and other groups in Ocala, not only praised Post 237, but her spouse.
“My husband has a big heart,” she said.
She was not the only spouse singing the praises of his or her significant other.
John Roby praised his wife, Karon, who is treasurer and membership chair of the post’s 210-member Auxiliary. She also designed the cake served at the celebration.
And Karon praised John, as well as the members.
“It’s about dedication and camaraderie,” she said.
Bucky Palmer said winning the award “is a great amount of work for the commander and post. … You’ve got to be good.”
Marie Jones said she would echo what Palmer had said, but added, “It’s the friendliest American Legion. It’s very family-oriented.”
Kathleen Moran, the riders’ secretary, said, “No one supports vets like we do. This post is a family.”
Andrea Bolden, an Auxiliary member, whose father, mother, and brother are veterans, said about the award, “It’s fantastic when you think about our little town, and there is Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa. It’s great.”
Veteran John Ferris said, “The people are so fantastic. I’m very proud to belong.”
Ralph Hanks, who served in the Army in Germany from 1966-69, said he loves riding his motorcycle and supports the causes of the riders’ chapter.
“I wish I could do more,” he said. He mentioned the riders have supported hospice programs. Hanks’ wife died in hospice. He credited John Roby for his leadership and said Roby “is probably one of the biggest reasons” for the riders’ success.
David Fredericks, a Vietnam-era Marine, said the riders and post “do a lot of public service for the community.”
Robin Fredericks said the work the post does is “for God and country. … We’re small but mighty.”
Dee Collins said, “We love our country.”
Her husband, Ron, who served in Germany with the Army, said, “We’ve been doing hard work.”
But in the end, as Director John Roby said, “Awards don’t make us any better. We’re just committed to our mission.”
For information about the post or riders’ group, call 352-897-4776, or stop by the post, 6726 N. Lecanto Highway. The post is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Talk to the bartender, and he or she will put you in touch with Roby.
During the 103rd National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Florida Legion Riders received the Child Welfare Foundation’s Garland Murphy Jr. Award. Joe Marcheggiani received the award on behalf of the Florida Legion Riders.
The Child Welfare Foundation presents awards annually for significant contributions to the foundation. The American Legion Riders are strong supporters of the Foundation, which grants to nonprofits that contribute to the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual welfare of children.
To qualify for the Garland Murphy Jr. Award, the department must be the most active in the nation, based on actual contributions received during the year. One department from each of the Family organizations is recognized.
Congratulations and a huge “Thank You” to the American Legion Riders for their dedication and never-ending support of our programs. A special mention to Chapter 110, who pushed us over the top for the win.
(INDIANAPOLIS—September 8, 2022) – – American Legion National Commander Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola issued the following statement regarding the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
“The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has often been characterized as ‘special.’ The strength, grace and class that Elizabeth II exhibited as a princess during World War II and later as queen, has only deepened the affection that our veterans have for our allies in the United Kingdom. The passing of this legendary queen saddens The American Legion but we will always be inspired by her many decades of service to humanity and her commitment to freedom for all. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the Royal Family and the people of Great Britain.”
The Sons of The American Legion convened their 50th National Convention at the Miller Highlife Theater in Milwaukee Wisconsin August 26th through 28th 2022. Our Florida delegation, while small, it was mighty. Delegation Chairman Detachment Commander 2022 Brian Carter, Detachment Commander 2023 Gerard Sambets, Past National Commander and Delegation Secretary Jim Roberts, National Assistant Adjutant and Detachment Adjutant Emirtus Ed Sheubrooks National Executive Committeeman William D (Bil) Kelly, District Vice CDR. Jamie Grinis and Jessie. A big shout out of Thanks to all these men who took time out of their busy schedules to represent you at the National Convention.
After we travel halfway across the country we get settled very early the next day. We start with our Standing Convention Committees at 8:30 AM. At 10 AM we have our pre-National Executive Committee Meeting. This is where our governing body finishes up all the 2022 year business.
Later on Day 1 August 26th, 2022 at 1 PM The National Convention is gaveled to order by National Commander Fox. This year’s Day 1 ran longer due to the 50th National Convention Luncheon on Day 2, and the business of running our organization must still be done, and it was. On behalf of the Detachment of Florida, Commander Carter received the Child Welfare Foundation Award for the Largest Contribution in the Southern Region and a Certificate of Recognition from CWF for exceeding the $1.00 per member.
Day 2 began with a visit from The American Legion Department of Florida Department Commander 2022 Jerry Brandt, Commander 2023 Eunise Butts, Adjutant Bruce Compton, PDC & NEC Elect Jim Ramos and PDC Larry White came and sat in with their Detachment at our Convention. This action proves that when we say “We Are Family” we all stick together. Thank you to the TAL Department Officers who took the time out of their busy convention schedule to sit in with their Sons of The American Legion at their National Convention. Unfortunately just after they left The Detachment of Florida was presented with The American Legion National Shadow Box Award for the Most Dollars Contributed to The Veterans and Childrens Foundation (renamed from TAL Endowment Fund). The final award was received by The Detachment of Florida the Snapshots of Service 2022 Award for Veterans Affairs on behalf of Florida Lakeshore Squadron 137 in Jacksonville. Detachment of Florida Commander 2023 Gerald Sambets became the 1st Detachment Commander to be awarded a Certificate of Completion for his attendance at the new National Detachment Commanders Class at National Convention.
The Convention adjourned and we went directly to the Milwaukee Hilton Crystal BallRoom for The 50th Anniversary Banquet in celebration of 50 years of Sons of The American Legion Conventions. The luncheon was a fabulous affair and our compliments to the Anniversary Committee for their outstanding job.
Day 3 started early at 8 AM and after opening business, the National Chaplain provides a Memorial Service with a tribute to all the members who passed into Squadron Everlasting. Immediately after the service we preseeded into the election of the National Commander 2023 and 5 National Vice Commanders from each of the regions. Leading Candidate Chris Carlton from Indiana was elected Sons of The American Legion National Commander 2023 The Southern Region elected Ron Roberts from Mississippi National Vice Commander. Florida was recognized due to our National Assistant Adjutant Harold Thompson’s absence and National Adjutant Tony Wright was called off the floor for business elsewhere. National Assistant Adjutant Ed Sheubrooks was tasked with providing all the delegates creditation report and with running the election for National Commander and NVCs. Thank you Ed for your service to The Sons of The American Legion and The Detachment of Florida and for representing us with all you do. With the installation of the newly elected officers, The 50th Convention and the 90th year of the Sons of The American Legion passed into the books.
Immediately after the end of the Convention the 91st a new year of The Sons of The American Legion began with the Post National Executive Committee Meeting where all National Executive Committeemen are sworn in for 2023 by the National Commander. The next order of business was to ratify the appointments of the National Commander. With the end of all NEC business the meeting was adjourned and our business was completed in Milwaukee Wisconsin.
Returning home safely and while watching The American Legion streaming of The 103rd National Convention when Sons of The American Legion National Commander 2022 Michael Fox announced on the floor of the Convention that the total dollar value of donations by the Sons of The American Legion 2022 to The American Legion Programs was over $98 Million Dollars. Thank all of you for your contributions to this outstanding total and remember this is why, YOU are the processors of a priceless heritage.