So far, it has been an exciting year for the 16th District.
As the largest District in the Department, membership is always a challenge but the Posts in the 16th District have welcomed the challenge and are on their way to meet and exceed their numbers for 2018-2019. I would like to give special mention to a couple Posts that have taken the membership challenge and have performed above and beyond expectations.
First, I would like to thank Post 46 who is at 187% as of February 14th. They have exceeded my expectation in growth, not only in membership but throughout the entire Tarpon Springs community by reaching out to the city government, churches, social groups, and schools. Post 46 has put their old nickname of “Ghost Post” behind them and transformed to a Post that is now considering expanding by creating both Sons of the American Legion and Auxiliary Charters. During this time of expansion, they have also started a Boys Scout Program.
Congratulations are also due to Dunedin Post 275 and Commander Sid Damsgard. Post 275 continues to grow, and they recently passed 101% membership this year while representing and promoting the Four Pillars in their community. Job well done Post 275!
Currently, the 16th District is in 3rd place in the Department. I am proud of all the hard work the Posts of the 16th District are doing in membership.
We are working hard to communicate with our Sons and Auxiliary on a monthly basis. The District staff has worked hard, participating in Staff Huddles at least once a month and meeting on Fridays for “Social Hours” at different Posts within the District. These events provide an opportunity for coordination of calendar events and fellowship. Our District Oratorical Winner is Joseph Corley from Post 79 and will be in the Central Area Contest on the 23rd of February at Cross Bayou Post 252.
The District has also been recognized in Social media on the Department and National stages. Our social media presence has increased by over 300% in the last eight months and is averaging 2,000 unique visitors each week.
In closing, it is with deep regret that I announce the passing of Commander Walter Hartshorne, long time Post Commander of Post 343 in New Port Richey, FL. Walter “Wally” Hartshorne was born in New York on January 23, 1930. He was an 89-year-old Korean War Army veteran and a 61-year member of the American Legion. He transferred from Post 1011 in New York City on October 23, 1993. RIP Wally!!
TALLAHASSEE – Gov. Ron DeSantis has designated the week of March 10-16, 2019 as Women Veterans Recognition Week in Florida. Women veterans are one of the fastest growing segments of the veterans’ population. There are more than 144,000 women veterans in the Sunshine State.
It is with a sad and heavy heart, we announce the passing of Barbara Smith, the Post 186 First Vice Commander. This was her second time in that position, and her first time she held the position, she was able to get 100% membership at the Post. Barbara has served 35 years in the American Legion, beginning her long career in Kansas, where she was a Post and District Adjutant, and also served on some National committees. Barbara and her husband Chris moved to Florida in 2015, and she became the Adjutant at the first meeting she attended in July. She also served one year as the 15th District Adjutant.
Barbara was also a member of the American Legion Riders, the Bingo Chairperson, 20/4, was also in the Honor Guard. She was a member of the Harley owners group for over twenty years. She also loved doing arts and crafts. Her biggest passion was the Legion, and doing whatever she could for our youth and Veteran’s. Barbara will be greatly missed both at our Post, and where she previously served in Kansas, as well as her friends and family.
In lieu of flowers, her husband has requested any donations be made on her behalf to Project Vet Relief, The Children’s Welfare Foundation, or the Humane Society.
Memorial service and viewing will be on Wednesday, March 6th from 5 pm – 7 pm at Downing Funeral Home 1214 Wendy Court, Spring Hill,FL
She will be interred on Friday March 8th, at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. There will be an escort leaving the funeral home at 11 am to go the cemetery. If you would like to attend the service at the cemetery, please be there by 1230 pm.
WATCH: Our Rick Elmhorst takes you inside Lake Wales Memorial Post 71's new home inside the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales. It could be one most unique locations for an American Legion Post in America, and it turns out they're doing quite well. FULL STORY: http://specne.ws/Qs7SHF
In the wake of the government shutdown, The American Legion went public to assist active duty Coast Guard members through National’s Temporary Financial Assistance program. This program requires families with minor children. The Department of Florida utilized it’s program, Project: VetRelief, to provide assistance to those that did not have qualifying children.
Through both programs, the Department Staff processed nearly 400 applications received from Coast Guard members.
The wave of US Coast Guard member applications has been overwhelming, but we are happy to report that all cases in which there was not a minor child in the home have been provided with a $250 gift card to Publix from PROJECT: VetRelief. To date, there have been 29 Coast Guard members funded for a total of $7,250. Additionally, of the 302 applications submitted to National’s TFA program, 231 families were provided support for a total of $130,000.
In the event that the government shuts down in a couple of weeks, the Department Staff would like to keep providing support for those effected for as long as we can; however, funds for both programs are limited. We ask that you, along with the members of your Post, take a minute to realize the impact a donation can have on someone defending your coastline and not receiving a paycheck.