Jerry Brandt, a Legionnaire from Post 129 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, was elected Department Commander on July 3, 2021, in Orlando, FL, during the 102nd Department Convention. Commander Brandt is a twenty-nine-year continuous member of The American Legion, earning his eligibility through his honorable service in the United States Navy from 1973-1993.
He was born June 8, 1955, in Osage County, Missouri, the oldest of 3 children in a farming community. He lived and worked on the family farm until 17 when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. During the next 20 years, he was stationed on six ships of various classes, including two flagships, one station in Manama Bahrain, the other in Gaeta Italy, plus a ship out of Japan. Medals awarded during this time frame include National Defense Service Ribbon with Bronze Star, Navy Expeditionary Medal for operations in Iran, Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal for operations in West Africa, Southwest Asia Service Medal for Operations in Iraq, and Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation for operations off of South America.
After transferring to Fleet Reserve in 1993, Commander Brandt worked for various large corporations, including AT&T and Citi Group, until he retired in 2016. He earned his associate degree in Computer Information while in the military, and continued his education after leaving the military, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1998.
Commander Brandt is a member of various organizations, such as Veterans of Foreign Wars, Fleet Reserve Association, The Masons, the Shriners, Moose, and a Son of The American Legion under his father. However, he spends most of his time with The American Legion since joining in 1992, which includes being Post Commander 5 times and various other positions within American Legion Post 129. Brandt also served as 5th District Commander for two years, Northern Area Commander, Department 3rd Vice Commander, Department 2nd Vice Commander, Department 1st Vice Commander and various Department Chairmanships. He is a graduate of The American Legion National Legion College, class of 2011.
Commander Brandt’s outside interests include martial arts. He has obtained a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Karate while stationed in Sasebo, Japan, and a 3rd Degree Black belt in Taekwondo since leaving the service. His other interests are sailing and hunting. However, his number one priority is supporting veterans through his service with The American Legion.
Commander Brandt has been married to his wife, Wanda of Newport TN, for 35 years. Mrs. Brandt is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary and currently holding the office of Department President for the Department of Florida Auxiliary.
His theme as Department Commander is “Duty, Honor, and Country.” His fundraising project will be PROJECT: VetRelief, an initiative backed by The American Legion, Department of Florida. Its mission is to provide a Legion of support for our servicemen and women transitioning into civilian lives. Funds raised for PROJECT: VetRelief will stay in Florida.
The American Legion, Department of Florida boasts over 130,000 veterans still serving their country and the State of Florida, and with 2 million-members at the National level, The American Legion is the Nations Largest Veterans Organization. The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a Strong National Security, Veterans Affairs, Americanism and Children & Youth Programs.