For the American Legion Post 67 in Puyallup, supporting and advocating for military veterans is a year-round commitment.
The nonpartisan, nonprofit organization’s fifth annual dinner recognizing World War II and Korean War veterans held Saturday at the post represented a piece of that continuing support.
“The dinner provides comradeship,” said Art Bell, a veterans service officer for Post 67. “These vets are from this community area. It gives them an opportunity to talk about their wartime experiences (if they choose).”
Post 67 officers provided a free meal of lasagna, corn, salad, garlic bread, cake for dessert and coffee to World War II and Korean War veterans and their spouses.
Bell read a historical description of World War II and the Korean War and then allowed each veteran to stand, speak their name and share a war story or anecdote.
Central to the dinner was Bell’s reminder to veterans of Post 67’s weekly outreach to those veterans needing to file claims for veteran affairs benefits.
Post 67 Commander Tom Shriver Sr. said the Post’s five service officers volunteer each Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon at the Post 67 building to help veterans file their claims.
“We help file and print out all their paperwork and we mail it to the American Legion in Seattle,” Shriver said. “At any time they need follow-up, we will help.”
Bell also said spouses of veterans who have passed away are eligible for VA benefits if their spouse’s death is a result of military service.
Orville South, an Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, attended the dinner for the first time on Saturday. As a member of the American Legion in Puyallup for five years, South said he values the friendships he’s made and the importance of getting the information he needs in regards to his VA benefits.
“I like the people and getting together,” South said.
Post 67 boasts 350 members. Of that, about 50 are World War II vets and 70 are Korean War vets. The vast majority are veterans of Vietnam.
Bell and Shriver said the Post is committed to all veterans regardless of whether they are members. That includes those who are homeless.
At the Post’s meeting on the first Thursday of each month, a dinner at 6 p.m. takes donations to support the Post’s dinner served to the homeless on the first Sunday of every odd month at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Puyallup. Donations also help homeless veterans with food, gas and transportation costs.
Shriver said about 50 homeless veterans are served each month.
“We have a good following that comes in for our dinners (at Immanuel Lutheran),” Shriver said. “In the summertime we will do a barbecue for them and in the colder months we will have a roast beef or a roast pork dinner.”