Since its founding in 1920, the American Legion post in Blair, Nebraska, has served as a steadfast support system for veterans, active military personnel, and their families. As a local embodiment of the national organization’s mission, the Blair post actively contributes to the four pillars of the American Legion: Veterans & Veterans Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism, and Children & Youth.
Rick Paulsen, the Commander of the Blair post, plays a vital role in carrying out these objectives. In a recent interview, Paulsen provided insights into his responsibilities as Post Commander, the post’s various programs and initiatives, and the challenges faced by veterans today.
As Post Commander, Paulsen represents the Blair post at various meetings and events at the local, county, district, and state levels. He also runs the monthly meetings, which are held every second Monday of the month at 5:30 pm. Paulsen’s responsibilities extend to supporting local veteran homes through donations and visits, attending fundraisers organized by other posts such as pancake feeds and breakfasts, and collaborating with organizations like the VFW to participate in community events.
The Blair post is deeply involved in community programs. It participates in the Boys & Girls State convention in Lincoln, Nebraska, sending representatives from Blair and the surrounding area each year. The post sponsors two Legion baseball teams, Seniors and Juniors, which have experienced considerable success in state tournaments. The Blair post is also working on improving Vets Field with new field lights and a scoreboard, hosts various baseball tournaments affiliated with Legion Baseball, and organizes fundraising events like the Annual Legion baseball Steak Fry and occasional Rib Dinner events throughout the year.
Paulsen’s journey with the American Legion began when he enlisted in the US Air Force in 1975, serving until 1979. He joined the Legion because his father was a member, and he was eventually nominated and elected by other Legion members to be Commander when the position became available. Paulsen has been dedicated to making Blair’s Legion active and has assisted in recruiting new members for both the Legion and the SAL (Sons of the American Legion), striving to maintain open communication between the Legion, SAL, and the Legion Auxiliary.
Despite the successes of the American Legion at the local and national levels, veterans continue to face pressing issues. Paulsen highlighted the high rate of veteran suicides and the nationwide decline in membership numbers as younger generations are less inclined to join and get involved. To address these challenges, the American Legion is working to support veterans where needed and actively recruit new members.
For individuals interested in joining or supporting the American Legion, there are multiple avenues for involvement. Veterans can join the Legion, while those who have a father or grandfather who served in the military can join the Sons of the American Legion (SAL). The Blair post currently boasts over 100 dues-paying members and approximately 40 SAL members. The local community also plays a crucial role in supporting the Blair post. The recent “Putt-Putt for Vets” event, organized by local residents, raised $8,000 for the Legion Lounge to make improvements, demonstrating the power of community engagement.
Under the leadership of Rick Paulsen, the American Legion post in Blair, Nebraska, continues to be an invaluable resource for veterans, their families, and the local community. By upholding the organization’s four pillars, the Blair post exemplifies the American Legion’s commitment to service and support.
Edited by Don Harrold for BlairToday.