American Legion to hold conference this weekend

by Jordan Green

Members of District 8 of the American Legion will hold their annual fall conference Saturday in Braman, and young veterans with an interest in joining the service organization are encouraged to attend the event.

The conference will take place at Post 259, located at 404 Broadway Ave. in Braman. District 8 is comprised of 30 Legion posts from north central and northwest Oklahoma.

At the conference, Legion members will discuss how to get young service members involved in organizations like the Legion, according to Marv Sandbek, vice commander of District 8.

“Encouraging young veterans to join what is viewed as an ‘old’ veteran’s organization has its inherent challenges, something we are studying and trying to adapt to,” Sandbek said. “We must become more attractive, relevant, and beneficial to our young veteran community.”

Legion members will also discuss ways to grow the group’s membership. As a service organization, Sandbek said, the Legion needs representation from a wide demographic of veterans.

State Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Mulhall, will serve as the keynote speaker for the convention. Pfeiffer is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Legion members will also hear from Lance McCune, a retired U.S. Army veteran. McCune, a former member of the 82nd Airborne Division, served two tours of duty in Iraq. He received the Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service medal.

McCune currently works as a peer support specialist at the Robert J. Dole Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center in Wichita, KS. In this role, according to Sandbek, McCune works with veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related health issues.

“He will address issues with young veterans and why they are reluctant to join service organizations,” Sandbek said. “He will also discuss what organizations can do to change their appeal to young veterans.”

Registration for the conference will begin at 9 a.m., with the conference beginning at 10 a.m. Anyone interested in joining the Legion or the Legion Auxiliary is invited to attend. Lunch and dessert will be provided.