Ben Aycock is a busy man.
He is vicar of Saint Anne’s Church on the Westside and will soon be chaplain of the new Veteran’s Affairs hospital on Columbus’ eastside. He is also chaplain of the American Legion 12th District. Soon, he will add one more title to that list – commander of the new American Legion Post 799 in Galloway.
The American Legion, a community service organization for war-time veterans, numbers nearly 3 million members across the nation. Although it has nearly 15,000 posts according to its Web site, none of those posts happen to be on the Westside of Columbus. That will change in January.
“There are lots of places on the Westside that are high poverty. There’s a lot of drugs,” said Aycock.
He hopes that the addition of a Legion post to the area will help change things for the better.
Perhaps most well-known for their advocacy of veteran’s rights, the American Legion strives to make life as easy as possible for those who have served our country in a time of war. They work to make healthcare more accessible to those who have served and they try to ensure that veterans have jobs, clothing, food and homes.
“We make sure they get the medical help they need,” said Aycock.
Aside from treating physical ailments, the Legion also provides assistance to veterans dealing with mental issues. “Guys come back in their 20s and 30s and think they’re alright, but there are some difficult things they go through. The American Legion is dedicated to the needs of the veterans,” he added.
The Legion also works hard to put to ease the minds and hearts of soldiers currently serving overseas. By calling a toll-free number, family members of deployed military can contact the American Legion’s Family Support Network. All they need the details of the situation and help will be on its way through members of the nearest post. Services provided through this organization include child care, home repairs, lawn work, shopping and more.
Most American Legion posts have honor guards, which serve at military funerals. Although the new post will start out too small for this, Aycock hopes that an honor guard will be in the near future.
Another hope Aycock has for the new post is to eventually erect a memorial on the Westside for those who have died in service to our country. “The Westside just doesn’t have anything honoring our war-dead from the Westside, but that’s a big task,” he said.
The focus of the American Legion does not lie solely with veterans. They work hard to better their communities in a number of ways. Much of their focus is on children, revolving around drug an safety education. They sponsor sports, set up scholarships and send children to camp.
“A post will do as much for the kids as that post can afford,” said Aycock.
According to Aycock, the formation of American Legion Post 799 is in response to local demand. It will serve veterans and their families “from Galloway all the way up to the Hilltop.”
He described it as “A circle of veterans serving veterans.”
The Legion is not only for veterans. According to Aycock, spouses and descendants will be needed to form the auxiliary and the Sons of the Legion.
American Legion Post 799 will hold their first meeting Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. and will continue to meet on the third Wednesday of each month. Until they can secure a facility of their own, the post will hold their meetings at the Prairie Township Fire Department, 123 Inah Ave. Cost to join is $32 per year.
Aycock encourages all veterans and their families to attend. Anyone with questions should contact Ben Aycock at 878-0069.