● By Wendy Sipple
Photo by Dante Fontana
Since its formation in 1919, the nation’s largest veterans service organization – the American Legion – has honored and provided former and current U.S. service members with a number of military support services and programs. Inspired by these efforts, the American Legion Riders (ALR), which today claims 106,000 members in 1,000 domestic chapters and three foreign countries, was established to further the mission of its namesake organization, promote motorcycle safety education, and socialize with others whom share common interests.
In addition to staging fundraisers and promoting programs in accordance with and in support of the American Legion, including the “Hero’s Garden” and Patriot Guard missions, the local affiliation of the ALR, Post 119, which is based in Placerville, has 60 members and is presided over by President Mike Muetz, also aids the local community with involvements that include the annual “Ride for Hospice,” “Kacie’s Ride for Hope,” and working with Toys for Tots.
Having formed just two years ago in 2007, with just 12 members, ALR Post 119 has made its presence felt. Impactful programs such as the American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund and “Heroes to Hometown,” in particular, have made a significance difference in the lives of local veterans, their families and the community as a whole.
“As an unfortunate consequence of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the global war on terror, many children of our active-duty military personnel are now members of single-parent families,” Muetz explains. “Because an estimated 10,000 children have lost a parent to the war…we are raising funds to ensure that higher education will be a reality for these families. The American Legion is actively working to ensure that all those children who want a post-secondary education will be provided one.”
Making good on its promise, ALR Post 119’s “Legacy Run” delivered $620,000 to the scholarship fund in 2009.
Complementing this effort is “Heroes to Hometown,” a transition program for severely injured service members returning home. Tenants of this program include helping veterans establish a support network, and coordinating resources. In addition, the program also provides welcome-home celebrations, temporary financial assistance, housing help, pro-bono financial planning, home and vehicle adaptation, and family support.
Membership in ALR Post 119 is open to members of the American Legion, the Ladies Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion Squadron, or veterans and licensed and insured owners of a freeway legal motorcycle. Local citizens are also welcomed and encouraged to get involved with ALR Post 119, one of the aforementioned organizations, or another veterans group in El Dorado County.
ALR Post 119 conducts monthly meetings the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. inside Placerville’s Veterans Memorial Building. For more information or upcoming fundraisers, such as the ‘Ride for Hospice,’ tentatively planned for Summer 2010, call 530-919-7866, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the Web site at alr119.com.