American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett is humbled for the opportunity to serve in that capacity for the next year.
“I look forward to many years of service to the American Legion,” Barnett said. “After I am finished this year, I will still be involved with our Boys State program, our Boys Nation, our oratorical program. I just find it makes you feel younger to still be able to do things and still serve America.”
Barnett, who resides in Douglass, Georgia, made a stop at McPherson's Post 24 Tuesday as part of a tour of the state of Kansas over the course of this week. He says the Kansas tour is part of a larger tour of the nation that will keep him on the road for the better part of the next several months.
“It's a 24-7, 365 day commitment to doing what's right for veterans,” Barnett said.
Barnett was also making stops in Manhattan and Fort Riley, as well as the Olathe area before making his way into Missouri for the next leg of his tour.
He was elected to the National Commander position Sept. 3 and, among his aims while in the post,wants to raise the visibility of the American Legion.
Along those lines, he challenged the gathered members, who came from as far away as Concordia, Tuesday to get out of their post homes and out in the community.
“We have so many great programs in the American Legion that helps the youth, helps veterans, our hospitals, our nursing homes,” Barnett said.
One way that Barnett is intending to try and raise the visibility of the American Legion is through Awareness Walks for Veterans nationwide. One such walk will be held Saturday in Kansas City at the World War I Memorial.
Barnett also takes the American Legion's role as a watchdog over the VA Hospital system very seriously.
“Because it's a sacred trust between the veteran and our national government,” Barnett said. “And it's the right thing to do for the veterans. The veterans made a sacred band that they would give their life for the country if necessary. And I think it's important that our country ensures that we provide that veteran the best health care to make his life on Earth the best that it can be.”