June 9th was a warm and windy day in Springfield, and it was the day Kirby Wilcox Memorial American Legion Post 676, hosted an open house and grand opening ribbon cutting celebration at its new location, 2350 North Clifton. The single story structure is also home to Women Veterans of Southwest Missouri American Legion Post 1214, and the Foxhole Bar and Grill.
As Karaoke singer Broadway Bill entertained those inside for the festivities, Ken Kerr, Commander of American Legion Post 676, expressed pride in his post, and at the place of prominence 676 had in the 2017 Veterans Day Parade, held in Willard Missouri: “We were the first in line, and our float was loaded with Veterans, and pictures on the sides of those who have served. It’s important we portray to the general public, what we do, and what we are.”
With an hour or 2 to spare before the ribbon cutting, a group representing the Women Veterans of Southwest Missouri American Legion Post 1214, gave KSMU a moment or 2 of their time. Retired Navy Chief Petty Officer Sabrina Bonnette says 1214’s social calendar is centered on community service: “It’s a giving back. Our way of socializing is giving back to our community, usually through some charitable or memorial event.”
American Legion Post 1214 gives assistance to the Ozark Peacemakers Quilt Guild, Quilts of Valor, program, according to Army Veteran Elaine Gibout: “They are always looking for donations of red white and blue material, batting or thread, if anyone’s interested in donating.”
“We have a social committee which organizes events for the post members throughout the year”, says Louise Hansen, a retired Army Reserves Captain. “We participate in Karaoke here at the Post, the 3rd Friday of every month. We’re also planning a canoe/kayaking/camping trip for this summer. We get together often for a day of “All day board games.”
Debbie Erwin, who served in the U.S. Army from 1983-1987, American Legion Post 1214 is a place where its members come together to talk about shared experiences, and to heal sometimes invisible injuries. “A lot of us have been sexually traumatized in the military. Some of us suffer from PTSD, and this is our social outlet to come and be with the other women. They understand what we’ve been through.”
Being with your sisters, and having your sisters around you, and knowing they are here for you, makes it much easier” says Elaine Gibout.
Debbie Erwin reiterates: “The best way to release what’s going on inside is when you can interact in a social setting where you can laugh and let your guard down. We’ve got to be Sisters, and relaxed, and enjoy ourselves...trust.”
As for upcoming events at the Foxhole Lounge and American Legion Post 676, Commander Ken Kerr says plans are underway for a July Open House and Spaghetti dinner for those able to travel from the Veterans Home in Mt. Vernon: “And what is important there, is the Old Timers who come out would say to us, Can I have a Little Something in My Orange Juice? And we say quietly, sure, what would you like? Nobody knows but the 2 of us, and for those who served so long and so hard, that’s the least we can do for them.”
The roster of the Women Veterans of Southwest Missouri American Legion Post 1214 shows a membership of 70, 6 of whom are male. 1214 meets the 3rd Saturday of every month, at 2350 N Clifton, where the Kirby Wilcox Bicentennial American Legion Post 676 also calls home, and meets the 2nd Monday of every month.
For KSMU, I’m Mike Smith.