The meeting room is a little nicer than your average veterans’
hall, with drop-down rounded lights and a patterned carpet. It’s more
ritz than barracks.
In front, AMVETS Post Commander Fred Johnson
moved next to a cart and a U.S. flag. Johnson stood at attention with
his hand over his heart, leading the Pledge of Allegiance before the
AMVETS meeting on Sept. 26, the third-ever meeting for the post.
cart of AMVETS materials was necessary and the hall was more glamorous
because the meeting was in the comfortable surroundings of the
multipurpose room in a retirement community. Two months earlier, July
31, at The Sarah Community in Bridgeton, AMVETS officials inducted Post
122, the first in the nation in a retirement community.
which is also known as American Veterans, is a congressionally chartered
veterans service organization open to representing the interests of
veterans and their families. The Sarah Community lists 20 veterans among
Johnson, a chef at The Sarah Community, is leading
several initiatives, initially tied to other programs at the community.
One is to support the Fun Committee’s food drive for people who are
homeless and hungry. The committee of residents, employees and staff
seeks to “put a smile on residents’ faces,” said Patricia Finch,
president of the committee, who discussed the drive and other efforts it
sponsors, including a Halloween costume party.
Johnson, an Army
Veteran, served in military intelligence and other areas for nine years.
He served on bases in California, Georgia and elsewhere. His family
background includes his grandfather who served in the U.S. Army in World
War II, he said, and another relative, entertainer Josephine Baker, a
St. Louisan who lived in France during that war, serving as a spy for
the Allies. Her family referred to her as “Aut Toppe,” Johnson said.
enjoys leading the post, which includes a group of co-workers and
residents, he said. “Our community is a diverse, faith-based community,”
Some of the workers are immigrants, and he helps to educate them on the American system of government and culture.
Grant, a U.S. Air Force veteran who also works at The Sarah Community,
serves the post as first vice in charge. He said the initial focus
included organizing the new post and publicizing it. Growing pains
include scheduling meetings at the right time — the September meeting
inadvertently occurred at the same time as bingo games at the residence,
which attracted many of the veterans who chose that over the meeting.
“Once we get everything started it’s going to be a breeze,” Grant said.
are held on the last Wednesday of the month, and they are open to the
community. “It’s not just for our residents,” said Latisha Young of The
Sarah Community. “If you are a veteran who lives within our area or are a
family member you can join our AMVETS. We also are starting a women’s
Marie Gillen, a resident in assisted living for five
years who previously attended St. Bartholomew and Blessed Teresa of
Calcutta Parish, is interested in the auxiliary. Her husband served in
the U.S. Navy in World War II, including on the USS Missouri and the USS
Trenton. She said there are many others at the Sarah Community with
ties to the military, including a woman whose daughter, a helicopter
pilot, who was killed in action. Gillen talked about how much she enjoys
The Sarah Community, especially the many events that are held there.
Sarah Community, a nonprofit faith-based retirement community, offers
retirement living for active seniors, along with assisted living and
skilled nursing, each with a focus on wellness of body, mind and spirit.
It was founded in 1997 by The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de
Paul, Franciscan Sisters of Mary, Society of the Sacred Heart, School
Sisters of Notre Dame, and the Sisters of Loretto. Its residents include
women religious and lay people.
Founded in 1944, AMVETS has more
than 250,000 members nationwide. It enhances the quality of life for all
veterans, their families and survivors. Membership in AMVETS is open to
anyone who honorably served or is currently serving in the U.S. Armed
Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves.
AMVETS makes a long-term economic impact by providing assistance, jobs and services to veterans and their communities.