ALTON — The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919.
It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, focused on programs that mentor youth, advocate patriotism and honor, promote strong national security, and help service members and veterans.
Alton’s chapter of the American Legion is Post 126 at 600 George St. The post’s commander is Wally Owczarzak, who has been involved with the local American Legion organization for 40 years.
A Vietnam era veteran who lives in Alton with his wife and daughter, Owczarzak served in the U.S. Army from 1967 through 1969. Drafted at the age of 22, he attained the rank of sergeant E-5 in only 21 months. After training at Fort Knox in Kentucky and Fort Ord in California, he served in Germany during his time in the service.
The American Legion’s success depends entirely on active membership, participation and volunteerism. The Alton post has about 200 members and Owczarzak says new members are always welcome. They especially would like to see younger military veterans getting more involved.
Owczarzak talks about the many activities available at the American Legion post and emphasizes the benefits of joining the organization.
“One of the main benefits is the camaraderie,” he emphasizes.
He also points out the many organized activities the organization offers. There is a dart league every Monday evening, a golf league on Thursdays and a Texas hold ‘em game on Thursday evenings. The post also has a top-quality pool table and there is a pool league every Wednesday evening. Owczarzak explains that all of the activities are free with the membership.
In addition to the organized activities, the post hosts events for members and their families.
“Family members are welcome any time,” Owczarzak says. He says members often use the facilities to throw anniversary, retirement and birthday parties.
The American Legion is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. It works to influence legislation benefiting veterans and service personnel in everything from local districts to national issues. The legion’s legacy is that of driving honest advocacy for veterans at the community, state and national level. The legion’s volunteer leadership stands behind the issues most important to the nation’s veterans community.
Membership is open to any U.S. military veteran from the war eras from 1918 through the present, including current active military service members. Post 126 meetings are held the first Monday of every month at 5 p.m. at the 600 George St. location in Alton.
The post facilities are open starting at 4 p.m. and American Legion Post 126 is one of the few facilities of its type open every day of the week. Additional information is available at www.altonpost126.webs.com or by calling the post at (618) 462-2644.
Owczarzak strongly encourages veterans to stop by and see what the American Legion is all about.
“We’re open every day and would love to have new members,” he says.
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