Above, American Legion Ladies’ Auxiliary president Kimberly Stone Richardson and American Letion Post 79 Comander James Noe stand by the stairs and ramp that they say is not readily accessible to aging veterans. They are asking for funds to install an elevator.
By LISA BICKNELL
CV&T News Editor
The stairs are steep, and the wheelchair accessible ramp leading to the second floor at the American Legion Post 79 is long and also steep.
Walking up the stairs can be difficult or impossible for an aging population of veterans. Getting up the long ramp requires either a lot of upper body strength or another strong individual to push the wheel chair.
Many are reluctant to accept help.
That’s why James S. Noe, the newly-elected Commander of Post 79, is asking elected officials to step up and fund the building of an elevator to the second floor at the American Legion building.
Noe sent letters to both Congressman Andy Barr and Senator Mitch McConnell, informing them of the need. He also explained that because the post is beside the Kentucky River and is at risk of flooding, it is necessary to house most of the post’s activities on the second floor.
The lack of accessibility for the aging and disabled hinders activities at the post. Noe said he knows of some who couldn’t come to post elections.
It is an issue not only for local members, but for state and national level executives, as well as veterans from Powell, Lee, Wolfe, Breathitt and Owsley Counties, who are members of Post 79.
For these reasons, acquiring an elevator at the post is a priority of Noe’s. He estimates that the cost to build a simple elevator is between $15,000 and $18,000. Because the post is located in one of the poorest areas in the state, Noe is asking for help from the government.
His letter invites the officials to come and look at the building for themselves, and Noe even invites them to be guests at a dinner in their honor. He reminds that the post is known throughout the state for serving some of the best food in the state, as well as having some of the most welcoming and down to earth members.
Noe has set other goals in his new role as commander. He wants to be transparent with all the financial business of the post, and he says he’d like to restore its public image.
“This is a family-oriented and community-based organization,” he said, adding that the post belongs to veterans and their families and is controlled by the members.
He also noted that the American Legion is not a private club but was created by an Act of Congress in 1919, with its own constitution and bylaws.
The American Legion exists for several purposes, among them, upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States; promoting peace and good will, preserving memories, etc., of the two world wars and others; building ties between veterans, and setting themselves aside to serve the country and their communities.
Noe believes the Legion is vital for bringing together veterans where they can offer one another moral support.
“Sometimes the best medicine is someone to confide in,” Noe said. “And no one understands like someone who has been through the same thing.”
Nationwide, the American Legion lobbies Congress on behalf of veterans.
Service officers also make themselves available to veterans at Post 79 to help fill out paperwork if they need care by the VA.