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Silverdale gets its own American Legion post

There are an estimated 177 local U.S. military veterans with a Silverdale address and now they have an American Legion post to call their own.

On Monday, American Legion Post 109 held its first official meeting in Silverdale and voted on officers, instated bylaws and had its charter approved.

The Silverdale post gathers at the meeting room of the Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue station on Silverdale Way and its next meeting is scheduled for April 16.

The group currently has 24 members.

“That should do nothing but grow,” said Russ Jerabek, vice commander of the new Silverdale post.

While the goal is to have their own building to gather and hold meetings, Jerabek said that is something that will take time to establish. For the time being, they are focusing on recruiting members.

“The more people you have, the more ideas you have, the more resources you have available,” Jerabek said.

The new post is the 12th post to be established in the third American Legion district of the state. The third district extends up north to Port Angeles and Forks and as far south as the Tacoma Narrow Bridge. Forks also established an American Legion post a few months ago.

American Legion Post 68 in East Bremerton closed last year following a scandal involving a former commander that left the long-time post in financial trouble enough to drive them into bankruptcy and the loss of their charter.

The American Legion was established after World War I to help support veterans, said Ron Coglon, third district commander and American Legion Post 1972 commander on Bainbridge Island.

“There was no GI Bill, no VA,” said Coglon. “It addressed a segment of the population. It’s become more like a service now.”

Post 109 is the first American Legion post established in Silverdale, said Coglon.

There are more than 2.4 million members in 14,000 posts worldwide, according to the American Legion website. American Legion posts are nonpartisan nonprofits.

Jerabek, originally from Minnesota, was in the Air Force from 1968 to 1972 and retired as a civilian from Naval Base Bangor two years ago. He hopes the new post in Silverdale will serve fellow vets in the area, which would cut back on driving time to other posts.

The post may also fill a void created by the closure of Post 68 in Bremerton, said Jerabek.

Coglon and Jerabek said the Silverdale post members would be involved within the community with outreach and service projects — as is common among many posts. One issue in particular that the post will contribute to will be to help the county’s homeless vets, said Coglon.

“We’re a ready pool of people to draw from,” said Coglon, adding that helping with potential disaster relief is something the post would prepare for.

American Legion Post 149, located on Kitsap Way in Bremerton, recently returned from a two-month tour to Japan for Operation Tomodachi, to help with relief from last year’s earthquake. Post 149 has from 400 to 500 members, said Coglon.

While discussions to start up the new Silverdale post began four months ago, Jerabek said members are excited to get things going.

“To me, this is a good thing for Silverdale,” he said.

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