All-women post re-emerges in Colorado
The only all-women post in Colorado is regaining its foothold after shutting down in 2012.
Terri Shelefontiuk, commander of American Legion Post 206 in Aurora, Colo., said she recognized the need for a Legion presence in the community but wanted to honor the history of the post, which received its original charter in 1957.
“We didn’t want to lose the history of the post,” said Shelefontiuk, who connected with some longtime members as she worked to reinstate Post 206. “I thought ‘Oh my gosh. What is involved with reopening a post and how much work is this going to be?’ And then we started hanging around enough female veterans, and we realized we needed to open this post for female veterans.”
When the post began, it had at least one World War I nurse and several World War II nurses. Now, its 40-plus members include medics, machinists and others from war eras ranging from World War II to the ongoing war on terrorism.
Among the post members hailing from World War II is Aileen Bissing, an Army veteran and 55-year Legionnaire. “I was tickled to death to learn the post was going to be restarted,” she said.
Pat Wilcox, a 60-year member of the Legion, is another longtime Post 206 member. Both Bissing and Wilcox transferred to Post 206 after joining other posts where they were relegated to serving coffee and were overlooked for leadership positions.
The all-women post had its own version of an Auxiliary unit, the Vigilantes, who helped organize and run rummage sales so the post could raise money. “They were very important to us,” said Bissing, who was post commander in 1966 and 1994. “Mostly they were husbands. I had my father and brother join — they were both Legionnaires, too.”
Bissing, who grew up in Kansas, has fond memories of the Legion. “My father was a member of the Legion, and I always liked the Legion,” said Bissing, who as a teenager was a member of the American Legion Drum and Bugle Corps from about 1935 to 1940. “The Legion feels natural to me. It is a feeling of belonging to me, ever since I was a child.”
The Legion post sponsored Boys State and Girls State, starting back in the 1950s. The members also regularly marched in parades — a tradition which the reborn Post 206 will continue this Veterans Day at the parade in Denver.
“It’s our legacy we’re preserving,” Shelefontiuk said. “When you are a soldier and get out, all you have is the camaraderie and friendship of the friends you made while you were in. We paid extra special attention when we revitalized the post. We did our due diligence. We named the post after the first commander (Helen Osmundson). We wanted to do everything right.
“And we’re still servicing our veterans. That’s why we started up the post.”
Order your tickets today.
The American Legion Department of Colorado is raffling off two (2) 1911 45 Cal pistols. One for show, the 100th anniversary commemorative edition and one for shoot, a 1911 Aero Ordinance companion. You can purchase online here or can order your tickets through the mail here.
Colorado Legion in Baltimore
Department Commander Tom Florez, Sr Vice Commander Jay Bowen and Past National Commander Tom Bock participated in a neighborhood revitalization project in Baltimore while there for the national convention.
A Salute To Our Colorado Legion Members
By: Tom Florez, Department Commander
We are veterans and what joins us together is our membership in The American Legion! Colorado Legion Members from our 167 Posts and 14 Districts and from every region of Colorado gathered in the hundreds for our 96th Annual State Convention, held in Colorado Springs!
Those in attendance were there to represent the approximately 21,000 Colorado American Legion members and our American Legion family of Auxiliary, SAL, Legion Riders and ALA Juniors.
I would like to express thanks to “ALL” members, Posts, Districts, Departments and staff. Without participation, work, and dedication from our members a great convention would not have been possible. It was a great day to be associated with so many that has rendered service to our Nation. During my attendance at the National American Legion College in 2012, I remember what Past National Commander James E. Koutz of Indiana would say “Every day is Veteran’s Day” and, he was absolutely right.
It was our Commander Richard Humphrey’s last moments of leading our Department; a humbling thought, as only our Past Department Commanders may know. When the Commander called for a hand salute all rendered that salute in unison to honor “Old Glory.” In my mind, only an American can render a proper salute with true distinction. A Salute goes out to our Colorado Legion members and family. Department Commander’s Call.
Diane Erickson is our new President of the American Legion Auxiliary. We look forward to working with her and her officers as well as working to have a great year. Appreciations go out to Susie Bozella, immediate past president of the Auxiliary, who led this past year’s efforts of our many fine Auxiliary members.
James “JR” Kent has made Colorado Legion history. JR is a past State Department Commander and is now our Sons of the American Legion Detachment Commander. With his and the SAL’s help, we will jump out of the chute and have a great year. Recognition goes out to Scott Garrett, Detachment Commander & SAL members, whom always bring life to the party along with buckets of donations to our programs. Also, great job to the SAL Detachment who reached 100 percent in membership.
A great surprise this Convention was the success of the Colorado American Legion Riders Legacy Run. Legion Riders from diverse areas of Colorado came together and garnered well over $3,000 for the National Program. Outstanding! Watch for the Legion Riders, as they ride and have a great year!
Thanks to Centennial Post 209 for being our convention host. My friend Marvin from Post 209 said, “Members came out of the woodwork to help out. Legion members always rise to the occasion.”
I look forward to a great year and working with everyone. This time next year, our state convention will be held in Greeley, with Victor Candlin Post #18 hosting. When I look back at the year as your state Commander, I will by the grace of God, have done my best and worked to show that our Colorado Legion Members made a solid decision. I give all of you my humble and sincere thanks for your confidence in me.
For God and Country!
Department Commander Tom Florez and Auxiliary President Diane Erickson along with Department Finance Officer Brandt Erickson and Service Officer Dean Casey met with members of Pagosa Springs Post 108 during their Fall conference swing through Districts 9 and 10 on August 20, 2015.