The American Legion Post 388 of Midlothian has reformed and is seeking new members to build up the organization as a resource to veterans, their families and the community.
The post had fallen on hard times and was near the point of having its charter expire, but George Collins, C.J. Perry, Jerry Mayo and others stepped up to restore the social service and mutual-aid veterans’ nonprofit to its former glory.
“On Jan. 18, 2013, we determined that Post 388 would lose its charter if it was not reformed,” Collins said. “There was a lack of participation and poor leadership and the state said either correct this or lose your charter.”
The mission to restore the post began with just eight members reaching out to old members of the post and conducting membership drives at Walmart and throughout the community. The post has grown since January from eight members to 85.
In an effort to raise support, the post will host a yard sale 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 5-6 at the Midlothian Civic Center, where it is currently holding its meetings. The post will accept donated items for the sale on Friday with items sold on Saturday to benefit the post. Monetary donations will be accepted both days and all funds raised or donated will go directly to the post.
As part of the reformation, Collins, Perry and other leaders of the post voted to change the post’s name from Clyde Voorhies, a veteran who fell in service in 1917 in France during WWII, to local veteran and national hero Chris Kyle. Collins said he approached the Kyle family about wanting to name the post “American Legion ‘Chris Kyle’ Post 388” in honor of their son, a U.S. Navy Seal and the most lethal sniper in American military history.
“I approached the family and offered to Wayne and Debi Kyle and of course his wife, Taya,” Collins said. “They agreed and it was approved by the state and national American Legion Department.”
The American Legion State Commander signed to approve the renaming on March 23 and the post celebrated its rededication on Memorial Day, May 27, at the Midlothian Civic Center.
Perry said that there are not many post members who are not familiar with the Kyle family, who were invited to the rededication ceremony. Collins presented Wayne Kyle with a framed copy of the post’s charter.
Perry said the post is also making efforts to reach out to potential members from Mansfield, Rigor Springs, Arlington, Cedar Hill, Waxahachie and Ennis.
“We’re all brothers in arms,” Perry said. “We have to get the organization started first, but we don’t want to do away with the Waxahachie and Ennis posts. We want to work with them and help reorganize these groups together.”
Collins noted that the large veteran presence in Ellis County could serve as significant resource to the whole county in times of need, if the veterans come together.
“We’ve got a good start and it’s a thousand times better than what we had before. We want to grow bigger and be more involved in the community,” Collins said.
Among its recent efforts to reach back into the community, the post recently sponsored Midlothian ISD student Josiah Holland to the American Legion’s Texas Boys State, where he was elected to the position of Boys State Lieutenant Governor. The program gives high school male students an opportunity to take active role in their local, county and state government by learning through hands-on experience.
The post has plans to purchase land and construct a building to serve as its meeting headquarters, a service center for veterans and their family members and an educational museum of war mementos open to the public.
The post is planning to offer counseling and job search assistance for veterans through No Limit Warriors of Texas led by Post 388 member Dr. Blake Manis. In addition, the post will appoint a service officer to act as a liaison between local veterans’ family members and the county’s American Legion service.
The “Chris Kyle” Post 388 host its meetings on the second Monday of each month with exceptions in July and December for special members-only Fourth of July and Christmas events. The post’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 at the Midlothian Civic Center. For more information, visit the post’s website at www.AOLpost388.com.