For God and country, or something like that

Annie Lane

Dear Annie: I have witnessed a change in a local American Legion post over the past several years. I support and commend anyone who has served our country. Originally, these posts were established by veterans and run by elected veteran officers and veteran executive board members. These posts were founded with bylaws and rules supporting the motto, “For God and Country.”

At my local post, the commander would make a better follower than he does a leader. He backstabs his officers to try to make himself look good. Officers are drunk at some meetings, which is very inappropriate, yet this is allowed by the commander, who should be observing and enforcing a code of conduct for the meetings. Minutes that prove that items were voted on are suddenly lost or misplaced. Married officers are having sexual affairs with the hired staff. There is stealing of items that belong to the post. Bartenders drink while on bar duty. Pay increases to certain staff members are given without the board’s approval. Nonmembers come in and do what they want.

When one member makes comments to re-establish what the post stands for and who should be making decisions on everything that is going on, he is critiqued for it and often chastised, told that it’s none of his business, even though he’s an elected member. Is this what “For God and Country” stands for? — Concerned Legionnaire’s Wife

Dear Concerned Legionnaire’s Wife: Certainly not. But even the most virtuous motto falls flat without good men and women standing behind it. It’s time for your husband and any other upstanding members to take action. He can contact the American Legion’s internal affairs department at 317-630-1330 for guidance.

Dear Annie: I have been a special education teacher for over 20 years. The students in my class have intensive needs, and therefore we have a high staff-to-student ratio. I have an exceptional assistant, and we have dedicated aides.

The reason I am writing is I believe that parents have difficulty with giving gifts at the holidays and the end of the year. Certainly, any gift is very much appreciated, but in the special education world, parents can be overwhelmed by the number of people involved in educating their children and often feel as though they need to send in something for everyone. Though that is a very nice thought, I also know that raising a child who has special needs is expensive, and I see parents spend so much more than necessary. I just wanted to offer a few suggestions to your readers who may find themselves in this position.

Gift cards for coffee, a basket of snacks to be used on a staff development day (or just a tough day!), a jar of miniature chocolates, homemade sweets that can be shared among a group of people — any of these would do. You could also contact a couple of other parents and purchase a gift card together to buy lunch. I always enjoy homemade ornaments or magnets. Even a card with a note to say how much someone’s hard work has meant to your child’s development is a treasure. There is no need to break the bank to make someone feel special. — Anonymous

Dear Anonymous: Your dedication and thoughtfulness are inspiring. I’m printing your letter now, in advance of the holidays. Thank you for the perspective.

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