"It's great to be able to walk in here and talk to fellow veterans," said John Bullock, an Army Veteran and American Legion Post 17 Chaplain. He added, "it makes it so much easier for you to engage with somebody because you already have something that’s in common with them."
Bullock spent a year serving in Germany and 15 months in Vietnam. When he was done is service, he immediately joined the American Legion. That was 52 years ago! Now, he dedicates his time helping his fellow members and other veterans in the community. He helps them with post traumatic stress, among other things.
"You want to forget the past, especially if it was traumatic but it generally comes back and haunts you which try to overcome," said Bullock. He added, "we remember more of the bad than we do of the good."
The Legion's focus is to help their brothers and sisters in arms.
"If a veteran comes to us in need of something we point them in the right direction. We have a service officer that will help them," said Barry Smith, who served in the US Coast Guard for about 26 years. He said, "I was at various units and ships throughout the country."
Now, he's the Post 17 Commander.
"It gives me a sense of accomplishment. That I’m doing something for my fellow service members and my community as well but really for the fellow people that served our country and served it proudly," said Smith.
The Legion is constantly working to help different veteran groups throughout the area like Charlotte Hall, a veteran's retirement/rehabilitation home. They also work to thank veterans for their service, especially those from the Vietnam War.
"The guys that served in the Vietnam War never were given any type of appreciation. Not even a word of thanks," said Bullock. So, they give out Vietnam Veteran lapel Pins, along with commendations from former Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama.
"This is a way of giving back to them," said Bullock. He added, "just saying thank you, you’ve done a great job."
You don't have to be a veteran to join, they accept spouses and children of those who've served.