- It can take a big name and a well-known face to get people excited about signing up for a group. As part of its revitalization drive, Wausau's American Legion Post 10 got a visit from a name you might not recognize, but one that veterans groups know is an honor to host.
American Legion National Commander Charles E. Schmidt stopped by the Wausau post Tuesday morning. It was the first visit by a national commander ever at Wausau's Post 10.
Schmidt says the same issues veterans faced when the Legion formed in 1919 -- healthcare, jobs, and education -- still exist in 2016.
"They're pretty relevant today, you know, we've got men and women in the front lines today and somebody has to take care of them," Schmdit said. "That grateful nation, as we all are part of, has that responsibility."
Schmidt took time to listen to Post 10 members tell stories and offer suggestions to bring to lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
The Post Commander hopes Schmidt's visit can help draw in new, younger members.
"When these people start dying off, we need more people to start coming in," Post 10 Commander Al Morasch said. "And, unfortunately like a lot of organizations, there's only that handful of people that are always doing something."
Morasch offered some suggestions for Schmidt to take back to American Legion leaders. The Wausau commander hopes Schmidt's visit can help change bi-laws that restrict which veterans can actually sign up for the American Legion.
"This is one thing that we wish to discuss if it takes a resolution to start at a post level to take it through the state, et cetera, so we can get more veterans to join," Morasch said.
Thanks to an office based in Washington, Schmidt says many of his efforts have a voice in the nation's capital. He and other American Legion leaders talk daily with Congress, the President, and Veterans Administration leadership.
"We don't pull any punches, we tell it like it is," Schmidt said. "Here's what we need to do is we need to come together regardless of who's on what side of the aisle and discuss it."
Schmidt's visit to Wisconsin was one of many around the nation over the past three months.