After locking its doors for several months because of COVID-19, American Legion Post 79 in Alpine is up and running again.
Post Commander Andy Ramos said the Legion reopened about three months ago, and is again available to members and the public from 3-9 p.m., seven days a week.
Ramos stressed the Legion wasn’t just about socializing and drinking beer. As a 501(c)19 nonprofit, it has a tax exempt status similar to a 501(c)3, but unlike a 501(c)3, it can lobby Congress. Adjutant Phil Westerman serves on the American Legion’s national legislative committee, and travels to Washington, D.C., annually.
“We don’t support any political candidates of any party, but we lobby Congress to make sure veterans get what they deserve,” said Westerman.
Among its many local charitable activities, the Post sponsors Little League, Big Bend softball, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Each year, the Legion sends several boys and girls from the Tri-County to leadership training in Austin, and awards scholarships to area high school students. The Post contributes to the Family Crisis Center, the Sunshine House, five area cemeteries, and other charitable entities.
The post also feeds Alpine High School and Sul Ross State University sports teams, along with National Guard troops, contributes to Brewster County Sheriff’s Office Brown Santa program, and participates in city-sponsored parades.
Westerman pointed out that in 2019 the Legion gave $21,000 to the community overall, but only about 25% of that in 2020 because fundraisers were suspended under the shadow of the coronavirus.
The Legion’s very popular fish fries will resume on Friday, March 12, with a takeout or dine outside event from 5-7 p.m. Proceeds will benefit Alpine Boy Scout Troop 410. On Good Friday, April 2, from 5-7 p.m. another fish fry will benefit Legion activities. And on Saturday, March 13, the Legion will host a hamburger basket for the Legion Riders motorcycle group.
Ramos pointed out that 100% of the proceeds from the Legion’s gaming machines go to support the Post’s charitable activities, and the Legion purchases all supplies and provisions locally.
The Legion has opened its doors to the 120 National Guard troops from New Orleans who are in town right now.
“From day one we’ve had a good relationship with the National Guard,” he said. “They come out and enjoy themselves in a relaxed atmosphere.”
He noted the troops helped out around the city – painting and sprucing up the parks – and many are now helping those whose pipes burst in the recent freeze, but can’t afford to pay plumbers.
The national American Legion was started in 1919 in Paris by a group of GIs. The Alpine post was chartered shortly thereafter, and has been at its current location on Sul Ross Avenue since 1935. Post 79 has about 250 regular members, the Auxiliary has 100, Sons of the Legion has 20 members, and the Legion Riders, 15 members.
Besides Ramos and Westerman, other Legion officers are Vice Commander Mike Lindros, Finance Officer Manny Ybarra, Judge Advocate Rusty Hermann, Chaplin Sammy Villareal, Sergeant at Arms Rob Wooster, Historian Rick Kelly, and Executive Board member Vince Lavalle.
For more information about American Legion Post 79, call Ramos at 210-289-3735.