Three months ago, the American Legion hardly crossed the minds of Rodney Sampson, Melvin Finuf and Frank Foulkes.
Now, it’s right in front of them.
The three sat in front of a packed auditorium at Reflection Ridge this week to receive their charter for a new American Legion post. Sampson, Finuf and Foulkes are just a few of the founding members who will serve as officers with the post.
It is the second in Wichita, and one of just a handful in the country, that is located in a retirement community, former Kansas State Commander Paul Sanford said.
Foulkes, a World War II veteran, said not all of the veterans can drive at night, so having the post within the retirement community is one of the many benefits.
“It’s going to keep us active,” he said. “Before I would have to leave in the evening and drive by myself.”
About three months ago Sampson and other veterans started to figure out how they could start a post at Reflection Ridge. Members of the post started last year at Grasslands Estates had been going around to other communities to let them know about the idea. Word started to get around about the success of the Grasslands post, and the veterans at Reflection Ridge started to think a post could be a possibility.
In addition, Foulkes helped to create a “Wall of Honor” last year at Reflection Ridge, which brought to light how many veterans resided in the community – there are more than 70 veterans on the wall, alive and deceased.
“The wall was pretty much hitting me in the face,” said Sampson, a veteran of the Vietnam War.
The new post already has 20 to 25 people registered. Many of those have been members elsewhere, but have decided it’s more convenient to stay at Reflection Ridge. The post is also open to those who don’t live at the retirement community.
Jim Lindsay is one of the new members to join the post at Reflection Ridge. However, Lindsay wasn’t a member of the U.S. Armed Forces; he was a member from the Highland Light Infantry, a regiment of the British army that fought with the U.S. in WWII.
“I’m deeply honoroed that I’m allowed to be part of the Legion,” Lindsay said. “I didn’t think about it or didn’t even know I could join until Rodney told me about it.”
The Grasslands post has seen success in the past year despite the older age group of the post, said Doug Castleberry, one of the officers there. Part of that is a renewed enthusiasm similar to what he saw at Reflection Ridge on Thursday.
“The tough thing is everyone is pretty old,” he said. “A lot of us thought we were through doing things, but this has given us something to be proud of.”
Sanford said new posts like this mean a lot to the veterans involved.
“You talk to some of these guys, 89, 90 years old, and now they’re acting like they’re 40,” Sanford said. “They feel like they have a purpose.”