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Faithful Patriotism - Local legion offers Health Fair, military museum and more to local vets, members, community

January 8, 2015
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Teaming up to help our local military veterans and active military personnel, the Estero Island Medical Care Center and American Legion Post 274 are hosting a Free Veterans Wellness Fair and blood drive Saturday, Jan. 10, taking place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., both inside and outside of the local legion, 899 Buttonwood Drive.

The fair will offer an array of free screenings, tests, counselors and vendors, and open to all veterans of the area, regardless of affiliation to any vets organization.

"So far, everything is coming along great. It's a fantastic fair because we cater to all vets homeless or otherwise who need to come in and get checked up. We have a lot of vets who don't have affordable transportation, who can't get to the VA clinic in Cape Coral. By them coming here, we will check them medically, so we can then refer them to their primary physician," said Mike Adcock, Second Vice Commander of the local American Legion operation. "This wellness fair is in conjunction with Estero Island Medical Center, who is donating all of their time and services for our veterans and where all the doctors and Physicians Assistants are veterans, so they know it can be tough to get the proper medical care you need when you need it."

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American Legion Post 274, 899 Buttonwood Drive, offers an array of events and activities for members and active duty personnel, including live entertainment five nights a week, a great selection of games, tournaments and savory dishes every evening. Above, left to right, Terry Lewis (Tech Sergeant, U.S. Air Force, 1965-2005), bartender Pamela Swartz, Becky Lewis, Second Vice Commander Mike Adcock (U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps medical specialist, Vietnam era), Sergeant at Arms officer Stan Johnson (U.S. Army, Vietnam era) and Doug Benedict (U.S. Navy, 1974-78), stand proudly in front of their local legion. New members are always welcome to join. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER

There will be no charge for screenings or treatments for the veterans that day, and organizers are expecting at least 200 to make it out to the second annual fair.

Some screening services offered that day include: internal medicine from Estero Island Medical Care; eye care from Frantz EyeCare; audiology from Gulf Coast Audiology; dermatology from Acute Dermatology; podiatry from Dr. Anne McNamara; orthopedics from Joint Implant Surgeons of Florida; dentistry from many local dentists; ultrasound from Sonic Imaging; and diabetes testing from Estero Island Medical Care.

Counselors and vendors that day will include Home Health Care, Assisted Living Care, Park Royal Hospital, Lee Memorial Health System, Mobile Mammogram Van, American Income Life Insurance, Health Smiles, MetLife, VA Clinic counselors and Fort Myers Veterans Center. Also, the Lee Memorial Blood Mobile and Mammo Bus will be on-site that day, open to the public (be sure to bring a photo ID and insurance card).

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The Legion will provide complimentary donuts and bagels in the morning and lunch in the afternoon for all veterans.

"The Estero Island Medical Center is very aware of vets' needs, and gets them in the door as soon as they possibly can. Many times, you go to the emergency room, you'll wait hours and hours. If you go to the [Estero Island Medical] Clinic, you'll get in much quicker and the bill most likely won't be in the thousands. The VA clinic can be like a cattle call."?Mike, a Navy and Marines veteran of the Vietnam era, explained. "We encourage all veterans of the area to make it out to this health fair Jan. 10. It's all about getting healthy and staying healthy."

For further information on the upcoming fair, call Bob Penta, 774-275-4060, or Mike Adcock, 239-463-6591.

About the American Legion

With more than 2,000 local members of the American Legion Post 274, this is one of the most active lodges in the state, according to Second Vice Commander Mike Adcock. And he's eager to break that stereotype many have heard of legions.

"The ongoing stereotype is that the legion is just a bunch of old guys sitting around the bar drinking and that's not true, whatsoever. We do a lot of things for the members, community and veterans," Mike said. "The Kiwanis meets here once a week, we fix breakfast for all the Kiwanians. We're the host home for the Spirit of Christmas Foundation. We have special game days offered throughout the week, pool tournaments, mega money, live music and shows throughout the week. Also, by being a member, you get drastically reduced refreshments and meals. And there's never a cover charge."

Speaking of food, that, alone, should encourage new members to join the legion. The flavors and dishes that roll out of that kitchen day in and day out are unbelievable, and all meals are served on modern platewear with modern flatwear.

"Our chefs have a certain technique for our meals that just make them so delicious. And we've been doing this for a lot of years, so we have our dinners down to a science. We can serve up to 300 people within a matter of two hours," Mike said.

Swing by the legion Saturday evening for the highly desired prime rib dinner, Monday for the savory pot roast dinner, Tuesday for some smothered pork chops or chicken breast, Thursday for baby back ribs and that's just half the week. The legion's calendar is packed with live entertainment five nights a week, too.

"The biggest thing is we have entertainment five nights a week from top-name groups in the area, including Heart N' Soul and Just 4 Fun," Mike said. "We have Harry Boyle here every Friday and Saturday night, who has been performing at the post for 16 years now."

Half of the lounge is designated as non-smoking, but on the other half, don't worry about being in a cloud of haze; the legion invested a good $30,000 on a high-end ventilation system, so the air is fresh and continually well-circulated. "We have close to $30,000 in our ventilation system to make sure the air is nice and clean," Mike said.

Aside from being a great place to hang and/or socialize throughout the week, legion members do what they can to help the community regularly, whether it's through fund-raising efforts, food and supply collections or other philanthropic endeavors.

"We do a lot of fundraising for local needy families, legion members heavy supporters of the Boy Scouts of America. We send boxes and boxes of supplies overseas to our troops close to 1,000 boxes annually. Often, as you really can't send over chocolate or candybars overseas, since they'd melt, we donate all of those to our local VA?Clinic in Cape Coral. We donate about 1,000 candybars and other items like that to the clinic annually. Walgreens has been a phenomenal help for us we have about four or five Walgreens stores around town who have donation boxes set up, and they donate packs of gum and other items like that for our collection," Mike said. "A portion of membership dues goes to the national American Legion, who has lobbyists in Washington, D.C. They lobby for veteran's benefits, such as VA loans, VA clinics, hospitals, service-connected disabilities, etc."

You can be as active or inactive with the legion as much as you'd like, but Mike and his staff will be sure you know what events and activities will be taking place throughout the month, as Post 274 is very up-to-date with technology and social media.

"Every month, we email all members our newsletter that has the full month of activities and live music planned, as well as tournaments and games, so all members know of the special events going on, as well as info with the VA, the legion, the post," Mike said. "We're also on Facebook, and our website, Post274.org, is always current and up-to-date, so members can see everything going on with the legion and the post online, too."

For those looking to rent a hall for a private event, the Patriot Room offers seating for 150, a full stage, dance floor and stand-alone bar.

"Our Patriot Room is very, very inexpensive, and if you're a member here, you can rent it for half the price,"?Mike said. "It has everything you'd need to have a private party or other function, including full, private bar and access to our kitchen. It is also equipped with large flatscreen TVs and a computer loaded with the latest applications, so businesses can host meetings with PowerPoint presentations and so on."

The Second Vice Commander explains some other wonderful things the legion offers its members. "We have a fantastic Color Guard. If a veteran passes away, we conduct military funeral services for them, and hold military services in the Patriot Room, never with a charge. We have a Chaplain that does hospital visits regularly, and we just try to help out as many veterans as we possibly can. Often if they need wheelchairs, walkers, canes even electric wheelchairs if we have them, we lend them out with no charge, whatsoever."

There are three ways you can become a member of the American Legion: 1) you, yourself, are/were enlisted in a branch of the military at some point in time; 2) your father, grandfather, great-grandfather, etc., was enlisted in the military (where you'd be in the Sons of the American Legion or Auxiliary division); or 3) you are/were married to someone in the military (Auxiliary division).

Dues are just $35 annually for American Legion members and $25 for Sons of the American Legion and Auxiliary members. For those of you on active duty, whether stationed down the street or here on leave, Mike said there is never a charge to come in and enjoy the legion amenities and activities.

"Our legion is always open to active duty military personnel at no charge in fact, we have four members on active duty right now while we're doing this interview, including a member of Navy SEAL Team 9. Just come in, show your identification and you're one of us. But for those who'd like to join, it's very inexpensive and very easy to do. All you have to do, for veterans, is bring your DD-214, which shows your branch, rank, last duty station, how much active duty time you had, etc. We also have a Veterans Service Officer on board Charles O' Donnell, who has 33 years with the VA. If someone has an issue at the VA, like not getting proper service, or to get signed up, etc., they can contact us and we can put them in touch with Charles. He knows all the ins and outs of the VA."

For further information on joining the legion, to reserve the Patriot Room, or for anything else, visit Post274.org, email LegionPost274@aol.com, or call 239-463-6591.

American Legion Military Museum

Still in its infancy, the local American Legion Post 274 is in the process of building a military museum on-site, covering WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and any other conflict the United States was involved with. It will feature an 18-foot-long glass display case packed with military memorabilia.

"We are strictly receiving things for donation or on loan, and have already received some wonderful military items to put on display," Mike stated. "So far, we've picked up a WW1 helmet, a 75mm heavy artillery training shell, multiple photos from multiple generations one gentleman donated over 900 books that are all military based, which we will have available to read on loan. It is coming along very well so far."

Stay tuned to the Beach Bulletin for further details on the museum as they develop. If you have anything you'd like to donate and/or loan to the local Post 274 military museum, feel free to call Mike Adcock at the Legion anytime, 239-463-6591.

 
 

 

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