Legion chief plans visit to region

The national commander of the American Legion will visit Seymour and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center today as part of his mission to visit each state to raise awareness for veterans issues.

“An estimated 22 veterans a day commit suicide,” Dale Barnett said. “Traumatic brain injuries have become a signature wound of the global war on terrorism, and up to 20 percent of the men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are believed to have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Barnett, who will be accompanied on his visit to the area by state Commander Larry Lowry, said veterans are still having trouble receiving health care in a timely manner, and many have been waiting for years to have their disability claims resolved.

“We owe it to those who served our country to never forget their sacrifice and devotion,” Barnett said.

Barnett, who lives in Douglasville, Georgia, was elected national commander on Sept. 3 at the 97th American Legion National Convention in Baltimore.

He is no stranger to Indiana, though, having attended Whiteland Community High School from 1966 to 1970. In 1969, as a senior, he went to Hoosier Boys State, a weeklong leadership program run by the American Legion.

His experience there changed his life and inspired him to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he said. He was an Army infantry officer from 1974 to 1996, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

He served in the 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (3rd Award), Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge, Kuwait Liberation Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

Before arriving at the Seymour post at 402 W. Second St. for lunch and a reception at 11:30 a.m. today, Barnett will tour Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville in Jennings County. That tour will run from about 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

If you go

What: American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett’s visit

When: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Where: American Legion Post 89, 402 W. Second St., Seymour

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.