Members of American Legion Post 120 are looking for ways to help veterans in need.
Their most recent assistance came in August after Loudon U.S. Army veteran Rudi Berg, 67, called 911 asking for help when he fell and could not get up.
Loudon County E-911 Center Director Jennifer White notified Loudon Fire Chief Mike Brubaker of Berg’s living conditions.
Brubaker served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is now part of the local post.
“We’ve replaced pretty much everything in (Berg’s) room, which was a bed, nightstands, dressers and drawers, a cabinet, a refrigerator, microwave, clothing,” Brubaker said. “Just a little storage area for him to store some stuff in because he had no organization before. So pretty much everything in his room has been replaced.”
The local post helped raise about $3,500, Bobby Watts, post commander, said.
Post members have since gotten Berg in touch with Veterans Affairs.
“I’m a disabled vet,” Berg said. “They’re going to do X-rays on my right side of my body because I came out of heart surgery about paralyzed. My right leg was paralyzed.”
Berg, who served two years in the Army as an officer, moved to Loudon a couple years ago after his heart surgery.
“It would be a very, very uplifting, positive experience getting my room from absolute obsolete to up-to-date modern decor,” Berg said.
When Watts became commander of the local post three years ago, he wanted to change its perception in the community.
“I felt like a lot of the community just seen that post as a bar on Highway 11, and previously it didn’t get involved with its core value of what it’s supposed to be doing,” Watts said. “So I just made it a point to change that and to follow what the American Legion is really about. It’s not about a bar on Highway 11, it’s about veterans, the community and our youth, and it’s the three programs, the three things that we do support.”
Whether through word of mouth or the use of media, each year the local post tries to help any veteran possible.
“As pleased as we are to help Mr. Rudi here, we’re also sad because we know that there’s veterans out there that need the same amount of help or more or less and we can’t find them or reach them,” Brubaker said. “It’s our biggest goal is to find veterans in need. And aside from Rudi, this year alone I know we’ve helped one veteran who needed a new handicap ramp in his home. We installed that and also some new stairs and railing for him.
“Another handicapped veteran needed his place cleaned up and overhauled, we kind of did that, too,” he added. “So we’ve been in the community helping veterans definitely from the past year or two in our post.”
For information on how to help Berg or other veterans, contact the post on its Facebook page.
“The American Legion, we are a nonprofit organization,” Watts said. “Any money that we have is money that we raise. Any donation is always greatly appreciated, and also I’d like to let the public know that there’s no one that gets paid at the American Legion. We all volunteer our time, we don’t get a dime of anything. It’s an opportunity for us to spend $40 a year to have a united group of men and women that’s willing to help people.”