By JENNIFER MEIER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
“It’s our holiday. We want to bring veterans together and share what they have done for our country,” said American Legion Post 210 Commander Charlie Hostetler.
In addition to inviting all community and area veterans and their families to a special Veteran’s Day dinner at the Middlebury post, the members extended a special invitation to the residents of the Robert L. Miller Sr. Veteran’s Center (MVC) for homeless veterans in South Bend.
“I was quite surprised at the response we got!” Hostetler said.
MVC Director Kent Laudeman, Clinical Case Manager Jim Sapp and 14 of the 24 veterans housed at the facility will join members of the post and other veterans for sausage corn chowder, ham and beans, cornbread and desserts from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.
“Why, we’re just tickled whenever we get an offer that someone wants to do something for us,” said Laudeman, a veteran of both the Vietnam War and Desert Storm. “Anytime we can get out in a social way, we are happy to do that. Post 210 has been just great to us.”
Hostetler, who was previously in charge of the American Legion Riders, heard about the MVC earlier this year and brought Judge Robert L. Miller to the Bristol American Legion to talk about the newly opened center.
“We were just so impressed with the center that we decided to visit,” Hostetler said.
Ever since that visit, the American Legion Riders and the post’s auxiliary have raised money for the MVC.
“During that first visit, we saw an American flag in their courtyard. It was a little tattered,” Hostetler said. “We donated a new flag, brought it over and had a short ceremony for the flag raising.”
The MVC, which opened on Jan. 30 of this year, is a result of the Veteran’s Administration’s push to take care of it’s own across the country.
“We were full the week after we opened,” Laudeman said. “And we have a waiting list. However if any veteran needs a bed overnight, we are able to provide that for them under the Amnesty Program.”
Several other facilities like the one in South Bend have opened in the Michiana area, giving VFW and American Legion members a way for veterans to help veterans.
“We have the means and we want to share it with those who don’t,” Hostetler said. “I want to stress the point that everybody’s service is valued.”
Sometimes, Hostetler said, non-combat veterans don’t always value their service.
“They may not be flying the plane or pulling the trigger, but the people that do that, couldn’t do it without them,” Hostetler said. “Not everybody can do what the non-combat veterans do. Their service is extremely valuable.”
The day’s events at the Middlebury American Legion Post 210 begin at 1 p.m. and include the dinner, a short talk about the MVC by Director Kent Laudeman, a drawing for door prizes, a 50/50 drawing, and a money raising contest that will pit the veterans of the Army and the Air Force against the veterans of the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.
“That’s all in fun!” Hostetler said. “We can band together when we need to. I’m hoping we will have a good turnout, but mostly I want everybody who comes to enjoy themselves and feel honored.”
All local and area veterans and their families are invited to the post dinner and activities. Hostetler is asking that each veteran wear something — a hat, T-shirt, uniform— designating their branch of service.
The MCV in South Bend is a 24-bed facility for the temporary housing for veterans. The goal of the center’s staff is provide counseling and find employment and permanent housing for their residents. All veterans are encouraged to participate in Miller’s Vets Color Guard or some activity that gives back to the community.