The American Legion Post #34 Opens Its New Location
Writer / Kara Reibel . Photographer / Brian Brosmer
The American Legion Post #34 began its mission to provide services for veterans beginning in 1919. The original location for the American Legion was in a home off of College Avenue donated by the parents of WWI veteran Robert E. Kennington who was killed in action in France in 1918.
The Post was located on Westfield Blvd. for the last 50 years until this past spring. The American Legion Post is starting a new chapter of service on 54th Street just west of Keystone Avenue.
“It has taken a bit longer than we thought it would,” says Adjutant General Bill Roberts. “We’ve completely remodeled our new building and are happy to be reopening.”
Lots of positive change for the American Legion Post #34 are occurring, and they are eager to share the news. In addition to completely remodeling their new building, they have added a new ADA bathroom facility, administration offices and a resource room for veterans with a library, reading room and computer access. There is Wi-Fi available throughout the building.
The kitchen is leased by Pete Kelly Cafe SAL (Sons of American Legion), featuring fresh menu options. “We will keep it simple and offer daily specials,” says Kelly. “We will have homemade Italian meatballs, tenderloins, homemade chicken salad, chili, meatloaf and prime rib specials on Saturday nights.”
The Legion also offers catering and can be rented for parties. A portion of all food sales go toward helping veterans. And Kelly warns to expect some surprises from his kitchen. With being Italian and Irish, he will make traditional dishes as periodic specials. While you don’t have to be a member to enjoy the food, a membership is required to buy alcohol. The restaurant is open to the public.
The Legion boasts over 1,000 members including the Auxilary, Sons of the Legion and the Legion Riders (motorcycle guys). The American Legion Post Women’s Auxilary was started in 1922. It was the first in the nation and is consequently the oldest in the country.
“We have a lot of history with the American Legion,” says Roberts. “The GI Bill was proposed by the American Legion, then adopted by the Veterans Administration.”
The Legion’s service officer, John Myers, retired from the VA after 36 years. One of the vital services the Legion provides is assistance in navigating the waters of benefits available to veterans.
“One of the things I’ve learned is that you can’t do it by yourself. Our priority is serving our active military and veterans,” says Myers. “We are in a position to help veterans navigate their benefits and explore the possibilities within the VA. There are a lot of service organizations out there, and the point is that there are a lot of people willing to help our veterans.”
Additional programs sponsored by the American Legion include: sponsoring Boys and Girls State attendees, veterans homeless program, HVAF through Partners In Housing, Operation Job Ready Vets, Comfort Warriors (which was started by the national commander of American Legion) and therapy dog program for veterans.
The American Legion has forged a new partnership with Veteran Antiquities.
“Our first exhibit at the new Legion Post presents selected work by artists who served in combat zones from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan,” says Paul Richard, a former 82nd Airborne paratrooper and museum curator who helps veteran artists place and display their work through Veteran Antiquities. “Their photography, water colors and oils by John Brooks, Mark Smith, Tanner Archibald and Peter Thompson tell their stories. All works are for sale.”
The Legion has been most accommodating and understands that content and artistic expression may sometimes be a little rough. But that is precisely what the Legion wants to recognize and honor.
Scholarships are given out to children of Legion members and veteran families. “There are a lot of scholarship dollars available, and we help students find it,” says office manager Nancy Elson. “Through all of the services and programs we support, we are here to help veterans. Period. And we always welcome donations and volunteers.”
“When you walked into our building on Westfield Boulevard, you saw this big bar. A lot of members looked at it as a bar and restaurant to drink and smoke a cigarette, but we are evolving and changing with the times,” says Roberts. “Sometimes change needs to be complete. After being in our last location for 50 years, we are looking to start a new chapter of service in our new building.”
The Robert E. Kennington American Legion Post #34, 2210 E. 54th St., Indianapolis 46220. Phone 317-259-8311. Please consider volunteering or donating.
If you can’t find it in your hearts to support our military people and their families, how can we ask our military people to support us?
– motto of the American Legion Post #34