POLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Poland’s Jeff Vrable, Jr. has taken it upon himself to save the American Legion post once commanded by his grandfather.
It’s a tall task. Membership in veterans organizations everywhere is falling, but this 19-year-old has a plan.
“It’s got that rustic nostalgia,” Jeff said of American Legion Post 15, a beautiful, old stone building.
It sits at the bend of Cortland Street in a quiet Poland Village neighborhood.
The American Legion is a national organization open to men and women who served in the U.S. military during wartime.
Among the former commanders’ pictures that ring the main room is Jeff’s grandfather, John Vrable.
“I grew up in it. I learned to walk at the state convention in Toledo,” Jeff said.
At its peak 25 years ago, Post 15 had 250 members. Today, there are 125.
During this 100th anniversary year of the American Legion, young Jeff has set a goal to grow the membership of Post 15.
“I want to sign up, over the next membership year, 100 members between the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary and the Sons of the American Legion,” he said.
“I am very pleased with it,” said Rod Hosler, commander of Post 15, about Jeff’s efforts.
He’s already gained seven new members.
“He’s out in the community, perhaps more than we are, and as he sees and recognizes veterans, he certainly invites them to join,” Rod said.
“They think of a bunch of old World War II and Korea vets sitting around at a bar,” Jeff said.
But American Legion Post 15 has no bar. So what do members actually do?
They meet and socialize. They provide honor guards at funerals.
Jeff is part of the Sons of the American Legion. At a recent state convention, they raised $20,000 for kids.
“We’re not out yet, we’re coming back,” he said. “There’s some major things coming from this post.”
American Legion Post 15 will be open Friday and Saturday during Celebrate Poland.
Its members will be part of the parade Friday evening. On Saturday at 8:45 p.m., Post 15 will host a flag disposal ceremony, after which you’re welcome to enjoy the fireworks from the parking lot — the closest place in Poland to watch them.