NECman: Listen to your body when something’s not normal

By Bill Barbknecht

The Washington Conference is history.  A big thank-you to Kristy Janigo, as our Legislative Committee chairwoman. She did a fantastic job.

We were able to have a sit-down meeting with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. She was very receptive to veterans’ issues.

Bill Barbknecht mugshot
Bill Barbknecht

When we were waiting at the airport, we were very saddened to hear of the death of Past National Vice Commander Glenn Wahus of North Dakota. He had served in that leadership role just last year and spoke to Minnesota Legionnaires at the Sweetheart Rally at Osseo-Maple Grove Post 172 in February 2023. He was a Navy veteran of the Lebanon-Grenada era.

Memberships, please send them in today.  If you are not paid-up member and, heaven forbid, you fall on hard times supporting your family, you are not eligible for TFA (Temporary Financial Assistance). If you struggle in life, you will find the Legion has your back. You learn that, when you help others, they will help you, too.

Membership is key for the Legion to garner veterans benefits from state and federal lawmakers. Join today, and you have a strong force there for you in D.C. and in St. Paul.

I hope you have sent in your Legionville registration for the girls and boys that you are sending to camp this summer. Also, it is not too late to send in participants for Girls State and Boys State. We are an American Legion Family, so let’s watch out for everyone. We need more American Legion girls’ fastpitch softball teams as well as American Legion baseball teams. Go to the schools and talk to the students, teachers and the coaches.

Congratulations to Minnesota Oratorical Contest Champion Elijah Cox of Walker-Hackensack-Akeley High School and to Eagle Scout of the Year Jackson Kramer of Hutchinson High School.

Did your post do anything for the American Legion birthday March 15?

Back in the early ’90s, I was working to be department commander. I served in the role in 1994-1995, to be exact. The Auxiliary Department President was Beverly Otterness. We became such great friends and remain friends to this day.

Friendships come so very easily, as I also met Peggy and Carl Moon, again great friends to this day. I gave Peggy a department appointment along with many others. I never dreamed I would be lucky enough to be elected National Executive Committeeman years later, along with Peggy as Alternate NECman. It is a great privilege that I certainly enjoy. Thanks to all of you.

As many of you are aware, on March 7, I had open heart surgery. I had four blockages. It was and was not a surprise as I had been feeling very short of breath while walking and always tired.

However, there were no other usual symptoms. I contacted my cardiologist, and she ran all the usual tests, which passed. She did find a spot on the bottom of my heart she said could be a blockage or just a shadow. The  options were 1. to watch to see if I recover and get back to normal, or 2. to do stents.

We chose the stent option. While doing the stents, she could not get through; therefore open-heart surgery was needed.

My point being: You know your body best. If you feel anything out of the normal and it doesn’t get better, check it out. Do not always wait for symptoms.

I am just amazed and so very appreciative for all the calls, texts, emails and cards from the American Legion Family near and far. I received a beautiful balloon bouquet from the Department of Minnesota, and a beautiful flower bouquet from King Tuts and Nefertitis.

Donna and I say: Thank you all! Veterans really do care about each other whether on the battlefield or in our communities.

In closing, please go to a post that is hosting the National Commander’s Tour of Minnesota. You will be glad you did; he is an amazing speaker. These visits are open to the public.

Bill Barbknecht of Underwood Post 489 is the Department of Minnesota’s National Executive Committeeman.