Shelby’s Veterans Field at Keeter Stadium and Shelby American Legion Post 82 were blessed to host new American Legion National Commander Vincent J. “Jim” Troiola on Wednesday.
Troiola, of Rockland County, N.Y., Post 1682, was elected on Sept. 1, 2022 at the 103rd national convention in Milwaukee. (Pictured left is Commander Troiola sharing with local American Legion Post 82 members his priorities for American Legion.)
A member of the U.S. Navy and Navy reserves from 1969 to 1974, Troiola is a longtime Legion official who most recently served as New York state commander (2010-11) and national vice commander of the National Security Commissioner (2016-17).
“When I visited the stadium this morning, I kept hearing about Post 82 and it made me realize how much support you give that stadium during the World Series and all during the year,” Troiola told the crowd. “And then I come here and I hear about all the youth programs that you sponsor. And that’s exactly why I come to posts to visit.”
Troiola made a point to share that Legion posts nationwide can have an extraordinary influence on their community through their sponsorships of Legion baseball and softball and other programs like Boys State and the Oratorical Contest among others.
“I wonder if you’ve ever thought about all the youths that you influence every day,” Troiola said before referencing a future Lieutenant Colonel that participated in Boys State and attended the Air Force Academy at his post in New York. “He recently sent me an email. He writes, “I don’t know if you know what you did for me. You changed my life.’
“He continued, “I joined the Air Force. I was stationed at 14 countries around the world. I have two boys. Those boys have seen things not many people get to see. They saw Santa Claus in Finland. The skiied the Swiss Alps. They went to school all over the world.
“At the end of it, he put down, ‘Eternally grateful, Lt. Col. Matthew Flynn.’ And that sent chills right up my spine when he wrote that.”
As national commander, Troiola has made getting help and support for the nation’s active military and veterans his top priority.
He said he’s already visited 30 states and traveled internationally, first seeking improvements in the Veteran Administration hospitals and the services they provide. He’s also gone to military bases in hopes of improving living conditions and health care and is trying to add to raise awareness of the American Legion’s ‘Be The One’ initiative that deals with high rate of suicide among veterans.
“The last part of that is to invite veterans with their families into their local posts,” Troiola said. “That’s important because a lot of the families out there are confused as hell because they have a veteran at home that isn’t the same as when they left.
“They come home with depression, TBI, PTSD or whatever it is. When they can’t hold a job, won’t talk to the kids or whatever the problem is, the families probably need help as much as the veterans do.”
Troiola added that he wants to have an open door policy with veterans and Legion members to discuss with him whatever issues they have.
“One of the reasons you take a job like this is to make a difference,” Troiola said. “I call it a ‘boots on the ground’ approach because you can get out there and see what the problems are and try to fix them.”
Story by Richard Walker
Photo Credit – Tracy Stilwell – Victorian Rose Studio