D[auth] an Dellinger, national commander at The American Legion, second from left, is greeted by a member of the Legion Riders and other veterans during a visit to American Legion Post 28 during a tour of Southeastern New Mexico, Wednesday. (Mark Wilson Photo)
The Legion Riders escorted a special visitor to American Legion Post 28 Wednesday morning.
National Commander of the Legion Daniel M. Dellinger visited to speak about the impact of the national budget on veterans and thank local legionnaires for their support of veterans and the community.
Dellinger devoted part of his talk to a provision in the proposed federal budget that would limit increases to the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for military veterans aged 18-62.
He said the cap on the increase is an unfair attempt to balance the books.
“They’re trying to put it on the backs of veterans,” he said.
He encouraged legionnaires to call their representatives and senators in Congress and ask them to oppose the budget.
Dellinger’s 10 a.m. visit was part of a tour of New Mexico that the commander began Sunday in Albuquerque. The five-day round includes visits to 12 localities.
Local lifetime member of the legion, Larry Montano, attended the greeting Wednesday. The date happened to be the WWII army veteran’s 90th birthday. Montano was a prisoner of war and is a survivor of the Invasion of Normandy.
“It’s the first time I ever met a high-ranking officer and I’m just glad to be here and I appreciate the invitation,” he said.
Mayor Del Jurney also attended the event.
Dellinger, of Vienna, Va., served as an Army infantry officer at Fort Benning, Ga., during the Vietnam War. He entered the U.S. Army Reserve in 1972, where he rose to the rank of captain.
The Dyer-Gunnell American Legion Post 180 member was elected to national commander by legionnaires across the country in August.
He now oversees the largest organization for war veterans in the world. The American Legion counts 2.4 million members.
Orlando Padilla, commander of Post 28, said the rare visit was a significant occasion for the post and represented Dellinger’s support of local branches.
“He’s making lots of efforts to support veterans issues in Washington or wherever they may be,” he said.