New commander installed at Post 24
RUMFORD -- As the new commander for Napoleon-Ouellette American Legion Post 24, Tricia Thurston already has an agenda in mind for her leadership role.
"When members become officers, they try to find a focus to support with. I have a few; obviously I can't do it by myself. We definitely need people to volunteer to make his happen. I would like to find ways to support the Veterans Home in South Paris, educate female veterans on what's out there for them and what Togus has to offer, and supporting local veterans and their families," noted Thurston.
She was installed to the one-year term last week and becomes the first woman commander of the American Legion Post 24 since Caroline Defiore served for a year back in 1991. She succeeds her husband, Kirk Thurston, who has been an officer since they came aboard eight years ago, serving as commander for at least four years.
"I have been learning from him as well as other officers and will continue to do so to support the many programs we have within the Legion. He will certainly continue to be my mentor," said Tricia.
Kirk is currently the District V commander for the Legion, which he has done for a year. That covers much of Oxford County, overseeing the various posts.
Asked how long she has wanted to be a commander, Tricia said she served as president with the Legion Auxiliary for four years supporting veterans and auxiliary programs. There were openings (for officers) and support was needed, so that is one of the reasons why I decided to run as a legionnaire officer."
With the Auxiliary, we began a program called Comforts from Home, this program provided care packages for our local servicemen and women serving overseas. Tricia recalled that at one point, they were sending out 20 to 25 of them at a time.
Post 24 has over 500 Legionnaires, 150 Auxiliary members, 120 Sons of the American Legion members and Legion Rider members. These entities make up our post family.
"Sometimes people do not realize they are a veteran if they have not served in wartime. Anyone who has served is a veteran," said Tricia. Those who have served can inquire at the Legion to see if they are eligible to become a member. Volunteers are needed to support Veterans and their programs.
Tricia said there are two events in the works, with proceeds going to the Western Maine Veterans Advisory at the Maine Veterans Home for veteran’s activities. They are on the weekend of May 11-12. The first is an all-day event consisting of a barbeque, games and raffles, later that evening we will have a DJ/karaoke. The next day, there will be a Mother's Day Brunch. All events are open to the public.
"Every time there is a function (benefit, wedding, party etc.) on the hall side it supports this post. We in turn are able to support veteran’s programs. Obviously it is a priority to support our veterans. It is also necessary to complete repairs to keep the post open. Roof repairs and upkeep of the building are needed. With our hall being rented it supports us in building our accounts to complete these repairs. Community support helps make this happen.
Tricia, who grew up in California, served for four years active in the Navy and then four years actively in the reserves. She met Kirk while in the Navy, and then followed him as his spouse through his 20-year career. They then came back to Kirk's hometown of Rumford to retire.