American Legion Post 140 Commander Ken DeSimone, left, and Shawn Reed, post adjutant.
American Legion Post 140 Commander Ken DeSimone, left, and Shawn Reed, post adjutant.

Leaders of the American Legion Post based in Buckhead say they are reaching out to their neighbors to get them more involved with the facility.

“We feel like we’ve got a great location and there’s a lot more we could do with it,” said Shawn Reed, post adjutant. “We’re reaching out to the community and doing some things we haven’t done in the past.”

And as new, younger members who served in the Iraq and Afghan wars swell the ranks of American Legion Post 140, post Commander Ken DeSimone said, they are bringing new energy and a desire to increase involvement with the surrounding community.

“There’s a lot of new blood in the American Legion,” said DeSimone, who was named post commander in July and who is police chief in Sandy Springs. “The new guys are saying, ‘We’ve got to continue [involvement].”

DeSimone said post leaders are talking with the Neighborhood Youth Organization, which provides youth sports leagues in the area, to allow construction of a T-ball field on the Legion’s property at Chastain Park. “They’re always looking for extra fields for the young sports leagues,” he said.

The post also is inviting the Southeastern Horticulture Society to build a new vegetable and flower garden on the post’s property that would be cared for by rehabilitating veterans, he said.

The post owns 3 acres next to Chastain Park. The property stretches from Powers Ferry Road to Lake Forest Drive. The post owns a rustic meeting hall on the property that it uses for its twice-monthly gatherings and rents for community events. A scout troop also meets at the property.

“Everyone in this area knows this post,” DeSimone said. “I’ve been amazed. It’s sort of an icon in this community.”

DeSimone said post leaders hope more local groups will use the facility, and learn about the post and its history. “We want to rent it … to people here in the neighborhood to use it for neighborhood functions,” he said.

Post 140 now enrolls about 170 dues-paying members, and serves veterans spread across metro Atlanta, although most members live in Buckhead, Sandy Springs or Brookhaven, DeSimone said. The post is growing, he said. “It’s gotten a lot bigger over the past 10 years,” Reed said.

DeSimone said community involvement is one of the pillars of the American Legion. Post 140’s new efforts to reach out to its neighbors don’t show a change of attitude, but a new emphasis, he said. “The attitude is the same. It’s a little more focus and effort toward it,” he said. “It hadn’t been done. Because of the age group and the demographics, they didn’t have the energy to reach out like we’re trying to do.”

Reed said the post also plans to renovate the building, which was constructed in the 1930s, to replace old wiring, add insulation and improve other parts of the facility. Reed said a committee is evaluating the property and will recommend improvements. Post leaders intend to draw up a renovation plan that will outline work to be done over the next five to 10 years, he and DeSimone said.

“Definitely, we have to update it,” DeSimone said.

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.