Bluffton chapter of American Legion looking for a home

The American Legion consists of about 2.4 million members in 14,000 posts worldwide, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan group's website.

Chartered and incorporated in 1919, the patriotic veterans organization works to mentor youth, promote national security, and support service members, veterans and the community.

The Bluffton chapter -- American Legion Post 205 -- has been looking for a home for its group since forming in 2005. The post has 76 members now.

Post Adjutant Mike Miranda said the group has been saving money and looking for property since then. But since most of the money the group collects goes toward operating expenses and helping the community, the post has not raised enough for a building.

They have come close a few times but never close enough. Miranda said various people have offered land for free, but they have all backed out at the last minute for one reason or another.

For the past eight years, the group has met at Palmetto Electric Cooperative in Hardeeville. Leaders say they are thankful for the use of the spaces, but they still think it's necessary to have their own building.

Miranda said they want to be able to help veterans coming home from wars.

"The best thing for a veteran coming from a war is to meet another veteran," Miranda said. "They can talk to them. They loosen up a lot better than trying to go with a civilian who doesn't know what they're talking about. They need a place to come, where they can relax."

Miranda said a building would not only help veterans and service members. It would also help the community. The post is responsible for several programs, including a golf tournament that raises scholarship money for Bluffton ROTC students, a law enforcement academy for students and free holiday meals. It would be easier to do all that with their own building, they say.

"We'd also like to have a building so we can have more camaraderie," financial officer James Gilliard said. "It's like any other organization. The police department meets in the police station. American Legion would like to meet in the American Legion post."

Miranda said he has no idea how much money they need to raise to buy their own building. He said the group is going to start saving more now and is willing to rent at first.

"In Beaufort County there's like 18,000 veterans," Miranda said. "We don't have a place for them. We're not saying we want 18,000, but we will not turn them away. ... It goes to show you that there's a need for a place here."

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American Legion Post 205