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American Legion Post 1 struggles, at times, to keep the doors open

American Legion Post 1 is the longest continuously active post in America, and it’s almost had to shut its doors at least three times in the past eight years. (KTUL)

American Legion Post 1 is the longest continuously active post in America, and it’s almost had to shut its doors at least three times in the past eight years.

Through a darkened club room to the bar in the back, you’ll see her silhouette. Debra Burke is the Post 1 President. She’s usually trying to figure out ways to keep the lights on.

“We go in phases here,” she says. “The economy has been bad, the last few years, we know. And we’ve done the best we can do.”

“That makes me very sad, actually,” former Commander Laurie Nidiffer says. “I hate to see it. But it’s nearly closed its doors three times since I’ve been a member. I mean within a few hundred dollars of closing our doors.”

Almost 1,000 vets a year depend on Post 1. But times are tough.

“We just do the best we can,” Nidiffer says. “With what we have.”

“I try to be as nice about it as possible,” Service Officer Malinda Rippy says. “But sometimes I have to try and take a break and try not to feel guilty.”

Disability claims, VA visits, even paying utility bills for hurting heroes are just a few of the things Post 1 does. Until they can’t afford it and turn people away.

“Within the last couple years we’ve had to do that more often,” Burke says. “Because things have been tight.”

“It really hurts,” Rippy says. “Because you want to be able to help everybody. Especially if they have children. It’s 90 degrees today and their electricity gets shut off or their water gets cut off. It’s very disheartening.”

So, they find ways to keep the ball rolling, pinching pennies where they can. Sacrificing to give those who sacrificed for us a place to call home.

Post 1 is holding a fundraiser on June 24. It starts at 10:00 a.m. and features 19 different local bands. The cool part? They’re going to stream the show to troops currently stationed overseas.

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