Chuck Schauss is pleased with Lonsdale since moving to the community a year ago, but he did notice one missing piece he’s looking to fill: a Sons of the American Legion squadron.
“We’ve got a lot of fine civic organizations in Lonsdale, and I don’t think it hurts to have another one,” Schauss said. “It’s a good way for people in the community to get to know each other and have something local to do. That’s [a] big piece for why I considered putting this together.”
An affiliate organization of American Legion posts, Sons of the American Legion squadrons consist of male relatives of veterans. Like American Legion Auxiliary units, which include female descendants and male or female spouses of veterans, Sons squadrons find ways to support both veterans and the greater community.
Schauss himself has never joined a squadron but would be eligible since his father served in the U.S. Air Force, and he has other relatives who are veterans. He considered joining either the Montgomery Sons of the American Legion chapter, but instead he decided to approach Lonsdale American Legion Post 586 with the idea of starting a local squadron. The post was supportive, and Post Commander Daryl Rieck and Legionnaire Troy Walters agreed to help Schauss get the ball rolling.
“I think it would be a great addition to the Legion family,” said Rieck. “It’s something that’s needed.”
Rieck explained that many veterans live in Lonsdale, but a number who served in the Vietnam War have descendants who didn’t follow suit and would be eligible to become involved with the Legion through the Sons squadron. Although the post had talked about starting a squadron, he said Schauss is the one who “took the bull by the horns.”
Starting a Sons organization first requires the interest of at least 10 individuals. Schauss said more than 10 people have inquired about the organization, but inquiring isn’t the same as making a commitment. The search, therefore, isn’t quite done.
Adding an extra layer to the ways the American Legion already serves and honors veterans, the Sons squadron would help vets who are homeless and/or disabled and also find ways to serve Lonsdale as a whole.
“We would do things in conjunction with the post and the auxiliary and identify some other things the community could benefit from,” Schauss said. “A lot of son squadrons have youth ice fishing contests, bike rodeos … We would go out into the community and [ask] ‘What do you think the community could use?’”
To accommodate members who have busy lives, particularly younger families, Schauss said attendance wouldn’t be mandatory for monthly meetings. Instead, he said members can get out of the squadron however much they are able to put into it.
Sons of the American Legion has no age bracket for members. Schauss said some members of other chapters have signed up their sons right after birth. Members can’t hold office until they turn 18, but he said young children often have other opportunities to help out at volunteer events.
Depending on how soon the list of interested individuals meets the 10-person mark, Schauss said the Sons of the American Legion squadron could start in Lonsdale in the next three months.
As masking and social distancing restrictions become less strict in Minnesota, and after a year of limited social opportunities, Schauss believes Sons of the American Legion could create the type of interactions people have been craving.
“I think there’s a real hunger for socialization,” Schauss said. “I think it’s a good time to put something like this together.”