Theresea Cruz and the American Legion Post 436 in Jourdanton will soon be featured in an upcoming issue of American Legion Magazine.
She received the news just shortly before Henry Howard, Deputy Director of Media and Communications Division at American Legion National Headquarters and photojournalist, Clay Lomneth visited from Indiana.
Cruz was officially named the new Commander of the post on July 1. She is the first female Commander in Atascosa County. The post is undergoing a revitalization, with the younger generation stepping in to bring a new vitality to it.
“The other women in the group are excited to see another female. We all support each other,” said Cruz.
On July 20, the post members welcomed Howard and Lomneth to their monthly meeting. Cruz presented them with certificates and a gift bag filled with Texas items: Julio’s chips, a Texas pen and of course, Big Red. They also visited her ranch and were treated to carne guisada tacos.
At the meeting, new members Tallonah Miranda, Bryan Morgan and Jesus Zuniga received certificates from Cruz. They also heard brief presentations on their programs, such as the Legion Riders. They are a group of riders (not a club) who want to grow and share their passion of riding motorcycles.
Cruz later shared she could not do what she does without the support of her husband, Isaias Cruz, who is also a member of the Legion.
“We are always setting up and coordinating things. Everything is team work. If I have to come to the Legion, he watches the kids. He is my back-up,” said Cruz.
“We have so many new, younger members. It is my job to get a cohesiveness among the older and younger members. We have this synergy. Everybody’s ideas matter. Every member’s vote counts. No one is above anyone else.”
Legion is a group,not just a rental hall
Especially important to Cruz is for the public to be aware that the American Legion is an organization, not simply a party hall, which many think. However, money made from renting the American Legion Hall helps fund their various programs.
“If a veteran is homeless, we have the funding to get them a hotel or shower. We have the resources. There are also scholarship programs out there. All of our money is outgoing. No one is paid. All funds go right back to the community.”
Cruz is originally from Wisconsin and her husband grew up in Christine. They have eight children and they also assist with such duties as helping to clean the hall.
“It is a family affair,” said Cruz.
Mr. Cruz served in the military for over 20 years and is highly decorated. One of his awards is the Combat Action Badge. He served twice in Bosnia, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan. Mrs. Cruz served for four years. Both were injured and are fully retired with all the benefits. They met in Ft. Knox, Kentucky and have been together for 11 years.
“He is my best friend. He was going to be the Commander, but decided he wanted to take the backseat,” said Cruz. “He is right by my side in everything I do. He saw me through college- he is my cheerleader.”
She also credits God and prayer and was pleased to learn that she was recently accepted to the National Association of Professional Women.
Cruz thinks that when the younger generation of veterans see their peers involved, it inspires them to also get involved in the community.
The American Legion has been around since Theodore Roosevelt and will soon be approaching 100 years.
“The Legion is over 300,000 people. It is a very large group that prides itself on being a veterans group. We have a strong voice in Congress, so someone is advocating for veterans through Congress.”
The American Legion also has such programs as essay writing contests, baseball teams, scholarship programs. There is also the Boy State and Girls State, a highly respected educational program that sends high school students to a retreat which opens their minds to government.
She and her husband are both dual members of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, which each have their specific membership guidelines.
The American Legion is founded on the ideas of four pillars: veterans, national security, Americanism and children and youth.
Cruz and American Legion Post 436 strive on making sure they have a presence in the community. They place flags on the graves of veterans on Memorial Day and hold Veterans Day events with the JROTC. They also sponsor a Sgt. Santa Program in December.
Cruz is available at the American Legion Post in Jourdanton on Hwy. 16, Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist veterans. You can reach her at 915- 412-8354.