The new year brings new worries for American Legion Post 223.
In 2020, the post will celebrate its 100th anniversary, but Post Commander Jon-Michael Ullom isn't sure they'll make it to that milestone.
"Right now, we don't know if we're going to be here in three months," Ullom said.
The post was closed on New Year's Day, but Ullom said there are usually only a few people who stop by during the week.
"We barely have maybe 250, 300 members," Ullom said. "No more than eight years ago, we had over a thousand members."
Current members are growing older, with the majority being over the age of 60. Ullom said the next generation isn't exactly lining up to get in.
"Finding people who want to be interested, want to be involved and have the means to be involved is a very hard combination to find most of the time," Ullom said.
Ullom said these posts serve as a safe space for veterans. They're able to meet up and build friendships with people who share their same experiences and can relate to what they may be going through.
"If you need a place to go, we're here," Ullom said. "This place has helped me with my anger issues and my ability to play well with others. We are not just a bar we have a lot of other programs to be able to help veterans in many ways."
It costs $35 a year to be a member. Ullom said Post 223 keeps just $4, which is nowhere near enough to cover $20,000 in monthly operating costs along with the long list of programs they offer.
He said they also have a leaky roof and some electrical problems that need to be fixed.
"With our current situation, we're barely keeping doors open," Ullom said. "Posts close all the time. I used to be at Post 582 in Copperas Cove, no longer open."
For now, Ullom is taking it day by day. He hopes the community realizes more than a bar will be lost if they close the doors for good.
"If we can't get the next generation interested and involved, there's no future," Ullom said. "I want to know that when I leave office, that the next person is set up for another 100 years."
Ullom is working with Fort Hood to try and get more active-duty soldiers involved with their organization.
If you're interested in joining Post 223 or making a donation, you can call Jon Ullom at 254-634-8091 or email him at email@example.com.
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