PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Paul W. Airey American Legion Post 392 was full of special guests on Friday night.
Members from the national, state, district, and local areas gathered to welcome National Vice Commander Patricia A. Harris to Panama City.
“It is our first visit from a national commander and Patricia Harris, the National Vice Commander, has stopped by to see us see all the wonderful things we’re doing,” Post 392 Commander Stephen Mihal said. “We’re excited anytime a national commander comes to visit.”
Harris is on a tour visiting several posts throughout West Florida. She said her visit comes with a very special message, to share and promote the American Legion ‘Be the One’ campaign.
“De-stigmatize getting help for veterans that may be contemplating or considering suicide or even our military, because we do know that as a nation that our suicide among veterans and our military are rising and there are a lot of different numbers that come out,” Harris said. “18, some say 19, 20, 22 but we believe that even one is too many and so what we’re trying to do and our mission is to do is to make sure that they know that it’s ok to seek out help and know we are here.”
Part of Friday’s event was a check presentation from Post 392 to a local hospice organization. The funds were raised in January during the annual Hotzee fundraiser.
“I see that veterans are supporting each other as well as keeping their commitment through the American Legion to do service in the community because that’s what we serve the community, the state, and our nation,” Harris said. “We continue to serve that and that’s what I saw today.”
As the first national representative to visit this area, Harris shared stories, and knowledge.
“It’s just been incredible today and then to come here and see the warmth, you know, of how the community has all come together and how hard the veterans are working and then it just was further reinforcing to be the one so we are the ones they are the one,” Harris said.
Vice Commander Patricia A. Harris served in the Army for over 20 years.
Earlier on Friday she visited Carrabelle, Apalachicola, and Port Saint Joe. She continues her tour at Post 402 in Panama City Beach and Post 356 in Panama City on Saturday.