Published 9:00 am Sunday, September 6, 2015

Women Veterans of Freeborn County

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Women Veterans of Freeborn County met Aug. 5 at the American Legion in Albert Lea. Women veterans present included Pat Johannsen, Deanna Luedtke, Ruth Perry, Marge Lukehart and Judi Olson.

The first part of the meeting was spent catching up on various family happenings as the group feels it is always nice to hear what’s happening with each others lives.

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Luedtke shared several articles of interest to all veterans.

News from the department’s 2015 convention was shared including that the eye clinic in Minneapolis has been expanded so they can accommodate up to 80 more patients per day; 58 units of homeless veterans housing will open soon at Fort Snelling; and the Veterans Choice card is not working as well as expected and is costing more than anticipated.

Ten resolutions were passed at the convention in Redwood Falls:

Increase dues for Sons of the American Legion by $2 per year.

Reimbursement to SAL members for attending national meetings

Urging concurrent disability and retirement pay

Urging Spirit of Service award to be extended to guard and reserve.

Supports copper and nickel mining in northern Minnesota.

Change Korean War eligibility dates to allow more vets to join the American Legion.

Support an American Legion booklet.

Abolish the Trophy and Awards committee. Endorses Fit to Serve initiative to allow increased access to hearing aid specialists.

The group also distributed information about the Women Veterans annual meeting and fall luncheon in Minneapolis, which is scheduled for Sept. 26 at the Veterans Home Auditorium. The meal will be catered and will include a choice of chicken or vegetarian meals. MDVA is paying for the veteran’s meals but not for the guests. They will charge a registration fee this year. They want to honor Vietnam veterans as well as World War II veterans. Registration packets will be sent out in the middle of August.

There are free urns for veterans available. The founders make urns out of quality oak wood and offer them to veterans families free of charge. Each urn has the veteran’s name, rank, life dates and military service seal. The makers rely 100 percent on donations. It is run by volunteers and has no paid staff. The group can be contacted at

A member spoke with Danielle Eng from the Veteran’s Affairs Clinic in Albert Lea. She is agreeable to attending one of the group’s meetings and getting to know the group and what they do. Luedtke will call her and invite her to the next meeting.

Olson will take the food donations to the food pantry.

The next meeting will be at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 2 at the American Legion Post 56. Women from all branches of the military are encouraged to join the group for lunch, camaraderie, military updates and just plain gossip.


Western Fraternal Life Association

The Western Fraternal Life Association national convention took place July 22 to July 24 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Most of the group’s activities were in the Marriott Hotel grand ballroom. When the group arrived on Wednesday, they registered and received a bag that held a Czech crystal egg. From there members registered for rooms and then had an acquainted party where they had dinner and met lodge members from across the United States. After supper, there was a magic show.

The next morning the group had a continental breakfast before the meeting began. A gentleman from Protivin, Iowa, did roll call and pronounced every name in the Czech tongue. The group learned that there were 231 delegates at the national convention. Various employees from the home office talked about WFLA and the different changes that have taken place since the last convention. WFLA President Craig Van Dyke explained that membership is decreasing and members need to work together to get the numbers back up. He provided delegates and guests with different strategies to increase membership. These strategies included advertising WFLA more often so their presence is known in the community, getting youth more involved and the Members in Action program.

After the employees from the home office spoke, the group had lunch and attended caucus  meetings. Duane Jirik was re-elected as the District 4 president, and pre-convention delegates and alternates were elected as well. Following the caucuses, members went back to their rooms until it was time to be shuttled to the museum. There the group received a tour of the new building and gift shop and supper was served.

On Friday morning the group had continental breakfast and met for meetings again. There was much discussion about Fraternal Life Associations and about how in 1911 50 percent of all life insurance was through Fraternal Life Association. At the present day only 2 percent of insurance policies are through Fraternal Life Association. The speaker explained it is not possible to get back to 50 percent, but it is possible to get up to 5 percent. There were different strategies provided, and according to the speaker, it needs to be a team effort.

Kelsey Logan from the home office and a few youth convention members also talked. The group heard about how important it is to get youth involved because they are the future of WFLA. When the meeting was adjourned members broke off into different groups where they worked on their service project. This year there was a goal of packing 30,000 meals for Kids Against Hunger, and the goal was met.

Later in the day the group had lunch and a banquet supper. The entertainment was Barefoot Becky. It was decided the next convention will take place in 2019 in Madison, Wisconsin, or Green Bay, Wisconsin.

A local member of the group stated, “As a lodge, we have to be very proud for what we have and the members we have as well. During the talks I had with other delegates across the United States, many lodges are hurting for members, and one lodge only has seven members. Also, we have to be proud that we have the Bohemian Brick Hall to call our home because many lodges meet in different places and don’t have a hall to meet in and we are one of about 20 lodges across the United States that have an actual hall.”

American Association of University Women

The American Association of University Women starts the new year of 2015-16 at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 12. with the group’s annual brunch at America’s Best Value Inn in Albert Lea.

The menu will be egg bake with fresh fruit and muffin along with coffee for $11.

The group will be collecting school supplies for Hawthorne Elementary on the day of the brunch.

Members are encouraged to check the supply lists at local stores.

The speaker for the meeting will be David Behling, interim vice president and dean of Waldorf College.

Behling serves on the interim chief academic officer at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. He started teaching at the college level in 1987 at Texas Lutheran College and has been working at Waldorf since 1998. When he’s not dispensing with justice as the Dark Lord of Accountability at Waldorf, he also appears on stage with the Albert Lea Community Theatre and Sommerset Theatre Festival.

Please call Sue Tripp at 507-377-0864 or Doris Callahan at 507-373-6047 before Sept. 8 to make a reservation at the AAUW Annual Brunch.