Chad Sheridan has served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, he serves his community and fellow veterans as the Commander of Kraft-Ostrom American Legion Post 142: The American Legion.
As commander, he tries to stress to his members that the number one goal of the Legion is to help others, not to focus on themselves.
Q: What is the Legion's mission?
A: Well the Legion's mission, to me, I don't know the textbook version, but for me, it's for service members of all branches to give back to other service members less fortunate. Also to give back to the community that has supported us for years and years. Whether it's the Cold War or Vietnam or Iraq, Afghanistan, World War II. The public supports the military so much, so when we’re done with our military service, what now? We go find civilian jobs. When you fight for your country there's no better feeling. Now, we’re just trying to get a little bit of that feeling back by fighting for our community and less fortunate vets, is the way I'd put it.
Q: What made you join the Legion?
A: First off, not everybody can join the Legion. It was my right. When you serve in the military one of the things you’re allowed to do is join American Legion and if you served overseas in conflict, then you’re allowed to join the VFW. I didn’t for a while. When I first came home and got out I thought, “I don't need that headache.” Not everybody says that term, but I was going through a lot of surgeries; I was going through a lot of personal problems. I joined the VFW right away but I never went to a meeting until the last few years, once I started getting my life back in order. Basically, the reason I started getting involved is I wanted to give back. It's one of the ways I feel better.
Q: How did you become commander?
A: After going to the meetings, and after showing the other people in the meetings I had initiative and I had good leadership skills, I was put in charge of, I'm still in charge of, the beer stand down at the fair for the 4th of July. We have a committee, and I'm in charge of the committee, and we get it all fixed up, and we advertise it. They said I was doing a good job and asked if I would ever consider being commander, and I said, “no way, I just don’t want that responsibility.” Then after a couple of years I realized, just like I did when I was a sergeant in the army, yeah you may be in charge but you don’t have to do everything yourself. You delegate tasks and you get help from everybody.
Q: How did the plant sale idea come to be?
A: That idea came up from our past commander,Craig Hedstrom. It was a way to make money. We have to try and figure out how we can get the public to give us money without simply saying, “hey can you give us money?” We do that sometimes, but we don’t like to. We like to offer something. As you know, we’re not a special store; we’re not Paul’s Market, we can’t sell stuff. So we went around and dug up perennials from our own gardens, like Craig’s house, my own mother’s and anybody else who would let us dig up a perennial. We put them out in front of the VF and we said, “fundraiser and free will donations.” Whatever you want to give. The first year I think we made $200. The second year we made $600 to $700 and we’re like, “huh this isn’t that bad. We just have to do a little digging and people enjoy it.” Then of course we had COVID, so we didn't dare do anything. Then this last year, as commander, we really advertised it. We put it out there for people to read our Facebook and we ended up having a really great sale. We raised a lot of money, and we had donuts and coffee, and I think it’s just going to keep getting bigger.
Q: Are there any other fundraisers you’re doing soon?
A: We are just starting a raffle. We’ve never done a raffle, and there’s raffles going on all the time. We have some big donations, and then we also have 20 $100 bills, that’s when you go to a company and beg them for money. I made a few phone calls and said, “would you like to donate a $100 bill?” We’re not going to make any money off the $100 bill, because we’re going to give it to whoever wins. It’s going to be an incentive. On our raffle tickets we’ll have 25 chances to win. We’ll have a couple of pistols, a couple of hand crafted wooden American flags and then we have 20 $100 bills in cash. The raffle tickets will be $20 a piece. The prizes will be displayed down at the fair over the 4th of July weekend, and we’ll have the drawing on Labor Day weekend at the VF.
Q: You helped with the Memorial Day parade, how did it go?
A: It went really well. This was my first year doing anything with Memorial Day. The story behind that is I lost a friend in Afghanistan and Iraq, because I was in both, and I really didn't want to deal with that day. I hadn't dealt with it for 16 years until this last Memorial Day and being that I'm so involved with the Legion, it’d be hard for me to all of the sudden not be at a function. So I sucked it up, talked it through with the people I needed to talk it through with, and I did it. It went really well. I'm glad I did it. It's a great thing to honor the men and women who have given their life for this country. I'm kind of bummed that I haven't done it in the past. Cannon falls puts on a really good show, everything went really smooth and it's quite fun.