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American Legion Post 96 Installs New Officers

Patrick Harrell. Submitted photo

West Hartford resident Patrick R. Harrell has been named commander of American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96.


Patrick R. Harrell was installed as the 2019-2020 Post Commander of Hayes-Velhage Post 96 at the September monthly post meeting. Commander Harrell previously served as senior vice commander as well as a member the Hayes-Velhage Color Guard.

Commander Harrell was raised in a Navy family living in numerous seaside towns within the U.S. and its territories. He attended the University of Connecticut majoring in physical education, where he played soccer and lacrosse and aspired to a career in teaching and coaching.

The Marine Corps provided him with a significant coaching opportunity as an infantry platoon commander in Vietnam, with the 26th Marines, and 1st Reconnaissance Battalion.

Returning to the Hartford area he found teaching and coaching opportunities in the data processing arena. He is married to Carla (nee Fino) of Waterbury, also a UConn graduate and teacher.

The couple raised their three children in West Hartford.

Other officers installed included Jeffery Linden, senior vice commander; Michael DeLuca, junior vice commander; Robert Hyland, judge advocate; Berry Leghorn, chaplain; and John Cotter, finance officer. The executive committee includes Winslow Runde and Robert Giuffria, and Board of Trustees members are John Mele, Rocky Goodwin, and Ray Jean.

The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the “Four Pillars of a Strong National Security, Veterans Affairs, Americanism, and Youth Programs.” With a current membership of over 2 million veterans, Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.Recently, there has been a change in the rules of the National Service Act (LEGION Act), signed by the president that allows for millions of additional veterans to access American Legion programs and benefits, for which they previously had not been eligible.

Prior to this signing, only veterans of war-time periods, as defined by Congress, were qualified for membership.The gaps in the war eras were largely during the Cold War, a time when threats to U.S. national security was real, especially to the men and women serving in uniform. Recognizing the eligibility for the service of these “peace-time” veterans for their efforts now qualifies them for membership in the American Legion.

The American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96 of West Hartford has been serving our veterans and the community for 97 years. Further information is available on the Post’s website at www.post96.org or phone 860-233-9029.

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