Submitted by American Legion Lake Bluff Post 510:
American Legion Lake Bluff Post 510 hosted a heartwarming demonstration of community spirit, veteran support and canine companionship at a special meeting Wednesday evening February 6th in Lake Bluff’s Public Safety Building.
Sgt. Chris Stanton, of the United States Marine Corps, returned home from Iraqi Freedom apparently suffering symptoms of PTSD. Chris turned to the North Chicago VA for help. Doctors there confirmed the diagnosis and recommended Chris become a candidate for a PTSD trained companion dog program.
David Cimarrusti, Post 510 Commander, heard of Chris’s need and contacted professional dog trainer Pam Barnett. Barnett would take on the challenge to help Chris Stanton if Post 510 could help underwrite training costs. The Knights of Columbus Lake Forest Council #1268 at St. Mary’s Church was looking for just such a veteran support project and joined in.
Barnett met Chris and set out to find and train a PTSD service dog for him. Chris and his potential canine partner underwent several months of individual and companion training before being considered a suitable match. The result, “Koal” a year old, PTSD trained Black Lab service dog and Chris Stanton are facing life’s challenges together.
Chris told assembled Legionnaires and their guests “your support and encouragement are helping me and my family adjust.” David Cimarrusti observed, “tonight we see how members of the community can come together to help a veteran in need.” Pam Barnett added, “Chris and “Koal” are a shining example of the spirit of community support.”
“Koal”, the second PTSD service dog Post 510 has sponsored, is part of a long-standing pattern of community involvement by the Post. Last year’s recipients of the Post 510 PTSD program Chris Majewski and his dog “Buster” are reported to be doing well together.
For over 90 years Members of Post 510 have followed their vision for a strong America and support for veterans. Among the Post’s current community activities are:
- Grave Decoration. Post 510 supplies flags to Ascension Cemetery to be used to mark veteran’s graves and decorate the reflecting pond on Memorial Day.
- Memorial Day: Post 510 sponsored ceremony on the Village Green in Lake Bluff to honor local men and women who died in the service of their country.
- Poppy Day. Post 510 and community volunteers collect donations to support activities at the Veterans Administration facility in North Chicago.
- Veterans Day: Post 510 sponsored ceremony on the Village Green in Lake Bluff honors local men and women who served their country in the military.
- 4th of July Parade: Former producer and current partner, Post 510 provides flags, banners, signage and publicity plus traffic and parade participant support.
- Veteran’s Assistance: Post 510 donates emergency assistance to service families, “Gifts to the Yanks who Gave”, the “Toys for Tots” program and VA support for the infirm.
- Boy’s State – Girl’s State: Post 510 participates in this statewide program to provide citizenship training for Lake Forest High School students who have successfully completed their junior class year.
- School Leadership Award: Post 510 sponsored peer selection program recognizing Lake Bluff Middle School graduating students who have demonstrated leadership qualities to their fellow students.
- Vocational Award: Post 510 recognizes and supports public health and safety vocational education for a Lake Forest High School graduate.
According to Post 510 Commander David Cimarrusti “all this could not have been accomplished over the years without cooperation from the Village of Lake Bluff, Lake Bluff Fourth of July Committee, Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, Lake Bluff School District 65, Lake Bluff Women’s Club, Knights of Columbus Lake Forest Council #1268, Lake Forest American Legion Post 264, American Legion Tenth District leadership, the generous residents of Lake Bluff themselves and the local media outlets the Post depends upon to spread the word.”
For information on how to join Post 510 or make donations to the Post 510 Foundation contact Post 510 Commander David Cimarrusti at 847-234-7110.