By Reg Chapman

MINNNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — After years of declining membership, the American Legion is opening a new post in Minnesota — the first in six years.

The back room inside the Cardinal Bar is getting a temporary makeover to serve as home to Patrick Novack Post 5222. Terry Huberty is post commander. She recruited veterans she met at the VA Medical Center, where she volunteers.

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“We are honored to hold our meetings at this establishment, and be a baby post for the American Legion,” Huberty said. “The majority of our post live in the apartment buildings across the street from the VA, and most of them don’t have transportation, so we needed to find somewhere close to the VA.”

Patrick Novack Post 5222 is launching with 27 charter members, ranging in age from 27 to 83.

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“Eighty-five percent of our post are Iraqi and Afghanistan vets, so we are a very young post,” Huberty said.

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The post is named after Patrick Novack, a Vietnam War veteran who went on the serve 30 years as a Minneapolis police officer before his retirement in 1999. Novack’s son, Michael, will serve as Post Vice Commander.

“Was also his badge number from the Minneapolis Police Department,” Novack said.

He and the other legionnaires hope to encourage younger veterans to get involved in this century-old organization.

“My goal is to melt our older veterans, our older generation, our older legionnaires into our younger legionnaires, our younger veterans, and to show them how we embrace the community, how we embrace our children and youth, the Americanism, national defense,” said Mike Maxa, assistant adjutant for the Department of Minnesota American Legion.

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The goal here is to make veterans feel like they are part of a family — one that will help connect them to resources and be an ear when they need someone to listen.

Reg Chapman