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Legion ready to aid boro families

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As the borough prepares for war, one local group is taking steps to make sure that the families of men and women in uniform get the support they need.

The American Legion Post 334 of Floral Park will offer informal counseling to relatives of servicemen through the Legion’s Family Support Network, Post Commander Ron Prokopowicz said this week.

By making individuals available who are familiar with the military services, the program provides family members with an easy way to get answers to basic questions. From sending mail to loved ones to figuring out pay schedules and job benefits, American Legion officers can resolve issues that are often confusing and complex.

Also included are coffee-and-cake gatherings at the post, which is located at 15 Elizabeth St. Prokopowicz said he would try to arrange for an expert on veterans’ affairs to answer questions during those sessions.

In addition, the post will send cards to area families with loved ones in the services. Prokopowicz said there were roughly 25 such families in Floral Park, but the program’s organizers hope to include additional families from the surrounding areas.

For the soldiers themselves, the program includes periodic mailings of local newspapers as well as the American Legion newsletter.

Last Christmas the post organized local schoolchildren to send more than 1,200 cards to servicemen overseas, Prokopowicz said.

Although the Family Support Network is a program organized by the American Legion at the national level, individual posts are responsible for implementing it, Lee Harris, a spokesman for the American Legion said. In this case, he added, the Floral Park post has gone beyond what is required by the national organization.

The program is supported by dues paid by members, Prokopowicz said, but added that money was not a problem. In fact, if military action drags on, the Legion is prepared to maintain the support network for as long as needed.

“If this is a two- or three-year thing, we’ll still be in business,” Prokopowicz said, “Time and effort would go more into this than anything else.”

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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