CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo -- The national commander of the American Legion and the president of the American Legion Auxiliary visited Kosovo May 28-30, visiting troops and learning more about the U.S. role in the Balkans.
Clarence E. Hill, the American Legion’s national commander, Leonella Navarrete, the Auxiliary president, and Lawrence White, the aide to the national commander, arrived at Camp Bondsteel May 28 with their spouses.
"The military forces here are just as important as the forces in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Navarrete. "You are in harm’s way."
The delegation traveled to Kosovo as part of a fact-finding trip to Europe, which started in Germany.
"Anywhere there are troops we like to go, shake their hands, thank them for their service, and remind them that the American Legion is there for their families back home," said Hill.
At Camp Bondsteel the delegation toured the base, received a command briefing by the Multinational Battle Group East staff, and had an office call with MNBG E commander, Army Brig.Gen. Al Dohrmann, of Bismarck, N.D. They also met soldiers at every meal and during special tours of the Camp Bondsteel Hospital and the Aviation Facility.
Hill said the visit to Camp Bondsteel was "fantastic."
"You are isolated, but everyone is totally dedicated to the mission," he said. "You have no distractions and you are on your own for your entertainment. It’s the kind of place where you can hone your skills and really develop."
The Legion delegation experienced some of Camp Bondsteel’s homegrown entertainment by taking part in an Asian Pacific Heritage Month Luau on May 28 and watching a talent contest on May 29. The delegation also saw the Kosovo countryside on a tour, led by MNBG E’s Regional Liaison Monitoring teams, to the Church of the Black Madonna, the Binach Church, and the Racak Memorial.
Hill and Navarrete said they both learned a lot about the role of the National Guard and the Army Reserve during their visit.
"We have been working for a few years now with the military support systems back home, especially with the National Guard," said Navarrete. "I’m going to go home with a message for our people who work with the National Guard to let them know they really need to reconnect with our National Guard families."
Hill said the Legion is dedicated to helping veterans and their families.
"We have a lot of activities for children and youth," he said. "We get involved in a lot of things that affect veterans, the VA being a big one. We’re there for you."
The delegation departed Kosovo May 30, on their way to tour military installations in Italy.
Multinational Battle Group East is a U.S- led task force commanded by Army Brig. Gen. Al Dohrmann. This Battle Group is comprised of nearly 1,200 soldiers, including Greece, Poland, Ukraine, and Turkey. The charter mission of MNBG E is maintaining a safe and secure environment and providing freedom of movement for the people in Kosovo.