American Legion moves California headquarters from San Francisco to Sanger

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The American Legion has joined the Bay Area transplants attracted to the Central Valley by the lower cost of living. And veterans say they've been made to feel right at home. Legionnaires from around the state gathered in Sanger to see their new headquarters. California Legion Director Janet Wilson compared it to a fairy tale come true.

"This is our Cinderella story," said Wilson, "The slipper happened to fit, we bought a building."

The California District of the American Legion has been headquartered in San Francisco since 1919. Most of that time its offices were in the War Memorial Building across the street from San Francisco City Hall. But when the rent was raised from $1 a year to $2,500 a month, the Legion decided to look for a new home.

J.D. Bennet a Legion Vice Commander is from Sanger and says buying in Sanger was more cost effective than renting in San Francisco.

"If we were going to spend that kind of money we might as well have something tangible we could call our own," explained Bennet.

So for about the cost of rent they bought an 8,000 square foot former bank. But Poncho Villa, a District Commander from Jackson CA said the attraction to Sanger was about more than just the real estate.

Villa explained, "The community here seems to support their veterans and that's what the American Legion needs is it needs to move into an area that does support its veterans and it looks like this town does."

Legion member Mildred Wright-Pierce of Fresno says the central state location gives the nearly 100,000 California members greater access to the offices and services.

Wright-Pierce said, "Some of our concerns are veterans that are coming home without jobs getting them trained getting them jobs getting them health care also that's another big issue."

The fact they picked Sanger as their new headquarters to do all that excited Mayor Joshua Mitchell.

"This is a huge deal for Sanger, I mean to have this organization that represents more veterans than any other organization in the United States of America, to have their statewide office here, in the city of Sanger, what a complement to our phenomenal community," Mitchell said.

The building requires some renovations and the work is expected to be finished in time for a grand opening and ribbon cutting on July 7th.

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