‘A wide-open heart’: National Commander talks purpose of American Legion

Published 7:46 am Wednesday, February 21, 2024

American Legion National Commander Daniel J. Seehafer was in Vicksburg Tuesday and spent time speaking to crowds at both
Tyner-Ford Post 213 and Allein Post 3.

Seehafer was present at Post 3 for a lunch Tuesday, where he explained to those in attendance the importance of the work of the American Legion.

“You never know what a difference you can make in the lives of veterans and their families,” Seehafer said.

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Seehafer, who also serves as administrative pastor St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Horicon, Wis., said the epidemic of veteran suicide is a cause close to his heart and stressed the theme of “Be the One,” in reference to reaching out to veterans in danger.

“If it wasn’t for this family, I wouldn’t be here,” he recalled a veteran once telling him of the American Legion. “We can change lives and we can save lives. That’s the bottom line of what the American Legion does. We can come into this thing with a wide-open heart.”

Seehafer was elected national commander of the American Legion on Aug. 31, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C., during the 104th national convention.

An ordained minister from Wisconsin, he earned his American Legion eligibility through service in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve, where he was a military chaplain. As a member of American Legion Post 157 in Horicon, Seehafer served in several offices at every level, including national chaplain and commander of the Department of Wisconsin.

Seehafer was installed as assistant pastor of St. Stephen in 1997 and his post was recognized for “100 percent” and “All-Time
High” in membership during his term as commander and adjutant. Other honors include District Commander’s New Post Achievement Award; Silver Brigade; and Post 157 Legionnaire of the Year.

In 2003, Seehafer earned an Outstanding Heroism Award for administering the Heimlich maneuver to a choking victim at an American Legion dinner.

Seehafer and his wife, Stacey – a member of the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 157 – live in Beaver Dam, Wis. Son, Jacob and daughter, Emma, are also members of the Post 157 family. Seehafer is the son of the late Lester Seehafer and Jean Sabatke.