NYS American Legion names first female commander

Syracuse, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - Thousands of veterans from around New York State are in Syracuse for the 99th annual American Legion Convention. This year, there is a new type of leadership the veterans haven't seen before.

Celebrating veterans is part of the American Legion's mission but solving their problems takes a convention. Members from across the state came together to share ideas and meet their new leader.

"It keeps things fresh, it seems to work. They rotate commanders every year and it's a good move," says outgoing commander John Sampson.

It's a big move this year a Rena Nessler leads the convention's parade and more than 100,000 of the legion's members in New York It's the first time a woman will take the reins.

"We're finally breaking that glass ceiling. We have a long way to come but I've had many legionnaires come up to me that are females that say 'If you can do it, I think I can reach that far.' It's always been an unreachable thing, or viewed as unreachable, but it's reachable," says Nessler.

It's also the first year of the Trump Administration. Many of the veterans are staying optimistic. "I think it's gonna be a whole lot better for the veterans, I really do," says Dennis Weeks. Andrew Messer adds, "I think he could. I'm still giving him a chance to do something. I'm seeing how he's going to work out."

This weekend, they'll work on solutions closer to home, crafting ways to influence local and state policies to help veterans, all while having some fun on the side.

Incoming Commander Rena Nessler is set to be sworn in on Saturday at 10 AM at the OnCenter.

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