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Iowa native could be next American Legion leader

Denise Rohan grew up in Elkader, now lives in Wisconsin

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By Pat McTaggart, correspondent

A Clayton County native is in the running to be the next leader of the American Legion.

If elected National Commander, Denise (Hulbert) Rohan would be the first woman in the position.

“It is a huge honor to be a candidate,” she said. “I have been an American Legion member for 32 years and truly believe in what The American Legion family stands for and does.”

Rohan served as Department Commander from 2011 to 2012 in Wisconsin. At the end of her term, the state’s delegates endorsed her for National Commander.

“I was named an official candidate last August at the end of our national convention in Baltimore,” Rohan said. She is currently running unopposed.

The campaign for National Commander lasts two years, during which Rohan will attempt to visit every state. The election will be Aug. 24, 2017 during the American Legion’s 99th annual convention in Reno, Nev.

“The Commander represents the 2.2 million members of The American Legion across the nation and in several foreign countries,” she said, and often meets with state and national legislators.

“There is usually a meeting with the president in the Oval Office,” Rohan added. “We work on behalf of veterans, their families and our communities.”

Rohan, who was born in McGregor, grew up in Elkader with her parents, Joe and Dorothy Hulbert, and two sisters. After graduating from Central Community High School, she enlisted in the Army in 1974.

“Who would have thought my two-year Army enlistment in 1974 would lead to my seeing the world 40 some years later?” she said.

Rohan said growing up in northeast Iowa helped make her ready for the position of National Commander.

“Giving back to my community is something I learned from my parents and growing up in Elkader with so many great role models,” she said. “My time at Central, and especially the speech classes taught there, helped me prepare for public speaking.”

Rohan served as an instructor in the Quartermaster Corps at Fort Lee, Va. before being honorably discharged in 1976 after attaining the rank of specialist.

After the military, Rohan graduated from Mount Senario College in Ladysmith, Wis., and worked as assistant bursar of student loans at the University of Wisconsin before retiring in 2012.

Rohan joined the American Legion in 1984, and has served in a number of positions at the local, district and national levels.

As a post commander, she established the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 333 and chartered Boy Scout Troop 333. She now serves as a volunteer in the 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard Airman and Family Readiness Program.

Rohan and her husband Mike, who live in Verona, Wis., are 2006 graduates of the National American Legion College and 2015 graduates of the Wisconsin American Legion College basic course.

“My husband Mike is a big part of my journey, it would not be possible without his support,” she said.

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