A prominent figure in the American Legion paid a visit to the area Monday.

Denise Rohan, national commander of the American Legion, visited American Legion Post No. 8 in Charleston.

Rohan said her theme for the year is "Family First." She explained that when people enter the military and go to basic training, they get a new family. Their new brothers and sisters help take care of them, with the person doing the same in turn so they can get through basic training.

"And then, when you're in the military, you go from one duty station to another duty station, and every place you go, you get a new family," Rohan said. "And then, when it's time to get out of the military for those of us who are out of uniform, we landed in a community that wasn't our hometowns, and to get that connection, to get that feeling of being a part of a family, we found the American Legion family. ..."

Mary Erdman, the national executive committee-person for the American Legion Department of Arkansas, who introduced Rohan said Rohan joined the American Legion in 1984 after serving in the Army as an instructor during the Vietnam War era. She was awarded several medals.

"She is an honored graduate of Mount Senario College, the Collegiate Management Institute, several military and American Legion schools, and she served as an officer including a commander of post, district and state commander, and she also has served as a member and chairperson of several national committees," Erdman said. "She has numerous honors, including the Wisconsin National Guard Lifetime Achievement Medal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's commendation and former President George Bush Lifetime Achievement Medal."

Erdman also said in its entire history, the American Legion has never had a female national commander before Rohan. Rohan was elected to the position Aug. 24, according to the American Legion website.

Rohan said together the American Legion family makes fantastic things happen across the country.

Every member of the American Legion who was present at the event, Rohan said, should be proud of, among other things, the fact they made a decision to put on a uniform and continue to serve the nation.

"Now, somebody taught you about this great country, and somebody taught you about this great American Legion family, and I hope that person's still around so that they can be so proud of you for your continued efforts and your continued work for what you do in the communities ... and all the difference that you're making," Rohan said.