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Personality: Johnnie E. Hagans

Spotlight on president of Military Retirees Club Inc.

11/11/2016, 11:01 p.m.
Johnnie E. Hagans says joining the military was the biggest chance he ever took. And he’s glad he did. He ...

Johnnie E. Hagans says joining the military was the biggest chance he ever took. And he’s glad he did. He urges young people to consider the military as an option.

“Military life is a very demanding lifestyle,” Mr. Hagans says, adding that it has benefits. “It offers people the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures.”

The Louisiana native joined the Army in 1972 with two friends through a buddy program that allowed up to five friends to enlist and train together.

That spirit of friendship has never left him. He is the president of the 75-member Military Retirees Club Inc. of Richmond. The organization is dedicated to maintaining a “sense of comradeship among military retirees” in the Richmond area while helping member veterans strengthen their bonds with the community.

The organization will be celebrating Veterans Day from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at their clubhouse, 2220 Sledd St. in North Side.

Established nationally in 1938, Veterans Day honors “America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mr. Hagans believes this focus on common good is what has given the Richmond organization longevity.

The club was founded in 1972 by several African-American veterans from Richmond. It provides community programming, direct support to Richmond Public Schools’ Franklin Military Academy and relief programs to city residents. Mr. Hagans’ term as president is two years, succeeding Webster Ballard.

Mr. Hagans believes there is something unique about military service and civic engagement that should be celebrated. “The Military Retirees Club Inc. of Richmond consists of a lot of guys who share the same values, same experiences, ideas and aspirations,” he said.

“Although you can find those things elsewhere, those same values and a military kinship are something different.” There is only one qualification for membership in the group — at least 20 years of honorable service in the Armed Forces. Mr. Hagans hopes the club’s involvement in the community will continue to grow as it reaches its 45th anniversary in June 2017.

His strategy for this year’s outreach efforts includes continued scholarships, a more robust Thanksgiving program and supporting Reserve Officers’ Training Corps curricula in city schools.

Meet this week’s military minded Personality, Johnnie E. Hagans:

No. 1 volunteer position: President, Military Retirees Club Inc. of Richmond.

Date and place of birth: Aug. 20 in New Orleans.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, Saint Leo College.

Family: Wife, Angie; children, Dannail, 42, Tanisha, 41, Lester, 35, Trya, 12, and Ky-mani, 11.

When and how I got involved with the Military Retirees Club: A co-worker told me about the club in 1998. I was working at the post office on Brook Road, right down the street from the clubhouse. The bingo games there always drew a big crowd and so I gave it a try.

How long an MRC member: 18 years.

Why I wanted to serve as president: MRC is an interesting club. It is a stand-alone club with no hierarchy. Members share the same values and same morals. We all decide which way our ship is going to sail.