ALA member doesn’t let near-total hearing loss prevent her service to others

Grow, learn, adapt, and overcome any obstacles that are in your way. American Legion Auxiliary member Brenda Nurre — a U.S. Army veteran and member of The American Legion — didn’t come up with that catchy phrase. But she sure does live by those words, as evidenced by her life’s path.

Nurre wanted to serve others in a meaningful way, so she joined the Army. At the conclusion of her military life, she wanted to continue serving others in a meaningful way, so Nurre joined The American Legion.

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Diagnosed in 2009 with a rare, incurable illness that later caused her nearly total hearing loss, Nurre remained determined to participate in the Legion Family’s longstanding legacy of honoring and helping veterans, servicemembers, and their families. So Nurre optimized her opportunity to serve by joining the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) — the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization. She became an ALA member in 2016.

“By being a dual member, I can double the time I can give to help more veterans and active-duty [military], and their families,” said Nurre, of Post 2 and Unit 2 in Pueblo, Colo. “I was in the Army and medically discharged long before I was done serving, which is why I do everything possible to continue to serve veterans and their families through the Legion and ALA families. This is my way of saying ‘thank you’ and showing that I will never forget what other veterans before and after me have done for my family and me.”

Nurre is one of more than a half million women, and girls, worldwide who belong to the ALA. Regardless of their differing backgrounds, experiences, and challenges, our members proudly unite under the common cause outlined in the ALA mission to aid, advocate for, and honor America’s veterans, military, and their families; promote patriotism and good citizenship; and mentor youth. The Auxiliary’s mission is our organization’s promise to those we serve … and Nurre has been part of the ALA’s success of delivering on that promise for nearly 100 years.

Among Nurre’s many contributions to ALA mission-based activities and outreach:

  • distributing poppy flowers in exchange for donations that go to help veterans, servicemembers, and their families
  • working with ALA Juniors to make care packages
  • participating in Veterans Appreciation Day at an area school
  • sorting clothes for a stand down (events where services and/or basic necessities are offered to homeless veterans)

She also serves on the Executive Committee Board of her Legion post and has been involved in a slew of Legion mission-based activities and programs since becoming a Legionnaire in 1995.

Nurre’s community-based accomplishments are equally admirable. For example, she earned her Wildland Firefighter certification — without an interpreter or captioning. Nurre also volunteers as part of the Dive Team, Courier, and Fire Team at the local Sheriff’s Office.

Nurre chose not to let hearing loss interfere with her life: “I’m a good ol’ feisty country girl who’s as stubborn as the day is long. I have drive and spunk, and I’ll be damned if something like hearing, or lack thereof, is going to stand in my way of my happiness or my commitment to myself and all those who, like me, have some kind of ‘disability’.”

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How does Nurre do it? She allows herself to grow and learn from her life experiences. She adapts, and, when possible, finds ways to overcome the obstacle of being unable to hear. For example, at ALA or Legion meetings and events, she uses a captioning app on her tablet computer.

Her fellow Auxiliary members and Legionnaires at her post home also adapt, doing things as simple as facing Nurre when they speak to help with communication — and not discounting Nurre’s value to the Legion Family and its mission because of her health-related challenges.

“I have some of the finest women and men [in the Legion Family] to be around who are truly in it for everyone but themselves, and I am just very grateful to have them as mentors and friends. Each has a special gift and goes above and beyond, donating their time and knowledge. Together, we are unstoppable. No, they don’t see a disability [when looking at me]; they see me.”

More about BrendaBrenda Nurre is married to Steven Nurre, commander at Post 2 in Pueblo, Colo. The couple have five children, most of whom have Legion Family memberships. The Nurres’ oldest son serves in the U.S. Army National Guard in Texas. Brenda was diagnosed in 2009 with the rare and incurable illness, Adult Multisystem Langerhans Cell Hystiocystis (LCH) — a blood and bone cancer, and autoimmune disease. The illness caused Brenda’s nearly total hearing loss in 2011. She continues to grow, learn, adapt, and work to overcome obstacles in her way, all while selflessly serving others as a dual member within The American Legion Family.

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