Liza Berrey: service to country, community

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

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American Legion Post 24 Commander, Liza Berrey, has been named this week’s Greeneville Advocate hero of the week. Berrey, a Greenville native, graduated from Greenville High School before enrolling at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (LBW).

After her time at LBW, Berrey took a job working as a technician in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at a Montgomery hospital. However, her love for learning and new experiences soon led her to a different path. At the age of 23, Berrey enlisted in the United States Navy. 

“I’ve always liked that kind of stuff, new adventures and excitement,” Berrey recounted. “We had to do things like rappel down the side of a building during our training.”

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Berrey continued to serve her country for the next seven years.

“I was a reservist after that,” Berrey said. “I filled in with active-duty units. It was usually in urgent care situations when they were short-staffed and needed help.”

Following her military service, Berrey returned home to work as a school bus driver. 

“I really like the kids. I like connecting with them and helping them have a better day,” Berrey said. “You never know what the situation might be at home, so I make sure to greet them and smile. We sing happy birthday on their birthdays. If I’m happy and smiling, it’s sometimes contagious.”

In addition to her bus duties, Berrey has served as the Legion Commander for American Legion Post 24 for the past two years. 

The Legion meets every first Thursday of the month, and Berrey makes it a point to offer a warm welcome, a free meal, and an engaging speaker. One such speaker was LBW Instructor and local historian Mollie Waters. 

“I spoke about veterans buried in our local cemeteries,” Waters said. “While I was there, I got to see Liza in action.  She really cares about the Legion and its members and she’s constantly working to help improve their lives.”

“I just can’t say enough good stuff about Liza,” Waters added. “She always does everything she can to make others feel loved and accepted… like they belong.”

During her tenure at the Legion, one of Berrey’s focuses has been “Boys and Girls State,” a Legion-sponsored program where two students from each high school are chosen through essays and interviews to spend a week participating in a mock government.

“It really just helps them to learn about our democracy. Maybe they’ll get interested and maybe when they can, they’ll go vote and become active participants in society,” Berrey said. “We finance the trip so it doesn’t cost them anything and we’re able to do that through fundraisers.”

The Legion’s biggest annual fundraiser during Berrey’s time as Commander has been the Annual Turkey Shoot.

“We do prizes for each shoot…and we do a lot of different shoots,” Berrey explained. “We want everyone to go home with a prize.”

As post commander, Berrey also initiated Commander’s Breakfasts.

“It’s just a meet and greet so they can come out, have some breakfast, socialize, and just have someone to talk to,” Berrey said. 

Notably, Berrey is also the first female commander of Post 24, marking a significant milestone in the Legion’s history.