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Blue Grass teen's non-profit for veterans earns her a national award

Abigail Johnson's organization educates veterans on how to use everyday technology. Her work is being recognized by the American Legion Auxiliary.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A junior student from Davenport North High School has earned a national award for her tech-driven service helping veterans.

16-year-old Abigail Johnson runs the Veterans Tech Support nonprofit organization, which teaches veterans how to use everyday technology. 

The monthly lessons range from basic phone and app usage to cybersecurity, video calling and more. The program was inspired by her father, a veteran who had his own struggles with technology.

"We're just blessed to have her be part of our organization and we're supporting her in every way she's asked," American Legion Post 711 1st Vice Commander Gary Berndt said. "We just hope for all the best in the future."

Johnson started the program in 2022 at Berndt's post in Blue Grass, Iowa. She has since expanded to Davenport, Walcott and Durant. The post's commander nominated her for the 2022-23 National Junior Award from the American Legion Auxiliary.

Johnson accepted the award on Aug. 28 at the Auxiliary's National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Sitting with a veteran who shared how being connected virtually with others helps them in dark times, and they want to expand that experience to others, is what Veteran's Tech Support is all about," Johnson said in her acceptance speech.

The award is simply just another accomplishment for her, however. 

"I didn't create Veteran's Tech Support to win any awards or help with any other organization's volunteer service hours — I simply saw a need and filled it," she said.

Johnson explained that her focus is to do more. 

"I am working with Iowa lawmakers on larger scale grants, seeking corporate donations and partnerships, and doing everything I possibly can to expand Veteran's Tech Support into a long-lasting, far-reaching organization," she said.

Johnson was also one of WQAD's nominees for the 2023 Jefferson Awards.   

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