VFW makes a big comeback, sets blood drive Oct. 24 | RecordCourier.com

VFW makes a big comeback, sets blood drive Oct. 24

by Nancy Hamlett

The goals of the Veterans of Foreign Wars are a capsulated version of patriotism. Ensure the national security through maximum military strength. Speed the rehabilitation of the nation’s disabled and needy veterans. Assist the widows, orphans and the dependents of disabled and needy veterans. And promote Americanism though education and constructive service to the communities in which we live.

It sounds like quite a task, but the members of Carson Valley Post 8583 Veterans of Foreign Wars insist that it is an honor.

The veterans meet for their monthly organizational meeting on the second Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. at Sharkey’s Nugget casino in Gardnerville. And if you think they spend the time swapping war stories, or complaining, think again.

“Our members are active in all aspects of the community,” said Phil Caterina, Post Commander. “Boy Scouts and sports, legislative issues and public service, we try to make a positive impact on the community.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Post 8583 was in a crisis situation. Membership was sinking, and active members attending meetings numbered 5 or less. The post was in danger of losing its national charter. Caterina and other members initiated a media blitz to try to save the post.

“We’re in better shape now,” said Caterina. “Our call to arms was answered. The slate of officers has been filled, and we have more members attending meetings and participating in our activities, but it is still important for more veterans to step forward. This is their organization. We need their input.”

Officers serving the post this year include Caterina as post commander, Don Howser-junior vice commander, Bob West-adjutant, Jean Raso-Chaplin, Dick Bonebrake-judge advocate and Leland Gefvert-quartermaster.

The Ladies Auxiliary, spouses and relatives of the veterans, is a separate organization, with separate membership requirements. But Caterina stressed that its goals and objectives are the same, and that they often work closely together on events and activities.

Ladies Auxiliary officers are Genevieve West-president, Mary Swerdfeger-senior vice president, Peggy Howard-junior vice president, Elaine Kruse-secretary/auditor, Arlene Gleich-treasurer pro tem, Jan Solberg-chaplain and Judy Dunn-Schmidt-conductress.

VFW relies on the sale of Buddy Poppies to supply aid to needy veterans and their families. This program, established in 1922, generates funds for the national veterans service program, relief for local veterans and their families and the VFW National Home. Dues are minimal, only $26 annual for first year members and $25 per year thereafter, leaving a large gap between dues and operating costs. To make up the difference Carson Valley Post 8583 submits cash register receipts to the Scolari’s Friendship Fund. The rest of their operating capital is realized through donations from individuals and other organizations.

The local VFW post is required to fulfill national standards every month, and to submit a written report summarizing the month’s activities to national headquarters. Caterina’s ultimate goal for the post is to check off every standard, every month.

“It won’t be difficult if everyone pitches in,” said Caterina. “With more manpower we can accomplish all of our tasks without requiring a commitment of more than a few hours per month from anyone.”

The VFW targets specific areas for attention. One of the most compassionate aspects of the post is giving aid to others. By visiting veterans in hospitals and nursing homes, running errands for senior veterans and their families, the members of the post ensure a better quality of life for veterans.

Probably the most recognized youth program of the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary is Voice of Democracy. The national audio essay contest provides more than $2.7 million in college scholarships every year.

A key element of VFW membership involvement is community service. As part of that goal, the post will be celebrating National Make a Difference Day with a blood drive and food drive.

“Blood supplies in the area are critically low, and the holidays are coming fast,” said Caterina. “For those who cannot give blood, but would like to make a difference, we will collect canned food and dry goods to donate to the City of Refuge, a safe home in the Carson Valley for pregnant women.”

The bloodmobile will be in the parking lot of Fitzhenry’s, 1383 Hwy 395 in Gardnerville on October 24, from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The food drive will run during the same hours, and at the same location.

Caterina suggests that you register now so that individual times can be scheduled. Appointments can be made by calling Dick Creley at 265-5897.

“We felt it was important to recognize National Make a Difference Day,” said Caterina. “But what we’ve learned by belonging to the VFW is that everyone can make a difference every day.”

For information about VFW, or the blood drive and food drive, call Caterina at 783-9853.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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