VFW Post seeks new members
Think of Independence Day and the subsequent Revolutionary War. You probably conger up pictures of General Washington crossing the Delaware, or Valley Forge. What about the other wars in our history, the War of 1812, the Civil War? These wars were fought on our soil.
As our nation grew, so did our responsibility to protect freedom wherever it was threatened. Those are the foreign wars, the wars fought by Americans in strange countries with different customs.
From WWI and II, to Korea, to Vietnam, even the Gulf War, we know of the casualties, the deaths . . . but what of the survivors, the veterans of those foreign wars? Are they forgotten heroes?
To a large part, yes, according to Phil Caterina, Commander of Carson Valley Post 8583 Veterans of Foreign Wars. He reports that membership in the local post is at a record low with only 5 members attending meetings on a regular basis.
“Many of the objectives of the post are not being met, simply because there aren’t enough members to carry the load,” said Caterina
And eligible members are decreasing at an alarming rate, as 36,000 WWII veterans die every month.
Caterina also suspects that misconceptions may be the cause of the decreased interest and membership in VFW. Contrary to public opinion, veterans do not sit around to tell war stories and complain about losing veteran’s rights.
“Our mission is to bond together as a group, fight for veterans issues and do community service,” said Caterina.
Not only does the VFW strongly lobby for veteran’s rights on a national level, it is a community service organization. In the classic sense of neighbors taking care of neighbors, the VFW is a compassionate organization, formed out of war, which takes care of veterans.
The most familiar and visible program is the sale of Buddy Poppies to aid disabled vets. But the VFW and the Ladies Auxiliary also raise funds for needy and elderly veterans and their families, the VA Hospital in Reno, and programs and scholarships for area high schools and middle schools students.
“We also support Memorial Day and Veterans Day functions within the community, and provide color guards, and assist at flag ceremonies,” said Caterina.
The Ladies (wives, sisters, children and grandchildren of Veterans of Foreign Wars) have their own organization, but are just as actively involved in providing assistance volunteering time.
“We’re in the same position as the post,” said Genevieve West, incoming President of the Ladies Carson Valley Memorial Auxiliary. “We may have 30 members, but only 8 or so participate in the meetings.”
The community and veterans are in danger of losing these supportive organizations. Post 8583 will lose their charter if new members don’t step up to relieve the old guard. If that happens, the Ladies will have to fold as well.
“If you can give 18 hours a year of your time, please come and help us out,” said Caterina. “If you aren’t sure about joining, come to our next meeting on July 9 anyway. It will be an open house and you’ll be able to see the things we are trying to do to help this wonderful community.”
Caterina reports that hors d’oeuvres and ice tea will be served after the meeting, and spouses are welcome to attend. If you plan to attend, call 783-9853 to RSVP.
“Whatever your reason for not joining the post, or for not coming to meetings, please reconsider,” said Caterina. “We need you now. We are very close to disbanding. As we speak of patriotism on this Independence Day and we pull out our flags and fly them high, remember, your VFW needs you. We stand for patriotism, pride and community involvement. We fight for veterans’ issues at the national level. Don’t let a good thing die.”
VFW meetings are held the second Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. on the second floor of Sharkey’s. The Ladies Auxiliary meets at the same day and time in the Rib Room at Sharkey’s.
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