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VFW focusing on help for local vets

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4595 has launched an initiative to re-energize the local post and increase direct assistance to local vets.

During a meeting on July 9, incoming Post Commander Geoff Hamill discussed his goals, foremost of which is increased participation in VFW activities. Following consultation with other members, Hamill announced some initiatives to increase meeting attendance.

Beginning in August, the post will provide food and refreshments at every monthly meeting. In addition, a member or guest speaker will provide a presentation on a military topic. Hamill said the plan is to make meetings more fun and interesting, in order to increase attendance.

According to the new commander, the primary purpose of increasing attendance is to provide ideas and manpower for other missions. During the July 9 meeting, Hamill and other members established direct assistance to local veterans as a top priority. A variety of direct assistance projects were discussed, including “maintenance days,” when VFW members would rally at a local vet’s home to perform repair projects. Post Quartermaster Barry Sharp proposed operation of a transportation van to take vets to medical appointments. Another idea discussed was an “alert roster” for local vets, similar to those used in military units, for vets to request emergency assistance.

Hamill said all active and inactive members residing in Pocahontas County should expect a letter this month with details of ongoing initiatives. The commander urged all members to “come back, have some fun and help us help vets.”

The VFW traces its roots back to 1899, when veterans of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service. Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them and they were left to care for themselves.

These veterans banded together and formed organizations that would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. The first chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania and the movement quickly gained momentum. By 1936, the VFW had almost 200,000 members.

Since then, the VFW has been instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, creating a GI bill for the 20th century, the development of the national cemetery system and the fight for compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange. In 2008, the VFW won a long-fought victory with the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st Century, giving expanded educational benefits to America’s combat veterans.

Post 4595 meets every second Wednesday. The next monthly meeting is scheduled for August 13 at 7 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in Marlinton. The meeting will be conducted in accordance with VFW protocol.

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