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    Soldiers and veterans serving in the VFW

    VFW Color Guard Salute

    Photo By Spc. Clevon Wright | Color guard members from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9473, render a salute to a...... read more read more



    Story by Pfc. Clevon Wright 

    367th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization (VFW) is a nonprofit group founded in 1899 composed of military service members and qualified veterans. Their mission is to serve the veterans, military, and community while nurturing camaraderie. They aim to ensure that all veterans are appreciated for their service and are recognized for the sacrifice they have made for the United States and its armed forces. The VFW of Columbus, Ohio is one of many locations in the United States. They offer many resources to their local veterans as well as promote awareness regarding war-associated illnesses, Prisoner of War awareness and many fundraisers for the community to engage in. The VFW is an establishment dedicated to helping veterans across the United States. It was founded when veterans of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection wanted to have an organization to care for veterans. In the aftermath of the wars, veterans were returning home to nothing. Several were wounded, whether it was physical or mental, and the government would not help them. The Veterans of Foreign Wars was established to ensure that veterans received the respect, rights, and care that they deserved for fighting for their country. The Veterans of Foreign Wars website states that the first chapters began in Ohio, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, before spreading nationwide. Today, over 120 years later, the VFW now has a membership of a million veterans and has thousands of posts worldwide.
    Service members in all branches and components that are part-time, like U.S. Army Reservists, are constantly a living representation of building, commanding or volunteering in VFW posts nearby. Giving your time and effort into a group of veterans and their community while serving goes a very long way. While different members of those posts are working their regular jobs, they find time out of busy schedules for volunteering. A particular unit in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, has a member doing both active-guard reserve duty (being a full-time reservist) and spending his spare time not at home, but at his local VFW volunteering as a member of the post color guard. This type of commitment shows how much contribution one has towards his or her community and veterans.
    “I do the color guard as part of my volunteer service,” said Sergeant First Class Joel Quebec, the training and operations NCO for the 367th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in Whitehall, Ohio. “Everywhere I’ve lived I have tried to do some kind of community service and the color guard gives me that opportunity to do that.” The VFW in general means a lot to service members and veterans in different ways. Some may be trying to cope with past experiences of war, others are wanting to engage into their community more with selfless service, or simply, they want to belong to a family of people who understand them. Whatever the reason might be, they do it for the veterans, service members and the community.
    “The VFW for me, is a place where I can meet other veterans who can relate to similar experiences,” said Quebec. “The strongest bonds I’ve ever made are with service members, first responders and martial artists and many of these overlap. Military friends are martial artist or first responders and cops are soldiers, medics and firefighters, etc. There is a place at the VFW for all of us,” said Quebec.
    Soldiers of all ranks and service branches are allowed in the VFW. Certain qualifications apply to see if one is eligible to join a post in their community based on military service, usually having been deployed to a combat zone.
    However, above just being a member, many are also volunteering and leading their VFW posts as commanders, auxiliary officials, event planners, etc. Some Reservists, who have to make sure work comes first before volunteering, are handling business in the military as a part-time member as well as working a regular job. All of this hard work and still becoming a constant presence in their VFW posts, takes a lot of coordination, time management and commitment.
    “I’m learning to run the organization from the ground up,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Kerry McAllen, the 318th Theater Public Affairs Support Element command sergeant major and commander of the VFW Day Post No. 7591. “It’s important that a person has time to learn and to grow to be able to assume the role as a commander and to be able to also branch out into other roles in the district and department level as well.”
    McAllen runs a few events for the VFW in collaboration with the community. She has tasked assignments like Memorial Day parades, ceremonial customs and courtesies as far as playing TAPS, or firing rifle salutes for deceased members. Her post, like Quebec’s post in Ohio, have a color guard. Her color guard also consists of not only full members but auxiliary and social members as well. VFW 7591 also has a veterans memorial in Madison, Wisconsin, one of many places where they go to reflect or honor members of the veterans or members of the VFW, explained McAllen. But to assume roles and put your hand up to become a leader, there’s a reason why someone chooses to do so.
    “No one else wanted to be the commander,” said McAllen. “However, the leadership that was there were all younger than I was, and wanted to nominate me as their commander. So I was flattered and accepted the challenge. I wanted to make the organization there better, so I did it and the leadership there did it,” said McAllen.
    Like for many others at the post, the VFW means something to them. There could be different ways or reasons it means something to someone there, but the bottom line is that people there support their community, service members and veterans. It’s a way to continue serving in a way that helps. VFW’s around the world have a voice and position in Congress to speak on matters or issues at hand. With that type of influence and power, they are able to make changes, request and idea moves that will improve the country and their post.
    “It’s a way to service and teach the community civic responsibility and Americanism,” said McAllen. “It's a way towards being a good citizen and good Samaritan to help the military community wherever we can. Who better to serve veterans and military members in your own community? The VFW,” she said.



    Date Taken: 08.15.2020
    Date Posted: 08.21.2020 15:21
    Story ID: 376538
    Location: WHITEHALL, OH, US 
    Hometown: WHITEHALL, OH, US

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