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July 5, 2014

VFW looking for a few good men, women

EDMOND — Edmond’s VFW Post 4938 is seeking veterans, men and women who were deployed overseas to a combat zone, to join their organization.

VFW State Commander Ron Gimonda said the average age of the members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization is increasing.

 Edmond is no different. VFW Post 4938 Commander Bill Milam said Edmond’s Post 4938 has 120 members, but 20 years ago they had 146.

“In 1995 our numbers had dipped to 36 members, but we merged with a post that had 98 members at that time,” Milam said. “Most all of our members at this time are World War II veterans, and we have four members who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan.”

As the W.W. II veterans are aging out, Milam said there are not many veterans who have returned from their overseas deployment taking their place.

“A large number of those who have gone (to a combat zone) are reserve personnel,” Gimonda said. “After W.W. II, the Korean War and Vietnam through the Gulf War, no one was becoming eligible for membership. We haven’t had 100 percent membership of the prior year membership in the last 10 or 12 years.”

Gimonda said if the veterans from the last 10 to 15 years who are eligible to join would do so the membership would double in the state.

“It is difficult to recruit them. Maybe because they are younger they don’t understand the value. They get the benefits, but they don’t realize the value of the organizations that are helping them.”

Gimonda said that being a VFW member helps the veterans have the opportunity to volunteer and be productive.

Each Friday VFW members get together to share coffee, doughnuts and memories.

“We have Coffee Call from 8-10 a.m. on Fridays,” Milam said. “It is a good time to make friends and share stories.”

But the VFW is about more than taking a coffee break. It is about a commitment members made to their country as they joined the different armed forces and left their families to fight for the freedoms enjoyed by those left at home. That same commitment is now made to their community.

This Friday, VFW members placed flags in the flag sleeves throughout Edmond.

“Every Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, 9-11, Veterans Day and Pearl Harbor Day, members of the VFW Post begin at 6 a.m. putting out the flags. By 4 p.m. they are back collecting the flags until the next holiday.”

Milam said there are three routes. Many of the businesses are located downtown, but other businesses are along Second Street as far east as Coltrane also take advantage of the opportunity to display the nation’s colors.

The businesses are billed for the service, and Milam said some come and some go. Milam said the flag program is the organization’s largest fundraiser.

“We got a big boost when the Festival Market Place was established and the VFW was asked by the city to place 17 flags there,” Milam said.

Most of what the VFW members do is performed as a community service.

In addition to the flag service eight times a year, the VFW gives student scholarships, one with the potential of earning $40,000 on the national level.

“If we are notified we will also award Eagle Scouts with a certificate from the VFW,” Milam said.

Eagle Scouts have chosen to help the VFW in the past with projects to help them earn their Eagle Scout distinction and Milam said the organization is appreciative of whatever the Scouts have done.

“We have had Scouts paint the inside and outside of our building and replace a fence,” Milam said. “The fence needs to be sealed every other year and the west side of the building needs to be painted often because of the sun beating down on it.”

VFW Post 4938 also recognizes two ROTC students, one at Edmond North High School and the other at Oklahoma City’s John Marshall High School each year as well as one University of Central Oklahoma ROTC member is recognized with a $300 award.

“We host three or four dinners a year,” Milam said, “and on July 4 we cook hot dogs and hamburgers and give them away, but we do ask for a donation for help defray the costs.”

Milam said the membership also tries to help veterans having financial problems, but their help is limited due to limited financial resources.

Wal-Mart Super Center and the Tractor Supply Edmond have stepped up to help the veterans sell poppies twice a year for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

VFW members who are able also visit the Norman Veterans’ Center once a month where they donate puzzles as well as their time.

As an additional service to the community, a box sits next to the VFW Post 4938 door where old or tattered flags that need to be destroyed can be placed. Milam said the flags are destroyed the second Monday in October with the help of the Oak Cliff Fire Department.

The VFW Post 4938 building may be rented for $15 an hour or four hours for $50.

Membership dues are another way the organization helps fund its service projects. Membership is $40 a year and a lifetime membership is dependent on the age of the veteran.

“We would really like to build our VFW membership,” VFW member Earl Rodkey said. “Money from the memberships goes to help support our Post 4938 by paying the cost of insurance and utilities as well as helping fund the different things we do in the community.”

Post 4938 is at 16 E. Campbell St., across from the downtown post office.

Any businesses interested in taking part in the flag program may call Milam at 348-1020 for more information.

 

 

 

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