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Thursday, April 14, 2011 03:20 pm

Honor soldiers by supporting your local VFW

The history of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, like its members, is a noble one. The earliest organization can be traced back to 1899 in Ohio, where veterans, deriving from the Spanish-American War (1898), banded together to create a common voice. They were an experienced and united group that would continue to fight, here at home, for basic service rights, fundamental compensation for the soldiers and their families’ sacrifices during the time of war. Essentially, veterans themselves had to create a secure organization founded upon the lack of communal and governmental support for its servicemen during and after military action. Today, however, there are hundreds of various organizations, each providing specific services for the individuals directly affected by America at war.
Although the VFW was created at the turn of the 20th century, by 1936 it had grown to 200,000 members and began to spread, albeit independently at first, from state to state. Currently the VFW has spread to every single state in the country, with multiple chapters in some locations. It has become more actively involved in the support of significant programs, such as the Wounded Warrior Program (WWP), that offer services and resources to wounded veterans and their families. In addition, one must recognize that the VFW’s history demonstrates two primary points: the VFW’s genesis and existence illustrates that veterans and their families have not been appropriately supported by their community, and its permanence conveys that organizations must exist to represent veterans and provide a safe foundation by which servicemen and their families can rely even while serving overseas. Upon completion of one’s service, the VFW also offers a common ground by which men and woman find individuals with similar experiences as well as feel the direct support of one’s community.
Currently, the VFW continues to demand better replacement aid, service compensation, educational benefits and improved health care for all service men and woman. Locally, the La Fore Lock VFW Post 755, named after La Fore Lock, a Springfield man who died in France during the last year of World War I, actively hosts dinners and sponsors fundraising events to raise money for soldiers’ families. In conjunction with the WWP, the VFW is hosting a fundraiser April 16 from 6-11 p.m. for the family of Joshua Powell, who died Sept. 21, 2010, due to severe head trauma incurred in Afghanistan. Over the last year this Post 755 has also raised more than 25,000 beanie babies to send overseas to troops as gifts to the children in war zones. Although one must have served overseas during a war to become a member, the VFW is open to the public for one primary reason: through the support of one’s local chapter, the community can actively assist its soldiers and their families through various channels and methods.
The U.S. has been at war for more than 10 years now. And ever  since America was acknowledged as a unified country, men and woman from every generation have been either directly or indirectly affected by war and soldiers’ sacrifices. America – city by city – must become engaged more actively in its support for servicemen during the time of war and after. The men and woman who courageously leave their families to fight for an ideal that every American embodies – freedom – deserve the unrelenting collaboration of its community. The families who directly bear the sacrifice of their loved ones must also feel the continued honor of their loss. We must never forget that we are currently at war and, through the support of veteran organizations, such as the VFW and WWP, soldiers and their families will know that they are deeply loved and cared for here at home.

Ashley Green is a Ph.D. candidate currently completing her degree in 20th century British and American literature from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Her research focuses on the combat experiece as expressed through literary texts.  She is currently employed at D’Arcy’s Pint and the VFW Post 755.

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