Pam Dudding-Burch Contributing writer
As the local VFW Post #4491 prepares to participate in another community function, they portray a unique insight into their booth raffle, claiming that, “Even a used chainsaw has much worth.” The Veterans of Foreign War holds a sacred place in many service persons’ hearts within the United States of America and also for many veterans throughout Craig County.
There are over 75 veterans’ names, male and female, on the VFW list which does not include all of the actual veterans-only the ones who have joined the Post in Craig County. Many went home to counties that rejected them.
“It was like that except for one little pocket of the country and that was Craig County,” Billy Lee, Post Commander of Craig Valley Post #4491 shared. “They have always been patriotic and when you went into the service you were still a hero to them.” He added, “Combat war connects you with comrades that are closer than some family, When you go through war together, it connects you in a way a lot of others have a difficult time understanding.”
Thousands of men and women throughout the United States of America, have served this country faithfully. Thousands came back home, many others did not have that same blessing. “We can never forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us!” exclaimed one veterans family member. “Our son came home but many of his friends did not and we experienced the pain our son suffered as he recalled horrific events.”
Lee shared that because of the tenacity of the VFW, the veterans have benefits they would have never received otherwise. “They were one of the first groups to fight for the pensions and the establishment of the V.A. Hospital,” Lee added. “We, as the local VFW, consider it our biggest mission to assist any veteran or families of veterans in helping them with any needs and guiding them through the process to get assistance from the V.A.”
Craig’s VFW Post #4491 Officers include; Billy Lee – Post Commander, Bruce Warf – Senior Vice Commander; Dennis White – Jr. Vice Commander; Bill Burleson – Quarter Master; Ken Looney – Chaplain; Drew Watson – Officer of the Day; Bodie Huffman – Advocate and Robert Elmore – Surgeon (visits veterans in the hospitals).
Therefore, the Local Craig County post continues its mission. On May 6, at the Prepper Festival in downtown New Castle, the VFW members will be having a raffle drawing; First place -$100 Gift Certificate from Sportsman Warehouse and second place is a used Stihl Chainsaw.
“It’s used but it still works!” exclaimed Paul Beaudoin, VFW member. “That chainsaw is like many of us Vets that are growing older… we are still going, but we may break down more often and need a little more oiling and repairs.”
Holding tightly to their motto of ‘leave no one behind,’ they continue their current vision to raise funds so they can also help to assist the younger veterans coming out of the war zones who need help.
“They come back with loss of limbs, disabilities, emotional suicide thoughts or other issues that need serious attention,” Beaudoin added. “We need to be there for them as we older veterans know what many of them are going through.” Beaudoin served several years as a Medic in the Navy, therefore, is understanding to the emotional and psychological as well as the physical challenges veterans face when returning from war.
“You think your high school friends will be your best buddies forever, but after you spend a year with someone in those war time situations, they become just like family,” Lee shared. “There is tie between combat veterans that is different.”
Lee has been a VFW member since 1992. “Our mission is to continue to be more involved in our community and continue to support our local veterans in whatever capacity we can,” Lee shared. And, supporting their community rings loud, as they honor their words.
Craig County’s local VFW Post #4491 was chartered October 8, 1945.
Craig Valley VFW Post #4491 continues to be faithful to its commitments. “It is important for us to work in our community,” Lee said.
They want the community to know that an electric scooter was donated to the VFW. “If a veteran has need of it, we would like to let them use it,” Stull said.
Post #4491 welcomes all new veterans as members. “We understand that in today’s economy, it takes both spouses to work a full-time job to keep the household going, therefore they have less time to be involved in groups,” Beaudoin said.
Membership in the VFW is restricted to any active or honorably discharged officer or enlisted person who is a citizen of the United States and who has served in its armed forces “in any foreign war, insurrection or expedition, which service shall be recognized by the authorization or the issuance of a military campaign medal.”
“The major part of our support comes from donations and dues,” Lee said.
veterans of all ages are welcome to join the local VFW. “We are trying to encourage the younger ones to join the VFW so they can help us to set up things their families would have need of,” Lee explained. Though words do not have to be said, their strong motto of ‘being there for one another’ speaks ever so loudly.
For information to join the local VFW, Craig County veterans may talk with any of its members, call Billy Lee at (540) 864-6169 or go to the website page at http://www.vfw.org.
In the last several months, because of the generosity of Craig’s citizens, the VFW for the first time has clean running water. “That orange water wasn’t good for anything except flushing!” one veteran said with a grin. The pipes were replaced and a new water system was installed.
Also, they now have air conditioning and heat. “We still have our trusty wood stove for backup!” they chimed.
Because of this, the VFW Hall is now available for rent to the public for special occasions, meetings and family get-togethers. There is a minimal charge of $75 (if they dispose of their trash) or $100 if the VFW is asked to take care of it.
Currently, there is bingo held every other Saturday hosted by the Fairground Association and the VFW hosts benefit dinners to raise funds to help fray the expenses of keeping the building in good condition and paying the bills.
Though not a priority, they would like to have a smaller meeting room added on to their building as heating and cooling the larger room can be expensive. The driveway is in need of immediate attention and eventually they would like to have a lighted VFW sign. “If someone has a tractor and could drag our driveway every few months, that would be a great help to us!” Beaudoin shared.
Everyone is encouraged to visit their booth at the Preppers Festival to buy a raffle ticket and help support the local veterans. One may also call Lee or contact any of the veterans to purchase tickets in advance.
The ‘used’ Stihl chainsaw seems to have more in common with the veterans than meets the eye. It may be used, but just like a Stihl being built to handle the ‘tougher’ jobs, so are our veterans who have served our country and our county. They handle the toughest job of war and self sacrifice.
Moore summed up many of the veterans heartfelt thoughts. “After I got out, I chose not to quit serving,” he said. “We’re not on active duty but we are all still serving.” And like a true battalion, the men of the Local VFW #4491 serve together, for one another and for their community. It seems they live the saying, “No one will be left behind on our watch!”