VFW bids farewell to comrades

Published 6:32 pm Monday, January 21, 2008

By By Lee “Lavan” Martin
These are trying times for veteran organizations. Let me coin an old phrase from King Arthur, "the old order changeth, giving room for the new." But, where is the new? Membership in veteran organizations these days consist mainly of World War II, Korean or Vietnam veterans. This is what baffles veterans of these war eras.
Atmore Area VFW Post 7016, Veterans of Foreign Wars, bade farewell to five devoted comrades in 2007, James G. Ross, Robert L. McGriff, Charles W. Wardrop, Chester Edwards, and Jesse W. English. While these five comrades will be sorely missed, we must remember and appreciate their sacrifice, devotion and dedication they gave our beloved country and to the veteran organizations they supported. May their souls rest in peace.
The loss of one veteran is a huge impact on any VFW Post, but the loss of five in one year is even greater. We all know or should know that nationwide, we're losing better than 1,500 WWII veterans daily. Who's taking their place in veteran organizations? Some Korean and Vietnam War Veterans and a sprinkling few from recent wars are stepping to the plate, but many are not.
Veteran organizations exist to serve veterans, their spouses and children and to fight for veteran benefit entitlements. The more they have in numbers, the better "powers that be" listen. Ask yourself, would we have veteran homes, clinics and hospitals were it not for veterans constantly prodding local, state and federal politicians? Veterans in large numbers are a powerful instrument in electing and persuading politicians at all levels.
Veterans of WWII endured considerable hardships and came home to only token benefits. When they organized in the '40s, politicians took notice because many of them were veterans. Today there's only a sprinkling of veterans in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress, and these few seem to care less and less about veterans. It's now up to veteran organizations to educate our legislatures and congressional delegates on veteran needs and benefits.
Our veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have different and more enhanced needs than WWII veterans. WWII was a different war, and the whole mood of the country was different. Our recent and current war veterans have different needs, not only physically and medically, but financially to care for themselves and their families. Veteran organizations cannot meet these needs, but they can sure "carry a big stick."
So where are these new veterans who could join but don't veteran organizations. They're everywhere. They're in law enforcement, fire protection, teachers, the one bagging your groceries; they're in administration, management and professional positions; they're male; they're female. Yes, they're everywhere.
If you're a war veteran and reading this article, we need you in the VFW. If you're a family member or a friend, pass the word to a war veteran and encourage him or her to join the VFW. It's not mandatory that members attend every meeting or participate in every function. It's having veterans in our numbers and knowing that they are available when needed. Our modest dues of $35 annually will put veterans in touch with veteran comrades who care about veterans and want to share comradeship with other veterans. Our VFW Post facility was built and is maintained for war veterans and your spouses.
The Atmore Area VFW Post is located in Atmore at 206 W. Ashley St., just one block from Trammel Street. It's a memorial post where we hang photographs of veterans and display military paraphernalia representing the military services and veterans. Come see us, and PLEASE join us. We meet monthly on the first Monday of the month at 7 p.m.
For more information or if you have questions or if we can be of assistance, please call Commander Lee "Lavan" Martin at 368-8160, Senior Vice Commander Byard Swift at 368-3742 (home) 229-2299 (Cell) or Junior Vice Commander Joe Wright at 327-6333.

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