FRATERNAL SPOTLIGHT: Veterans honor each other, America

This story is part of our Fraternal Spotlight, a feature designed to highlight the fraternal organizations in the Osceola County community. Organizations are chosen at random for interviews, in which we strive to share their history, mission and outreach with you, the reader. Look for this series each month.

REED CITY — Before Dave Bull passed away in 2008, he said each year he lived was one more than he thought he would live when he was fighting in the Korean War.

In honor of his service and for fellowship with other veterans, Bull joined the Reed City VFW post.

Phil Johnson, who now serves as the post’s quarter master, also joined at the same time as Dave, inspired by a “pretty good talk” Dave gave about the reasons to join the organization.

Today Dave’s wife, Pat, serves as the president of the Ladies Auxiliary, a group of women which began as a way for women connected to veterans — to support eachother and their veterans.

She recalls joining the group with other veteran’s wives in the 1970s because the women wanted to honor their husband’s service.

“We were proud of our husbands having served and to volunteer with this group seemed like a very good cause,” Bull said. “I’m honored to be a member and I’m proud of the service these guys offered. Just before my husband passed away — 60 years after his service — said he never thought he would live even five years (after his service).”

The VFW first began in 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded organizations locally to secure rights and benefits for their members after many arrived home wounded or sick.

After chapters of the group were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum around the country.

By 1915, membership grew to 5,000. By 1936, when the Reed City post was established, membership was almost 200,000, according to www.vfw.org. Since then, the VFW’s voice nationwide has been instrumental in advocating legislation honoring veterans and promoting pride in the United States of America.

Dedicated to promoting patriotism in the community, the VFW presents flags to new businesses, and school classrooms and host a “Voices of Democracy” student essay contest. The Reed City post has donated money to the boxes for soldiers program in Pam Bloom’s class at G.T. Norman Elementary and the Color Guard has participated in parades and performed funerals.

Nationally, the 2.1 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary contribute more than 11 million hours of volunteerism in the community and provide more than $3 million in college scholarships and savings bonds to students every year. Today, the Reed City VFW has around 190 members, 30 of whom are regularly involved.

The Reed City VFW hall, located at 129 E. Osceola Avenue, was housed in a two-story house in 1936, and was later renovated to include a bar and dining hall area.

Today, the group hosts reunions and events at the hall, which help raise funds for outreach. The VFW also hosts a bakeless bake sale and sells poppies crafted by disabled veterans. The ladies host an All-American breakfast every month, (for veterans free of charge), chicken barbecue the third Saturday and fish fry the first Friday of every month at the VFW hall.

When no events are scheduled, veterans gather with one another to “shoot the breeze” and play cards, which is one of Johnson’s favorite things about the organization.

“It’s to honor each other,”Johnson said. “I’ve been an officer since 1976, and being a member all these years tells you that I like it.”

Organizers encourage younger veterans from more recent wars such as the Iraq war or Desert Storm, to join the organization.

“We would like to see it pick up and we would like to accept new members. It’s a close-knit organization that we’re very proud of and we’d hate to see it disappear,” Bull said.

Anyone interested in membership or more information about the group can contact the post at 832-5102.

Reed City VFW Post and Ladies Auxiliary No. 2964

Established: 1936

Members: VFW: 190 registered, 30 active LA: 132 registered, 20 active

Community support: Voice of Democracy student scholarship contest, fund students to attend camp, sponsor Cubscout troops donate money for softball tournaments and disabled veterans as well as other opportunities as they arise.

Goal: To honor veterans and promote patriotism

More information:(231) 832-5102.