Craig VFW gathers for Veterans Day activities with two new members and an improvement post site |

Craig VFW gathers for Veterans Day activities with two new members and an improvement post site

In honor of Veterans Day on Friday, Nov. 11, several members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4265 and the American Legion Post 62 gathered in uniform Thursday, Nov. 10, to make an appearance at several Moffat County schools. 

The service members were entertained by the youngsters, said Mark Whick, the VFW quartermaster.

He explained that it meant a lot the students put time into learning military songs and performed for the group of veterans. One of the schools even had a trumpet player who played “Taps,” which is deeply meaningful because, in an active battle zone, it signified a time for the fighting to cease so soldiers could collect their fallen. 

While gathered after the school visits, VFW members who served in active battle zones and service members from the American Legion reflected on their time in the service and their time of service since. 

“We are a true community service organization who all happen to be veterans,” Whick said, adding that the group included members from the American Legion, who all took the same oath to serve and are now civilians serving in the community. 

“A veteran is a veteran,” said Ed Wilkinson, an American Legion member who’s also the Veterans Services officer for Moffat County. 

Wilkinson said there are around 800 veterans in Moffat County, and there are only two WWII veterans left in the area. Additionally, the Veterans Services Office can help any veteran, not just those with a combat ribbon, connect to health or benefit services.

“Look around at the average age of our members,” Wilkinson said. “We need younger blood.” 

Amid declining membership numbers, the Craig VFW is still welcoming new members while the organization stays active in the community and makes improvements to the local post, thanks to donations from local businesses.

The Craig VFW now has about 80 members, with the two newest — David Ethos and Jesse Larsen — recently joined. Both Ethos and Larsen are new to Craig in the last three years and served in Iraq. 

Whick said the VFW started with a lot more members, but they are conducting more military funeral honors these days than they are swearing in new members. VFW Post 4265 was originally chartered in July 1945, and the post almost went away two years ago because there weren’t enough members stepping up to take officer positions. 

“That’s why we want to keep getting out into the community,” said Amber Suits, one of the younger VFW members.

Suits has stepped into the commander’s role, making her the first female commander at this post.

“A lot of younger veterans say they don’t like how things are run,” Suits said. “And I ask them, ‘How is it going to change if you don’t join?’”

It takes 14 servicemembers to perform military funeral honors, so that’s one area where the VFW and American Legion work together to make it happen. 

The VFW shares its building use with other community groups and events. Suits said the post also helps with beer gardens at events, and she would like to see the VFW community barbecues happen again. 

The American Legion hosts bingo every Sunday and gives back thousands of dollars per year to community organizations with the proceeds. 

The VFW parking lot received some needed maintenance earlier in the fall with materials and labor donated. Whick said that the project was coordinated by Harvey Preston II and Randy Meyring from HP Striping. 

“That saved us a lot of grief,” said Whick, adding that over the years, the VFW has had donations of materials for improvements and has figured out the labor themselves, so it meant a lot to have HP Striping complete the project.

According to Whick, HP Striping filled in the seams, added a finish and even went as far as to do the striping, which included a big thank you in the VFW parking lot using red, white and blue paint.

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