VFW, American Legion keep lifetimes of service going | CraigDailyPress.com

VFW, American Legion keep lifetimes of service going

Nate Waggenspack
VFW Post 4265 members (from left) Gilbert Meats, Mark Wick, David Walters, Edward Garcia, Jim Meineke and Raymond Otero were at the VFW clubhouse Sunday for Bingo. The Craig post is filled with men and women from the ladies auxiliary who serve all over Craig.
Nate Waggenspack

During their time in service, the men and women of the military do more for their home than most others do in a lifetime, so when veterans come home and choose to continue contributing to their communities on a more personal level, it’s worth taking notice.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars post 4265 and American Legion Post 62 in Craig are made up of men, and women in the Ladies’ Auxiliaries, doing just that. Be they Army, Navy or Marine or Coast Guard veterans, the men of the VFW and American Legion in Craig have not stopped serving since returning from wars long-finished.

“When we went into the service, they didn’t tell us, ‘You’re going into the military.’ They said, ‘You’re going into the service,’ and that’s exactly what it was,” said VFW Post Commander Mark Wick of the members’ time with their respective branches of the military. “It was about serving and that’s carried over into our civilian life since.”

Being in the military is about serving your country, but also about serving the individuals next to you daily, they said.

“The unity we learned in the military, trying to help each other survive, that’s what we brought back with us,” said Gilbert Meats.

As a result the organizations can’t get enough of helping out locally. Its main initiative is to assist veterans in any way possible, whether through welcoming them home or holding a color guard at their funeral, something Brian Baxter considers to be of extreme importance.

“I think the biggest and most important thing we do is in conjunction with the VFW, that’s providing an honor guard at veterans’ funerals,” Baxter said.

But their works also include helping veterans in their in their time of need or through the Buddy Poppy program, a veteran’s relief fund.

“Every meeting we get together and the question we ask is each other, is there a veteran in need?” said Raymond Otero. “Is there a veteran in distress, and if so, we find a way to help them”

VFW member Jim Meineke suffered a stroke in December and was out of commission for awhile while snow covered the ground. To help Meineke’s wife, other men of the VFW shoveled his driveway so she could get out and take care of the home’s day-to-day.

But their service is far from finished after taking care of veterans. VFW and American Legion work extensively with the youth and elderly of the community and are willing to lend a hand to just about any organization or individual asking for it.

They are part of a Patriot’s Pen essay contest at the middle school to help instill patriotism in the youth of the community. Both clubhouses are available to rent for dances, parties and other events throughout the year. They sponsor the Bad Dogs Youth Wrestling team, all with the simple goal of helping and hoping that attitude is passed along.

“These youngsters, if we can instill patriotism in our young people, then it will carry forward,” Wick said. “We want to invest in our future and theirs.”

American Legion sponsors high school students to go to Boys and Girls State each year, because teaching them about service and patriotism are important goals for the organization.

“Gaining patriotism, an understanding of government and promoting citizenship is critical,” Baxter said. “We want to promote those things so not everybody has to go to war.”

Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or nwaggenspack@craigdailypress.com.

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