VFW on verge of closing

Published 1:59 pm Thursday, June 2, 2016

Charlotte County’s Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 8902, stationed in Keysville, is in danger of shutting down for good.

“Our membership has been around about 30-32 members, but there are only about four or five of us that show up,” said Post 8902 Quartermaster Garland H. “Butch” Hamlett, who has been a member of the post since 2002. “If we don’t have at least five that come to a meeting, then we don’t have a quorum and we can’t have a meeting. It has been like way for the last couple of years. It is hard for us to do anything, like fundraiser events with only two or three people showing up. We can’t do the things to help veterans that we need to do.”

The post, which has been chartered since 1949, has come to a point of such little interest by veterans in the community that it “looks like we are going to have to surrender the charter,” according to Hamlett.

“The sad thing about it is in Charlotte County, there is probably maybe 50-60 veterans that have been in combat that could be a member of the VFW, but for whatever reason they choose not to join,” he said, noting that organization bylaws state that the group has to hold a monthly meeting where a quorum takes place.

In the past, the post has been a part of poppy drives that benefit disabled veterans. The organization holds a POW-MIA (prisoners of war-missing in action) program every September to make the community aware of what can happen to soldiers in active-duty.

While some may not know it, but they, too, may be eligible to join.

“Well, you have to have honorable discharge. You have to have served in a war zone and/or received a campaign medal, along with a few other things,” Hamlett said. “If people want to check their eligibility, they can go on www.vfw.org and they list the criteria.”

According to the VFW website, “If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you’re eligible to join our ranks.”

“It is just kind of sad,” Hamlett commented on the surrendering situation.

“It is an institution that is there to help veterans. Our national leaders stand up before Congress and speak about veterans issues and interests. We have a program called Teacher of the Year and we promote community service. There are many things we do to help promote and instill patriotism in the name of freedom, and love of country.”

For more information or to become a member of Post 8902, contact the post at (434) 736-0000 or Hamlett at (434) 568-6451.

“We have lived history. A lot of people just see it (history) on TV or the news they hear about it. But, we have actually lived it and it is truly sad to see that we have to most likely give up our post,” Hamlett said.

“I think veterans in the county that can join and haven’t need to ask themselves, ‘Why not join?’ and what valid reason could you possible give for not wanting to be an active participant in an organization that is working on your behalf.”