At the January 4th District 1 meeting, area students who participated in the Annual VFW Student Essay contest were recognized for their achievements. Plaques and cash awards were presented to the following students whose essays were judged to have been superior:
3rd Grade: Addison Stratman, Post 9417
4th Grade: Nadia Stine, Post 9417
5th Grade: Lily Guthrie, Post 7511
Patriot Pen: Mariana Jazmin-Martinez Post 2554
Voice of Democracy: Shadrach Strehle Post 921
I attended the Mid-Winter Conference in Yakima and was favorably impressed. The conference has been boiled down to one day with the banquet honoring the Voice of Democracy winners in the evening. There were no 30 minute breaks following each presenter. Everything was concise and punctual. A nice change from previous events.
I took 4 pages of notes so let me try to boil them down for this newsletter. In this column, I’ll give you a summary of some very special projects that need your Post’s monetary support.
First, the National Home can use your Post’s help. The Washington House needs a new roof. A suggestion was made that each Post contribute $25 to the project. Checks should be sent to Department with the notation that the funds are to be used for the roof.
Heroes in the Ballpark will be on July 11th. This is an annual event sponsored by Department to take 500 wounded warriors to a Tacoma Rainiers game. Brad Pieratt, who chairs the National Military Service committee, asked that each Post support 10 wounded warriors to attend the game at a cost to the Post of $100. May 1st is the deadline to get the checks to Department. Please make the checks payable to “VFW Heroes in the Ballpark”.
Another worthwhile project that needs monetary support is the Special Olympics. Gordon Huggins who attended our last District meeting is requesting that each Post consider a $25 donation. District 1 only has had two Posts to my knowledge who have supported this worthwhile cause.
Finally, the USO at SeaTac has expanded from its old space of 3,400 sq. feet to a new location of 7,000 sq. feet. The facility is the busiest USO in the nation with 10,000 military personnel using it monthly. They are in need of funds to purchase furniture and other items for the expanded space. I suggest you send your checks directly to the USO at SeaTac and not to the national organization.
Shadrack Strehle, an 11th grader from Snohomish High School shown above receiving his award, finished 5th in state competition in the Voice of Democracy contest. Shad was Post 921’s VOD winner as well as District 1’s winner. Of the 16 District winners from across the state, only 5 are awarded prizes at the banquet. Shad was accompanied by his mom Amber, and his grandparents Joe and Diane Sallee. Unfortunately, Shad’s father was on a business trip and unable to attend the award ceremony.
Addison Stratman was awarded a $75 check for placing 2nd in the state for 3rd graders entering the Youth Essay Contest. There are only 3 winners recognized in each grade level (3rd grade through 6th grade) so it was quite an accomplishment to place so high. Addison was sponsored by Gold Bar’s Post 9417.
One final note. The banquet to honor the kids is the highlight of my VFW year. If you can, plan on attending one in the future.
At the Department of Washington VFW Mid-Winter Convention, Kathy Miller was honored for her on-going efforts to promote American history, teach responsible citizenship, and promote democratic values. Her name will be forwarded to National VFW where Kathy will compete for national honors. Kathy is a vocal music teacher at Meadowdale Middle School, and she was sponsored by Post #8870. Kathy devotes countless hours to organizing and producing her school’s annual Veterans Day assemblies that are moving tributes and expressions of appreciation for all of those who have served in our nation’s armed forces. Local veterans are invited to the assemblies, which feature personal testimonials, student essays and poetry, visual displays, and original musical productions. Kathy is described by her supervisors as a positive role model for her students who has a passion for vocal music, and makes connections with her students. Student testimonials to her dedication to her profession include comments such as, “You have made a major impact on my life” and “because of you, I learned to sing from my heart”.
I made an observation to Fred Apgar who accompanied me to Mid-Winter that I was surprised at the number of service animals that were in attendance at the National convention in Louisville, KY including one by Bruce Crandall, Medal of Honor recipient. These animals are used to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD. No sooner than I had made the observation then a couple of service dogs made their appearance as we entered the convention center in Yakima. They were there with a nonprofit organization called Northwest Battle Buddies who supply service dogs at no charge to our fellow veterans suffering from PTSD. The cost to train one is $12,000. As you can see, the average veteran is unable to afford one so NW Battle Buddies is there to assist. These animals are not there just to be a family pet, they are there to assist qualified veterans suffering from PTSD and/or depression to deal with the obstacles that prevent them for living their daily lives at the fullest. If you would like additional information on the program, their website is northwestbattlebuddies.org and the phone is 360-601-9744.
I made a command decision after learning that the Alderwood Little League was having registration on April 20th, to move the District Meeting to April 5th. Some of you may wonder why not April 13th. However, being a CPA, that particular weekend is the busiest two days in the year for me so couldn’t schedule that date. I didn’t want to move the meeting later in the month as we have a District Convention scheduled for May 17th. Bottom line, April 5th was chosen by default. I know a number of you have previous commitments and for that I apologize. The real culprit in this debacle is the Boys and Girls Club who has known for 8 or 9 months that we had scheduled the facility on that particular date. I know that the schedule for next year is being reviewed and the District is trying to work around the Christmas Trees and Little League Registration. Hopefully, this is the end of that saga.
Just a reminder that the April 5th meeting is our annual Memorial Service for our fallen Comrades and Sisters. I would ask the Chaplain of each Post and Auxiliary to begin assembling a list of those individuals. Our District Chaplain, Jim Raymond, is one of those individuals who has a previous engagement and will be unable to attend the Memorial Service so I have asked Tom Darling, Department Chaplain, to fill in for Jim. Tom lives in Bellingham but graciously agreed to attend our meeting. There will be additional announcements and reminders, but a heads up for Post Commanders and Auxiliary Presidents to arrive at 11:00 AM for a walk-through of the ceremony.
I sent thank you cards to some of you who helped with the January District meeting, but I’m sure I left a lot of names off the list. For everyone who chipped in and carried tables and chairs, decorated the tables, introduced student and teacher winners, got food, cleaned up, and finally, put things away, I want to thank you.
Finally, I hope everyone has a great Valentine Day and I will see you at your Post meeting.
I have to say that Marty Spani could give a lesson on retaining members. When you review the stats on membership look at Post 1040’s retention percentage. It takes effort to reach out to unpaid Post members. We do what we can and sometimes it isn’t enough. That’s ok if the effort has been expended. Right now we only have two Posts, 1040 and 7511, with 100% membership. Even with 39 new members, we are over 100 members short of 100% in the District. We have a huge veteran population in Snohomish County that is largely untapped. However, lets first keep our current members by reaching out to them and welcoming them back into VFW.
There will be a Commanders Only Meeting on Feb. 21st at 6:00PM. I am trying to find a location in Snohomish for the event. This is a meeting to share ideas and see what we can do for each other.
For you older, or should I say, more experienced Commanders, you will recall receiving a thick packet of information in the mail from Department every month. Department is no longer mailing this information out but is posting it on line at www.vfwofwa.org under the “Links” tab. Please make a note to check it every week or so for updates. General Order #6 is posted in January and item 4 of the GO addresses the duties of the Trustees and the fact they cannot serve on any committees or as officers whose books and records are being audited by the Trustees. Please point out to your Trustees that their signatures (as well as the Post Commander’s) are certifying to the accuracy of the information contained therein.
The bonding company has reimbursed Post 2554 $70,000 of the approximately $92,000 embezzled by its former QM. Lessons to be learned—make sure you have an adequate bond for your Post and the Trustees and Post Commander are functioning as a check and balance on the QM activities. End of lecture.
Same time and place unless indicated below. See the listing from the links on left sidebar.
If you change the date or time of your meeting, please let both District and Department know of the change.