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Swingset"Community Service" is the term applied to the many deeds which VFW posts undertake to: improve their city, town or neighborhood; aid individual families or people; better recreational and educational opportunities for everyone; assist schools, churches, and other organizations. But the Community Service program goes far beyond this textbook definition. The time and energy that VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members donate to their communities is nothing short of an affirmation of their love and concern for the well-being of their fellow Americans and their country.

As the strength and influence of posts have grown since World War II, so too has the VFW's role in the community. This is because the majority of work for the betterment of communities goes on at the local level. As Past Commander-in-Chief Lyall Beggs declared, "No matter how many brilliant ideas the national officers concoct - no matter how hard they are willing to work - nothing happens until local units go into action."

To list even a small percentage of the Community Activity Projects accomplished by the VFW posts and their Auxiliaries would be impractical as well as impossible. Instead, here are just a few of the thousands of more recent projects that members have taken the time to report.

  • Post 1857, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, provided eighty students with nearly $80,000 in scholarships between the years of 1964 and 1979.
  • In 1980, Post 1326 contributed $18,000 to be used in providing two automatic sliding doors for students at the Jamestown, North Dakota School for Crippled Children.
  • Incoming Post Commander Anthony Power of Blairstown, New Jersey Post 10600 decided the post should involve itself in a community activity project. When Isabelle Dodd suggested helping to restore the Statue of Liberty, Commander Power said, "Let's get the whole town involved." A fund-raising ball was planned. Kids colored posters. The city's firemen offered their facilities and help while the businessmen had the tickets printed. Another veteran's organization hung the posters and furnished the prizes. In the end, the project raised over $6,000 to assist in the renovation of the Statue of Liberty.
  • McKenna-Frye Post 6626 and the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association banded together with volunteers from New York Telephone and members of the Castle Point VA Medical Center staff to inaugurate a program that provided bedside phones on which patients with spinal cord injuries could call home. The program, dubbed "PT PHONE HOME" (PT is the hospital abbreviation for patient), has been so successful that the Bell Telephone System is now researching the feasibility of installing voice-activated computers for patients with spinal cord injuries. The computer would not only dial the phones for patients, but would write letters and perform other activities without the assistance of the hospital staff.
  • Post 8586 of Perrysville, Ohio, raised $4,100 to provide lights for the Kettering-Mohican Area Medical Center's helicopter landing pad. The lights enabled the helicopter to land at the center after dark.

Obviously, community projects are as individual as the communities themselves. Many if not most VFW posts around the world have done at least one of the following:

  • provided special tutoring, plastic surgery, wheelchairs, and TVs for children with disabilities;
  • saved many lives by sponsoring blood, bone, and skin banks;
  • donated playgrounds, lighted athletic fields, swimming pools, clubhouses, recreational centers, and athletic funds to their schools and community;
  • hosted thousands of needy children and orphans at VFW Post Picnics, Christmas parties, and other special events;
  • coached thousands of aliens to help them become U.S. citizens;
  • aided National Guard units by providing them with training quarters and boosting their enlistment campaigns; given liberally to community chests, the Red Cross, and charity fund drives; provided new homes, clothing, and food for families stricken by fire, flood, or other disasters.

Overall, the VFW posts and Ladies Auxiliaries annually donate a staggering amount of time and money to the betterment of their communities. In a survey conducted in 1985, Community Activities Director Ray Price and Publications and Public Relations Director Wade LaDue found the figures "beyond comprehension." Very conservative estimates put the number of hours donated by the men and women of the VFW toward its Community Activity Program at in excess of 500 million hours each year. And in an average year, the worth of the VFW's community services is valued at more than $450 million.

NewscasterIn making these contributions to community welfare, the VFW often works with others within the community. Civic officials, businessmen's service clubs, women's groups, educators, the press, radio and television stations, and local leaders all help to make the VFW Community Service Program possible. And in turn, the Community Service Program ensures that the veteran's fight to make his "little corner of the world" a safer and better place in which to live will continue indefinitely.


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VFW 1998 . Created by Lynn - Last Updated 29 Dec 2001

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