By Barry Dalton
While there are 48 lifetime members of VFW Post 2173 in Vandalia, there are currently only three active members. That’s something that Post 2173 hopes to change.
Post 2173’s active members are Commander Marty Nation, Larry Shaw and Mike Lowrance. They are currently reaching out to the community and surrounding areas and towns to boost active membership.
“Anyone who served overseas, they are welcome to come,” Nation said. “They don’t have to be from Vandalia.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars promotes patriotism, respects the diversity of opinion of its members and honors military service. A VFW post is not only a great place to network and meet with people of all ages who have served all over the world, but it’s also a local service organization.
Nation pointed out that although active membership is currently down, and that the group sold its former meeting hall to a local funeral home, the group remains active in the community by providing funds to support local nonprofit groups.
“We got a lot of money to give away, that’s why we kept our charter,’ Nation said. “We earned it, and we want to give it to worthy causes.”
Nonprofits may send a representative to one of the VFW’s monthly meetings to apply for a donation. The group meets on the third Wednesday every month at the Vandalia Area Fairgrounds at 7:30 p.m.
Recently, the VFW donated $2,000 to the local cemetery and $500 apiece to the fire departments in Vandalia and Farber.
Active members of VFW Post 2173 who come to the meetings will have a say on how money is donated to local nonprofits.
“Their voices will be heard,” Nation said.
Even though the Vandalia post no longer has its own meeting hall, it does have a connection to the building where it now meets at the Vandalia Area Fairgrounds. Nation helped move the main building from the Vandalia school grounds to the fairgrounds.
“I moved that school building that came out here from the high school,” said Nation, who explained that he had read in the paper that the school was looking for someone to tear the building down. “I said, ‘I tell you what, you give it to me, and it’ll be out at the fairgrounds.’”
The VFW is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization that traces its roots back to 1899 after the Spanish-American War (1898) and during the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902). National membership stands at more than 1.5 million.
Lifetime members enjoy a number of special benefits as outlined at vfw.org. The one-time cost is good for anywhere in the country where a local VFW post is located.