Here in the bowels of January I catch my breath before the next blast of winter is upon us! I use the term winter
loosely these days, since we only get ‘inches’ of rain not the snow which usually blesses us this time of the
Like the storms of winter, the storms of life dictate mood swings we are all destined to encounter. Those who served
in the U.S. military have had them up close and personal; in graphic magnitude few Americans can ever begin to fathom.
From the tragedy of daily survival in third-world countries, carnage of the battlefield, the destruction of people and their
cultures due to twisted ideology of ‘the few’; we’ve seen it all...the cruelty of mans’ greed for
power and control is mind boggling!
Yes the horrors of war linger…ever haunt…decades of solitude only dull dark memories which dwell deep within
our souls. Yet the pride of serving the noble causes upon which this great Democratic Republic was founded
never wavers…such resolve only grows stronger with age!
It all began with the Declaration of Independence then came the Articles of Confederation, and finally the Constitution
of the United States…bought and paid for on the American battlefield with the blood of our forefathers. Gettysburg,
Treaty of Versailles, VE Day, VJ Day the victory march goes on…
It seems another life time when we were called to serve our country…some volunteered others waited ‘Greetings’
from their Uncle Sam…all had a selective service number. To escape active duty one could simply join the ‘Reserves’,
and become weekend warriors while carrying on a normal civilian lifestyle…all served in some capacity.
Today we represent the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States of America (1.5 million strong). Many are
retired, some still active and standing in harms way; all with a resolve to protect our way of life from enemies foreign and
domestic… sworn to uphold and protect the Constitution and it’s freedoms we so dearly cherish.
America’s military is now an all volunteer armed force with Reserve and National Guard Units supplementing as a
well oiled machine on the battle field. The soldiers’ and family needs are the same but different…
In 1960 an E-1 made about $80.00 a month (no housing allowance available); today, with housing allowance, approximately $2,938.00.
New cars of yester-year sold for around $2-$6,000.00, today $10-$50,000.00 plus. We needed permission to get married,
today a family is often part of the package…as a Reserve or National Guard member you can count on it! Rent or
house payments…astronomical; two incomes a necessity…the point is, the struggle to make ends meet is the same,
just the times have changed!
Recently I began visiting local Clark Fork VFW Post members to get their views of the VFW as a National Organization,
Department, District, and Post in general. The most obvious issue voiced is the total disconnect to most of what happens
beyond the local Post level…where there is little to no understand of the bigger picture, misinformation and self-righteousness
abound! “They always want money; it was good enough for me when I was on active duty so let them do with-out too…no
I’m not contributing; I wanted camaraderie so if they don’t come, neither will I; it is always the same people
who do everything so I won’t be there; we are getting old we need younger blood to carry our standard; I’ll volunteer
as long as I don’t have to do anything; I don’t like meetings, I have better things to do with my life; I’ll
never be Commander because I don’t like politics; this is a volunteer organization so don’t burden me; I work
so I won’t join in until I have time to really get involved; the VFW image clouds my effectiveness as a religious leader;
I live out of state/immediate area, so I don’t count.” Whoa!!!
I wasn’t shocked by most of these statements (having heard them before) and felt little impact until I consolidated
the responses and arranged them for analysis. Now the question, are these feelings driven by frustration, resentment,
complacency or lack of interest? Perhaps it’s like we used to say in the Navy, “you can tell a happy sailor because
they ‘bitch’ a lot…if they stop ‘bitching’ watch out there is going to be trouble.” Either
way, so much malcontent is damaging to any organization which relies primarily on volunteers to meet its needs.
Cutting to the Chase…
The VFW mission is to “honor our dead by helping the living” through veterans’ service, community service,
national security and a strong national defense. How does this organization achieve the above and what is my part
in the larger picture?
Start by asking, do I read a newspaper; turn on the radio, TV, or “Google” the internet to get the latest
news? If the answer is yes, good, I’m keeping some-what informed on political issues; if the answer is no, why
not…oh, I elect someone to do that for me, I say! …so, how are those elected officials who I elect for multiple
years and don’t keep track of, doing for me these days??
The VFW also has elected leaders who carry ‘the colors’ into battle for the betterment of its members and
all veterans in general. Unlike government politicians, these people are elected for one year terms and are changed
annually. These leaders are the ones which interact with congressional politicians who, in turn, allocate funding and legislate
programs of which we veterans benefit!
The VFW National Line officers, especially the Commander-in-Chief, testify annually before Congress in behalf of Veterans’
issues…they also lobby Congressional members (particularly the members of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees)
through direct contact of paid staff on issues vital to veterans, i.e., Veterans Administration (VA) programs and funding.
Likewise, at the State (VFW Department) level, line officers and staff, host State legislatures during the VFW Idaho
Department Mid-Winter Conference (January) to relay the veterans’ needs and support expectations we wish them to addressed
during budget and legislation considerations at the annual legislative session (our wish list if you will).
The word entitlement has been in the news a lot lately. Definition: ENTITLEMENT – give a right to.
Since VA benefits, like Social Security and Medicare is not mandated by the U.S. Constitution it is therefore considered an
entitlement. But, you say, we were promised Veterans Benefits as a result of our military service! Yep, we were
promised and with that promise and $5.00 one can get a great cup of hot specialty foam at Starbucks! The point is our benefits
are entitlement programs which are part of a larger source, the Defense Budget; one segment of which is the Veterans Administration
which administers programs titled medical, education, etc. Entitlements are authorized in laws passed by Congress and
signed by the President. They may be added to and taken-away, through amendment and/or repeal, also at the will of Congress
and President. …we seem to be fighting that battle currently!
Membership is the VFW’s lifeline. Do to loss of membership and the absence of recruiting new members there
are two primary impacts:
1. The VFW’s ability to communicate the veterans needs with real time influence. Boasting a 1.5 million membership,
Congress takes notice of VFW’s request and actively considers them during budget and policy negations. Back when
our membership was 50-100 thousand, Congress gave the courtesy of listening but routinely dismissed many of the request as
non-essential due to the small base of influence.
2. Money! The VFW hirers’ lobbyist to keep current veterans’ issues in front of influential congressional
members. Without paid lobbyist VFW would not have been able to lead the charge in getting a new 21st Century GI Bill
enacted into law in 2008.
Recap: Through our numbers VFW wields considerable influence with Congress to promote veterans’ issues.
Part of the money received from each member’s annual dues, goes to fund this and other VFW Programs such as the Patriot’s
Pen Youth Essay contest, Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay contest, and National Citizenship Teacher of the Year. Not only
does your dues ensure a fair hearing on veterans needs by Congress, it also goes to promote patriotic essay contest for our
school children. With U.S. History and civic duty being marginalized in school text books these days, the VFW provides
an excellent opportunity for junior and senior high school students to research and articulate original thought essays based
on U.S. patriotic themes.
A Final Thought…
Each of us has complaints on how the system has failed to meet our needs exactly when or how
we think it should. But the next time you go to the VA Hospital or clinic for a routine visit, medication or surgery,
be thankful you don’t have to pay the big bucks those procedures or services actually cost.
Perhaps your on Active Duty and your dependants use Tricare; or, perhaps you are retired and live in rural America where
Tricare is your primary source of medical, who will go to bat to protect your benefit from the Congressional budget
ax…the VFW!! If you are young and have been blessed with good health, be rest assured your invincibility won’t
There is a point when life catches up, sometimes in a brutal and very expensive fashion…be grateful you belong
to the VFW, which is ‘watching your back’ and is looking out for your interest in this intense and ever-changing
world of politics!
And the winner is…
2009-2010 found Clark Fork Jr. Sr. High School, with an amazing 43% of the student body participate in VFW Patriot’s
Pen Youth Essay and Voice of Democracy Audio-essay programs:
Patriot’s Pen Youth Essay…theme: “When is the Right Time to Honor our Military Heroes?”
Fifteen students participated at the Post level with eight grade student Lyndsie Kiebert winning; second place winner was
Emma Fluckiger; with third place going to Autumn Wagoner.
Lyndsie Kiebert was sponsored by VFW Post 10320 as she competed and won District One and State honors. Lydnsie
went on to represent the Department of Idaho at the National competition where she finished 11th in the Nation!!
Voice of Democracy Audio-Essay…theme: “Does America Still Have Heroes?”
Forty-one students participated at the Post level with senior Bryce Bare winning; second place winner was sophomore Tyler
Henderson; with third place going to senior Shaina Gastafson.
Bryce Bare went on to take second at District One competition.
National Citizenship Teacher Award – Grades 6-8…Post Nominee: Mr. Purley Decker, Hope Elementary School
of Hope, Idaho.
CONGRATULATION TO ALL OUR WINNERS!
It is a privilege and honor to administer VFW programs which instill our Nation’s historical legacy in today’s
youth; and be a motivational encouragement to their growth in patriotism. Please go to the following web page to enjoy
the fruits of this year’s competition! http://onlyinclarkfork.com/
VFW Resources: There are several very good references to access and find out what is happening in the VFW; and,
what the organization is monitoring on the day to day basis:
1. Washington Weekly… web search http://www.VFW.org
(top of page)
click on News & Info; (left column) click on Washington Weekly; (Center of page) Heading Washington
Weekly: “Want to know what is happening with National Security, Veterans’ issues and Capitol Hill? Sign
up for VFW’s free Washington Weekly Newsletter and begin enjoying your free Capitol Hill updates.” Click
on keywords Washington Weekly and follow the directions to join!! This column also has a news article archive link,
by year, as far back as 2004!
2. Monthly - ‘VFW Magazine’…”snail mail’ to all, with membership in good standing.
3. Bi-Monthly - VFW ‘Check Point News Magazine’ (News from VFW’s Front Lines) Internet Address: http://www.vfwmagazine.org
or annual “snail mail” subscription $6.00.
Department of Idaho:
1. Monthly - Department of Idaho General Order…monthly update on ‘mission’ accomplishments, standings
and reminder of upcoming events. Publication received by all Post line Officers for dissemination to all at Post meetings.
2. Bi-Monthly - Idaho Veteran and Auxiliary News – Newspaper sent to all Department of Idaho members.
This publication reports on newsworthy events, with pictures, which have taken place at Post, Districts and the Department
3. Web Site http://www.vfwidaho.orgclick
on Department of Idaho to display, then on any of the top four bullet points to get current information, i.e., ‘Department’
will give you access to General Orders, By-laws, and Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P.), etc. Other excellent
links on this web page are: National Resource Directory…An online partnership for wounded, ill and injured service members,
Veterans, their families and those who support them, and, VetJobs. VetJobs is available to ALL members of the “United
States Military Family”. This includes Officer and Enlisted, Activity Duty, Transitioning Military, Reservist,
Veterans, Retirees, of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Merchant Marines, National Guard, Navy, NOAA, and Public
Health Service along with Trailing Spouses, Widows, Widowers & Dependents and DOD Civilians.
Each Post also has a Service Officer, as does Bonner County and the Department of Idaho. Each of these individuals
is equipped to assist you in finding answers to veteran related needs.
During the month of April we have three scheduled Post events:
April 8…monthly Post meeting at Post 10320 VFW
Hall, 415 W. 4th Ave, Clark Fork, Idaho…election of officers! 1800 Hrs!
April 10…Adopt-A-Highway cleanup of
State Hwy 200 MP 59 to 61. 0800.
April 24…carwash fundraiser at the Food and Beverage Store (The Hut), Clark
Fork, Idaho. Begins at 0900.
District One Activities
April 24…District Meeting at Sandpoint Post 2453 VFW Hall, 1325 Pine Street, Sandpoint, Idaho…election of
officers…State Command Bob Jones will be in attendance. Begins at 1000 hrs.
Department of Idaho
Dept of Idaho VFW Fund Raiser 2010…Raffle tickets $1 or 6 for $5
Drawing to be held at state convention, Idaho Falls, ID, June 11, 2010
Prizes: 1st Weatherby Vanguard
30-06 with walnut stock in carry case. 2nd Mossberg Silver Reserve 12 ga Shotgun, over and under in carry case.
3rd Ruger Blackhawk .41 cal pistol, 6 1/2 in. barrel, single action in carry case. 4th $500 gift card for Cabela’s.
ALL PROCEEDS SUPPORT OUR YOUTH ESSAY, VOICE OF DEMOCRACY AND TEACHERS OF THE YEAR PROGRAMS
Need not be present to
win…FFL to FFL dealer for delivery
For tickets contact Alan Roach (208)266-0146 or email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Long Term Planning
Department of Idaho Convention in Idaho Falls June 10-13, 2010. Info on registration will be in the April Gen Orders
and Department Newspaper.
VFW 111th National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana August 13-16, 2010. Information and registration is available
Homepage; scroll down left column and click on 111th VFW National Convention, then click on ‘online registration’
and follow the directions.
Our goal is fast, accurate, inexpensive communication. For those with email, information can be instantaneous and
without the expense of postage! If you would like to receive the newsletter by email please contact the Post and verify
your email address at email@example.com
Address will not be shared or used for any purpose other than the distribution of information directly related to the
policy and welfare of the VFW.
Epilog: Writing this newsletter has been quite an emotional rollercoaster! Interviews, research, information
processing…so many facts…caring so very much has encouraged me to pour my heart and soul into this document! It
grieves me to think perhaps a simple lapse in communication could drive anyone away from membership.
We have been through a lot, you and me. Although we may be from different services…even wars, we share the common
thread of the military fraternity and the belief ‘that no man or woman be left behind’!
A very wise shipmate once said to me, “Honored to Have Served - Blessed to Have Returned - Proud to Remember”!
I am honored, proud and truly blessed to call each of you my friend!!! Until next time I wish each one...fair
winds and following seas!!!
Your humble Post Commander,
Alert! Alert! Alert!!
Clark Fork VFW Post 10320 has a group of 16 persons whose annual membership has expired…some this year some last
and beyond! Please look at your card and see if the expiration date reads December 31, 2010; if so it is current!
If there is an earlier year, then your membership has expired!
As I said earlier in this newsletter it is critical that the VFW membership remain high in order to support National’s
efforts to maintain our benefits. Without your support it puts that mission at risk. I know times are tough in
this economy, but they will surely get a lot tougher if veteran benefits are
altered or eliminated!
Annual membership fee is $23.00. Checks or money orders should be made out to the VFW…I will accept cash
payment. Please send remittance to:
872 Cascade Creek Road,
Clark Fork, Idaho 83811
If you live in the Sandpoint, Hope or Clark Fork, Idaho or Heron, Montana areas, email or give me a call and I’ll
drop by to pick your payment up. Ph# (208)266-0146; email mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
I will also take care of the appropriate documents and submit them to National with your payment.
If you include your email address I will notify you as soon as I receive your correspondence!