Sr. Vice Report,
On January 20, 2017 we witnessed the legal transfer of power and responsibility from President Obama to President Trump. In my opinion the absolute highlight of the whole ceremony was the humble, reverent and honest rendition of our National Anthem by Miss Jackie Evancho. She sang the song the way that it was written, from her heart and infused with respect for her country. Unlike many performers she did not try to make the moment “about her”, but rather of a genuine love for her country. I for one applaud this gracious and courageous young lady. Please join me in wishing the New Administration the best of luck in guiding our great nation through the next 4 years.
The VFW has partnered with Sports Clips franchises in support of “Help a Hero” scholarship program. Sports Clips donated over 3 million dollars for this worthy cause, supporting nearly 600 veterans with higher education goals. I would ask that when you need a haircut, stop in and support their wonderful program. They are committed to assisting Veteran causes and we need all of the help we can get from corporate America. I urge you to visit VFW.org and review all of our corporate sponsors. We have some dynamic leaders in many of our corporate America assets. Please support these fine companies who are dedicated to assisting Veterans causes.
The VFW National leadership has been lobbying the Department of Defense for several years to allow all honorably discharged veterans, regardless of their length of service, access to online use of Military Exchange facilities. The DoD just authorized “Online Shopping for Vets”: On Friday January 13, 2017 the Department of Defense announced that beginning November 11, 2017, all honorably discharged veterans will be granted online shopping privileges though the online military exchange. Veterans will now have access to all merchandise except for uniforms, alcohol and tobacco products. To read more about the program click here: https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Releases.
Commander Jack Hawley has worked tirelessly throughout the State to bring us to goal with getting new and reinstated members. As has been stated in many formats over the years we need to boost our membership back to viable levels. Last year we mourned the loss of 258 VFW members just in Montana and we lost several hundred members because they chose to not renew their membership. As former Commander In Chief Richard Eubanks pointed out “The VFW is the gun and the members are the ammunition, and you don’t want to run out of ammo during the battle”. With your help we will achieve all of our recruiting goals if we all work together. Please indulge me as I visit a topic that has been discussed at various levels of leadership throughout this fine organization and needs to be addressed here. Choices – our lives are one continuous choice from getting up, to what we eat, our recreational outlets, etc. Once upon a time we all chose to serve our Nation as part of the Military (maybe the choice was being drafted or perhaps court ordered) but we joined. Most of us chose to do our jobs well and many returned to civilian life and prospered. Joining the VFW and/or other Veteran’s service organizations was a choice as well. Why did you join the VFW? Was it just to say you belong to the greatest combat organization in the World or did you join for what it stands for? Did you choose to join to become a statistic or to become involved in veteran support roles? Yes the number of members we have does give us a significant block of representation when it comes to elected local, State or National leaders, but is that the only thing that is important? In March we will be nominating members for elected and appointed positions within our Post leadership categories along with various District officers this spring and for State positions in June. If you are a member in good standing you are qualified to become an Officer. We know that everyone leads busy lives, but is it possible that you could choose to give some of your time to your home post or other levels of leadership? You may not be able to attend every Post meeting or function, but you can choose how much you want to participate and what you are able to do. If we are doing something that interests you, please know this — that you are welcome to be a part of this project. None of us will turn down a volunteer who wants to help. Conversely, do you have an idea for a project that would benefit your post or the veterans that we serve? Perhaps you have some recruiting ideas that you could share with us. We have over 7000 VFW members in Montana, which represents a huge number of individuals who have some great ideas – we just need your input. What about any volunteer work that you do in the community? Please share that information with us too. Last year the following information was gathered from various reporting sources, and I’m sure that it is only the tip of the iceberg. 8.6 million hours contributed by VFW members serving Veteran’s needs, $49.8 million either in donated funds or in-kind donations supporting VFW service projects or perhaps the nearly 67,000 favorable VA claims filed on behalf of VFW members. I am asking each of you to make the choice of getting involved with your VFW organization as much as time permits. You will never know if once you are involved where that will lead you and how much fun you can have in getting together with your comrades and friends. We all have something in common; we chose to join the greatest military veterans’ organization in the world. Help us to be more successful. Help us to recruit new members. We are less than 80 new or reinstated members from being 100%. Please choose to help us to achieve our goals and to help serve you.
As we move forward with our lives, please embrace the change in our elected leaders, both at State and National levels, but continue to hold them accountable… after all you are the employer. Use the resources available to you to interact with those officials. Sign up for Action Corps and don’t be afraid to write letters to our elected representatives expressing your appreciation for a good job or your displeasure if that is how it applies. Please keep our deployed troops in your prayers. God bless you and God bless America.
Chuck Carroll, State Sr. Vice Commander