The Last Word

In March 1969, I got off an airplane in Yakima after 18 months in Vietnam and called my Dad to pick me up at the airport.  To kill the 10 or 15 minutes of time before my Dad could get to the airport (Yakima was a much smaller town in 1969); I dropped by the airport bar to grab a beer.  Like any small town, it just so happened I knew the bar maid since I had taken her to her Prom when she was a sophomore at another school.  She took a look at the ribbons I wore on my Class “A”s and commented it looked like I had “been around”.  She then proceeded to ignore me and charged me for my beer.  I realized I was back in the “world” and most of the “world” didn’t particularly like me or any Vietnam veterans.  Welcome home.  I tied to pass it off,  but since I had already received  a few ugly looks on the trip up from the Oakland Army Base where I had been discharged, I figured I’d better move on to civilian life ex post facto.  A few months later I ran into a couple of my high school buddies who had been “in country” and we wandered over to the local VFW Post where we knew the beer was cheap and figured we would join.  However, we had busted into the “an old timers bar” and that was somewhat akin into stumbling into a minefield wearing snowshoes and the chill in the air required long-johns.  We eventually were accepted by the Post but wandered away as we moved on, got our college degrees, married, and raised families.  With time, we circled back and became involved in VFW activities.  So when I hear that VFW isn’t relevant to the generation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, there is a bit of a familiar ring to it.  However, we need to reach out to those younger veterans as brothers and sisters because we know that they have “walked the walk” and paid their dues to become eligible as VFW comrades.  And we tip our hats to them because we know they put their asses on the line just as we did as did those who came before us and for that, we welcome them as equals.  We, as a Post and as an organization, will do all that we can to protect the benefits they have earned (operative word “earned”) and look out for their interests as they transition to civilian life by making sure that Congress and the VA keeps their commitments to this generation of veterans.  All of the members in our Post and every Post with which I am familiar, welcome the younger vets.  So let me reach out on behalf of all of our members to welcome our younger veterans by giving the traditional greeting between Vietnam Veterans – “Welcome Home”.

Post Passes Inspection with Flying Colors

The annual inspection was performed by District 1 inspector Elmer Johnson prior to the November 11th meeting.  The Post past the inspection as it has in the past years due to the meticulous accounting and attention to details by our (former—more later) Quartermaster Elizabeth Mather.  However, the inspection wasn’t without some stress.  While Elizabeth delivered the records to me to bring to the meeting, she fell and slashed her shin open, the cut requiring 36 stiches.  She’s on the mend and hopefully will have no lasting effects from the injury.

Post Members Make Impact in the Local Schools

Twenty members of our Post participated in the Veterans Day ceremonies at schools in the Edmonds and Mukilteo School districts.  Rock Roth organized the requests from the various schools and matched members with the various programs taking place.  I have included Rock’s “after-action sitrep” that he sent to the Post members who volunteered their time:


“BZ” is a Navy term for job well done.Each of you deserves a “BZ” for your participation in the Veterans Day presentations and assemblies at local schools.We have received nothing be accolades from teachers and staff but most importantly students.

I have been involved in these presentations for our Post for the last few years both as coordinator and presenter.During that time, I have witnessed a slow but steady transformation in school (and student) attitude.I strongly believe we are seeing a rebirth in the Edmonds, Lynnwood, and Mukilteo area of patriotism in our schools – faculty and students.The Veterans Day Assemblies in which I personally participated were extremely well organized and from my perspective right on target.The vast majority of the students were respectful, attentive, and courteous which reflects well on the faculty.I also believe we were able to ‘connect’ with students and accurately explain (1) the true meaning of Veterans Day, (2) what a Veteran is,(3) why a Veteran ‘elects’ to serve, and (4) some of the more salient challenges faced by a Veteran in and following military service – not an easy task!

Each school coordinator specifically requested that we return next year and participate in their Veterans Day Program.Many also indicated a desire to use our speaker’s bureau at the selected times during the school year.I will be requesting volunteers.

I have to add that the participating Post members got as much out of the presentations as did the kids.  Please consider in participating next year.

QM Mather Resigns—Health Issues

In what can only be called “bad news” on all fronts, Elizabeth tendered her resignation due to health issues.  Elizabeth will be sorely missed but she has promised to assist Tom Hallums, our new QM, in his duties.  Elizabeth has been fighting lingering health issues for several years and gave the staff officers’ a heads up last year to begin looking for a new Quartermaster.  However, the staff (that would the Commander in particular) more or less put it on the back burner as everyone understood Elizabeth was excellent in her duties.    The number of “White Hats” she has received is testament to that fact and the last Post inspection simply reaffirms that assessment.  At the last meeting, her resignation was accepted and Tom was nominated and elected.  As Tom was the Officer of the Day, his replacement will be Jim Collins who has served in that roll in the past.

Buddy Poppy Collections a Success

Bob Crawford did an excellent job in organizing the Veterans Day Buddy Poppy fundraised.  A little over $10,000 was raised during the 2 day fundraiser.  Like speaking in schools, the Post members who participated enjoy the interaction with the community who are appreciative of our service.  It’s not work, it’s fun.  So you folks who are always “busy”, take note.

VOD and Patriots Pen Contest

We had great participation in our Voice of Democracy and Patriots Pen contest.  For the first time this year, we also had a number of entries from the elementary grades as well.  Rock Roth and Fred Apgar have honchoed the contests and determined the winners.

As in the past two years Katarina Nguyen is the winner of the VOD contest.  Katarina is a senior at Edmonds-Woodway high school.  The Patriots Pen winner is Gunnar Brent from Maplewood PCEP and the Youth Essay winner is Isabella Harris from Mukilteo Elementary.  We have invited the winners to our December Post meeting.

Our entries have been submitted to District 1 for competition and we will learn who won at the District meeting in January.

The Price of a VFW Membership

Membership is critical to the life of any organization.  Membership in the VFW isn’t like a membership in the Rotary or the Lions.  I recently received my alumni newsletter from the 11th Armored Cavalry’s Veterans of Vietnam and Cambodia.  Like every other veterans’ organization, they, too, are seeking new members although their pool of potential eligible members is much smaller than VFW’s.  However, they made an interesting statement in seeking membership.  They said something to the effect that the “the price you pay for a membership isn’t that expensive compared to the price you paid to become eligible for membership”.  Obviously, that is equally true for your VFW membership.  So if you haven’t paid your dues, just remember that the dues you already paid where much, much more expensive.  And for you continuous members, seriously consider a life membership.  It will be cheaper in the long run.

The Ladies Auxiliary Corner—Valerie Ehlers, President

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Unfortunately, we did not receive a report on the finding of a venue for the Christmas Luncheon before the November meeting, so everyone has already scheduled their time elsewhere and there is no-one left to attend the luncheon. Therefore, I hope whoever is President next year will be able to have one for you.

Our December meeting will be back at the Edmonds Senior Center on December 9th. Remember they are serving lunch at 11:30 a.m. now and we start our meeting when we are finished eating. I’m looking forward to seeing you there. Until next time. . . this is Valerie,  your Ladies Auxiliary President.

Post Performs Memorial Service for Mary Justason, Post’s 1st QM

A standing room only crowd attended the memorial service for Mary at Post’s 921 meeting in Snohomish.  Les Abel, Tom Hallums, Dexter Miller, Fred Apgar, and Jim Traner performed the memorial service at the request of the family.  Mary was a founding member of the Post and was a long time member of 921’s Auxiliary after moving to the Snohomish area many years ago.  Members of Posts 921, 1040, and 1561 also attended the ceremony.  As you can see from the photo, Mary certainly had an impact on VFW and her local community.

Post Performs Memorial Service for Mary Justason, Post’s 1st QM