A closer look at local Veterans organizations
by Areia Hathcock
Jul 03, 2013 | 1464 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Editors Note: As Americans gather together at barbecues and picnics tomorrow to celebrate the 237th anniversary of Independence Day in the United States, we are reminded that the freedom we are celebrating is because of the selfless acts of others who gave their time to protect and defend our country. Across the U.S. there are numerous veterans organizations who support wartime veterans and their families during, and after, their enlistments. These organizations also continuously support their communities by giving back. This is a look at the three local posts in Metropolis.

The American Legion Post 306 & Ladies Auxiliary

The American Legion (AL) was chartered by Congress 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization as a group of World War I veterans. The Legion’s focus is on veterans, service members and their communities. Nationally there are currently over 2.4 million members in over 14,000 worldwide posts.

Locally, the Metropolis American Legion Post has over 200 members from all over the country and is the largest veterans’ organization in Massac County. They provide honor guards for military funerals in the southern Illinois area, usually attending 35 to 40 funerals per year. The Legion also provides color guards for area parades and community activities upon request, such as the Massac County American Cancer Society Relay For Life.

Each Memorial Day and Veterans Day they place American flags on each veteran’s grave in the county and organize the memorial services for each holiday, along with the Ladies Auxiliary. They also sponsor local job fairs for veterans in search of employment.

The Ladies Auxiliary for the Legion is extremely active in Massac County. Their largest fundraiser for the year is their annual poppy drive around Memorial Day. Money raised from the drive goes directly to veterans in southern Illinois and is donated to the Department of Illinois American Legion, helping to fund the VA hospital in Marion.

The auxiliary’s longest and oldest program nationally is the Gifts to the Yanks program that has been in existence since World War II. The ladies drive each year to Carbondale to pick up Christmas gifts for residents of local nursing homes in Massac County.

Each summer, they sponsor one girl and boy to attend Girls State and Boys State camp at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. This year the auxiliary was able to sponsor three boys for the camp. The camp teaches government education to youth and provides citizenship training.

The legion is currently hosting a membership drive. They meet the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the post at 321 Market St. in Metropolis. For more information on the AL, contact Peggy Mitchell at 524-5484.

AMVETS Post 132 & Ladies Auxiliary

AMVETS was founded in December 1944 and was signed into Public Law 216 by President Harry S. Truman in 1947 as the first World War II organization to be chartered by Congress. Today, membership in the AMVETS is open to anyone who is or has honorably served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The local AMVETS Post 132 and their Ladies Auxiliary work together on all community projects, spokesperson Betty Short said. Throughout the year, the post collects items such as clothes, personal hygiene products and food for the veterans living in the Anna VA Retirement Home on fixed incomes. Each summer they also collect and buy fans and donate them to residents in the community that need a relief from the heat.

Their largest fundraiser event of the year is their annual fish fry in September for local veterans and their families. “It is free to veterans, but we take donations from the public and family members for our Toys for Kids campaign for Christmas. It is like our kick-off for that each year, “ Short said.

The Toys for Kids program is a community effort. The Post places donation boxes as several businesses in the county for the community to drop off gifts for children. They then collect the boxes and distribute the gifts right before Christmas at the Girl Scout House.

Each November, the post helps sponsor Groceries for Good with the Metropolis Planet. They pick up the donated food at area grocery stores, count it and distribute it to area food pantries in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The AMVET Post distributes a scholarship each year to at least one student in Massac County. The scholarships are part of a statewide scholarship fund. In 2012, they were able to award two scholarships to graduating seniors.

As a group effort, they also participate in military funerals in the area and honor/color guards for local parades with the AL.

The AMVETs meet the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Girl Scout House on the corner of Fifth and Seventh streets. For more information contact, Short at 638-8207.

VFW Post 3847

VFW, or Veterans of Foreign Wars, began after the 1898 Spanish American War and the Philipine Insurrection which ended in 1902. At that time there was not any medical care or veterans’ pension to care for them so the veterans worked together to care for themselves. Today there are over 1.9 million members of the VFW and its ladies’ auxiliary.

To be eligible for membership in the VFW, one must have have served on foreign soil during wartime. Because of the limited eligibility requirements, there are only five members of the local VFW Post 3847. Commander Charles Edwards says all are also members of the AL, and they work “hand in hand” with the Legion on many projects including military funerals.

Edwards says the group would love to have new members – especially younger ones with fresh ideas. “All I can offer them though is pride in themselves to join,” he said. Currently they, along with the AL, rely heavily on the Sons of the American Legion (SAL) for help when it is needed. “They (the SAL) are what keep’s us going down at the American Legion. Anything we have to do, they are there.” Members of the SAL are not veterans themselves but are descendants of veterans.

The Metropolis VFW Post meets the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the AL Post at 321 Market St. For more information, contact Edwards at 564-2248.

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