In the VFW, All-American status is designed to recognize outstanding units and is based on participation in VFW programs as well as membership gains. Only the top 25 percent of posts per …
In the VFW, All-American status is designed to recognize outstanding units and is based on participation in VFW programs as well as membership gains. Only the top 25 percent of posts per division, of which there are about 100, receive the award. Last year it wasn’t simple, and was the first time Post 2913 obtained the award in 25 years. But this year it seemed almost impossible, with a pandemic threatening the way the VFW usually serves the community and its veteran population.
Despite the odds, the local Patchogue chapter of the VFW managed a solid 116 percent membership with 147 members and not only participated in all required VFW programs, but also created and hosted many of their own.
“This is something we wanted to work towards,” said Dave Rogers of one of his goals after becoming commander of the post about two years ago. “It’s not just a report card for the post, but also recognition of all the hard work that we do.”
Programs run by the VFW include the Patriots Pen and Voice of Democracy scholarship participation, the buddy poppy program, and countless others created by the post itself, like their youth programs, which were streamlined online this year to make way for the new normal, as well as their program collecting shoes for the homeless. Currently, the members of the post are also trying to put together a running club, proving that they are constantly growing with dedicated members.
“It’s more than just validation; it shows that we have an active hardworking post and shows that we care about what the VFW is about,” Rogers added of the award. “We have a great group of members down at the post. To me, this shows us that we are a vibrant, strong post.”
However, he added that the recognition came with its challenges. The VFW year is basically from June to June; however, due to COVID-19, about four months of the year were spent in lockdown.
“We were still able to meet all the requirements,” he said. “That really shows the dedication we have to the organization.”
The post members have still been out in the public, with masks on their faces, taking care of vets, helping them find recourses and bringing them food.
“All this stuff was more important than any other year... We signed on for this and to take care of our veterans— we are going to continue that,” Rogers promised.
One of the post’s proudest lockdown-created programs is the virtual veterans in the classrooms, helped run by fairly new member and Marine, StaceyAnn Castro-Tapler. Launched in March, the program allows veterans to speak with students or create prerecorded interviews for children across Long Island to utilize as part of their curriculum, in partnership with school districts and in lieu of their usual visits to the local schools.
“The youth programs are exciting for kids who are stuck at home,” Castro-Tapler said of the program. “We host them weekly and try to have a diverse group of veterans—male, female and from every branch of service. The kids get really excited and engag[ed].”
Post quartermaster and past commander, George Egan, reiterated the honor, stating that current commander Rogers has worked especially hard this year.
“It’s really a big deal and an accomplishment,” he said, proud of his post’s service. “I didn’t think we would get it this year because of COVID, but everybody chipped in a little and a lot got done.”
For more information or to donate to the VFW, please contact Cmdr. Dave Rogers at Davefirstname.lastname@example.org or 631- 838-894.