PATCHOGUE

Patchogue VFW recognized for service during pandemic

#StillServing

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The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization launched their #StillServing campaign at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Fast-forward to 2021, and the first post to be honored, worldwide, is none other than our local Patchogue VFW Post 2913.

Moving forward, the VFW will be honoring one notable post out of 4,000 displaying that they are still serving and active each month.

“This is a really big deal for us and we are humbled by it,” Cmdr. Dave Rogers said. “But we are just doing our mission, making sure no one else does more for veterans.”

In addition to the countless programs Post 2913 managed to maintain, including the Patriot’s Pen scholarship, care packages to vets overseas, helping vets pay bills and their Buddy Poppy program, the post is also uniquely active on their social media accounts and has been launching new programs to fit the new needs of local vets and the community.

New and expanded programs completed last year include a large coat drive outfitting over 100 veterans, running a soup kitchen out of the post, coffee and cooking with a veteran, a blood drive, free mammograms and collecting over 600 pounds of food and toiletries for local vets in need. During the pandemic, the post members have also brought meals to first responders and staff at Long Island State Veterans Home in Stony Brook. The post also continued Memorial Day, Veterans Day and 9/11 services.

“We are helping out more veterans than ever before,” Rogers added, explaining that pre-pandemic, the post would get about four to five calls a month and at the height were receiving that same amount every day. “Our members are very active in the community and are stepping up.”

For example, member Donna Zephrine volunteers twice a week to pack food for the food bank; Stacy Ann Castro focuses on helping women vets; and Adam Gallardo II conducts volunteer work at the Warrior Ranch in Calverton. Also, member John Davis was accepted to the VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship as a student at St. Joseph’s College who is now attending Harvard University with a published a book, “Combat to College.” He currently resides in Boston and will be a member traveling to Washington, D.C., to discuss and push legislature for veterans’ issues.

VFW post 2913 has 145 members with about 20 active.

“The post is doing a lot for the veterans as well as the community,” noted Zephrine, excited about the honor. “I really just wanted to give back to the community,” she added, explaining why she puts in the hours as well.

The post also organized a virtual chat with diverse veterans from all over the country with middle school students from Queens, during a time when programs had been shut down.

“Cmdr. Rogers was just amazing and was able to formulate such a diverse group of veterans. Our middle school students were in a remote setting during a pandemic; they shared their stories and it was just eye-opening,” said special education teacher Tracie Sullivan, overjoyed by the program and ready to continue more. “They never had this kind of exposure to a veteran before. It inspired them and gave them a tremendous connection.”

Rogers found out about the honor after a phone call from the National VFW and has since received a certificate in the mail. They will be the featured post throughout the month of January with lawn signs and a banner displayed at the post.

“It’s encouraging because it lets you know the VFW is paying attention,” he continued. “I am hoping this encourages other posts to continue to fight and step up.”

The members will be recognized for their efforts later today, Thursday, Jan. 7, at the post located on Edwards Street.

“I personally wanted to recognize the amazing efforts of VFW Post 2913. The post is such a valuable part of the Patchogue community,” added Brookhaven Town councilman Neil Foley ahead of the small celebration. “The great men and women of this post [are] helping many people get through this awful pandemic. Thank you for stepping up to the plate and giving back. God bless the veterans.”

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