Pandemic curtails funds for VFW post's programs
July 2, 2020
The local Veterans of Foreign Wars, Wahkiakum Post 5297, operates in Cathlamet. We meet on the first Tuesday of every month at the Cathlamet Fire Hall, although our last 3 meetings were conducted by telephone conference call. Currently, there are 62 members in the Post. We have about 188 veterans listed in Wahkiakum County. We believe there are many more veterans living within Wahkiakum County, but have not contacted us, and we would like to hear from you.
As with most organizations, we have a hierarchy structure. We belong to District 16, which has a total of 9 posts in Southwest Washington. There are 797 members in the District. We then have the Washington State VFW or Department which has nearly 24,000 members. The VFW National Organization has 1,042,668 members and that is one of the main reasons the organization is so important. With over a million members, the VFW has a voice in Washington D.C. to help make things happen for all veterans.
As the nation’s oldest major war veterans organization, the VFW has an impeccable and longstanding record of service and stewardship. More than 4.5 million patriotic Americans, both members and non-members, entrust the VFW with financial contributions. Millions of volunteer hours donated by VFW members are used to help other veterans and their communities. Our mission is to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts, to serve our veterans and our communities, and to advocate on behalf of all veterans. Our vision is to ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great county.
Locally, our Post seeks donations to help local veterans in need, to donate to local causes, and make cash awards to local students. Last year we donated $1,050 to various local causes such as, Girl Scouts, National Veterans Children’s Home, Wahkiakum County Search and Rescue, Cowlitz Stand Down for Veterans, Heroes of the Ballpark (attended by hospitalized and disabled veterans), Honor Flight (for WWII, Korea, and Vietnam veterans), Northwest Battle Buddies (Service dogs for combat veterans), Veterans Homeless Fund, USO, Special Olympics, and VMS (Veterans and Military Support).
We are heavily involved with our local schools. We awarded about $1200 to winners of the Voice of the Democracy essay program for grades 9-12, Patriots Pen essay program for grades 6-8, and Youth Essay program for grades 3-5. Each year students are given patriotic themes to write about, the essays are evaluated, judged, and winners receive recognition and cash awards. All essay winners move up to District and State. The Voice of Democracy and Patriots Pen winners move up to National competition level, recognized and awarded cash awards. Last year we recognized and awarded a local teacher, Teacher of the Year and he won at the District and State levels!
We also educate our local youth about patriotism and respecting the flag. Prior to each Memorial Day Ceremony, we sponsor a middle school class to come out and plant American flags on veteran gravesites while teaching them about the importance of the special day. We participate each year in the Veterans Day Ceremony at each of our high schools and share our experiences with the students.
We facilitate working with veterans in accessing the Wahkiakum County Veterans Relief Fund. If a veteran contacts us and is in need of funds to help pay for utility bills, fuel, food (and personal items), rent, funeral assistance, prescription medicine, medical transportation, or the cost of building or purchasing required accommodations for handicap or aged veterans, we complete vouchers to access those county controlled funds. The county funds have limits and we have in the past helped with supplementing those funds from our Post account.
We help all veterans with navigating through the Veterans Administration to get their benefits and entitlements. We participate in ceremonies honoring our veterans and those that have fallen.
We are supported by our VFW Auxiliary Post, made up of our spouses and any family members. They help with fundraising, special events, and logistics.
Our primary fundraisers are donations from the public, our annual garage sale and year-round poppy distribution. This year, due to the coronavirus and with most of our members being in the high risk category, we have not yet been able to accomplish our poppy distribution or garage sale and may not be able to do so to the level we have done in the past, so we are encouraging your support by donating to VFW Wahkiakum Post 5297.
Please donate what you can by calling our Quartermaster, Justin Tawater, at 360-849-9216, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can mail your donations to Justin Tawater, 80 North Welcome Slough Road, Cathlamet, WA 98612. Your donations are very much needed, and they are tax deductible. If you have any questions about the VFW, please contact the Post Commander, Bill Tawater, at 360-849-4151 or email him at email@example.com.