The Veterans of Foreign Wars post 12149 was formed and brought to life Thursday evening at the United Way of Effingham County service center.
And VFW and United Way officials said having the VFW set up shop at the United Way makes sense.
The post is the first new one in two years in the state.
“Comrades, your success or failure will depend entirely on the wisdom and the energy with which you administer the affairs of your post,” VFW commander Al Lipphardt told the new members.
Members range in age from 28 to 94, Lipphardt noted, “men who have had a great variety of military experiences in many theaters of war. Give due consideration to the opinions of all comrades.”
As VFW members, they will advocate on behalf of veterans for their rights and on issues that pertain to them.
“We’re here for each other,” Lipphardt said.
VFW state inspector general Rick Elder said he met Julie Dickey, the assistant director of the United Way of Effingham County, and they started talking about how the VFW and United Way could help each other. The VFW can help point veterans to the services they need, particularly as more veterans return from combat suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It’s a good marriage,” Elder said.
Lipphardt said the family members understand the hardships a combat or overseas deployment places on soldiers, and soldiers understand the hardships placed on the families left behind.
“As my wife of 48 years likes to say, when I was deployed, she too was serving,” he said.
The new post swore in 49 members, and Elder expects the membership to hit 100 soon as Effingham’s veteran population continues to grow. There are 800,000 veterans in the state — with 108,000 of them women — and there are about 350,000 veterans who are eligible for VFW membership.
“When you go to a VFW meeting, a VFW post is where warriors meet and heroes gather,” Lipphardt said. “We may have furniture disease, we may not been in as good a shape as we once were, but when we look in the mirror, that warrior is still there. We operate by a warrior ethos — we always place the mission first. We never quit. We never accept defeat. And we never leave a comrade behind. I’m proud to be here, and I’m proud to be among you, because you inspire me and hopefully, you inspire each other.”