RINCON — As the commander of VFW Post 12149, former soldier Cleveland Williams has embarked on a new mission.
“My goal is to make this the best post in the state,” Williams said Saturday morning while leading a membership drive at Tractor Supply Company. “That’s what we are going to be.”
Post 12149 started nearly six years ago with 49 members. The diverse group currently has 65.
“The more members we can get, the better we are,” Williams said.
With 1.6 million-plus VFW and Auxiliary members in more than 6,000 posts around the world, the VFW provides vital assistance and support for America’s service members, veterans and their families. The organization has been instrumental in virtually every significant piece of veterans’ legislation passed in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Since 2004, the VFW has awarded $11.9 million in assistance to military families to cover basic needs. It has also awarded $7.2 million in scholarships to veterans since 2014 and recovered $9 billion is disability compensation in fiscal year 2019.
Post 12149 Junior Vice Commander Peter Johnson said the benefits of VFW membership aren’t just financial.
“It’s the camaraderie,” Johnson and Williams said in unison.
“And helping people,” Williams continued. “I think that’s special.”
Post 12149 meets the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the United Way Service Center, 711 Zitterour Drive, Rincon.
“Anywhere between, I would say, 16 and 20 members come to a meeting, which is good, I think,” Post 12149 Quartermaster Leonard Danielewicz. “I know posts that have 200 members that only have 10 members go to meetings.”
Post 12149 membership costs $38 annually. Lifetime membership is also available at prices that are dependent upon a veteran’s age.
“If someone wants to join the post, they are welcome to just show up at a meeting with their DD-214,” Williams said.
Danielewicz said Post 12149 members are service minded.
“We do a lot for the community,” he said. “With our fundraisers, we support the National Guard with what we call our yellow ribbon commitment.”
Two years ago, Post 12149 spent more than $2,000 on a welcome-home meal for members of Springfield’s Georgia Army National Guard Armory 1-118th FA, Alpha Battery. The unit had just returned from deployment in the Middle East.
Post 12140 also provides financial and volunteer support to provide shelter for homeless veterans in Savannah. This growing project has aided 24 veterans so far.
“We do other things, too,” Danielewicz said. “We try to help when we are called upon.”
Post 12129 provides honor guards for military funerals.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a post member or not,” Danielewicz said. “If you deserve an honor guard, we will provide. I would say we’ve done 20 since we’ve been established. In Rincon, Springfield, Guyton and Clyo, we will give veterans that honor.”
Post 12149 formed a VFW Auxiliary earlier this month. It already has 16 members from all walks of life with a common connection. All are relatives of those who served in overseas combat
“We do it for the comeraderie and will do service projects, too,” Auxiliary Secretary Arden Brinson said. “Men can join our group as well. We are not just a women’s group.”
To learn more about the VFW Auxiliary, call Brinson at 912-656-5029 or email her at email@example.com.
At a glance
The VFW is a nonprofit veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. The VFW and its Auxiliary are dedicated to veterans service, legislative advocacy and military and community service programs.
In 1899, the American Veterans of Foreign Service (Columbus, Ohio) and the National Society of the Army of the Philippines (Denver, Colorado) were organized to secure rights and benefits for veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippines War (1899-1902). These two organizations merged in 1914, creating the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. The VFW was chartered by Congress in 1936.
Those serving honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces in a foreign war or overseas operation recognized by a campaign medal, in Korea after June 30, 1949, and recipients of hostile-fire or imminent danger pay. Veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Persian Gulf, Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and other smaller expeditionary campaigns, as well as occupation duty, qualify.
A national volunteer service organization, the Auxiliary of the VFW was founded in 1914 and is the backbone of many local VFW volunteer efforts.
More than 1.6 million VFW and Auxiliary members in all 50 states and many foreign territories.
Thousands convene each year at the VFW’s national convention to elect officers, adopt resolutions and discuss business affairs. Leading the organization are the elected commander-in-chief, senior vice commander-in-chief and junior vice commander-in-chief. The National Council of Administration serves as the VFW’s board of directors.
More than 6,000 Posts worldwide comprise 52 Departments in the 50 states, the Asia/Pacific Areas and Europe. Posts form the basic local chapter.
• Budget: Fully fund programs for veterans, service members and their families.
• Health Care: Provide service members and veterans timely access to high-quality health care without increasing cost shares.