Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Local VFW post struggles to remain operational


Waning interest in the local Veteran’s of Foreign War (VFW) Chapter has officials questioning whether it should remain open.

Post 2243 Commander, Joe Hernandez, an 86 year old Korean War veteran, informed the Nebraska State VFW Quartermaster, John Lebsack, of attendance difficulties the local post faces.

In addition to Lebsack, the letter was received by State Recruiter Larry Geralt who, like Lebsack, resides in Omaha.

Although the Kimball roster lists 41 members, many of those do not attend meetings and functions regularly.

Lebsack, Geralt and three members of the Nebraska State Post visited Kimball last week to discuss options with local post members. The goal of the meeting was to keep VFW Post 2243 open, operational and involved in the community.

In response to Lebsack’s question regarding the recent Memorial Day service, local post member Robert Werner replied, “We did see over one hundred people for the hamburger feed that we had after the Memorial Day Service.” Werner added that he believed it was possible to increase community involvement.

Hernandez voiced concerns about the expense of keeping the post operating sufficiently and more importantly, the lack of commitment to local monthly meetings. He added that usually there only two or three veterans that show for those meetings.

Lebsack suggested money raising events for the group, as well as bringing the cost of membership dues to the standard level in the state of $40.00 per year.

Kimball veteran Don Olson explained that when he first arrived in the Kimball area, the number of people that would attend each and every meeting ranged between 18 to 20 people.

“Just two of us come now,” Olson said. “Joe is eighty-six and I’m 70. We have little money coming in and all funds are being depleted. That’s why I called you guys and told you that you needed to come and close the place down.”

Geralt encouraged the Kimball group to increase member involvement, as well as inviting other organizations to be involved with the post.

“It takes time to recruit and to get people involved,” Geralt said. “We would like to help you get across to the community, how important in your local VFW is.”

Lebsack suggested getting the family of the post members involved in future community activities through the schools or Girl/Boy Scouts.

“Tell your members, ‘Hey, we have a building and things going on – some posts don’t even have a building to meet in’,” Lebsack added. “The VFW Sponsors the scouting groups. We also help with Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day activities...with selling poppies. If they have kids in school, and we are doing something with their school, then this would help. You need to find out what interests your members.”

While the ideas shared were helpful, Hernandez is also concerned with taking on more responsibility at his age. He added that in 2011 there were 441 veterans residing in Kimball county, and although he didn’t know the current number, he hoped that others would take over the reigns on some of the busy work of the organization.

The State representatives hope to return to Kimball in late August or early September to help with a membership recruitment campaign and discern what it will take to encourage member activity in the local post.


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