Local VFW donates to fellow post

Published 9:49 pm Monday, July 9, 2012

A group of Suffolk veterans demonstrated recently that though they may be retired, they aren’t done serving their country.

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9382 in Pughsville voted last week to give $1,000 to fellow VFW Post 6060 in Elizabeth City, N.C., to help purchase a van for the post’s honor guard to attend veterans’ funerals.

“One of the objects of our organization is to look out for the widows and orphans,” said Ralph Holcombe, a past commander of Post 9382.

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The conversation originated when word got around that the Pentagon was considering cutting funds for active-duty military to be present at military burials. It’s still up in the air whether or not that will actually happen, but the Elizabeth City VFW post has long had a team that conducted the ceremonies when an active-duty honor guard was unable to show up.

The only problem is that the van owned by Post 6060 is in terrible condition, according to post Commander Gregory Stafford.

The 1986 GMC van, which is on its second engine, cannot be relied upon to start, Stafford said. The key can be removed from the ignition while the motor’s still running. And the van’s analog odometer only goes up to five digits, so nobody is sure how many miles it has on it.

“Ask 10 of the older guys in the post, and you’ll get 10 different estimates,” Stafford said.

Stafford said he is happy to have the donation.

“That post is a very small post,” he said. “It’s just amazing they would have that big of a heart to do something. As with most veterans organizations or volunteer organizations, their dollars are very tight these days. It’s amazing they would sacrifice so much to help us.”

Holcombe said the post felt it was important to help make sure an honor guard can attend as many funerals as possible.

“It was mentioned that was one of the things they would have to cut back on,” he said. “It just don’t seem quite right. We just don’t like the idea they’re going to reduce funding to the point they won’t be able to send anyone out.”

The post gets the bulk of its revenue from handing out Buddy Poppies — artificial flowers traditionally used by the organization to commemorate the dead — on Memorial Day and Veterans Day in exchange for donations, Holcombe said.

To donate to the Elizabeth City VFW post to help purchase the van, send a check to 1433 N. Road St., Elizabeth City, NC 27909 or call 252-338-2828.