The VFW is first, the organization that provides for our veterans an honored place recognizing their dedication and courage in defending our country and democracies around the world. Veterans are our heroes. Some died in battles, many were injured and many returned home to live and suffer those injuries, physical and emotional, for the rest of their lives. A hall to celebrate in, a table to sit at and a yard to throw horse shoes in with other veterans and friends and neighbors is just one way , and an important way, to honor their service to us.
There was a time, not so long ago, when town organizations serving different interest, the Grange, Odd Fellows, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, the Lions Club, all thrived with membership enjoying fellowship and volunteering valuable services to our community. Participation and membership for these civic groups has diminished over the past decades to the point of constant struggle to keep their doors open. Somehow families no longer have the time to devote to those efforts.
I asked Mr. Walsh, now the VFW post commander, at the Selectboard meeting, what the community could do to help. His immediate answer was, “Join the VFW” explaining more membership will bring financial stability. (I’ve applied to join the VFW auxillary). I sympathize with the lack of membership as the Prescott Grange is suffering the same crisis. An expanded liquor license, perhaps a short term help to staying open, is only a part of their challenge. My question is how does the community help to bring a broader public attendance to the VFW and build a more secure future?
I worry that we have overlooked the nature of a semi-private “club liquor license” . Proposals
that the VFW is like a public restaurant is misleading. Veterans have a special bond through their shared experiences. Alcohol easily secures that fellowship bond and risks over consumption.
A veterans combat memories and the prevalence of PTSD and depression among veterans adds to the risk of substance abuse. A recent report from “Substance Abuse In Veterans” points out a very high rate of insomnia symptoms as well, another potential for self medication with alcohol.
I’d like to know if we can do more to help our veterans with substance abuse struggles through the VFW organization and it’s partners in Veterans services. In trying to understand the three party process of the police department, the Board of Selectman and the VFW staff I believe they all prioritize a concern for safety. A tragedy would harm all equally and all are united in recognizing problems and ensuring public safety. I have seen confusion and errors in the methods of seeking agreements. (An agreement on access to site video recordings) but am confident that with patience and better clarity on the steps to resolution, the VFW will find the support and confidence of their town.