1 of 2
Color guard ceremony participants wore new uniforms at the dinner event.
2 of 2
Dinner event guests included Illinois Senator William R. Haine and Alton Mayor Brant Walker.
The Veterans Of Foreign Wars organization traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service. Many of these veterans arrived home wounded or sick and there was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them. They were left to care for themselves.
Some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations that would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum. By 1915, membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000.
Since then, the VFW has been instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, creating a GI bill for the 20th century, the development of the national cemetery system and the fight for compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, VFW was influential in the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st century, giving expanded educational benefits to America’s active-duty service members, and members of the Guard and Reserves, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.
Annually, the nearly 2 million members of the VFW and its auxiliaries contribute more than 8.6 million hours of volunteerism in the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week.
The Alton VFW Post 1308, 4445 Alby St. in Alton, has a long history of community service and sponsorship of events honoring our nation and our military. The Honorable Ritual Team of Post 1308 has a stated mission of fostering patriotism and honoring the military service of our nation’s veterans.
The team participates in ceremonies to provide a dignified burial and a lasting memorial for veterans and also participates in patriotic programs in schools, nursing homes, parades, flag honor guards and Post events. Over the past 20 years, the Ritual Team has presided over 2,000 funerals, an average of 100 per year. The services are available for no charge to any veteran upon request by the family.
The Post held a dinner event on April 12 to raise awareness of the need for assistance in getting new uniforms for the Ritual Team. The current uniforms are Army Korean Vintage and no longer available as the Army has phased them out. As such, there is no way to replace existing uniforms or order new ones for new recruits.
The Post plans to purchase 20 new uniforms to outfit the current members and is raising funds for the effort. A new current issue Army uniform is approximately $400.
The dinner event guests included state Sen. William R. Haine and Alton Mayor Brant Walker. Four new uniforms which have been purchased were worn by color guard ceremony participants that evening.
The post appreciates donations in any amount. Sponsors at the $500 gold level, the $300 silver level and the $200 dollar bronze level will have their name engraved on a plaque and exhibited at the post. Anyone wishing to donate can contact Ritual Team Captain Floyd Baker at 530-8366 or Post Chairman Billy Hammon at 444-0812.
The VFW supports the legacy and heritage of our nation’s military and those who have served abroad. The new uniforms will allow the Post to continue its long tradition of service to the veterans of the military and their loved ones in the local community.