This November the Veterans of Foreign Wars Chapter 13 organization celebrates its 75th anniversary.
The 108 VFW members at the Chapter 13 Post work hard to ensure that someone out there is advocating for the welfare of veterans and their families. Many of these veterans served in the Vietnam War and Desert Storm as well as WWII, and take their part in the VFW seriously so veterans everywhere can have a voice in the Legislature. COVID-19 regulations have not made their job any easier this year.
Vietnam Veteran and VFW Direct Commander Bob Beck said the post was holding off on having meetings due to COVID-19, but then they weren’t able to get anything done. Right now, the biggest issue is making sure the funds are secured so that Chapter 13 can keep up their service welfare fund, and scholarships, and help veterans in need.
“There was a horrendous fire somewhere around here about 4 years ago,” Beck said.
“Members of the family were killed. The woman was a veteran. She died, her husband was badly burned and our post and the District and the State of Oregon paid for whatever hospital bills he had that insurance didn’t cover.”
Some of the ways the post makes money is through selling poppies, making coffee and winning awards.
Vietnam veteran and current VFW State Legislature Chairman Rick Higgins said, “We’re here to support each other, we’re brothers. It goes on and on, the list of things we do.”
Last year the VFW was able to pass two major accomplishments: the Blue Water Navy Act and the Widow Tax.
Veterans Service Officer and Vietnam Veteran Vern Beard has been a part of VFW for 23 years. Beard has helped veterans process their benefits paperwork for years, and said he would drive out as far as Eastern Oregon to take a veteran fishing if it meant something positive for them. Before passing the Blue Water Navy Act, processing paperwork relating to the side effects caused by Agent Orange was challenging. Now, it is much easier for Beard to help fellow veterans get the care they need.
Higgins has two diseases related to Agent Orange exposure. He said the Blue Water Navy Act helps cover more veterans who were within the zone of the Agent Orange chemical. And the Widow Tax prevents widows from being penalized out of full retirement benefits if the veteran passes away.
One way the VFW is able to assist the needs of veterans is by earning the All American annual award, which gives the VFW an opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. and have their concerns heard by the Legislature directly. COVID-19 has created a barrier in their traditions and their usual trip to Washington this year was canceled, instead taking the form of a far less glamorous zoom call instead.
“Right now we’re just surviving,” Beck said. “Our goal is to try and make All American again this year. The requirements for all Americans is that you increase your post membership.”
Beck said they’ve won this award many times in the past. After completing a hefty checklist of requirements, winning All American again this year will help to push forward their future plans which include budgets for funding veteran programs, timely access to health care, disability assistance and education.
Bob Beck said, “I wanted to join something rather than be drinking something. That’s why I joined the post.”
VFW Essay Contest Winners
EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLETripp Johansen won the Patriot’s Pen competition and $100.
EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLEBrooke Moehlmann finished second.
EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLEHaley May takes third place.
EMMA ROUTLEY/THE CHRONICLELexie Smith (right) was second in the Voice of Democracy competition, and sister Kylie Smith (left) was runner-up for Patriot’s Pen.