Peggy Haake, national president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, will make an official visit to Rhode Island from Aug. 9 to 11. She will tour the new Rhode Island Veterans Home in Bristol, the historic Westerly Armory, and attend receptions hosted by several of the state’s VFW Auxiliaries and Posts. During these tours, she will observe firsthand, how her theme for 2019-20 year, “Serve our veterans with aloha,” is being realized with outstanding volunteer service to veterans and their families here in Rhode Island.

Haake of Kahului, Hawaii, was elected national president of the VFW Auxiliary at its 106th convention in Orlando on July 22. She is a Life Member of the VFW National Home, Camp Trotter in Michigan, the DAV Auxiliary, and the VFW Veteran’s Village in Florida.  

The VFW Auxiliary, whose members are the relatives of those who have served in overseas wars, is one of the nation’s oldest veterans’ service organizations. It has nearly half a million members in all 50 states who support veterans, military service personnel, and their families.

The Auxiliary is also a voice for veterans on Capitol Hill and was instrumental in assisting the VFW pass or block legislation that affects veterans and their families. The organization, made up of 4,000 local auxiliaries, is one of the top 10 providers of volunteer hours in the Veterans Health Administration, and raises millions of dollars each year for charitable projects that benefit veterans and their families. It also provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in youth scholarships. Learn more at

Jacke Burch, Department of Rhode Island state Auxiliary president, stateed that “In Rhode Island, every day is Veterans Day.” Haake will visit Amancio-Falcone-Gaccione Post and Auxiliary 8955, Westerly, on Friday, Aug. 9, at 6:30 p.m., and members will also have an opportunity to meet her at Post and Auxiliary 183, Warwick, on Aug. 10.

More members

The VFW added nearly 25,000 new members during the past year, ending a long period of steady decline. Officials attributed the uptick to a new strategy of seeking new members through social media, as well as word of mouth.

"The VFW is making a difference in the lives of countless others every day, and thanks to the power of social media and the internet, more people are taking notice and wanting to be part of our team,” VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence said in a recent post on the organization's website.

Veterans service organizations like the VFW have seen a steady decline in membership with the passing of many members who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Traditional veterans groups like the VFW and the American Legion have also struggled to appeal to the latest generation of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This year, the VFW helped advocate on the behalf of 526,000 veterans for $8.4 billion in disability compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It also highlighted its prominent legislative advocacy for veterans in the nation’s capital. At the time of its 120th national convention in Orlando, July 20-24, the organization stood at 1.165 million members strong.

“The VFW will continue to make a difference in the lives of others every day, because the programs and services we provide are needed just as much now as they were then,” Lawrence said in the post.

Post 8955

New members are welcome to attend our next monthly meeting,  at 6:30 p.m., Aug. 7, at our Post Home, 113 Beach St., Westerly. Meetings are the first Wednesday of each month. Let your voice be heard.

Our Post is happy to announce the return of our annual summer dinner on Aug. 7 at 5 p.m., followed by the Post and Auxiliary business meetings. The dinner is open to all members and their families. New members are also encouraged to attend. All members are also invited to extend a warm welcome to national Auxiliary President Peggy Haake on Aug. 9.

The VFW welcomes as members all who meet our eligibility criteria. If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you're eligible to join our ranks. If you know of a comrade or family of comrade in distress please contact Comrade Dora Vasquez-Hellner, 401-212-6377 for assistance.

Project Outreach is available to all veterans and their families who need information regarding resources and agencies. These are benefits you have earned. Our outreach officer is ready to meet with you the first Wednesday and third Monday of each month from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Post Home. Appointments are not needed to meet with the service officer, Walter Kimball; 401-596-0470.

R.I. Honor Flight

The next fundraiser in support of the Honor Flight, a traditional Rhode Island clambake, will be Aug. 16 at 12:30 p.m. at Ballard’s on Block Island. Reservations are required. Tickets are $50 per person. For tickets or reservations, contact Rick Susi at 401-692-0795 or email or mail to PO Box 6041, Providence, RI 02940

This week in military history: 1940 – Bugs Bunny made his official debut in the Warner Bros. animated cartoon “A Wild Hare.” Three years later, Bugs became an honorary corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps after the release of "Super Rabbit," a parody of Superman. Bugs abandons his costume, faces the camera, and proclaims, “This looks like a job for a real Superman!” Then he reappears from the phone booth wearing a Marine Corps uniform. His former antagonists salute Bugs as he marches into the horizon singing the Marine Corps Hymn.

Sharon Henderson contributed the section on the national auxiliary president's visit, and Brian Mackley contributed the section on VFW membership gains.   

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