“I think we are one of the best kept secrets in town,” said Marjorie Hover when talking about the work of the Amery Auxiliary to V.F.W. Post 7929. She is one of 54 current members of the Auxiliary, a group that works hard for a number of causes in the area.
Established in 1914, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Auxiliary set out to serve the veterans of this country and communities in honor of the sacrifices and commitment of every man and woman who has served in uniform. The V.F.W. Auxiliary is one of the nation’s oldest veterans’ service organizations and its members are the relatives of those who have served in overseas combat. More than 475,000 members in nearly 3,900 Auxiliaries nationwide volunteer millions of hours and fundraise millions of dollars for charitable projects that benefit veterans, military service personnel and their families, all while spreading patriotism nationwide.
Amery’s Auxiliary to V.F.W. Post 7929 was charted in 1948.mMyrtle Marshal was the charter member. She was a member for over 60 years. What used to be referred to as the “Ladies Auxiliary” has dropped the word “ladies” from their title. As of 2016, men became eligible to join. In fact, Amery’s group has two male members. Amery is part of District 10 in the state of Wisconsin Auxiliaries. Their main goal is to offer support to the Post Veterans and help in any way they can to make it a viable organization to help all Veterans and their families.
Many of the group’s missions are a partnership between the Auxiliary and the V.F.W.
Some of the V.F.W. members became involved with the group immediately after returning home from wars, just as their parents had. For others, especially those returning from Vietnam, it took some time as they experienced a mixture of receptions upon returning back to the United States. The ladies enjoy being a part of a group that supports the continuance of comradeship their spouses had while active in the military. Hover said membership in the groups is comforting because you are around people who have experienced many of the same things.
“My husband Dan was a V.F.W. and it was a natural fit for me to join the Auxiliary. I enjoy being a part of the group because we celebrate a love of country and a love of our veterans. It feels good to give back to people that have given so much for our country,” said Auxiliary President Peggy Gillespie.
Judy Sanders shared that her husband, Eldon, has been passionate about the V.F.W. for many years. Others in the group largely credit both Eldon and Judy for reviving membership of the V.F.W. and Auxiliary. Millie Roberts said, “I really thought our group would totally die out until they came along.”
Auxiliary participants strive to be good community members and pour their hearts into outreach programs to benefit the area. Some of the programs they participate in include: Buddy Poppy Distribution, the Fifth grade Flag Education Program, Patriot’s Pen and Voice of Democracy essay programs, Operation Christmas, Toys for Tots, Interfaith Caregivers and local food banks.
They work tirelessly not only helping Veterans and their families in times of need, but they also donate to the FCCLA sending care packages to troops, they give two $500 scholarships a year, join the Post in supporting a baseball team, and donate to the Amery School Nutrition Program, the Fireman Calendar and Amery K-9 Association.
On Veterans Day they provide a luncheon for Veterans and their families. For Memorial Day, they participate in the ceremonies along with the Post. A few days before, they recognize their “Sisters and Brothers” who have passed by visiting each cemetery and conducting a small service at each, laying a white carnation at each grave. They also plan and coordinate the decorating of the Post and luncheon that follows the Memorial Day ceremony at the Amery Cemetery.
The group is like a close-knit family and they respect what each of their members brings to the table. Gillespie said, “Shirley Thompson is an amazing treasurer, and has impeccable record keeping skills.” They are fortune to have a talented current group, yet they will never forget the efforts of the women before them. Something many members found joy in over the past year, was a project the group took on honoring 12 “Sisters” over the past year. Two were still active members and the others are unable to attend most functions. They surprised the 12, with Certificates of Recognition, a bouquet of flowers and a gift card. They found joy seeing the happiness in the eyes of the receiving, knowing the group still remembers them and acknowledged their importance to the Auxiliary. A 92-year-old they visited invited them to stay for coffee and cookies. She still plays piano at the group’s Flag Education Program and they had a delightful afternoon sharing stories with her. Another recipient of the surprise visit was honored on her 100th birthday. One member of the Auxiliary said, “It’s funny how we went to brighten their day, but we were the ones blessed by them. As Mother Theresa said, ‘Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift t that person, a beautiful thing,’ and we received 12 beautiful gifts to tuck into our hearts.”
The desire to give back and support the community to prominent when around members of Amery’s Auxiliary to Post 7929. If you are interested in joining the group, spouses/parents/children/siblings/widowers/widows/grandparents and grandchildren who were or are eligible for membership in the V.F.W. of the United States, makes you eligible to join the Auxiliary. You can call the Amery V.F.W. 715-268-8393 for more information.