2017-11-05 / Insight

VFW Post 4139 serves veterans, community

BY ANDREW DIETDERICH
810-452-2609 • adietderich@mihomepaper.com


Even those who aren’t familiar with the Lapeer Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4139 are likely to recognize the helicopter on display in front of it at 128 Daley Road in Mayfield Township. 
Photo by Andrew Dietderich Even those who aren’t familiar with the Lapeer Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4139 are likely to recognize the helicopter on display in front of it at 128 Daley Road in Mayfield Township. Photo by Andrew Dietderich MAYFIELD TWP. — From the pictures of post members that look over the bar, to numerous plaques, and a new display case of military memorabilia, Lapeer Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4139 reflects a certain pride.

It’s a pride not only in country and time served, says Kimberly Morrish, president, Lapeer VFW Auxiliary, but also in making a difference in the Lapeer-area community on a daily basis.

And Morrish says the difference is big.

“A lot of people think that we’re just a drinking establishment… they don’t really understand the full aspect of this organization,” Morrish said. “We do a lot.”

Lapeer VFW was started in 1969.


Kimberly Morrish of Columbiaville, president, Lapeer VFW Auxiliary, points out some of the memorabilia on display at the Lapeer Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4139. 
Photos by Andrew Dietderich Kimberly Morrish of Columbiaville, president, Lapeer VFW Auxiliary, points out some of the memorabilia on display at the Lapeer Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4139. Photos by Andrew Dietderich Most in the Lapeer area who aren’t familiar with the organization, probably at least know the building that houses the VFW at 128 Daley Road, Mayfield Township, marked by the full-size chopper in front of the building.

Lapeer VFW is affiliated with the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, a nonprofit “veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, guard, and reserve forces,” according to the organization’s website at vfw.org.

Roots of the organization stretch to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (which happened in 1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899- 1902) were in need of local organizations “to secure rights and benefits for their service.”


Photos of post members — many from when on active duty — are on display above the bar in the lounge area of Lapeer Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4139. Photos of post members — many from when on active duty — are on display above the bar in the lounge area of Lapeer Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4139. “Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves,” the history of the organization states.

The organizations they started eventually banded together to form the VFW — an organization that stands today with about 1.7 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary.

(Auxiliary in the context of the VFW refers to relatives “under” those who served, such as grandparents, parents, wives, husbands, etc. At the Lapeer VFW, the Auxiliary consists of about 180 while the number of post members (those who served during combat in foreign lands) is at about 190.)

Big picture, the VFW as a nationwide organization identifies some of its successes as being instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, development of the national cemetery system, and fighting for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange and veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome.

Other successes include:

• Successfully fighting for passage 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.

• Serving as the driving force behind the Veterans Access and Accountability Act of 2014

• Continually fighting for improved VA medical centers services for women veterans.

• Becoming the first veterans’ organization to contribute to building the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in Nov. 2010.

• Becoming the first supporter in 2015 of the National Desert Storm War Memorial which is planned for construction at our nation’s capital.

Closer to home, however, the Lapeer VFW serves the community in different — yet oftentimes equally meaningful — ways, from hosting blood drives and sponsoring scholarships for local students to helping aging veterans with their needs ranging from toiletries to ramps designed for use by people with disabilities.

Lapeer VFW recently held a fundraiser that yielded about $1,400 that will help fund a local Shop with a Hero event. Other fundraisers are held to help support various initiatives, such as sponsoring local children who attend the VFW’s Camp Trotter.

It’s all in the name of the VFW’s motto “to honor the dead by helping the living.”

“Right now, I’m working with a World War II veteran who has been in the hospital, and his daughter texted me this morning…I’m in the process of looking for handrails for their shower to install,” Morrish said.

The Lapeer VFW is also involved in events like Lunch with Santa, tentatively set for Dec. 9, where any child can visit with Santa Claus and get a gift.

Morrish said such events serve as community outreach aimed at doing nothing more than letting people in the community know the organization is here.

The money to cover such offerings comes from various sources, Morrish said, including fundraisers held throughout the year, membership dues, and revenue generated from the Lapeer VFW’s bar and lounge area (open only to members, per state liquor license laws) and rental of the adjoining hall for events like graduation and wedding parties.

And, of course, many are familiar with the VFW’s Buddy Poppy Program, the small red flower distributed annually in exchange for donations, and designed to serve as a symbol of the bloodshed in World War I by Allied soldiers.

“The donations we get every year through the poppy program go into our relief fund, and that’s what helps our veterans that maybe have a shutoff notice on their utilities, or they need gas money to go back and forth to their appointments,” Morrish said.

Morrish became involved in the Lapeer VFW about seven years ago, when she began the arduous task of recovering from cancer. Morrish said someone asked her if she’d like to join, and — having not served in the military — admits she didn’t know she was eligible. However, she quickly learned she was because her father, John Andrew Morrish Sr., served in the Korean War.

Morrish believes there are many others who might be interested in joining the Lapeer VFW but don’t know they are eligible.

Morrish suggests anyone seeking additional information on the Lapeer VFW call the post at 810-664-9222. The Lapeer VFW Facebook page, which includes a calendar, can be found at www.facebook.com/VFW4139/

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