For members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) service is a way of life. As a result, the VFW John A. Berri Post 6309 has been serving Gilroy and the surrounding area since 1946.
"Regardless of what branch of the military you served in, service becomes a way of life,” said VFW Post 6309 Commander Fred Villarreal of veterans. "So we’ve continue to serve our community, though in a quiet manner.”
That’s why many Gilroyans may not know just how much the VFW does for the community.
Locally, the VFW, with nearly 300 members, provides toys and dinner for an annual children’s Christmas party, scholarships for local students, donations to local school programs, local charities and much more.
Originally founded in 1899, the VFW’s mission is to foster camaraderie among veterans of overseas conflicts, to serve veterans, the military and communities; and to advocate on behalf of all veterans. Worldwide, there are more than 2 million VFW members.
With this mission in mind, Post 6309 also does a lot for local veterans. It provides financial assistance for homeless veterans, supports the Gavilan College Student Veterans Club, and hosts events for its members and community events to celebrate veterans.
To celebrate veterans, they take turns with the American Legion Post 217 in organizing the annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day events. This year the VFW has scheduled the Memorial Day service at Gavilan Hills Cemetary at 9 am.
For its members and their spouses, the VFW’s monthly social events are not to be missed and include New Year’s, Valentines, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and dances.
Post 6309 also currently holds monthly business meetings at the Gilroy Veterans Hall, 74 West 6th Street, on the first Tuesday of each month and social events on the third Tuesday of each month. For information about membership contact the Commander.
The local Post supports all of its community service activities by hosting Bingo, every Friday at the Gilroy Veterans Hall from 6:30 – 9:30 pm. Bingo is open to the public and features flash and $1,199 games, as well as standard bingo.
The VFW also sponsors the Ladies Auxiliary, which provides a social and community service organization for veterans’ family members. The Auxiliary not only supports VFW events, but also hosts its own fundraising activities and choir.
The Auxiliary holds their business meeting on the second Monday of each month at 5 pm. For more information about the Auxiliary contact President Rita Delgado at 408-427-6268.
Gilroy can count on the VFW, either through its own members or members of the Auxiliary, to continue to serving the community for years to come.
ABOUT VFW NATIONAL
The VFW 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
arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans'
pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves.
In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed
organizations with what 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's voice had 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 won a long-fought victory
with 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.
Besides helping fund the creation of the Vietnam, Korean War, World
War II and Women in Military Service memorials, the VFW in 2005 became
the first veterans' organization to contribute to building the new
Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in November 2010.
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.
From providing over $3 million in college scholarships and savings
bonds to students every year, to encouraging elevation of the Department
of Veterans Affairs to the president's cabinet, the VFW is there.