PRYOR, OK —
The Locust Grove Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Dugie Phillips is disturbed by the cost to use the VFW building for a mere 24 hours a year.
The members meet once a month to discuss agenda or new items. The cost to open the doors once a month is $467 which equates to $5,600 a year. That breaks down to $234 in cost for each of the 24 hours. “I did not realize the breakdown cost each time we met. I am tempted to have everything turned off and close up shop. I just do not see how we can see our way out of this,” said Phillips.
To make matters worse, the VFW received notice of an insurance increase. “Our property and liability insurance is going up to $2,850 a year by the 20th of this month. It does not make sense. We use to meet here a lot for Bingo and had tons of people come in. I stopped hosting Bingo two years ago and you would think the insurance would go down because the chance of something happening would be when there are crowds of people. We went from being here almost every night to once a month. Now, there are very few people left and the insurance is just going higher. That means $1,150 more a year,” Said Phillips.
It will cost $281.25 for each of the 24 hours the veterans meet.
Phillips stated initially the insurance was going to be over $5,000, but then he was able to have deductions removed. He said, “They were putting shrubbery on there; we do not need that covered. I just want the property covered in case of damage or liability in case someone gets hurt. I do not need all that other stuff. Our current policy is over 30 pages. hat is ridiculous. I am not even going to read it.”
On top of the hike in insurance premiums, the utility rates also aids in a forced decision on whether to stay open. “We are going to have to make some decisions. We just do not have the right one yet. One of our heating and air conditioning units broke and we are looking at the cost of fixing that as well,” said Phillips.
As far as how many members are served in the LG VFW, “We have no idea. The National Headquarters have not given us an updated list yet. They said we have 45 and 36 are active but where in the world are they? I tried tracking down a few and from what I discovered, they have either moved, are deceased, or cannot get the meetings. Some of our oldest members are WWII veterans above 88 years of age and they cannot get around. We have Vietnam vets but my fear is when the WWII vets are gone, we will be gone.”
The VFW claims there are four checks written that are going out, but nothing is coming in. “I can remember 20 years ago, we took in 200 to 300 dollars in a day. Two years ago, we got a total of $6 in donations. On Veterans Day, everyone seems to be patriotic and have good intentions, but never follow through on those intentions,” said Phillips.
On Founders Day (May 10) there will be an arts and crafts event at the VFW. There will also be a donation box available to contribute to the VFW.
Close to over two million Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and auxiliary members contribute more than 8.6 million volunteer hours in their community. Their volunteerism plays a huge role in the benefits received by current members or working with veterans in obtaining benefits. Before the VFW was established, soldiers were left to care for themselves, without medical support or a pension plan. With this overbearing burden, veterans joined efforts by forming what is known as the VFW.
Over time, the voices of advocacy for veterans have been heard. They were influential in the establishment of the Veteran’s Administration, GI Bill for the 21st Century, educational benefits, and fight for compensation for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and the Gulf War Syndrome. They account for millions in donations to community organizations and scholarships. Donations to the VFW can be mailed to LG VFW, P.O. Box 66, Locust Grove, OK 74352.