Tuesday, October 3, 2023

VFW aims to make deploying Navy reservists feel at home. Here’s how

The VFW is working to gain younger members. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)
The VFW is working to gain younger members. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)

It can be tough to be far away from home in an unfamiliar place.

It can be even tougher when you’re about to deploy with the military.

Early next month, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4639 in James City County will give a group of about 75 Navy reservists a piece of home while they’re training at Cheatham Annex.

On Sept 6, the VFW post will host a homemade spaghetti dinner for the reservists, complete with desserts made by VFW auxiliary members, said VFW member and former post commander Ken Shannon.

“We’re really looking … to say ‘Here are the things the VFW does,’” Shannon said. “We want to show more about the VFW and how we help the community and our fellow veterans.

RELATED STORY: ‘VFW of the past’: Here’s how this Williamsburg post is working to attract young veterans

The reservists are set to arrive shortly before Sept. 6, Shannon said.

After they spend a month or two at Cheatham Annex, the reservists will all be deployed to various areas both in-country and around the world, Shannon said. The reservists are cargo-handlers with the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group at Cheatham Annex, which handles surface, air, and terminal operations, tactical fueling, and ordnance handling and reporting, according to the group website.

A public affairs officer for the Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group was not immediately available to give additional information.

Shannon said this is the third dinner of its type hosted by the local VFW for Navy reservists. One of the local VFW members retired from a career at Cheatham Annex and suggested the VFW start putting on homestyle dinners for cargo-handlers.

Reservists are deployed every six months or so from Cheatham Annex, some of whom go to conflict zones.

There aren’t many things to do at Cheatham Annex for food and activities, Shannon said, so the dinner can help lighten up the experience. 

“It’s kind of a refreshing thing,” Shannon said. 

Former Post 4639 Commander Ken Shannon leans against the VFW bar as he talks to other members. The VFW is working to gain younger members. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)
Former Post 4639 Commander Ken Shannon leans against the VFW bar as he talks to other members. (WYDaily/Sarah Fearing)

Post 4639 coordinates with the national VFW to get reimbursement for the costs of putting on the dinner through the Military Assistance Program.

According to the national VFW website, the Military Assistance Program aids both military members and their families. 

“Our members offer support to the military community in many different ways, whether that means helping military families get through long deployments or hosting send-off and welcome home events,” the website reads.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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