EMVH receives benches from Vietnam Veterans of America chapter

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Jamie Ausk Crisafulli photo

Local Vietnam Veterans of America members recently donated cement benches to be placed outside at the Eastern Montana Veterans Home. Pictured above checking out the new benches on Thursday are VVA members (l to r) Jerry Glaser, Rick Berg and R.T. Morris. Jerry Howard was also onhand to help get the benches put together.

New benches at the Eastern Montana Veterans Home, donated by the Vietnam Veterans of America, provide a welcoming place to rest and also serve as a reminder of who the Vietnam veterans are and what they experienced.

When veterans returned from Vietnam, they were largely unrecognized by other veterans of foreign wars, VVA member Jerry Howard explained. The veterans organized the VVA to lobby for needed services, provide support for the unique problems they faced and, more recently, raise money for projects to assist other veterans and to help people remember them.

A few years ago the Glendive VVA raised money to help with the memorial at Fort Peck. When they finished that project they asked themselves “Why not do something in Glendive?” he said, adding that as they are seeing members move into EMVH it seemed a good place to invest.

After visiting Con-Mat Supply in Glendive, they decided to purchase and donate two benches for the grounds at EMVH. While the benches are made of concrete, they look like wood and are very durable. One is placed so it will be in the shade during the morning and the other in the shade during the afternoon. Each one has a plaque commemorating Vietnam vets, he said.

The benches look really nice and they hope EMVH residents will enjoy using them. When it’s cooler, they will make a nice place to just go out and sit, VVA member Jerry Glaser noted.

The proceeds from all VVA-sponsored fund-raisers go back into the community, VVA member Rick Berg noted. The local chapter, the first formed in Montana, sponsors a college scholarship, serves a free holiday meal between Thanksgiving and Christmas to all veterans, provides copies of a veteran magazine to Dawson Community College, the Glendive Public Library and EMVH and helps with other veteran projects.

The Glendive chapter started in 1985 with 80 members, dropped to only three or four for a time, and lately has seen an increase to over 30 as veterans retire from the work force and have more time to participate, Howard noted.

Not all 30 members are actively involved in VVA projects but there is a good nucleus of committed people, Berg said, adding, “We ask for things to get done and they get done.”

Any veteran who was in the military between 1963 and 1975 can join the VVA, he noted. Military wives and children can join as associate members.

The VVA’s major fund-raisers are a gun raffle and a shooting match which is scheduled for Sept. 8 this year. Raffle tickets are available now from any VVA member or at Guns N Things. Members will also have a table at the Dawson County Fair this week and plan to set up tables at Runnings and Albertsons.

The group really appreciates the support of the local businesses who have contributed to their efforts, Howard noted. Since VVA members do not have their own facility, they need to do things such as donating the new benches to remind people they are still around, he added.

“The community is great in backing us,” Berg said. “We try not to beg too much, but every now and then we have to. It’s amazing how people do back us once they find out what it’s about.”

A barbecue and dedication ceremony for the benches is being planned for September.

Reach Cindy Mullet at crmullet@midrivers.com