On this Veterans Day, as we thank those men and women who have served in our armed forces, we wanted to also take a closer look at our local VFW Post 4090, in hopes of giving our community a better understanding of what this group is all about.
Initially chartered in 1945 with 60 members at Portland Country Club, the organization now has 229 active post members, and 260 auxiliary members. Auxiliary members are family members of VFW members.
The group moved to its current home at 1324 Bridge Street in 1978, and that building has seen a great deal of improvements over the years.
Post Commander William Almy says that the group spent two years working on investigating its own history. With the help of Margaret Sheffer, the Portland Area Historical Society, and several others, that detailed history can now be found on the post’s website (http://www.vfwpost4090.com/history-of-post-4090).
In 2010 the American Legion post sold their location, and has had a working relationship with the VFW post to share space since.
Almy says the group’s focus is and always has been veterans. More specifically, “getting veterans the benefits they deserve.” The post has its own local service officer, George Warner, who serves as a resource in connecting veterans with information and resources. The post is also served by a state service officer, Robin Bailey, who serves Ionia and Montcalm county veterans.
Post 4090 also has its own Veterans Relief Fund. This fund is required under the group’s by-laws, and is specifically for veterans in need, their families, or surviving spouse/children. Almy says, “This is a locally administered fund. Managed by our quartermaster.” This fund can be used in a variety of ways. One example may be a traveling veteran on way to VA hospital who ran out of gas. Almy added, “The Relief Fund is replenished by Poppy sales.” Has said the fund had also been used to pay member dues in some instances.
Almy also explained that the group has an extended network that can offer other emergency services as needed. He said, “If we find a homeless vet, we will find them a bed.”
As a part of the national Veterans of Foreign Wars organization, Almy said, “Overall try to educate veterans to go to the national website. There is tons of information on that site.”
The post provides color guards for parades and events, and honor guards for funerals. Hey also work with Blue Star Mothers, the mothers of deployed service people, to put together care packages, or help with shipping costs for these care packages.
The Post also sponsors several local events and awards. There is the “Voice of Democracy” for high school students, the “Patriot Pen” for junior high students, as well as “Teacher of the Year” awards for kindergarten through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grade, and ninth through twelfth grade. Almy added that, “Last year started EMT and paramedic of the year and this year we are starting police, fire, and veteran of the year.”
When I asked how the community could support VFW Post 4090, Almy said, “Revenues from the meals keeps the post up and running.” The group hosts breakfasts, burger nights and fish fries. These events are regularly announced on the sign in front of the post. We have also added the Fall 2017 to Spring 2018 meals on our community calendar (https://www.theportlandbeacon.com/calendar).
The Post also wants to make known that their hall and kitchen is available for rent and open to the public. You do not need to be a member. The hall seats 250. For rental information, call Post at 517-647-4980. They are open daily at 3:00 PM.
If you are interested in a tour of VFW Post 4090, please call William Almy at the post.