VFW prepares to build new post

Milaca VFW trustee Mel Olin and Chaplain Bob Anderson stand at the site of the future VFW building just north of Milaca on the west side of Highway 169.

The nearly 25-year history of Milaca’s Siemers-Hakes VFW Post mirrors that of many of it’s members. Though at times the road has been rough, the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization has adapted to changing circumstances and soldiered on in the face of adversity.

The local VFW post came to be on Aug. 7, 1989 with 77 members. Many of those members were from the WWII era, some were from the Korean War, and just a few were from the Vietnam War era. By 1992, a Post was built in Pease alongside Highway 169. One Wednesday a month it was filled with patrons coming for the popular beef and pork dinners. Its membership soared to 130 from its modest beginnings. But soon, all that changed.

“When I became commander in July 2010, the Post home in Pease had been sold,” said VFW Commander Danny Sandberg. “Siemers-Hakes was down to 68 members, our charter was in jeopardy of being taken away and we had lost over $25,000 due to a thief who was pretending to be our quartermaster.”

Sandberg said the sale of the post and the financial scandal rocked the local VFW.

“I think you could say the morale of the troops was down something terrible,” he said. “But today we are a different Post.”

Membership has exceeded its former height with around 160 active participants and more than 25 new members are expected to join within the next year. This substantial turnaround in involvement with the Siemers-Hakes VFW caught the attention of the Minnesota VFW hierarchy, who honored the local post just this past month for its recruiting success.

The Post has purchased a 4.5 acre lot just north of Milaca on the west side of Highway 169 for the purpose of building a new Post. The local VFW has also been active in many more community events recently and plans to expand its presence even more with the purchase of a hot dog vending cart, which Sandberg said they expect to arrive any day now.

“So, if and when you see the VFW selling hot dogs, please buy one to help us pay for it,” Sandberg said. “The objective of the VFW is to help veterans, their families and the community. We cannot afford to do those things without doing fundraisers.”

For the full story, see the Thursday, Aug. 2 print edition of the Times.