Siemers-Hakes Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10794 in Milaca rejected the request by Princeton VFW Post 806 to be consolidated with the Milaca post.
The Milaca post’s vote on April 10 to reject was unanimous, according to Milaca VFW Post Commander Dan Sandberg. He said that all 28 members present, including himself, voted to turn down the Princeton request.
The eight Princeton post members present at the Princeton VFW Post’s March 21 meeting had voted unanimously to ask if the Milaca post would accept starting the consolidated post, according to Princeton VFW Post Commander George “Andy” Sommer. The Princeton post’s small attendance at the March 21 meeting is indicative of the problem that led to looking into the consolidation process, Sommer said.
Sommer said the consolidation request was not sparked by declining membership. Sommer noted that the post has 190 members. The reason is more so the lack of Princeton VFW members supporting the post through attending meetings and participating in VFW activities, Sommer said.
Princeton VFW Post Quartermaster Jim Dalziel agreed. Dalziel said there is a core of only about 10 members in the post carrying out the activities.
Sommer pointed to the biggest annual activities of the Princeton post – the post’s color guard conducting ceremonies at rural Princeton cemeteries on Memorial Day to honor deceased veterans and the post assisting with the annual Memorial Day program in Princeton.
Sommer said that a big reason for the Princeton VFW voting to start the consolidation process was because it wanted to somehow keep the Princeton VFW Post’s number, 806, alive. If the Princeton VFW Post dissolved, instead of consolidating, the number and the post’s colors would be lost, Sommer said.
But now with the Milaca post turning down the consolidation overture, the Princeton post will have to regroup if it wants to keep going.
Why Milaca voted no
Sandberg said that prior to his post’s “no” vote at the April 10 meeting in Milaca, he reviewed the pros and cons of having the Princeton post consolidate with the Milaca post.
“The only thing left, when throwing everything in the bushel basket (after a consolidation), is the number,” Sandberg said.
During a consolidation of VFW posts, a newly consolidated post would take the lowest number that existed between the two posts, Sandberg said. In this case, it would be 806. The Princeton post actually once had a much larger number, 8643, before Glendorado VFW Post 806 was consolidated with the Princeton post about five years ago.
Some veterans consider it an honor to have a very low post number, since the lower the number, the earlier in history the post was formed. Number 806 means a post with that designation was the 806th VFW post in the United States to start up.
The post number rule was a factor the Milaca VFW Post’s vote against the consolidation idea, according to Sandberg. He said the Milaca post members did not want to give up their number 10794 and were looking forward to it reaching its silver anniversary next year.
Another factor in the Milaca post’s vote, Sandberg said, was that consolidation would mean the Milaca post would inherit the Princeton VFW club building. The rules on consolidation require that the assets of the post that is requesting consolidation be taken over by the other post.
If the Milaca VFW Post were to end up with the Princeton VFW club building and weren’t able to sell it, the post would be stuck with the property taxes of $12,000 per year plus insurance, Sandberg explained.
Welcomes any members from Princeton
But rejecting a consolidation request does not mean the Milaca post would reject any eligible VFW member from Princeton wanting to join the Milaca post.
“If the Princeton VFW Post should close, we’d be happy to transfer members to our post,” Sandberg said.
The Milaca VFW Post now meets in the Milaca Legion post building, but plans to build a new building four miles north of Milaca to become its new home. Sandberg said the plan is to get the building ready to open before the post has its 25th anniversary in the summer of 2014.
Sommer, reached after the Milaca VFW Post’s vote, said he will fight to keep the Princeton VFW Post charter going.
Sommer had said after the March 21 vote in Princeton to initiate the consolidation process that maybe it would be a “wake-up call” to the Princeton VFW members.
Many VFW members are getting up in age and could be a factor in a drop-off in some support or meeting attendance.
One example of that is WWII Army veteran Lloyd Gerth, who fought in Europe. He said early this month that when he was younger, he would regularly attend the Princeton VFW meetings. But now, with the conditions of age, he explained, he doesn’t like to attend the VFW meetings because they are in the evening.
Some VFW members have also talked about younger veterans not getting involved in veterans organization meetings like their predecessors.
Princeton VFW Post member Pete Jacobs said one of the reasons for that is the busy lifestyles today of working families in which two household members may both be working and may be commuting 50 miles to and from work. By the time they get home, they are not so energetic to attend a meeting, Jacobs said.