VFW Post #4353 wins national, state awards
Tom Ferguson, commander of Pine Island VFW Post #4353, is elated that the post has been named both a national All American as well as an All State award winner for this year.
“The post has not made all state since 2006,” Ferguson said. “They have never before made All American. I’ve led two posts to these awards. Twice in Virginia, and once here and that’s a rare feat.”
To attain these levels, Ferguson explained, certain metrics must be met, such as community outreach, scholarship programs and reaching out to first responders, to name just a few. The most difficult task to undertake, he said, is maintaining and increasing the post’s membership level, a task that stops many posts from achieving these awards.
There should never be a competition between posts or between the VFW and other veteran associations because, as Ferguson said, you’re only competing against yourself. Although he said he seeks no personal recognition, he has been trained to recruit to the VFW. Lifetime membership, he said, is the best way to go, as it’s a one-time fee until your passing, rather than regulated dues.
He said he is more than happy to go over all the options if anyone wants to stop by or call on him at the post.
“There are opportunities to be the best in your post size,” said Ferguson, “that requires even more effort and I’ve done that twice before. I was unable to do it this year with this post because of the membership restrictions.”
Because this is an island, Ferguson said there is no influx of new veterans each year as there would be near a military base. He describes the relationship between the post and the auxiliary as symbiotic, saying the auxiliary is instrumental in helping the post to accomplish goals, providing support and helping recruit members.
There are restrictions that keep some veterans and military personnel from VFW membership eligibility, and this, he said, is heartbreaking, as they are or have previously served the country.
Although the VFW is one of the smaller clubs on the island, Ferguson said, they are trying to do big things. Since there are approximately 500 VFW posts in the state and 4,000 around the country, getting the All State and All American award recognition is a really big accomplishment; a result, he said, of both a commitment to the VFW as well as an ethical one.
“We’re more than a bar,” Ferguson said. “We’re a group of people who have had the same journey through life. We’re veterans of foreign wars. All of us have seen some type of deployment that involved combat or peacekeeping missions. That’s a special bond we have.”