On Saturday, Oct. 2, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2070 Arcadia-Monrovia commemorates nine decades of offering support and services for all veterans especially those in Monrovia, Arcadia and Duarte.
The VFW has a long and storied history and those who now occupy and command the Monrovia Post continue traditions their forefathers honored so deeply. That commitment is to help fellow veterans as their mission states:
“That the purpose of this Corporation shall be fraternal, patriotic, historical, charitable, and educational: to preserve and strengthen comradeship among its members; to assist worthy comrades; to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead; and to assist their widows and orphans; to maintain true allegiance to the Government of the United States of America, and fidelity to its Constitution and laws; to foster true patriotism; to maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom, and to preserve and defend the United States from all her enemies.”
With two decades of war in Afghanistan now at an end, the work of helping those veterans of this conflict assimilate and return to civilian life can be challenging.
One of the VFW’s most prominent struggles is to end veteran suicide which, despite a decrease in 2019, remains high at a rate of 31.6 per 100,000 in 2019 compared to 16.8 per 100,000 among non-veterans, according to data from the 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report.
In conjunction with the Monrovia Public Library, there are professional individuals to offer advice and help at the Veterans Resource Center. The center is operated by skilled volunteers who can help veterans navigate the complicated systems involved in obtaining benefits and answer complex questions.
And now, there are big plans afoot for this Saturday’s celebration — including Post 2070 Commander Floyd Henderson’s BBQ and a community Street Faire where you can get to know your fellow Monrovian’s who have served their country. Additionally, there will be live music throughout the day.
A longtime VFW member and Monrovia councilman told Beacon Media News what this event means to him and his family.
“To the women and men, 90 years later, we dedicate this day to the history of the post. They served their country proudly and returned home to be with their families and start new lives, they attended college, started businesses, became barbers, carpenters, newspapermen, postmasters, realtors, lawyers and worked for the highway dept. We dedicate this day to their memory, family and descendants.
“At the same time, Oct 2 is an opportunity for this long-standing post to share its ongoing contributions to the community and, perhaps, recruit additional members. To those who served, thank you for your service HOOAH,” Monrovia Councilman Larry Spicer enthused.
In addition to all the services offered at VFW Post 2070, there is a popular pool table and pub that offers specials like fish and chips and tacos, depending on the day, in addition to inexpensive drinks for members and guests.
With an infectious smile and personality, longtime employee Sherri Meyer manages the Monrovia VFW and has done so for over 20 years. Greeting everyone by name when they pop in, Meyer has a unique ability to remember not only members’ names but their particular thirst quencher.
Meyer told Beacon Media that the post has between 150-200 official members currently, ranging the gamut of ages and service record. However, by far the majority of members with whom we’ve talked in recent weeks have been Vietnam and Korea veterans, as well as those returning from Afghanistan.
As manager, Meyer relies on her unique ability to multi-task and carry on a conversation with veterans. “She never misses a beat and always puts a smile on my face,” said Vietnam veteran Ron Handy, 76, who served in the Navy.
Another Monrovia native, Hal Leavens, who has been dubbed the “unofficial mayor of Monrovia” pops in periodically and seems to know everyone in the post and always has a new joke. The comradery is contagious much like Leavens’ happy-go-lucky attitude. The atmosphere is reminiscent of that classic TV series where everybody knows your name. (Oh, and yes, there is a ‘Norm’ at the bar.)
Post 2070 was chartered on April 11, 1931. In 2004, it merged with Duarte Post 7483, assuming its membership. In April of this year, it held a small celebration for its 90-year charter anniversary but the big-bash is slated for this Saturday. Post 2070 is powered by active auxiliary men and women who attend all official events and help their fellow veterans as needed.
In a statement to the House of Representatives last week, VFW National Deputy Legislative Director Tammy Barlet highlighted the organization’s ongoing work, including increasing telehealth access by expanding broadband connectivity and setting up a veteran alert system in several departments across the country.
“Like the Amber and Silver Alerts, the Green Alert system notifies the public through billboards or text messages of missing at-risk veterans, and active duty, National Guard or Reserve members,” Barlet said. So far, only Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Iowa use the system but Barlet urged congress to pass the National Green Alert Act of 2021 to establish a commission to recommend the program’s implementation in remaining states.
“Whether it was in response to a worldwide pandemic or a natural disaster, VFW Posts were still serving their communities by opening contactless drive-thru food pantries, doing buddy checks, using technology to connect, or rallying with other veteran organizations for a common cause,” Barlet said.
“As the world watched the U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan, the collapse of the Afghan government, and the return of Taliban rule, some veterans questioned the worth of the work they had done during deployments. Several VFW Posts channeled their energy and took action to check in with each other and find ways to help those who helped them in the past,” continued Barlet.
This is the only fundraiser of the year for the post. There will also be a raffle for a 50-inch flat screen TV as well as fun for the kids. The Street Fair will take place from 1 -8 p.m., the BBQ from 2-6 p.m., and the live band will play from 4-8 p.m. Pre-orders may be placed by calling VFW Post 2070 Arcadia-Monrovia Commander Floyd Henderson at (626) 660-6823. If interested in participating in Street Fair, contact Manny at (626) 359-9998.
VFW Post 2070 is located at 825 S. Magnolia Avenue and is open daily from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.