The Merrill VFW Post was honored as one of the three top performing posts in the State of Wisconsin at the recent, VFW State Convention in Green Bay. The local VFW organization picked up several national awards at the National Convention in Reno, NV.
Commander Michele Rathke and Quartermaster Russ Iwen, represented Schmitt, Manecke, Donner VFW Post 1638 Merrill at the VFW National Convention in Reno.
Commander Michele Rathke received a letter of commendation on behalf of the local group, which was named an “All American” Post for 2011-12. A total of 138 posts in the United States were named “All Americans for 2011-12,” but Merrill was in the top 50 of 7,300 posts worldwide. Rathke was presented a commander’s “red hat” signifying that Merrill is one of the top posts in the nation. Each member of the Merrill Post during the awarded year will be presented with an All American pin that they can proudly display on their VFW cap.
“It’s a bit overwhelming,” Rathke said of the long list of recent honors. “We set our goal to be an All State Post and we made All American. I’m very darned proud of our post.”
A big part of the post’s success can be attributed to the membership drive conducted over the past year by their veteran members. The Post started with 289 members in early 2011 and now boasts 338 members, with more potential applicants being considered. The group far exceeded their initial expectations.
“There was no one person who could have done this on their own,” Rathke said. “We all worked together as a team. Many hands make a big job small.”
Rathke said a lot of the credit belongs to Past Commanders and the Chief of Staff, who set a high standard for the future. The Post has been awarded the White Hat six times out of the last eight years. This is the first All American Post Award in the history of the Merrill Post.
At the National Convention Merrill was also awarded the “2012 National Outstanding Community Service Award.” Criteria for the award are set by the VFW National Headquarters for recognizing Posts’ community service work in their local areas. Merrill was 1 of 68 VFW Posts from across the nation to receive this national award. Rathke and Iwen were honored by the VFW Commander-in-Chief Richard L. De Noyer, who stated, “Through our community service program, we help build a better, stronger America, and we fulfill our commitment to serve America’s veterans and their families. This Post has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to their community. Their exemplary service is an example to citizens across this great nation.”
“Post 1638 isn’t resting on its past success, now that they’ve achieved national stature,” Rathke said. “New programs and membership efforts are planned to continue to keep the organization strong. The support that has been provided and continues by the local community has also made a big impact on the Post.”
One thing that would definitely help the local Merrill VFW to assist with its current fund raisers they are conducting to purchase a new location that can be open to veterans on a continual basis. However, a major obstacle in the post’s ability to provide better support to local veterans is the inadequate facility.
“The post would like to procure a newer facility at a convenient location so that it can be open to veterans on a continual basis. Any community support here would be greatly appreciated,” Rathke said.
Members meet regularly at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month and on the third Wednesday of the month starting at 5:30 p.m. for a VFW member-only social night.
Any veteran who has served in a combat area or received Hostile Fire or Imminent Danger Pay and received an honorable discharge is eligible to become a member of this ever- growing organization. For further information, contact the All American Commander Michele Rathke at 715-218-0440.