Now with a new name, the former Mountain Trail Ladies Auxiliary to VFW Post 5171, in Cumberland, has dropped the ladies from their name and is now the Mountain Trail Auxiliary to VFW Post 5171 allowing men to join the national organization.
“There is no longer a ladies auxiliary,” said Auxiliary Secretary and Treasurer Carla Barrett. “Men are welcome to join now and we already have one man who has. We have so many men that have helped our veterans or want to and really have no means to be part of something that does that. Now they can. Plus, they are entitled to many benefits if they join the organization.”
Benefits from membership to the auxiliary include a variety of discounted insurance plans, cancer grants, Life Line screening, “Hear in America” program, credit cards, free RX card and other discounts. Barrett said auxiliary membership also offers scholarships, veteran and family support, youth activities, resources and more.
“The cancer grant is $500 that will be sent directly to you to be used for gas, food or whatever you need if you are diagnosed with cancer,” said Barrett. “I think this is wonderful.
“The auxiliary is the nation’s oldest veterans’ service organization. For more than 100 years, they have been serving veterans, the military and their families in countless ways. There are nearly 465,000 members representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia and several foreign locations (Germany, Guam and Panama). Members are relatives of those who have served in overseas combat.
“To join the auxiliary, you have to have — or have had a relative of a veteran who served in overseas combat,” Barrett continued. “The family members who qualify are: father, son, brother, husband, wife, mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, grandfather, granddaughter or grandson. If you have one of these family members who served our country in overseas combat then you can join in their honor even if you are not a veteran yourself.”
To join the Cumberland auxiliary, Barrett said the first year’s membership dues are $25. Every year after that the dues will be $20. She said if you want to be a lifetime member it depends on your age beginning at age 16, which will cost $220 and if you are age 91 it will be only $50. The older you are the less you will pay Barrett said.
“Because every man and woman who wears the uniform of our country should be honored, some of the opportunities members can be involved in are: hosting “Welcome Home” and “Send-Off” parties for active-duty military, assembling and mailing care packages to active-duty troops, volunteering in medical facilities, helping pass legislation that benefits veterans, active-duty military and their families, spreading the word about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, working to improve the lives of homeless veterans, educating youth about the American flag and other aspects of patriotism,” Barrett added.
During the 2014-2015 Program Year, Barrett said the VFW Auxiliary members provided $4.6 million dollars in monetary aid to veterans, active-duty military and their families, volunteered nearly 800,000 hours in VA medical centers, hospitals, nursing homes and veterans home, made more than 131,000 legislative contacts to help pass or block important bills, awarded $146,000 in scholarships, worked with more than 285,000 youth and distributed more than 332,000 American Flags.
“A lot of our members at the Cumberland Auxiliary have aged or are disabled,” said Barrett. “Our goal is to raise our membership. We are so excited that men are now able to join the organization. I come from a long line of veterans. My father, all my uncles but one, my brother, cousins and many friends have served our country. I grew up in the military and this is very important to me to be able to help our veterans. I get emotional when I think about how many veterans out there, in our own county, who need help and just don’t know where or how to get it. It’s important they have all the help and care they need to help them be sustainable to have proper health care, proper income and other benefits. We should really be concerned about our homeless veterans. The least we can do is make sure they have a roof over their head and food on their tables for the sacrifices they have made for our nation.”
President Hazel Hart added, “I support anything that will bring help to our veterans. That is our number one priority. It’s very important that information is made available to the public and our veterans so that the help our veterans need is there for them.”
The Cumberland auxiliary has been recognizing World War II veterans across the county. At last count they had found 14 of these veterans still living. They plan to begin recognizing veterans from the Korean, Vietnam and Middle Eastern wars.
An information booth will be set up at the Swappin’ Meetin’ on the Cumberland campus of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College on Friday and Saturday where you may pick up an application or more information about the auxiliary. You may also call Mountain Trail Auxiliary at 606-589-6203 or 848-0656. For more information about benefits from joining the auxiliary, you may visit www.vfwauxiliary.org.
“September is national suicide prevention month,” said Barrett. “If you know someone who needs help, they may call 1-800-273-8355 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Help us support our veterans.”
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or on Twitter @Nola_hde