JAY — VFW Post 3335 Commander Palmer Hebert said he will remain commander until members fill the position at the nearly 80-year-old organization. His term is up.

He will work with member Don LeSuer of Jay, nearly 93, to make sure the post does not lose its charter.

They are hoping younger veterans will step in to help keep the organization going, and to get more of the 368 current members involved.

The post was once one of the largest posts in Maine with about 900 members, Hebert of Livermore Falls said.

LeSuer, a World War II veteran, has served in a variety of officer positions, including commander. He is currently a chaplain but is willing to step into the commander position if no one else does.

The Veterans of Foreign War charter requires several officer positions, including commander and three trustee positions, to be filled in order to hold on to a charter, said Hebert, a Persian Gulf War veteran.


“I’m not going to let my post go down,” he said.

Neither is LeSuer.

“I really didn’t want to be commander, but seeing the veterans that come here and the older generations of people enjoying the suppers, it brings a little bit of happiness into their lives,” LeSuer said.

The post holds Friday night suppers at the non-smoking post.

“Don and I talked and he asked me if I could hold off and work with him,” Hebert said. “We would be happy to get some young people in here and teach them the proper ways of the VFW.”

With about 1,800 World War II veterans dying nationally each day, it creates a problem for VFWs, as well as a financial dilemma, LeSuer said.


“We used to be able to do a great deal for organizations and the community,” he said. “We’ve become exclusive — not because we want to, but because of the way our charter is written.”

Veterans are eligible to join a VFW if they are a U.S. citizen who has served honorably in an overseas conflict, received a campaign medal for overseas service, served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea or received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, according to www.vfw.org.

Roland Therrien, 87, of Jay and Erlon Rose, 89, of Livermore Falls, also World War II veterans, sat down with Hebert and LeSuer on Tuesday to discuss revitalizing the post.

“We need to have those people who were members rejoin and have the veterans who are just out of the service to join,” LeSuer said.

“You have a total of seven to 10 members attending meetings and making decisions,” Hebert said.

They meet at 7 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month at the post located at the corner of Jewell Street and Route 133.


“We would like more participation,” Rose said.

They are planning an open house at the post from 1 to 5 p.m. on June 14. It is Flag Day, the birthday of the U.S. Army and the date the post received its charter in 1935. To become a VFW member, one may either call 897-5112 or stop by the post.

“We’re here to help veterans out,” Hebert said.

Some veterans don’t understand what is available to them and how to get it, he said. There are veterans at the post to help them navigate the system to get the benefits and compensation they have earned, he said.

The men realize it is difficult for younger veterans to join the VFW or attend meetings when they are busy with work and families. They also know that the nationally set annual dues of $35 or $400 for a lifetime membership are expensive in this economy.

The dues help support VFWs at the state and national levels to lobby for veterans’ rights and benefits. A higher membership number gives a post more votes and a voice at VFW’s upper levels, as well as in Washington, D.C.

Whatever veterans have for benefits today have been fought for by veterans from older generations, Lynn Dunton, president of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, said.

The post also has a Men’s Auxiliary.


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