Liberty Hill VFW Post disbands leaving legacy of service
By Christine Bolaños
The VFW Post 8200 in Liberty Hill closed last week after building a legacy of community service and civic engagement in the community.
“It’s a sad day, but we can no longer continue with the organization. It just got to the point where the participating members were so few that it just couldn’t be effective anymore. It was a burden rather than a joy,” explained longtime member and senior vice commander Billy Evans.
“The Leander VFW is a strong organization and they met with us a couple of months back and said anyone who wanted to join their organization would be welcome. [Shutting it down] is something that we were able to put off.”
Though low membership and a low number of active members led to veterans having to disband the post, the organization leaves behind a legacy in the community.
“I’ve only been a member for the past 13 or 14 years. The post was created about 30 years ago by local veterans who wanted to participate in the VFW and things that the VFW does,” Evans said.
The VFW, or Veterans of Foreign Wars, strives to “ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country,” according to the organization’s website.
Its mission is to foster camaraderie among veterans and to serve them, the military and communities. According to the website, core values of the website are to put interests of members first, treat donors as partners in the cause, promote patriotism, honor military service, ensure care of veterans and their families, serve communities, promote a positive image of VFW and respect the diversity of veteran opinions.
The website, www.vfw.org, states the nearly 1.9 million members of the VFW and its Ladies Auxiliaries contribute more than $8.6 million of volunteerism in the community. In Liberty Hill, the membership’s call to service was especially strong.
“We’ve contributed I don’t know how many thousands of dollars to various organizations in the community – the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H Club. We participate whenever possible in supporting the youth and the community in general,” Evans said.
But when it comes to citing the organization’s greatest accomplishment, the Veterans Park comes to mind.
“The greatest thing we have left anyway is our Veterans Memorial Park, which honors all of the people in the Liberty Hill area that served in various armed forces,” Evans added.
He said Liberty Hill has had “some great” VFW commanders throughout its history but stopped short of mentioning any specifically.
“They have really done a lot for us. It’s a big responsibility and a lot of work,” Evans explained.
What the members will miss the most is likely the camaraderie.
“It’s a place where veterans get together with people who had similar experiences and share their experiences, their knowledge, their enthusiasm and their support,” Evans said.
He said the VFW Post 8200 held its last meeting last week in which it officially closed the post.
“It’s a generational thing. If you’re aware of other organizations around like the Kiwanis Club, the American Legion and other VFW posts, the people who belong to those are older. As they get older the membership declines and you wind up with not enough members to be effective,” Evans explained. “The younger people are more interested in their families than they are in their community and have other organizations they can join. The old clubs are dying out.”
The VFW Post 8200 and Fellowship Church had entered into a partnership that allowed the church to use the VFW building for a non-denominational youth center. According reports in previous issues of The Independent, the VFW Post retained control of the facility and the adjacent parking area, and the church paid utility costs and insurance costs in exchange for using the building as a youth center.
The City of Liberty Hill is taking over the care and maintenance of Veterans Park.
The Independent was unable to verify by press time Wednesday what the church’s future plans are for the facility.