VFW Chief Envisions a Changing Post

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Faces of Post 3150

Eric Anderson is the commander of VFW Post 3150

Eric Anderson is the commander of VFW John Lyon Post 3150 and served five tours in Vietnam. He says members of the VFW often find unexpected connections -- such as the night that he and Post quartermaster Richard Hoffman learned they were both "in Hue City during the Tet (Offensive). Not even a mile apart." Tracy Wahl, NPR hide caption

toggle caption Tracy Wahl, NPR

Imagine a family-friendly VFW post, with child care, a fitness center... and a ban on smoking. That's what Gary Kurpias has in mind. He's the new commander-in-chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

The VFW was founded in 1899. The 2.4 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries are located in 8,500 VFW Posts worldwide. Through a system of service officers, it assists all veterans and their families in obtaining veterans entitlements and other services.

Kurpias leads a more diverse membership than the venerable organization has ever enjoyed.

In recent congressional testimony, he pointed to a variety of issues that demand the organization's focus: meeting the postwar needs of reservists, addressing the mental health of veterans, securing financial and medical data and fighting budget cuts.

Will we see a different VFW in coming years? Kurpias elaborates on his plans in a conversation with Debbie Elliott, who also visited a local VFW post to find out how the veterans of different wars are relating to each other.

NPR's Tracy Wahl produced this radio report.

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