By Libby Hopkins

The American Veterans National Service Foundation (AMVETS) was created in 1944. It’s a volunteer-led organization that formed after WWII with the goal of supporting the returning veterans from WWII by aiding them in their readjustment back into civilian life.

That goal continues today and Commander Israel Gonzalez of the AMVETS Post 26 in Valrico says, “The Post is a family organization and it’s made up of several groups related to the American Veterans,” Gonzalez said.

Wives, mothers, sisters and daughters make up the Ladies Auxiliary. Male children and grandchildren of the AMVETS make up the Sons of AMVETS.

And, the post also has a Junior AMVETS group where the ages range from 5-17 years of age. Membership to Post 26 is open to anyone who is currently serving, or who has honorably served in the U.S. Armed Forces from WWII to the present.

It also includes the National Guard and the reserves. “All veterans are invited to join and all members are requested to get involved,” Gonzalez said.

Post 26 is actively involved in the Brandon community. The group supports Liberty Manor, which is a non-profit organization with the objective of promoting the developmental and social needs of veterans who have served but fallen victim to homelessness. The group is also involved with MacDill Cares at MacDill. “Last month we fed over 200 hotdogs, chips, cookies and water to the Tinker Elementary on the base,” Gonzalez said.

Post 26 started in 2006 and had only 19 members. Now it has 205 members and is continuing to grow.

“Our plans for the future are to build a new facility,” Gonzalez said, “We have already outgrown our canteen and meeting facilities.”

The post is in the process of building a new facility to house its members.

AMVETS Post 26 is located at 221 S. Dover Rd. Its canteen is open every day at 11 a.m. and all veterans are welcome to stop by.

It holds its monthly meetings the second Saturday of the month at 10 a.m

Contact Gonzalez at 299-1991 or visit


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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.