The Ruskin Memorial VFW Post 6287 turns 75 in March and it has nearly 600 members. Not all members are active members, but they all have volunteered, given back to their community or helped a fellow veteran.

The VFW traces its roots back to 1899, when veterans of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service. Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans pension for them and they were left to care for themselves.

Some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations with what would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum. By 1915, membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000.

Annually, the nearly 2 million members of the VFW and its auxiliaries contribute more than 8.6 million hours of volunteerism in the community.

“As yesterday’s defenders of freedom, we want to welcome today’s military service members into our ranks to become part of our group,” said Ruskin Memorial VFW Post 6287 Post Commander Patrick Barr. “Our common bond is the battlefield, whether it is service in the Persian Gulf, Korea and Kosovo, the war on terrorism or peacekeeping expeditionary campaigns. Your courage and sacrifice have made a difference in preserving and defending world peace.”

The post turns 75 in March and it has close to 600 members. Not all members are active members, but they all have volunteered, given back to their community or helped a fellow veteran.

“Our celebration will include a meal, cake and we hope to focus on having new members join our post,” Barr said. “We also pick a charity to give back to each year and this year we have chosen the charity Heroes on the Water, which is a charity that offers wellness programs for veterans, active duty military personnel, first responders and their families.”

The primary proven therapy utilized by Heroes on the Water is kayak fishing. Volunteer-led chapters around the United States hold events which are free for our nation’s heroes. These experiential programs incorporate structured activities proven to improve the lives of these men and women. Each experience reduces the impact of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury while providing much-needed camaraderie and support.

To learn more about the Ruskin Memorial VFW Post 6287 or if you are a local veteran who would like to join the post, visit www.vfw6287.org or call 645-2935. VFW Post 6287 is located at 5120 N. U.S. Hwy. 41 in Ruskin.

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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.