For about 30 years, Charlie Meyers worked in the background of Effingham, IL’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary Post 1769, serving as an unofficial member. But since female-based VFW auxiliaries nationwide opened to men two years ago, he’s become an official member of the Effingham group and is now its first male president.
Meyers said he took on the president role to boost male interest in the auxiliary.
“When they see there’s a male president, I think some guys will be more willing to come in,” he said. “It’s like anything, you get what you put in.”
Still, only one other male has joined the Effingham group.
“There’s been no big ball of fire yet,” Meyers said. “We’re hoping to have a membership drive.”
Although Meyers served three years in the military, he never served overseas, and in effect, couldn’t later join a VFW post. But his father went to the Philippines for the Army in World War II, which qualifies Meyers for VFW Auxiliary membership. To be a member, a close family member must have served overseas.
The recent acceptance of men in VFW Auxiliary posts seems to have been bolstered by a growing number of females with military service.
“So many women are in service overseas,” said Deb Meyers, Charlie’s wife and a longtime VFW Auxiliary member. “This gave their spouses a chance to get involved too.”
Officers with the Effingham auxiliary say they’re hoping Charlie Meyers’ presence can help them tap into a new base of members.
“I sure hope so,” Deb Meyers said. “We need to get more people in there. People don’t realize we only charge $20.”
One of the perks of being a member is having access to a $500 grant that can be used after a cancer diagnosis.
“You put in a claim and the money is sent to you,” Charlie Meyers said.
VFW Auxiliary Post 1769 marches in parades, hosts meals, and visits veterans in nursing homes.
“I enjoy working with the veterans and doing this stuff,” Charlie Meyers said. “It’s rewarding.”
While she’s still a high-ranking officer of the post, Deb Meyers said she’s happy her husband is finally out of the shadows and officially helping the post in a big way.
“I’m very proud of him,” she said. “It’s nice to have someone take over and give me some relief from being president. We’ve been working together on this for years. He’s always been my right-hand man.”
By Stan Polanski, Effingham Daily News, Ill.
©2017 the Effingham Daily News (Effingham, Ill.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.