Kempner VFW post to hold Sept. 11 commemorative event
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Fred T. Venable VFW Post 3393 of Kempner is holding a fundraising and commemorative event on Patriot Day, this Friday, September 11.
The purpose of the event is to raise funds and awareness for the VFW and to honor the victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks as well as veterans.
Cynthia Aswell, service officer and adjutant for the Kempner VFW, said that VFWs have been struggling ever since the state forced them to close their canteens/bars due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The event came about because what we realized is that with Covid-19, a lot of people did not understand that VFWs as a whole across the state of Texas were getting grouped into that 51 percent, because we have a canteen with alcohol,” Aswell said.
The canteen sales act as a fundraiser for the VFW and all proceeds go back to support the VFW and its members.
“When they terminated our ability to run our canteen, they terminated our ability to help our veterans,” Aswell said. “Even worse than that, if you look away from being able to help them financially, the bigger issue is that this canteen was not only just a place to go get alcohol, it was a place for our veterans to go to when they’re struggling, when they’re by their self, when they’re walking that fine edge that veterans walk when you have PTSD and they need support. They took away our ability to do that, and so our fear is that without that outlet for our veterans, we would see the suicide rate increase. That’s unacceptable to us. We’re not okay with that, and so I kind of started pushing for a little movement on the VFW.”
Aswell said she wants people to understand that the VFW is more than just a place to have a beer.
Friday’s event will serve multiple purposes from raising awareness, commemorating 9/11 and more.
“First and foremost, we want everyone to understand that the VFW is here, we’re here for our community and we’re here for our veterans,” Aswell said.
The different VFWs need to work together, she added. The event will also bring attention to the suicide rate among veterans and hopefully help prevent that number from increasing, she said.
The event will start at noon and last until 9 p.m. The general procession starting the event will be led by the Color Guard, Camp Cowboy, combat veterans that have accomplished Camp Cowboy, members of the United States Veteran Motorcycle Club and the Patriot Guard.
The opening ceremony will include the posting of colors, salute to colors, opening prayer and a moment of silence and ringing of the bell for the 2,977 9/11 victims. The Kempner VFW Post Commander will speak followed by the VFW District Commander.
The event will include live music and games including a timed pool tournament, timed cornhole event, a dunk tank and more. There will be 50/50 raffle and a silent auction, pending donations.
The CCJHS cheerleaders will perform as well. For the kids, there will be face painting, hair coloring, horse petting, tug of war, a three-legged race, musical chairs, pie throwing contest, water balloon fight and a bounce house.
Vendors like Healthy Mindset therapy, inside the building to give out information to veterans. Other vendors will be selling items as well.
Aswell said everyone is very excited about the event.
“Basically, what I’ve said is we don’t have the money to do this event, but in the end, the community has ended up coming together to help us have the event,” Aswell added. “The sad part about this is we’ve lost seven VFWs forever. They will never be back again, and you have 28 on the chopping block.”
She is hopeful that this will help bring awareness to how important VFWs are to their communities.
“I think people can expect to have an amazing time when they come out,” Aswell said. “They can just come out and enjoy themselves and get to meet the VFW as a whole and find out how that helps each other.”