Gathered for the March VFW Men's Auxiliary meeting are, in front, from left, Kevin Pike and Ed Gerwill. Standing in back are the "Core Four,” Al Leibfried, Randall Daggett, Mark Cummings and Scott Merkel, who are charter members and current unit officers. The unit was chartered on June 6, 2003.
Gathered for the March VFW Men's Auxiliary meeting are, in front, from left, Kevin Pike and Ed Gerwill. Standing in back are the "Core Four,” Al Leibfried, Randall Daggett, Mark Cummings and Scott Merkel, who are charter members and current unit officers. The unit was chartered on June 6, 2003.
While many organizations for men and women who have served in the United States military exist, the Men's Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars is relatively new. In the 10 years of its existence, the Men's Auxiliary in the state of Minnesota has already grown to 34 units.

"The VFW Men's Auxiliary was created to allow those who did not serve in the military (for various reasons) an opportunity to serve their country, all veterans and their communities," explained Randall Daggett, president of Post 4114 VFW Men's Auxiliary.

Hanson-Raabe Post 4114, with its base in Spring Valley, wants the community to become aware of their presence and encourage those interested to join their ranks.

"We are entering our ninth year," says charter member Mark Cummings, "and our post was the second auxiliary unit in the state of Minnesota."

The Men's Auxiliary is an extension of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. A brief history of this organizations states, "To aid in preserving the VFW motto of 'honoring the dead by helping the living,' a plan to expand membership was launched. In August 2001, for the first time in its history, VFW members voted at a national convention to give posts the option of allowing Men's Auxiliaries. Their main function is to aid and support troops and military personnel and their secondary function is to offer service to the local communities."

Eligibility in the Men's Auxiliary is open to all men, (who are at least 16 years old) having relatives who are eligible to be VFW members. A relative must have served in an overseas conflict to be a VFW member. Proof of honorable service of these veterans allows men who are husbands, widowers, fathers, grandfathers, sons, grandsons, brothers and half brothers to join the Men's Auxiliary.

The Post 4114 Men's Auxiliary meets the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the VFW Hall on North Broadway in Spring Valley. The officers of VFW Post 4114 Men's Auxiliary are President Randall Daggett, Vice President Scott Merkel, Secretary Alan Liebfreid, Treasurer Mark Cummings and Junior Vice Craig Seabright.

"Although we are available for community service at any time, most of the area doesn't know we exist and we'd like to change that!" commented Daggett. "We have been recognized by state officers as one of the most active units in the state and they know us by name."

What is more important to the Men's Auxiliary is that the local community is supportive of their presence. Jayson Smith from Grafix On The Go in Spring Valley, donated a banner which hangs above the kitchen serving window at the VFW Hall.

"Several local businesses contribute a tremendous amount of support for our fundraisers, and we graciously thank them all," said Daggett. "We could not do what we do without the wonderful support we receive from our Post and from the Ladies Auxiliary. We'd also like to thank the American Legion and the Kiwanis Club for all their help and support."

The VFW Post 4114 appreciates all the Men's Auxiliary does. Commander Steve O'Connor stated, "The Men's Auxiliary, like the Ladies Auxiliary, has the mission of supporting the local post in its endeavors to promote Americanism within the community and provide assistance and support to our fellow veterans, their families as well as our comrades currently serving and their families. We are truly blessed to have such a dedicated group of volunteers. There are many projects that we would be unable to undertake without the assistance of our Men's Auxiliary."

The Men's Auxiliary's banner was the very first to be on display at the state conferences and conventions and was the first to be escorted and displayed at the State VFW Mid-Winter Convention in February of 2007, Daggett added.

Although the organization's membership is small, their presence in the southern Minnesota area has been significant. Donations have been made to several veteran organizations and community causes. One of the causes the Men's Auxiliary has supported is the Eagles Cancer Telethon, a non-profit charity supporting cancer research, which has been raising funds for over 40 years.

"In the five years that we've been sponsoring the Cancer Telethon Breakfast, the community has helped us to contribute just over $12,000,00 to cancer research. The charitable nature of this community and the surrounding areas never fails to amaze us," said Daggett.

Another area where veterans have witnessed the support of the Men's Auxiliary is in the way they have been supporting the World War II Honor Flight Program, being able to donate a combined total of $3,900. "We appreciate the way the area communities turn out for our fundraisers, especially our breakfasts!" comments Cummings.

A national organization which many readers may not be aware of which the Men's Auxiliary supports is called the "Fisher House," which provides free housing and living "needs and necessities" to the wives and families of veterans needing medical attention.

The Fisher House Foundation website states, "Because members of the military and their families are stationed worldwide and must often travel great distances for specialized medical care, Fisher House Foundation donates 'comfort homes,' built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times - during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury."

Fisher Houses are near every major military medical center helping families and supporting them as their loved ones are receiving help. Each year, over 12,000 families are served since Fisher House started in 1990."No family pays to stay at any Fisher House!" To find more information visit www.fisherhouse.org.

Raising money for the Fisher House is the VFW Men's Auxiliary's next goal. On April 1, at the VFW Hall, a VFW breakfast of biscuits and gravy, pancakes, french toast, sausages, eggs and beverages will be served from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The price is $6 for an all-you-can-eat breakfast and everyone is welcome to join the VFW Men's Auxiliary for this last fundraising event until fall.

If one is interested in more information on joining the VFW Men's Auxiliary, contact Randall Daggett at (507) 346-7115 or Mark Cummings at 507-272-0345 or any VFW Men's Auxiliary member.