State commander suspends local VFW operations

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #2166 of Elizabethton has had its operations suspended for up to 90 days and entrance doors padlocked pending a meeting with state VFW officials scheduled for next month.
   "There have been some petty jealousies and trivialities that had been going on for some time," said Ronnie Davis, Quartermaster of the state VFW office in Nashville. "The post is not being sold ... no one at this time is being removed from office."
   The letter announcing the suspension, dated Nov. 24, reads that the post was under suspension for 90 days for violating the laws and usage of the organization and refusal to comply with lawful orders.
   "It is not a closure for the post for 90 days," Davis stated. "The state commander has the authority and felt that it would be best to suspend operations for a period of time to regroup, reorganize and clear the air.
   "Sometimes you have to have a mediator step in and solve the problems," he said.
   Davis declined to elaborate on the specific problems concerning the post. The suspension did not result from illegal activities or operations, he stated. He also said the only other state VFW currently under suspension was the Tiptonville post in West Tennessee.
   Davis said VFW state Commander-in-Chief Jim O'Neill visited Post #2166 four times, most recently during the past weekend. State VFW officials are expected to meet with local post officers in approximately two weeks, he added.
   The suspension could be lifted following the meeting, said Davis. The post's authority presently lies with a trusteeship of members from other VFW posts appointed by the state commander, he said.
   The suspension has also created a secondary problem -- the post's honor guard does not have immediate access to flags, rifles and other equipment used to present military honors for the funerals of military veterans.
   Post Commander Harold Hubbard told the Star on Tuesday that the color guard was still active and had been given permission to perform honor guard activities by the state VFW office.
   However, he said a survey of honor guard members found that none wanted to enter the post building when other VFW members could not enter the premises.
   "I have canvassed the members of the honor guard and we don't feel comfortable about going in there," Hubbard said. "We don't want to go in there under those circumstances."
   While the color guard may enter the building, the closest VFW official that could come to Elizabethton to open the building lived in Bulls Gap, said Hubbard.
   "We had two (funerals) Friday," Hubbard continued. "I went to the funeral homes and told them we couldn't act because we didn't feel comfortable about going in there."
   He also did not elaborate on the specific problems experienced at the Post. He indicated that he felt the Post 2166 would be operational after next month's meeting with state officials.
   The post color guard has provided military honors for 82 funerals this year. The color guard had performed military honor ceremonies at funerals in Carter County, Unicoi County and Jonesborough.
   "We are quite disturbed about it ourselves," Hubbard continued. "We want to continue to do the honor guard funerals."
   A private organization that traces its inception back to veterans of the Spanish-American War, Veterans of Foreign Wars has 28,000 members in Tennessee and 2.2 million members nationwide.
   Notice of next month's meeting would be given to all members of Post 2166, according to Davis.
   "There will be a letter issued to every member of the post," he said. "Hopefully, everything will be hunky-dory and back together."