Series that features tenants of the Clear Lake Area Community Center
Clear Lake VFW Post 5828 and Auxiliary
By Delores Selle, Linda Jurisch and Ray Cress
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) became an official organization at the end of the Spanish-American War and following the merger of 3 national war veterans’ societies in 1899. Prior to this, many veterans were arriving home from wars, sick and wounded, and left to care for themselves. The John Stewart VFW Post #1, the first and oldest VFW post, is in Denver CO. VFW membership is limited to military veterans who have served their country during wartime under combat conditions. Today, there are 1.6 million VFW and Auxiliary members located at 6200 VFW Posts world-wide. The VFW and VFW Auxiliary are dedicated servants to the veteran service legislation and advocates for military and community service organizations.
On July 20, 1948, a group of Clear Lake veterans met at Allen Bensen’s garage for the purpose of forming a VFW Post. A charter was established in October 1948, and Clear Lake VFW Post 5828 was launched.
It wasn’t long before relatives of the VFW members took an active role in the development and growth of the new post. On May 11, 1950, the Womens’ Auxiliary of Clear Lake Post 5828 was formed. Auxiliary members include men and women who have a family member who qualifies for VFW membership.
Post 5828 and the Auxiliary have been working hand in hand ever since, i.e., for the last 73 years. From the beginning, the focus of the Post and Auxiliary has been a supportive relationship with the Clear Lake community. Their projects through the years were many and diverse, some accomplished together and others individually by the Post or the Auxiliary. They include:
1950s community plays, one being “A Fair of Country Kids” featuring talented local artists.
On May 1, 1956, an open house was held at the old Rifle Club to commemorate it as the new home of Post 5828.
In 1958, the beginning of the VFW birthday calendar, a Clear Lake tradition, was born. This tradition was later passed on to the Clear Lake Lions.
Donated American flags to schools and churches.
Promoted “teen hops” that were chaperoned by VFW parents.
Contributed to funds to send students to the summer music program in Madison.
Provided funds to assist two FFA students to travel behind the Iron Curtain in 1962 to study farm operations there.
Established a scholarship in the field of music and arts; Bill Scott was the first recipient.
Supported blood drives held throughout the community.
The organizations’ focus on community continues today. Community support for VFW brat stands, the annual chicken and rib fest, the Buddy Poppy Program, raffles, and other donations provide Post 5828 and the Auxiliary essential resources to, in turn, carry out projects for the community. Recent donations to area recipients include:
Polk County Veteran’s Commission that aids Polk County veterans in need.
Post 5828 Relief Fund that helps local veterans and their families.
Interfaith Care Givers of Polk County.
Vocational scholarships to students at Clear Lake and Clayton High Schools.
The Patriot Pen contest, a part of the “Voice of Democracy” program. Winners of Clear Lake and Clayton schools advance to district contests. District winners advance to state and state winners to national contests.
Clear Lake Lions Club.
Clear Lake Community Education Program.
Clear Lake Ambulance Service.
Christmas for Children Fund.
Salvation Army, including the “Backpack Program” for school children.
Halloween Trunk or Treat.
Lifeline Food Shelf.
Clear Lake Civic and Commerce.
Boxes of nonperishable items for “Love for Our Troops”. Boxes are prepared near Valentine’s Day for active members of the reserves, National Guard, and Armed Forces from Clear Lake, Clayton, Reeve, Deer Park, and Forest.
Donations are also given beyond the local community to:
The VFW National Home at Eaton Rapids, MI. This veterans’ community helps widows, children and families of veterans during hard times.
The Highground Veterans Memorial Park, Neillsville Wi. This premiere memorial park features more than a dozen tributes and thousands of stones memorializing and honoring veterans. In 2009 members of VFW Post 5828 and Auxiliary, American Legion Post 108 and Auxiliary, Sons of the American Legion and the Clear Lake Veterans Memorial purchased and laid a " United in Service" stone in ceremonies conducted at the Highground. Of note is the Persian Gulf Tribute at the memorial park, shaped like a boot print (hence the nickname ”Bootprint”), to symbolize the many boot prints U.S. soldiers made in the sand during multiple conflicts in the Greater Middle East.
Donations are made to national funds of the VFW and Auxiliary for several needs, including cancer support of Auxiliary members, the VFW National Home, “VFW News”, youth activities and scholarships, to name a few.
Volunteerism is also a priority with Post 5828. Members of the Post and Auxiliary play an active role in the community and community projects. Some of the many activities and programs utilizing non-monetary donations are:
Making and distributing 140 loaves of Christmas sweet breads to veterans and residents of low-income apartments in Clear Lake.
Sending 170 Christmas cards to residents at the three senior care facilities in Amery.
Organizing and hosting the VFW 75th Anniversary Chili Feed.
Participating in school Veterans Day programs.
It may be a little-known fact that VFW and Auxiliary members can petition their national organization for funds to help cover extenuating circumstances. There is money available nationally, upon successful application, to assist in a time of need for cancer treatments or damage to homes caused by fires and storms.
The most sacred function of Post 5828 and Auxiliary is to honor fallen military veterans, regardless of their membership status or affiliation. American Legion Post 108 is a partner in the formation of the honor guard to provide services on Memorial Day and at graveside services of a fallen comrade. The Post and Auxiliary honors the deceased with a ritual during memorial services and provides a widow’s pin and American flag to the surviving family members.
The VFW Post 5828 and Auxiliary want to thank the community for the ongoing support their organizations have received through the years. They also enjoy the help they give back to the community.
Both Post 5828 and the Auxiliary invite individuals who qualify to join their service organizations. Contact Richard Selvig, Post Commander, 715-263-2251 for VFW Post 5828 membership information; contact Linda Jurisch, Auxiliary President at 715-263-2288 for Auxiliary information.
Meetings are held the third Tuesday of the month at 6:00 pm at the Clear Lake Community Center in Rooms 122 (Auxiliary) and 123 (VFW Post 5828).