VFW Post 7766 earns a national award

San Diego Union Tribune/RB Journal section
September 1, 2017
by Elizabeth Marie Himchak

The Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Rancho Bernardo has earned a national award for its community support and philanthropy.

Major Abraham J. Baum VFW Post 7766 has recently been named an All-American Post for 2016-17 by the VFW National Headquarters, said post spokesman Dave Epstein.

“This recognition takes into account many bureaucratic requirements such as maintaining membership levels and getting reports in on time, but it also recognizes such things as our charitable and community service efforts,” Epstein said.

Don Schmidt, the post's commander for the past three years, said the VFW has around 6,500 posts worldwide and gives the award to the top 35 in each tier based on membership levels. Post 7766 has 111 members.

Schmidt said this is the third time the post has achieved All-American status since the Rancho Bernardo-based group formed in 1986.

“It means we have people in the post who are active and willing to contribute their time and talents to perpetuate the mission of the VFW,” he said. “There are a number of posts that don't do as much as we do, which is the reason (many of our members) joined us. They want to put in an effort that's meaningful.”

According to Epstein, the post members fund several projects each year. These include assisting with two Stand Down events to help homeless veterans in South County (annual event held near Balboa Park associated with Veterans Village of San Diego) and a newer North County version (associated with Interfaith Community Services).

He said the post also financially contributes to the VFW National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids, Michigan; helps a Camp Pendleton-based Marine Corps battalion (efforts include hosting a Christmas party for the Marine's children, who receive wood toys made for them by a post member); sponsors awards for high school cadets of local JROTC units; sponsors middle and high school level student essay contests; and co-sponsors Rancho Bernardo's three annual patriotic ceremonies for Independence Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

“Funds for these activities come primarily from contributions from local citizens on those days we distribute (Buddy) Poppies prior to Veterans Day and Memorial Day,” Epstein said.

According to Schmidt, the post typically raises $7,000 to $10,000 each year through the Buddy Poppy program, which must be spent on community endeavors.

Schmidt said other post efforts include sponsoring local Boy Scout, Cub Scout and Venture Scout troops, and assisting veterans when they need help. For the latter, the RB post sometimes works with other local posts to help veterans and their families who are down-on-their-luck or in emergency situations.

Schmidt said any U.S. veteran who earned a foreign war designation is eligible for membership. The post meets monthly at 7 p.m. on the third Wednesday in the RB Swim & Tennis Club, 16955 Bernardo Oaks Drive. For details, contact him at 858-487-7075 or "cdr @ vfwpost7766.org", or go to www.vfwpost7766.org.

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