(Riverton, Wyo.) – The Riverton VFW Post #3628 was closed on May 22nd and a new slate of officers was elected just hours before the State Commandant of the Veterans of Foreign Wars had pledged to pull the club’s charter unless a reorganization was undertaken.
The post plans to reopen with a newly remodeled facility, a restaurant and a bar and a welcome to any veteran, regardless of their membership in any other military organization later this month.
“The club had lost its focus in the last four or five years, we didn’t have elected officers and the post had stopped supporting veterans or their families and such popular VFW programs such as the Voice of Democracy and an annual scholarship had fallen by the wayside,” said new Post Commander Gary Letchworth.
Senior Vice Commander Jim Arndt said Monday “our attempt is to change the image of the club. We want to start with a clean slate. What happened in the past is in the past and we’re starting over fresh.”
The VFW Post will host a club meeting tonight at 7 p.m. to outline the coming changes, which include reopening the Post cantina under new management later this month and re-establishing a restaurant to be known as Club B-52 which will be open to the public, including families, and all veterans. “We’ll have an open house on July 13th when we reopen the cantina (bar), “ Letchworth said, and the restaurant will open on July 23rd.
“We are calling this the New VFW Post 3628,” Letchworth said. “Our new emphasis is to make this a home for all veterans, just not World War II or Korean Vets. We want anyone who served in Vietnam, the Balkins, in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere to be welcome here. We need more and new members to become viable again.”
Arndt said some veterans had been turned away in the past, “unbeknown to us,” but he said that is now in the past.
“We’ll have a booth at the Riverton Day in the Park this Saturday and any veteran who has a DD214 can bring it with them and be signed up as a new member on the spot. We pay the first year’s membership dues,” he said. The Post also plans to sell “Buddy Poppies” and U.S. Flags at the booth, and have members there available to answer questions.
Letchworth said he became aware of problems at the club when he was elected commander, but ran into resistance in making changes.
Letchworch said he consulted with the State Commander’s office and was told to “reorganize the post, elect a slate of officers or we’d lose our charter, which was granted in 1937,” he said. “We had lost our way, but that is behind us now, we want to look forward to making this club viable like it used to be and serve veterans and their families.”
In that regard, the Post will host a special program on the 60th anniversary of the Korean War this coming July 27th with a ceremony and a special banquet for all Korean era veterans and their families.