MEDINA, Ohio — A local Veterans of Foreign Wars post is turning to the community in hopes of raising $1 million that would pay for a new building.
A letter, written by past post Commander Scotty Kopfstein, indicates age has taken a toll on the current structure and the post "has completely outgrown the current facility."
VFW Post 5137 has been a landmark on Pearl Road since 1954, a source of pride for veterans from all U.S. military branches. The men and women who belong to the post still find ways to serve their community.
"I feel it's not necessarily we're officers of just this post. We represent this community," said Pete Barnard, the quartermaster of the post.
In 2016, there were 550 members, but membership now stands at 840. Kopfstein attributes the spike to a concerted effort to get younger vets to join.
"We've got things going on all the time. They come in here and see it and they say, "I want to join that post, man.' So we give them an application and they join our post," he said.
The surge in membership is the driving force behind the campaign that will seek donations from Medina County businesses and residents.
Fundraising toward getting a new VFW post will last a year. After that, the post members will determine if they have enough money to build a new post or use funds to expand the existing building.
Veterans believe it's vital to keep their post thriving with some other posts around the country struggling with declining membership or shutting down as older vets pass away.
"If we don't get involved, there's not going to be anybody here to help our future veterans," said Commander Nicole Mollohan-Klein.
The post helps supports veterans returning hone from service and also assists vets with financial and mental health needs.
In addition, the members donate about $25,000 yearly through scholarships for kids, Thanksgiving meals, Christmas presents for families and other projects.
Mollohan-Klein said she wants the residents and business leaders to recognize all of the service the post does for county when considering whether to donate to the new building fund.
"Support the veterans that supported your freedom," she said.