|By Tiffany Stamper
The Monte Lewis Stamm Veterans
of Foreign Wars Post 5438 finished their new building in the Fall of 2003.
The 70x50 foot building is complete with open space, meeting rooms, offices and even a
stage for entertainment. Some might say the organization has come a long way since founded
in 1991; however, members say, they aren't even close to reaching their potential.
Named after a Lewis County man who died in Vietnam in 1968, VFW Post 5438 started in
January of 1991, without a building or structure in which to operate. When founded, it was
the only post in Kentucky named after a local veteran who died in a foreign war.
What is the purpose of this organization? The creed of VFW states that the objects of
the VFW are fraternal, patriotic, historical and education. The purpose is to strengthen
comradeship among its members, to assist worthy comrades, to perpetuate the memory and
history of our dead, and to assist their widows and orphans. Their purpose is also to
maintain true allegiance to the government of the USA and fidelity to its constitution and
laws, to foster true patriotism, to motion and extend the institutions of American
freedom, and to preserve and defend the US from all enemies whatsoever.
According to Senior Vice Commander Kenny Skidmore, the first meeting took place in the
Lewis County Library with Elden Riffe as Master Commander, while the second meeting was
held at the Black Oak Fire Department.
In the Spring of 1991, the VFW decided to rent a former
grocery store building on Route 3037, west of Vanceburg. The building was large, complete
with open space that would be vital for the club's operations, but members knew they would
eventually need more.
By this time, Riffe had resigned as Master Commander and Kenny Skidmore had taken over
"The old building had low ceilings, was aging and had electrical problems,"
As the organization continued to grow, members decided in 1997 that a new building
would become the goal of VFW Post 5348. However, they wished to prevent going deep into
debt. By saving their money religiously and operating on a strict budget, the organization
reached its goal of $200,000.
Kevin Hilger, current Master Commander, said that without first operating in the old
building and saving the money raised, the new building would not have been possible.
RJ Construction began constructing the new building in July of 2003 and in November the
building was finally ready to operate in.
The organization currently has 116 veteran members, 73 members in the Ladies Auxiliary,
and 25 honorary comrades.