Members and friends of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3905 near Kaufman gathered in front of the post building last week to protest its closure.
The reasons that the post were closed were overblown, or not true, the protesters said on Thursday, Sept. 26.
“We don’t have a clue about what’s going on,” said Chuck Stradley, who was the commander of the post until recently. He said District Commander Randall Johnston told him that he and Tom Lear, the post’s quartermaster, were relieved of their duties. Both positions are on a volunteer basis.
Stradley and others believe the reason is financial. A friend of several VFW members died, leaving a $100,000 bequest to the post in her will, they said.
“It’s all about the money,” said Gerald Wright, a VFW member.
Added Doyle Wilson, another member:
“It’s a personal vendetta,” adding that Johnston and Stradley have clashed in the past. “We didn’t get any due process. They locked the door.”
A sign on the post says it is closed and lists Johnston’s phone number as the contact.
The post has been on suspension for a few months now for violating VFW rules, said Johnston, the district commander, and that was before the money was left to the post. He said he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the closure.
“That’s internal VFW
stuff, and we’re not supposed to discuss that.”
Johnston said six current members of the post came to a meeting on Sunday to discuss the situation, while another 20 people, mostly friends and spouses, had to wait outside because they’re not official members.
“They can re-open as soon as they can meet the requirements of the VFW,” Johnston said. That would require a quorum of six members.
“It’s not our intention to close the post,” he added. “We want to do everything we can to keep the post open under the VFW guidelines.”
Stradley said reasons that members were given in the past included not having insurance for the post, not having minutes of meetings, and allowing a motorcycle club to have meetings at the post. A motorcycle club has used the building for a fundraiser about twice a year, for the past three years, Stradley said, and the club allows numerous groups to use the building for their events, as well. The post also had copies of insurance coverage and meeting minutes, he said, and those were provided to Johnston.
Stradley said he and other post members were planning to use the $100,000 to fix the roof of the post building, as well as renovate the kitchen. The post is located on Highway 175 on the eastern edge of Kaufman.
The suspension was made before the post received the bequest, Johnston said, and had nothing to do with the situation.
“Any time a post goes outside the VFW guidelines, they’re put on suspension,” he said. “It’s not a rare occurrence.”
To re-open the post, a new commander and quartermaster will need to step forward, he added. A commander is the leader of the post, while the quartermaster is similar to a treasurer’s position, according to the post members.
Johnston said he thinks the post can re-open under new leadership. He said the members attending the meeting gave him some positive feedback and want to work toward re-opening the post.
The membership has to be willing to attend meetings and abide by the VFW bylaws, he said.
“We’ll see,” Johnston added.
In the meantime, Stradley, Lear and three other members of the post have written to state VFW officials and asked for a hearing to examine the closure and the dismissal of Stradley and Lear.