VFW to sell post home; decreased revenue and dip in membership for Milford club

MILFORD – After World War II, local veterans bought an old barn on Mont Vernon Street and turned it into a place to meet and socialize.

There were 91 charter members of Harley-Sanford Post 4368 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Hundreds more joined the post, which was named after the first two Milford men killed in World War II.

With so many members supporting it, the post was able to put on the Milford Labor Day parade and July Fourth celebration every year. In the 1950s, they started a drum and bugle corps that won a state championship.

Those days are gone. Now, with only 186 members, and many of them retired and moved away, the post has put the building up for sale.

"It’s a home," said Douglas Bianchi, a Navy veteran of military action in the Caribbean and Middle East who is a longtime post member and current quartermaster. His father, World War II veteran David Bianchi, was one of the charter members,

"It’s like losing a home you’ve had for 50 years," Douglas Bianchi said.

But the VFW can’t afford to keep up the building, he said. He has applied for grants to help the nonprofit, but so far none have come through.

The Milford post home has undergone renovations over the years, and in recent years, had a new heating system and energy-saving lights installed. But it has become a white elephant for the members.

Over the years, much of their revenue came from renting out the hall, but now substantial liability costs for parties with alcohol have discouraged companies from going there.

"We used to have six or seven Christmas parties" in one season, Bianchi said.

It’s uncertain whether the post will build a new building or rent, but it will stay alive, he said.

"We have to move forward and do what we have to do to survive," he said.

The old police station property on Elm Street would be ideal because it has a softball field, Bianchi said, but town officials say someone else is interested in it.

Steve Sears, who was post commander until recently, said VFW posts don’t always have their own building. Bedford’s post, for example, meets in the old Town Hall, he said.

But "every post is suffering" from the lack of members, he said.

Now that there’s no draft and a professional military, "a lot of guys and women make it a career," Sears said. When they get out after 20 years, their interests change.

"It’s tough to get people to join," he said.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@nashuatelegraph.com.