N.H. VFW commander is named

LYNDEBOROUGH – At the state convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in June, Bill Ryan was elected N.H. State Commander, and his wife, Mary Jane, was named president of the Auxiliary. This is only the second time a husband and wife have served in the two top posts. They are both members of Merrimack Post 8641. Last week they attended the national convention in Kansas City where they officially took office.

Bill served in the U.S. Army as a medic during the Vietnam War and is a 50-year member of the V.F.W.

As state commander, he will also serve on the Tilton Veterans’ Home Committee and the governor’s Veterans Services Committee.

Together, the Ryans will lead the members in support of veterans and their families through a list of programs including scholarship programs, educational outreach, youth activities, community volunteerism, and support of the military community.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars is the country’s oldest veterans service organization, established in 1899 following the Spanish-American War. All members are combat veterans who have served overseas. Their mission is to build camaraderie among veterans, to serve veterans and their families, and to advocate on behalf of veterans.

The N.H. Department has over 6,600 members, and the Auxiliary over 4,000 members.

This year’s special project is the building and grounds ate the N.H. State Veterans’ Cemetery in Boscawen, and to purchase a vehicle to transport families to veterans’ services.

Their vision is to ensure that veterans are respected for their service, receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for their service to this country.

Auxiliary members are relatives of those who have served. For over 100 years, they have been serving veterans.

The Youth Scholarship Program includes an essay competition with more than $1.2 million awarded annually. Three scholarships are awarded annually to three outstanding Scouts. An exceptional teacher is recognized each year for teaching and promoting patriotism.

Locally, V.F.W. posts sponsor youth sporting programs, Boy and Girl Scout troops, Junior Olympics, bike safety, JROTC units, and programs to build good citizenship.

The V.F.W. provides grants to local posts for morale-building events. Posts collect and distribute much-needed supplies for military families and assist with mortgage payments, child care, and food. Scholarships are awarded to returning veterans. Since 2013, assistance has been provided for student veterans.

Since 1996, Operation Uplift connects active duty personnel and hospitalized veterans with family members through free phone time.