VFW Post 4388 prepares for new home following 2019 fire

Published 9:15 am Saturday, January 14, 2023

Despite losing everything to a fire on Thanksgiving Day in 2019, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4388 in Red Level will return bigger and better as construction of a new building is nearing completion.

Although construction has been ongoing at the site since January 2021, the pandemic has led to many setbacks of the only Veterans of Foreign Wars located in Covington County.

“Our old building was a complete loss with all of our memorabilia destroyed. We had to deal with insurance and other issues before the final contractor built the building. It took a while to put the pieces in place. I have people who ask me to display new memorabilia when we are able to open, hopefully by March,” Post Commander Tom Stephens said.

The VFW, which is a non-smoking facility, takes pride in offering assistance to veterans and their loved ones.

“If one has a disability they are trying to get approved, we help them with that. If we have a family in need, we go to them and help. At Christmas, we had a family in Opp that had just lost a family member. My auxiliary would cook all types of Christmas meals and deliver those to them. We are here for the public and participate in a lot of events with the Covington Veterans Foundation who has been really gracious to us. When the Vietnam Wall came to Andalusia last summer, we helped veterans locate their names.”

According to Stephens, the VFW began with approximately $114,000 in insurance funds. The non-profit organization seeks assistance from the public who can contribute donations toward the $25,000 still needed.

“We were hit hard by COVID. Materials have cost us more than we expected. We have members and other citizens come see our progress. We are open to any veteran who served overseas during one of the conflicts the United States participated in. We have a lot of state and national resources and have representatives who lobby with our senators and also go to Washington. Our VFW fights for these people, and we try to do everything we can to help our veterans. We all served and are all brothers and sisters. If we know about it, we can guide them in the right direction to receive help.”

Post 4388 currently consists of 151 members. “I would love for anybody who served in active conflict or ever served our country to become a member. I welcome any veteran today to contact me if he or she needs something because we are all about serving and helping our country’s veterans,” he said.

The VFW reaches the community with annual events such as turkey shoots and fish fries and also offers scholarship programs such as the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen. A turkey shoot has been planned for February with a cost of $6 per shot.

“Any veteran is able to participate in these events. If we were open, I would be doing 11 meals a year that would not cost a veteran anything. Every major holiday, I cook a meal with all the fixings. We are also hoping to have a flag-burning ceremony like we did before the fire occurred,” he said.

Stephens stated the new building would see some changes and occupy 5,000 square feet.

“We are becoming more family-involved and will have a changing room for families to change their toddlers. We eventually hope to put in a little playground for children and have a fireworks show on the Fourth of July.”

Internal construction of the new building has mostly been completed by members.

“We have some people who are not members to come and guide us. The outreach from the community has been outstanding. Our biggest problem right now is our funds, and we are living month-by-month now. We do hamburger cookouts at Marvin’s to raise money for the purchase of equipment. Every time we receive donations, we buy the equipment at that time,” Stephens said.

Planning Committee Chairman Robert Caron said the VFW would accept toys, canned goods, clothing, and other non-perishable items in addition to monetary donations. “Anything the public can do to help is greatly appreciated. We can do a pay-it-forward with the items people are willing to contribute to us. We all play different roles here, and I am also a mechanic and the post service officer. I offer veterans repairs and/or services with their vehicles,” Caron said.

VFW Post 4388 is located at 6841 Oglesby Road in Red Level. For more information visit Redlevel Vfwpost on Facebook or call 334-542-6013.