Military veterans and civilians are invited to a grand opening for the new home of a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post on Saturday.
Gainesville’s VFW James E. Willis Post 8452 was chartered on Oct. 6, 1946, and had 66 original members. Several are still with them today as they prepare to move into their fifth post home.
"The VFW is one of the oldest veteran support groups in the country," post Quartermaster Tim Hopton said.
The new facility, located on Delta Drive off Browns Bridge Road, features a spacious meeting room, kitchen with stainless steel appliances as well as pool tables, flat screen televisions and arcade games.
The post will hold an official ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday to celebrate the VFW’s new home.
"We’re very community-oriented," post Cmdr. Raymond Maney said. "We want their support, and we want to support them."
The afternoon will feature live music, karaoke and dancing, as well as plenty of hotdogs and hamburgers to go around.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, with its auxiliaries, includes 2.3 million members in approximately 8,400 posts worldwide, according to the VFW Web site.
Its mission is to "honor the dead by helping the living" through veterans’ service, community service, national security and a strong national defense.
Many of the Gainesville post’s 200-plus members participate in the city’s annual Memorial Day Parade each year and make time to visit fellow veterans who are in retirement homes.
"It’s really all about giving back to the community," Hopton said.
Hopton, who served in Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines, has been a member of the VFW for two years.
"When you’re in the military, you build a strong sense of camaraderie," he said, adding that the VFW is a continuation of that. "We provide a good, safe environment for a veteran and his family to come to."