Rejuvenating the VFW - KOTA Territory News

Rejuvenating the VFW

From $35,000 dollars in the hole, to money in the bank.  Like all Veterans of Foreign Wars posts across the country, the Rapid City post was on the verge of closing a few months ago.  Now there is a brand new look and attitude.

The goal of the new people running the VFW is to dress up the outside of the downtown Main Street building with a new sign, patio and flower planters.  It was unveiled Friday afternoon.  They want a more inviting street front to let veterans and the general public know they are open for business.

The outdoor improvements are just one component of the effort to stabilize and rejuvenate the VFW.  Inside, canteen manager Jim Schneider, spends much of the morning answer the phone telling people the day's lunch special.  "Chicken fried steak," he kept repeating.

Thursday's chicken fried steak is part of the strategy to make the VFW more appealing and attractive to the younger crowd. Schneider explains, "Four of us decided we'd take over.  We're all life members and thought we would try to make a run at it.  We got it out of debt trying out different things, like our noon lunch.  They've been good, some days $400 to $500 lunches."

The daily $5 lunch special is a hit.  Philly Steak Tuesday and Meatloaf Wednesday are the real draws!  So is the idea to allow alternative bands to rent the facility.

Schneider explains much of July and August are already booked.  He says, "They clean up after themselves.  We haven't had problem one. We have big business when they're here." 

And young Ellsworth airmen have been a big factor in pulling this VFW out of the red and into relevancy.  Schneider says they have received tremendous help from the base.

Mike Thidault, a police officer at Ellsworth Air Force Base, is the new Post 1273 commander.  Thidault says, "It's been kind of an interesting process trying to transfer the current system that's in place, to the new generation of war, the new generation of soldier, the new generation of veteran and get them in here."

Everyone here seems to agree that long-term success for the VFW depends on young active duty involvement, attracting younger veterans, more facility rentals and of course, chicken friend steak.

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518 St. Joseph St.
Rapid City, SD 57701

Telephone: 605.342.2000
Fax: 605.342.7305

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