Coffee & Comradery for Veterans started Aug. 2. What is Coffee & Comradery, you ask? Both the American Legion Auxiliary and the VFW Auxiliary took turns with other veteran organizations to serve coffee, doughnuts, sandwiches and sometimes other items at the Charles Wilson VA Outpatient Clinic.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down included the cessation of volunteers at the VA Clinic. Since the clinic cannot not tell us or give us any idea of when we might be able to get back in, we started Coffee & Comradery at VFW Post No. 1836 on Ford Chapel Road. Both the American Legion Auxiliary No. 113 and the VFW Auxiliary No. 1836 work together to make this happen.

We encourage all veterans and their families, including caregivers as well as others interested in helping our veterans, to come out and visit and have a cup of coffee and a doughnut from 8 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday.

On Thursdays, Affinity Hospice has started providing breakfast. If your church or organization would like to adopt a day to furnish a breakfast, please let us know. We also are looking for churches or organizations with a handicap-accessible van or bus that they might volunteer to drive once or twice a week to transport veterans without transportation from the clinic (generally after lab at 7 or 7:30 a.m. and no doctor appointment until 10 a.m. or later) and back.

With enough volunteers, we hope one van could pick them up at the clinic and bring them out to the VFW and another van pick them up at the VFW and return them to the clinic for their appointments.

Both the American Legion Auxiliary and the VFW Auxiliary organizations have people inquiring about joining and what the difference is. Both are great veteran service organizations and are here for one basic purpose: to help and support our veterans, their families and our community.

The major difference is in the qualification for joining. For the VFW and its Auxiliary, the veteran had to have served in country during war times. For the American Legion and its Auxiliary, the veteran had to have served at least one full day and have an honorable or general discharge. That’s the reason so many veterans and their families are members of both.

On a personal note, I am a proud member of both ALA No. 113 and VFWA No. 1836. As I have said many times, the only reason I am more active with the American Legion Auxiliary is that I prefer some of their programs, although there are many similar programs and these are the ones the organizations are working on together.

The other major difference in the auxiliaries is that the VFW now allows a family member of a VFW member or one who qualified for membership, regardless of gender, and goes back to second generation.

The new VFW Auxiliary president, Gerald Spradlin, is a member under his grandfather. The American Legion Auxiliary goes back to second generation but is only gender-neutral for the spouse of a veteran and member of the American Legion or deceased veteran who qualified for American Legion membership. Both organizations require a copy of the Form DD214 of the veteran. If the form is not readily available, it can be obtained in several ways if you know full name, birth date and Social Security number of the veteran.

Upcoming events: noon to 2 p.m. Sept. 6, Labor Day, hamburger/hot dog meal, dance from 2-6 p.m.; 5:30 p.m. Sept. 10, 9/11 Memorial Service at the VFW; 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17, POW/MIA Ceremony and refreshments at the VFW.

The VFW Carnival will be Sept. 30-Oct. 3 and the Huntington Catfish Festival is Oct. 2. The American Legion Family will have booths at both events. The AL Family also will have a booth at the VI Horseman Motorcycle Club car and bike show.

The Veterans Day Parade in downtown Huntington is on Nov. 6.

Dec. 18 is National Wreaths Across America Day. The ceremony will be at 11 a.m. sharp at Garden of Memories followed by laying of the wreaths.

You can join, renew your dues and keep up with what is going on around the country online at legion.org, txlegion.org, alaforveterans.org or alatexas.org.

Rita Redd is the president of the American Legion Auxiliary 113. Her email address is ala113@consolidated.net.