Public political forums are not new for the VFW Post 2510 on Second Street in East Toledo. The post has always been known for providing opportunities to get information out about candidates and issues.
On Saturday, September 6, the VFW is hosting representatives from the local Barrack Obama presidential campaign staff for a presentation starting at 3 p.m. The VFW is offering a similar program for the local John McCain campaign committee, with a date to be set later.
“We are inviting supporters of both candidates’ local campaign committees to discuss issues. They’ll get the floor. Actually, there is no VFW participation — it’s for the public,” said Bernie Andrews, a VFW officer.
Andrews stressed that is important “to make sure all parties are invited.” Political forums at the VFW have included Toledo city council debates and presentations by mayoral and other city-wide candidates.
“The post is required to perform so much public service, and we have to make these reports to the state VFW. This is one of our public service projects we like to do,” Andrews said.
Even though Obama was to be in Toledo this past Sunday, just after the completion of the Democratic Convention in Denver, Andrews doubts any candidate representatives from the national level will attend the local VFWs’ forum.
“That’s all in their court. I know they will bring the biggest guns they can,” Andrews said.
The presentation was spurred on by Ohio Veterans for Obama, Andrews said. Even though this presentation is designed specifically for local area veterans, he urged that veterans, non-veterans, Obama supporters, and McCain supporters are all welcome to attend. The same goes when the McCain committee makes its presentation.
“After the presentation, the floor will be opened for any and all questions and concerns you may have concerning veterans issues, as well as other issues you have questions about,” Andrews said.
Andrews urged other VFW members and members of other veterans groups to attend, also. The 52-member Ohio Veterans for Obama group is being led by two Iraqi veterans and an Afghanistan veteran. One is also a VFW member, belonging to a group based in Indiana, said Andrews.
“These young men are incredible and they’ve worked as hard as they can. These young men are aligning themselves for their political futures. They’re working for Obama’s campaign. It’s good to see them out there,” Andrews said.
Andrews’ father is also involved in the Obama campaign, and Andrews believes everyone should vote and be informed about political campaigns and issues.
Andrews, an artist known locally for his design of the annual Prism Awards for the Eastern Maumee Bay Chamber of Commerce, is a Vietnam veteran.
He said membership at the VFW is picking up because of the younger veterans, and it’s good to see some of them get involved after they are discharged.
“We Vietnam veterans are getting worn out — we’re getting too old,” Andrews exclaimed.
“When I was commander of the post, I would wrote letters to a potential member and ask his qualifications for the VFW, and then if he was a neighborhood person from our direct community I would send him a membership paid by us, just to let them know, because believe, me nobody did that for my group.”