VFW national leaders visit Ramstein

Capt. Krista Carlos
USAFE legislative liaison

***image1***For more than 106 years, the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization has
been committed to securing rights and benefits for military members and
their families stateside as well as overseas.

On Oct. 25, Ramstein Airmen got an opportunity to witness this
commitment firsthand by hosting a visit from two VFW national leaders,
Gary Kurpius, VFW senior vice commander in chief, and Michael Wysong,
VFW director of national security and foreign affairs.

“The purpose of our visit is to come over and survey the medical
facilities and see any needs of the troops,” said Mr. Kurpius, a
Vietnam veteran. “The VFW is concerned with quality of life
issues  like housing and recreation.”

During their trip here, the leaders met with Maj. Gen. Bob DuLaney,
U.S. Air Forces in Europe director of air and space operations, as well
as with a group of local Airmen. They also toured Landstuhl Regional
Medical Center, the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility and the
791st Expeditionary Aeromedical Squadron.

Out of all the events that the leaders participated in, there was one part that stood out.

“On all the military installations, visiting with young troops and
hearing their needs, worries and concerns is always the most important
part of the trip,” said Mr. Wysong, who is also a Vietnam veteran.
“When we testify (to Congress) on quality of life issues, it’s so
important for us to do these fact-finding missions.”

Ramstein was selected as one of the stops because of its proximity to
LRMC and the activity and flow of the people coming through here, said
Mr. Kurpius.
This month’s visit to the base was not the first for the leaders.

“The last time I was here was in 2001,” said Mr. Wysong. There have
been a lot of military construction and infrastructure changes, which
is one of the VFW’s quality of life goals. The upgrades in housing and
recreation make it seem like the base is getting the military
construction money it needs.

In addition to visiting the troops and touring the base, the VFW
members also bought cases of food and drinks to deliver as donations to
patients at the Medical Transition Detachment at Kleber Kaserne, which
is a geographically separated part of LRMC.

The donations will help the Kleber patients, said Army Staff Sgt. Rory
Campbell, detachment platoon sergeant. They will mostly be used by the
new patients and people who come in late at night when the post
exchange is closed or by those who don’t bring money with them.

The detachment is always looking for donations like bottled water,
plastic utensils, treats and personal hygiene items, said Sgt. Campbell.
Upon departure, the leaders’ final words focused on the VFW’s purpose as well as thanking the deployed troops.

“We hope we are educating the troops and leadership on what the VFW has
to offer through our military assistance programs,” said Mr. Kurpius.
“We’d also like to express our sincere thanks for all they’re doing and
wish them a safe return home.”

“We want them to know that we will be there for them now, and for them when they come home,” said Mr. Wysong.
For more information, visit www.vfw.org.