This will be a place to come and sit and relax with everyone.”
— Commander Scott Cline of VFW Post 4254
BONITA SPRINGS — For many members of the military, the VFW is a place where they can find camaraderie on home soil.
Commander Scott Cline of VFW Post 4254 in Bonita Springs calls the Post a place where veterans can come to relax and hang out with other veterans. The post also raises donations in order to help out military families and those currently serving overseas, and also runs many projects that help civilians, such as giving educational scholarships.
But as America’s veterans are aging and passing away, Cline said many VFW posts are seeing a decline in membership. Younger members are not joining.
“When I got out of the service I was 22 years old and I was focusing my attention on getting a job and being able to make a living and raise a family, raise my two boys,” Cline said. “Over the years I got to hang out in the club and I saw what the clubs are doing for military families and for the civilian population.”
At 45, Cline said he thinks he is the youngest member of the Bonita Springs post, but he would like to change that.
On Wednesday, the Harold C. Buck VFW Post 4254 held a groundbreaking for a new 3,000-square-foot open pavilion. This area will have a tiki bar and a game room.
“This will be a nice place to sit and relax instead of being cooped up in the club,” Cline said. “It’s a place to come and sit and relax with everyone. A lot of members don’t want to talk about what they did in the service, but a lot do; where they were at, what they did.”
Mostly, Cline said he just wants to create a place for members to let go of some of their worries and spend time with other veterans.
“The young men and women currently fighting in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be coming home soon and we’ll need the additional space to welcome them properly,” Cline said.
The open pavilion will also serve as a place for smokers to congregate if the State of Florida passes a law prohibiting smoking inside of private clubs, as several other states have done.
“In addition to wanting a covered space in which to hold outside events and picnics, we also needed to anticipate possible future changes to Florida’s indoor smoking laws and its direct effect on private clubs,” Cline said. “The new pavilion will give those members that do smoke a place to congregate on the premises in the event a no smoking in private clubs law is approved.”
The club is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and has a bar and lounge area. They have bingo, Karaoke and DJ events most weeks and plan other entertaining events.
Although the post hall is a place for recreation, it also houses the heart of the VFW which is to help members of the military. When an individual leaves service, they may have problems that need solved. The VFW has a service officer on staff to help.
“Jim Dunphey is our new service officer and any problem these service members have, whether it’s getting benefits or maybe a medal that they were supposed to receive but didn’t get, he will help them with that,” Cline said. “Anyone that comes out of the service can come in, especially if they are disabled or have a problem that they need solved.”
Dunphey isn’t on site every day, but if a service member comes to, or calls, the VFW they can schedule an appointment.
“We support veterans,” Cline said. “All military people are welcome here.”
Information on membership, as well as programs and services, is available on the national VFW Web site at www.vfw.org.
The Bonita Springs VFW Post 4254 can be reached at (239) 992-0023.