New Jersey Post welcomes first female member

Dana Phelps (right)

Navy Reserve LCDR (Select) Dana Phelps made some history after returning from Iraq in 2008. She became the first woman to join VFW Post 2519 in Denville, N.J.

Dana wanted to be a part of the camaraderie among local veterans and to join her Post in assisting the community and other veterans. She also wanted people to be aware that veterans are not just men, “We are also women, daughters, sisters and wives. It is a new generation of veterans,” she explained.

VFW members extended her a warm welcome. “They opened their arms to me from day one. I am treated equally and with mutual respect,” Dana said.

Months after joining, Dana learned she would be deployed to Afghanistan. Members of her Post were eager to help in any way possible. They offered to maintain her yard, get her mail, assist with the maintenance of her home and send her care packages.

“She is one of us, a comrade in arms, and we took a pledge when we joined the VFW that we would always be there to lend our assistance to a comrade in distress,” said Post 2519 Commander Evangelos Criaris. “That is a pledge we do not take lightly.”

Dana had one request for her comrades: reach out to her father while she was away. Her VFW comrades gladly obliged. “Many of us have endured the torture and loneliness of separation. Many of us have been in the same situation,” explained Evangelos.

In fact, Dana’s fellow VFW members did more than just reach out to her father. He became a VFW member himself. He now actively participates in weekly meetings and Post events.

Post 2519 helped in other ways too. Members sent Dana care packages that even included some feminine touches—like a robe and nail polish. They also sent numerous items for the troops and local Afghan children.

Dana sincerely appreciates all that her fellow VFW members have done for her. She feels their support is exactly what the VFW is about. It’s about “people who have at one point in their lives, worn a uniform, carried a weapon and have shared similar situations in combat zones. There is a bond between us,” she explained.

Her VFW comrades left no doubt about how strong that bond is.



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