A groundbreaking idea attracts members, young and old.

From left to right: Eddie Rodriguez, Joe Guerrero, Past VFW Commander-in-Chief
Richard L. DeNoyer, Bob Gear, Jason Doran and Gabriel Lopez.

While Bob Gear and a few other 40-ish VFW members strolled out of the VFW Texas State Convention in 2011, a thought occurred to him: How do we get more veterans our age to join VFW?

“It was something we discussed before, but after attending the Convention, we got serious about it and started coming up with new ideas,” he said.

As Director of the Texas Workforce Commission’s Veterans Leadership Program, Gear is no stranger to innovation. He and Jason Doran are pioneers behind VFW’s first-ever electronic Post.

Post 12117 in Austin, Texas, currently has 365 members and ranks first in the District for membership. With no bricks and mortar to call home, members take advantage of technology to stay in touch and hold meetings.

Every third Wednesday of the month, members log into a closed Facebook group for their monthly meeting.

“We need a quorum every time, so at least five members will meet at my house with our laptops,” Gear explained. “We’re doing something new, but we still have to mind the rules.”

Minding the rules was always their plan. That’s why they made sure to run their groundbreaking idea by Texas VFW leaders Dan West and Roy Grona, as well as VFW Adjutant General Allen “Gunner” Kent.

“They were open to us piloting the idea,” said Gear. “And a virtual Post is of great benefit to everyone: younger members already comfortable with the technology, but also elderly members who can’t make it out to meetings, or people in rural areas who might find the long drive to a physical post prohibitive.”

But don’t think it’s all digital all the time. This enterprising Post still makes time to get together.

“We still plan social outings and get together for meals and fellowship,” he said.

“And, of course, we come together for community service projects and fundraisers. Members are always going to want a chance to see each other and catch up.”



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