VFW Louisiana hosts midwinter conference in Alexandria

VFW Midwinter Conference
Published: Jan. 28, 2023 at 9:33 PM CST
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Louisiana is hosting its midwinter conference in Alexandria from Jan. 26-29.

The midwinter conference aims to recognize the hard work of certain VFW members throughout the year and highlight VFW supporters from other programs. 80 VFW auxiliaries were represented at the conference from around the state.

One of the significant achievements for veterans in 2022 was the passing of the PACT act, which expanded healthcare eligibility to veterans exposed to toxic materials like agent orange during the Vietnam war and burn pits during the wars in the Middle East.

“The VFW helped write that legislation to help veterans in Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Afghanistan with the burn pits and everything else, it also included the Camp Lejeune Water Act,” said National VFW Representative Bobby Lovergne. “This is a big celebration for us and the hard work we did as veterans to get that act passed.”

In addition to fighting for better health care and other veterans’ support services, local VFWs provide a crucial place where veterans can talk to other veterans who can relate to their experiences.

“They came back with stories that they didn’t really want to tell,” said Don Reber, Commander of the VFW Louisiana. “So they live with those stories, and they have those devils in their mind that they have to live with. When they get out and talk to people who have never served in a combat situation - it’s really hard for those people that don’t understand what they are going through. But when they have the ability to come into a veterans organization, such as Veterans of Foreign Wars, they know they have somebody that understands exactly and they can talk. We want them to come in, we don’t want them to fight those devils by themselves.”

Commander Reber said providing veterans with access to mental health care is extremely important as 22 veterans a day commit suicide. If you are a veteran or a family member of a veteran and need urgent help, please call the Veterans Affairs hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or the national suicide prevention hotline at 988.

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