From July 20-24, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) held its 120th National Convention in Orlando. Commander Ron Ramos, Quartermaster Mitch Cline, and Senior Vice Commander Russell Donaghue attended the convention as delegates on behalf of VFW Post 10818.

This year, VFW Post 10818 earned the prestigious title of "All-American Post." The criteria for the honor of "All-American Post" is based on outstanding achievements in membership growth and participation in VFW programs that benefit veterans, youth and their communities.

"The members of VFW Post 10818 work diligently to interact with veterans of all ages, and to tell the proud story about how the VFW changes lives, every day, for veterans from all service periods and their families," said Commander Ron Ramos.

Due to the initiative of VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, the National VFW recently broke a 27-year membership decline by attaining over 100% within the entire organization and VFW Post 10818 is directly part of that achievement. The Post gained 42 new members this year and is now over 400 members strong. With about 6,500 VFW Posts throughout the world, a record-breaking 463 VFW's have earned the All-American Post title. That's just about 7% of the VFW.

In addition to being named an All-American Post, VFW Commander, Ron Ramos, was also honored as an All-American Commander. The title of All-American Commander is the most prestigious honor given by the organization to post commanders. This marks the first time in the history of VFW Post 10818 that Post 9/11 veterans have earned the highest recognition a post can achieve. Commander Ramos also happens to be the youngest Commander in the Post's history to have received this title at only 32 years old. All-American Commanders and Quartermasters can be identified by their red, white, and blue caps.

VFW Post 10818 has had a very busy, successful, and record-breaking 2018-2019 year. Commander Ramos along with the Post Quartermaster Mitch Cline and Senior Vice Commander Russell Donaghue set their goals to increase membership and grow its community service early in the year.

During this convention, classes are attended to learn about VFW programs, new guidelines coming out, network with other posts throughout the world, and of course, receive awards.

For the 2018-2019 year, members of the VFW and its Auxiliary have put in over 12,000 hours of community service. The impact of service by the VFW has led the Post to earn the VFW's National Outstanding Community Service Award once again. Only two posts in Wisconsin may be awarded this title annually. Senior Vice Commander Russell Donaghue received this award at the National Convention on behalf of VFW Post 10818. Achieving this year's National Outstanding Community Service Award marks the 10th consecutive year that the Post has earned this title.

Back in June, Commander Ron Ramos and Quartermaster Mitch Cline earned the coveted "All-State" designations by the Department of Wisconsin VFW. Not only was the All-State title made for a second year in a row by Post 9/11 veterans, the Commander & Quartermaster of Post 10818 also achieved "Captain All-State." The "Captain" signifies that our Posts' Commander and Quartermaster are the "Captains" of the entire "All-State" team of Wisconsin. That team consists of the twenty posts which received the "All-State" designation. VFW Post 10818 has been recognized this year as the Best-of-the-Best!

A Marine with nine years of active military service, Ramos earned his membership into the VFW through service during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Ramos has been elected as Commander for another year and is a Gold Legacy Life member in his Post. His main goal since taking command last year ago was to improve the VFW's message to attract younger members and have an increased community presence.

"I think we were able to shatter the goals I had for our Post," said Ramos. "The new leadership within our Post are Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who appreciate that the VFW isn't about a smoke-filled bar. It's a group of veterans helping fellow veterans, and we aim to maintain the mission of the VFW. I'm extremely proud of the work our Post and Auxiliary have done this year, and we're already planning on doing more during our 2019-2020 year."

Youth scholarships are the next big project the Post will be putting lots of time into. The Patriots Pen essay contest for students in grades 6-8 and Voice of Democracy audio-essay contest for students in grades 9-12 will be going full speed in the next few weeks. Last year, Post 10818 awarded $2,500 to students throughout St. Croix County. The deadline for submissions is October 31, 2019. For more information on the theme, rules & regulations, and submission, please visit vfwpost10818.org.