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 Former Post Commander Ezio Vitali, US Army and Post Quartermaster Gus Vitali, US Air Force.

Featured Article

Answering the Call

Learn how local Centerville VFW Post 9550 supports Veterans and the community.

Article by Nina Weierman

Photography by April Sova–Remember When Portraits

Originally published in Centerville Lifestyle

When Fred "Rico" Rojas, Post Commander of local Centerville VFW Post 9550 says “we are dedicated to Veterans any way we can” he isn’t just giving lip service. It seems there is no concern too big or small for the local post to lend a hand. With no VFW hall or canteen, the  Centerville VFW is able to put all donated funds to good use serving Veterans and the community.  

Post 9550 provides transportation to and from medical appointments, supplies hot meals and even picks up groceries for local Veterans when needed. “If we can't help, we can find someone or another organization that can,” explains Fred. The VFW is often also the bridge between Veterans and the Montgomery County Veterans Service Commission for the submission of benefits or questions about benefits eligibility.

Sr. Vice Commander Ron Colombe sums it up with “listening, answering calls for assistance and getting Veterans together.” Recently, the post was able to support a local Veteran suffering from the effects of Agent Orange Disease and his spouse who has Parkinson's. The Post set up at-home appointments for the Veteran to submit paperwork for his disability compensation, repair their computer and even provided step-by-step guidance for ordering groceries. This is just one example of how VFW Post 9550 helps Veterans in any way they can.    

Jason Riley, who serves as the Adjutant for Post 9550, joined last year when he retired after serving 25 years with the US Army. “I wanted to support Veterans and my local community and VFW Post 9550 gave me just what I was looking for,” shares Jason. 

The Centerville VFW supports the community in a variety of ways including youth outreach. “One of the most rewarding community events is the annual Veterans Recognition ceremony at Centerville High School where Veterans are invited to come in and talk with high school students and answer questions,” shares Fred. 

In addition, the Centerville VFW supports scholarship opportunities available through The Voice of Democracy oral essay contest for high school students. Each year, the VFW provides a subject to base the essay on. High School students submit a recording of their oral essay along with a written transcript. Winners are awarded scholarship money based on the level they win. “One of my favorite times of year is watching them compete and read the essays,” says Ron. The Post also gives out local teacher, firefighter and police officer of the year awards honoring outstanding public servants. 

Another important service of VFW Post 9550 is providing the Color Guard for several community events including the start of the Americana Festival parade, festival kickoff concert and for Centerville High School sporting events. They support Avenue of Flags in Centerville by placing American flags in yards and businesses for all major holidays. This past year, Post 9550 started collecting unserviceable flags and was able to gather more than 150 flags for proper disposal on Flag Day. 

Robert "Bob" Brewer is one of three Trustees at the Centerville VFW Post 9550. Having joined back in 2014 when a friend and neighbor recruited him, Bob says that the most rewarding thing about VFW 9550 is the camaraderie and helping fellow Veterans. Former Post Commander, Ezio Vitali and his son Quartermaster Gus echoed the love of giving back to Veterans and their local community. “It’s not about us in particular, but about our community and Veterans that need our help, whether they know it or not.” 

The VFW is a nonprofit organization and receives no government funding. They rely solely on individual donations and corporate sponsorships to do the work that they do. Both Ezio and Gus have been members of VFW Post 9550 for 27 years. When asked what the community can do to support the VFW efforts they say, “Come see us when we hand out poppies.”

The biggest fundraiser of the year for Centerville VFW Post 9550 is handing out poppies during Memorial and Veterans Day weekends and accepting donations outside of Bill’s Donuts and Lowe’s. The red poppy became synonymous with fallen troops during World War I and has remained a symbol of their sacrifice ever since.

Donations to the VFW are always appreciated as Fred notes, “We depend on donations to help us with the monetary support we provide to different Veterans and community organizations. Without those donations, we wouldn't be able to do as much as we do.”

This holiday season, the post is collecting for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program and is sponsoring a local family from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base through Adopt-a-Family. Donations from the community will be used to support these efforts.

Centerville VFW Post 9550 is always accepting new members. For assistance for a Veteran or with membership, the best way to contact them is by emailing Follow VFW Post 9550 on Facebook for more information about upcoming events and opportunities to support local veterans. 

  •  Former Post Commander Ezio Vitali, US Army and Post Quartermaster Gus Vitali, US Air Force.
  • Post Adjutant Jason Riley, US Army.
  • Rich Hughes, US Air Force
  • Roger Krass VFW Post 9550 original charter member - US Army
  • Marilyn Barrett - US Air Force
  • Post Trustee Bob Brewer - US Navy
  • Sr. Vice Commander Ron Colombe with Barbie- US Air Force