A new era: VFW Post 2166 reopens to public

Published 8:50 pm Friday, March 2, 2018

Providing service to veterans and the community is the message one local nonprofit organization is looking to continue in Elizabethton and Carter County.

Friday signaled a change in the guard at the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 2166 as board members held a reopening ceremony to the public. The event marked the reopening of the building and the facility’s canteen area after a brief closure from the state.

A new vision is part of the future plans of the facility, according Lloyd A. Hansen. Hansen serves as the state Jr. Vice Commander and indicated the goal of the local Post is to give back to veterans and the community.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“A lot of people think the VFW is just a lot of old guys sitting around the bar, drinking beer and telling war stories,” Hansen said. “That is not the case. This post, presently, is under the control of the Department of Tennessee VFW. We elected to come into the Post to help them get on the right track. They’re were making progress, but we came in to help steer them forward. There have been major improvements, not just with the physical part of the facility, but also with leadership. There are bylaws that have to be obeyed put in place by Congress. The volunteers and leadership have been great to work with to get this facility into the shape it is in now.”

Hansen credited Duane Gilbert, former post commander, and other members of previously leadership to help get the direction moving forward.

Paul Johnson is the new commander of the facility and Hansen credited his work of selecting a board and helping make the VFW a more “family-friendly” area.

“Paul stepped up and made major difficult decisions, which I sponsored, because I am the administrative chairman,” he said. “He has a great team working with him and they’re going to make this place a great asset for veterans and the community.”

Quartermaster Tony Banchs helped leader Friday’s reopening ceremony and credited serval volunteers and organizations for their help at the Post. Along with volunteer help, Lowe’s of Elizabethton and Johnson City, along with Big John’s Closeouts, helped with renovations inside the facility. Banchs also thanked students from East Tennessee State University for leading a helping hand to the renovations.

One of the biggest new additions to the Post in the reopening of the canteen. The area is now broken up into a smoking and nonsmoking areas and is geared to accommodate individuals a growing demographic of veterans.

Sean Arnburg, canteen manager and junior vice commander, added his vision for the canteen is to be a placement for veterans to socialize and be a family-friendly area to host different events to benefit the community.

Arnburg, who recently returned from the military, added that having the Post is important for veterans coming back from war.

“I just recently got out of the military and if you don’t have that support from family, friends, fellow soldiers and other civilians, it is rough,” he said. “We want this to be open to all soldiers. We also want to host events to help the community.”

The Post offers a variety of charitable work within the community and is eyeing different events for the coming year. One event on the horizon is March 31 as VFW members will hold a community-wide Easter Egg hunt, which will be open to the public.

“This is going to be a Post the community can be proud of,” Johnson said. “I would invite people to come out and see what we’re about.”

Renovations of the sign outside the facility is also expected to be completed in the near future thanks to assistance from ETSU.

Veterans from the community are invited to join the Post. Non-serving individuals can also join as social members.

To learn more about the organization or to get involved, call (423) 542-0520 or visit their West Elk Avenue location during regular hours.