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A round for the veterans… VFW Post 2166 raises needed funds in first annual golf tournament

BY IVAN SANDERS
STAR STAFF
ivan.sanders@elizabethton.com
Even with a wind chill that caused the toughest golfer to give a shudder, there was nothing that was going to keep 23 teams off the links at the Elizabethton Golf Course on Friday as they came out for a very good and important cause and that was to support the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2166 which has been strapped financially due to the pandemic which has eliminated the need for rentals of the facility.

It was the first-ever tournament held by the Post but with the turnout on Friday, it very well might not be the last as golfers came out not only to support the Post but to have a time of fellowship and enjoy a lunch provided by Chick-Fil-A.

Post Commander Andy Wetzel was very appreciative of the players who came out on a cool day to help the Veterans here in the local community.

‘We talked about it in September at one of our meetings about possibly doing something,” Wetzel said about how the tourney came to fruition. “The Auxilliary came over to our side – the post has the VFW which is the Veterans of Foreign War members and then we also have the Auxillary which is family members of the VFW Post which is a secondary part of our program that Jarrod (Ellis) is a part of.

“They walked over to our meeting and said they were thinking about doing the tournament with the reason being is because of COVID-19 our rentals are way down so we are struggling for income.

“Jarrod said he thought it would be a good idea to make a little money by hosting the golf tournament,” Wetzel continued. “We said whatever you need we will support so they did the research between September and October and came back in October and said thumbs up we are good to go after talking to the golf course.”

Wetzel said that it also helped that the new golf pro at the Elizabethton Golf Course, Rey Padilla, is a veteran himself and was more than willing to help.

“Of course Rey here is a veteran which helps a lot and is a big plus and he has been awesome helping us line everything up. We put everything in stone during the October meeting and started to push out to business owners for hole sponsors and for folks to play and literally it came together overnight,” Wetzel stated.

“David Batchelder also did a stint on WJHL on Good Morning Tri-Cities and that helped a bunch getting a lot of response after that. David has played a big part in this and he is a member of the VFW as well.”

During the short time it took to pull everything together, Wetzel said it has been absolutely amazing and a blessing to how people have responded by signing up to play or sponsoring a hole.

There were 36 hole sponsorships for the tournament.

“It’s been phenomenal. I have said it a lot of times that I have been a lot of places and seen a lot of things but there is nowhere anywhere in the world that is more patriotic than folks right here. They came out here to support us and that means the world to us,” said Wetzel.

The bottom line of the VFW Post according to Wetzel is to be a source of assistance to Veterans even in times of trying times when Veterans feel there is nowhere else to turn.

“We are fortunate and bless to do what we do. The one thing that we do at the Post is to help Veterans – that is why we are there for and that’s the main objective,” stated Wetzel.

“This money will go a long way in helping with our projects which helps Veterans. Our Patriots pen, the Voice of Democracy, Teacher of the Year, Firefighter of the Year, EMS of the Year, Police of the Year, all of those things cost money to do. It’s good and we are happy.

“The Veterans Relief Fund – a Veteran in need can come and talk to David because he is the Veteran Service Officer and David can come to talk to us and at that point, if it’s financial, if its VA, if it’s moving a piece of furniture – come down and talk to David, he calls us, and we jump in and help them do anything they need,” he continued.

The post also provides a place where those who have served and experienced actual service on the front lines can come together and talk about their experiences with others who can relate to what they themselves had experienced.

“It’s just a place for Veterans to be around other Veterans,” Wetzel emphasized. “The community at the VFW is not a large community because you have to be a Veteran of a foreign war meaning deployed to a combat zone so our community is not large.

“But the guys that have done those types of things have the opportunity to go talk to other Veterans who have done the same things.”

Wetzel again wanted to express his thanks to all the local businesses and players who helped to make the VFW’s first golf tournament a success.