This year, the Department of Delaware Ladies Auxiliary was named the Outstanding Department in its membership group during the 101st National Convention of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of the U.S. On behalf of Delaware Ladies Auxiliary, President Colleen Thompson of Milford was presented with the award at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, Missouri.
“I was in total shock when they announced the winner of the award,” said Colleen. “It was very humbling and I was proud for our ladies auxiliaries in Delaware. There are so many people involved in earning this recognition.”
The judging of the award was done by National President Armithea “Sissy” Borel. President Borel judged the states on their participation in the national programs of the organization, including Scholarships, Cancer Aid & Research, Veterans & Family Support and Hospital. “This is a very difficult award to judge. All the states did amazing things for veterans, their families and the communities they live in,” Borel said of the judging. “I am truly proud of all they have accomplished and congratulate each Department on their hard work.”
In Milford, Colleen and her husband Gerald Thompson have been serving the Milford Blue Hen VFW Post 6483 for over 11 years. Originally from West Virginia Colleen met Gerald on a United Airlines Flight as he was coming home from active duty in Vietnam. They married in 1969. Moving to Milford, DE in 1972 they raised a family and were active in the community. In 2003 they became active in the Blue Hen VFW Post 6483 as Colleen went on to serve as the President of the Ladies Auxillery and Gerald went on to serve as Post Commander.
“Just like many of our veterans today, we did not become involved until later in life but we wish we had much sooner,” said Colleen. “The organization is a great resource for veterans and their families.”
All 19 Ladies Auxillieries in Delaware serve their veterans and the greater community by implementing and supporting programs including Scholarships, Cancer Aid & Research, Veterans & Family Support and Hospital. Once a year Colleen, Gerald and other members of the Blue Hen VFW visit Milford High School to teach students about the sacrifices of veterans and their significant role in American history.
“We want to be sure that this generation does not forget our veterans and that we still honor them,” commented Colleen. “Now most younger people do not even know much about the Vietnam War. [Visiting the schools] helps us to remind others about the sacrifices and what veterans have done.”
Colleen also volunteers her time at the Delaware Veterans Home in Milford, which serves over 120 veterans, assisting with their daily programs. “The Delaware Veterans Home is a great place and the residents see it as their home and the staff treats it that way,” commented Colleen.
One challenge that Colleen states is present in most VFWs across the country is attracting new, younger members. “A lot of these young veterans have a busy life, working and raising a family and they are involved in so much,” said Colleen. “I wish that Gerald and I had joined at a younger age, the VFW offers mentoring and companionship as these veterans are adjusting to life as a veteran family.”