Caroline Murray/Recorder staff Veterans of Foriegn War Post 8690 Commander Art Armstrong is shown Thursday at the post's newly renovated center.
By CAROLINE MURRAY
BROADALBIN -- The Broadalbin Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8690 was chartered in 1968. Ten years later, a memorial and community center was built, creating a place for members to hold events, socialize or kick back with a drink or two.
And until recently, the building's interior was an homage to the era in which it was built.
Complete with wall-to-wall wood paneling and outdated amenities, members of the VFW got together to remodel the post.
"Through smart shopping, donations and we did all the work ourselves, we were able to do this," Commander Art Armstrong said Thursday as he observed the newly renovated building.
Located on Pine Street off of Route 29, Armstrong pointed out the post's latest additions such as the newly installed gray carpet, Sheetrocked walls, and a touch screen jukebox.
Armstrong said the purpose of the remodel is to increase membership, adding new faces to the VFW and its ladies auxiliary.
Also, the post would like to spark the interest of older members who have stopped attending over the years.
After gaining the approval of some of the original members, a group of men and women decided to give the place, what Armstrong deemed, a much needed facelift.
"It (the decor) was appropriate for the time, but it was never remodeled," he said.
The center includes a full-service bar, a new pool table and other games for members and guests to enjoy.
Although Armstrong said they upgraded in some ways, the walls are still festooned with war memorabilia.
Some rooms still need improvement, such as Baxter Hall, but Armstrong said they are working to redo that area as well.
Nevertheless, the hard work has paid off.
Last month the organization attracted 16 new members between the three divisions of the post. He attributes the uptick in enrollment to the upgraded building.
However, Armstrong said the group is still vying for more people to join.
Currently, there are 350 members who consist of Vietnam, Korea and a few remaining World War II veterans, but not all are active.
People can only join if they are veterans of a Foreign war who fought on Foreign soil.
Armstrong joined the Broadalbin organization nine years ago as a veteran of operation Desert Storm.
At age 45, he is one of the youngest members in the post and was just appointed commander.
Ideally, Armstrong would like to see a more balanced age group and less of a gap.
He said at present, not many members are veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan.
He believes these 30-somethings have returned to their young families and may think they don't have time to join.
As the last operating VFW in Fulton County, he fears the younger generation believes they do not fit the mold -- when that is not the case.
"A lot of people have a preconceived notion of the VFW and the American Legion," Armstrong said. "That is, old-time guys swapping war stories and crying with beers in their hands and that is not the case. Our time and service was sacred, but we don't discuss it a lot."
Armstrong said both the American Legion Post 337 in Broadalbin and the VFW can sympathize with the younger generation of veterans and can serve as a support system. However, the center is not a place for grieving.
On Thursdays, the organization offers line dancing lessons. It also plays host to bridal showers and fundraisers. The group gets together with Post 337 to organize the village's Memorial Day parade.
At a club level, Armstrong said the organization provides members with many benefits and gives them a voice in Congress.
Post members are also willing to meet with people face to face and see if they qualify for membership.
In September, the post is hosting a lobster bake which is open to the public.
Armstrong said they are trying to organize and promote a dinner a month.
"This is the only one left, we are trying to get new members in and existing members back," he said.