AURORA, Colo. — The VFW Post in Aurora, which was on the verge of having to close permanently because of the pandemic, re-opened Saturday, thanks in part to some loyal Denver7 viewers.
Members of David R Carter VFW Post 3631 normally raise money from drink and snack sales, poppy sales, renting out space for special events, occasional special dinners, and from donations.
All of that came to a screeching halt in March with the forced closure, due to COVID-19.
Things looked bleak.
"We pinched pennies to the point, where we were down to $27 in our coffers," said Post Commander Cody Burrows. "We were about to lose our insurance. We already had our water shut off."
That's when a member of the Post's auxiliary reached out to Contact7.
Loyal viewers saw the story and dug deep, helping to raise $6,500.
"It has been amazing how many really good people stood up and came to our rescue," Burrows said. "Like we've done for years for the community."
The generosity means the VFW Post will be able to continue providing critical services.
Members do more than place flags at cemeteries. They feed and clothe homeless vets, deliver groceries to older vets, and visit aging vets in retirement homes.
"We'll do everything from karaoke to just having lunch with them, to just simply sitting down with them and letting them know people still think about and care about them," Burrows said.
And more importantly, "we have suicide awareness and prevention on the 22nd of every month," he added.
Former Post Commander Gary Anguilm joined the VFW because of his experience immediately after the Vietnam War.
"I was one of the ones that had rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown at them," he said. "As you probably remember, we weren't welcomed back."
Anguilm said he wanted to make sure other returning vets felt comfortable.
He does that by honoring them with a special tile.
The tile, which includes the veterans name, a photo or logo, the name of the division, battalion or company they served in, and the dates they served, is then placed in the ceiling.
"This is part of the legacy that will live on, long past us," Burrows said.
A Safe Place
Some veterans become members because they feel comfortable in the confines of the building at Colfax and Tower Road.
"It's a place where I feel safe," said Patricia Arnquist, the Post's Jr. Vice Commander.
Arnquist told Denver7 that she saw horrific things during her tours of duty in Panama and Kuwait.
She said it's cathartic spending time and talking with people who have experienced something similar.
"I needed this," she said. "I needed to be able to talk to people."
Arnquist's eyes welled with emotion as she explained how most civilians don't understand what many soldiers, sailors and marines have gone through.
She said the folks who spend time at this Post help each other.
Vietnam veteran Steve Samoheyl, who recently moved to Colorado from Virginia, said he's looking forward to spending more time at the Post.
"Just the comaraderie of this organization, I think is going to be very helpful for me," he said.
Burrows is anxious to rebuild their coffers so they can resume helping others.
One of his main goals is increase membership.
He said he's trying to bring in more minorities, more women and more young people.
He extended a heartfelt "thank you" to those who made it possible for them to reopen.