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Local veteran among those installed as Veterans of Foreign Wars state leader

Jul 7th, 2016 | By | Category: Lead Article, News


The Pennsylvania Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) recently installed its officers for the 2016-17 program year during the organization’s State Convention in Lake Harmony. These line officers will provide leadership and direction for the PA VFW, which is the largest state VFW organization in the country boasting 83,000 members and 440 local posts.

Swarthmore resident Thomas A. Brown was elected State Commander of the Pennsylvania Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars. A member of VFW Post 928 in Folsom, Brown earned his VFW eligibility through service in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve from 1950-56 and 1957-67 with the 6th and 7th Fleets. His foreign service included spending time in Cuba, Korea and Germany.

Spring Grove resident Dwight R. Fuhrman of Post 8996 was elected State VFW Sr. Vice Commander. He will ascend to the State Commander’s position next June. Vietnam War veteran Fuhrman has held VFW leadership positions at the local Post, District, State and National levels. He has directed the VFW’s Voice of Democracy (VOD)  essay contest for high school students for many years. During his terms as State VOD Chairman and currently as National VOD Chairman, Fuhrman’s dedication to this scholarship program has helped thousands of students learn about the critical role veterans have filled in America’s history. His VFW involvement covers many other areas including managing the VFW’s efforts to honor teachers for their patriotism and support of the VOD contest. During his military service, Fuhrman earned the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 Device, two Overseas Bars, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the National Defense Service Medal and expert ratings in the use of the M-16 rifle and hand grenade.

Greenville resident Thomas M. Hanzes of Post 7599 was elected State VFW Jr. Vice Commander, which puts him on a path to serve as State Commander for the 2018-19 VFW year. He currently serves as Chairman of the State VFW’s Community Activities program, which tracks the many thousands of hours VFW and VFW Auxiliary volunteers contribute and donations made to projects that serve veterans, military personnel and local communities. He has been a Post Commander four times and Post Quartermaster ten times including twice when he earned “VFW All-State Team” status. At the VFW District level, he was an All-State and All-American Commander. His leadership at the state level including serving as POW/MIA Chairman and as a member of the Legislative Resolution Committee. Nationally, he was named a Special Aide-de-Camp, three times as a National Aide-de-Camp, a National Assistant Inspector General and a member of the Veterans Service Resolutions Committee. During his military service with the 25th Infantry Division, Hanzes earned the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Bronze Service Star, Bronze Star for Valor, two Overseas Bars, the National Defense Service Medal and a Sharpshooter badge with the M-14 rifle.

Ephrata resident John B. Getz, Jr., a Past VFW State Commander, was re-elected as State Quartermaster and re-appointed to serve as State Adjutant of the Department. Getz is a life member of Post 3376 who has served honorably at all levels of VFW leadership. Getz has served on the national level including as a member of the National Service Committee, National General Resolution Committee, National By-Laws Committee and National Finance and Internal Affairs Committee. Getz served honorably in the United States Army in Vietnam during 1967-1968 and earned the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal..

Townville resident Cecil Dennis of Post 5958 was chosen by State Commander Brown to serve as his Chief of Staff. Dennis has held VFW leadership positions at the local Post, District and State levels. He is a vital leader of the Department of VFW’s membership recruiting team and is one of the Department’s Sergeants-at-Arms. Dennis earned his VFW eligibility through service in the Vietnam War. During his military service, Dennis earned the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Sharpshooter Badge with the M-14 rifle and one Overseas Bar.

Drexel Hill resident Frank McGovern of Post 3460 was elected State Judge Advocate. He is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who still serves as a Major in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard at the Joint Force Headquarters at Ft. Indiantown Gap, Annville. He earned his undergraduate, masters in business and law degrees from Widener University. He also holds a degree from the London School of Economics. McGovern completed many military education programs including the Command and General Staff College and the Airborne and Air Assault Schools. His overseas military service includes deploying with the Guard’s 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team to Tikrit, Iraq, in 2008-09. In 2003-04, he deployed to Iraq with the Army Reserves’ 358th Civil Affairs Brigade, a unit he also served with in Al Hillah, Iraq, during 2003.

Johnstown resident Nelson Lowes of Post 734 was re-elected as the Department of VFW’s State Surgeon. Nelson earned his VFW eligibility through his service in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War (1967-68). He earned the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm (Unit Citation), National Defense Service Medal, six Good Conduct Medals, two Overseas Service Bars,and the Army Commendation Medal. He retired from the Army after 22 years of service. As VFW State Surgeon, he visits all VA medical hospitals and State Veterans Homes in the Commonwealth to review how veterans are cared for in these facilities. He also interviews patients and residents to get their opinions about how they are treated. In addition, Nelson is also co-chairman of the Pennsylvania VFW’s Legislative Committee and in that position he frequently speaks with and visits federal lawmakers to discuss veterans’ legislative priorities. He is also a member of the National VFW Legislative Committee and has held leadership positions at the Post and District levels.

Langhorne resident Peter Hook of Post 6393 was re-elected as the State Chaplain for the Pennsylvania VFW.  He was also elected as the VFW’s National Chaplain a few years ago. Rev. Hook, a graduate of the Lancaster Bible College and the Dallas Theological Seminary, was reelected as State VFW Chaplain.  In addition to his pastoral ministry, he has been a faculty member at Philadelphia Biblical University and is a national instructor for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries. Hook is a veteran of the Vietnam War where he served as an officer with the U.S. Army’s 1st Infantry Division. Along with other commendations, he earned the Bronze Star and two Air Medals during his service in Vietnam. In 2012, he was named an honorary National VFW Deputy Chief of Staff.

North Abington Township resident Michael McLane of Post 7069 was named as VFW State Inspector by Commander Brown. He has held leadership positions at the local Post, District and State levels including as State Chief of Staff during the 2013-14 VFW program year. During his military service, he earned the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, Purple Heart and Expert Rifle Badge.

Mt. Wolf Resident John Brenner of Post 2493 was appointed as State Parliamentarian. Brenner was the Department’s State Commander in 2008. He joined Susquehanna Post #2493, Mt. Wolf, in December 1966 after returning from Vietnam. A Radio Teletype Operator in the Army, he served from 1965 to 1967. As Life Member of his Post, he has served and/or chaired many committees. He has held VFW leadership positions at the Post, Department and National levels. Brenner has earned the title York County’s outstanding Young Veteran of the Year and has received the York County Veteran Meritorious Service Award for outstanding service and accomplishments. He serves as chairman of the PA State Veterans’ Commission.

Conneaut Lake resident Bob Eiler of Post 8805, a Past PA VFW State Commander, is serving another year as the Pennsylvania VFW’s representative on the National VFW Council of Administration. Eiler has served in many leadership positions at the local, regional, state and national levels. In 2005-06, he led the Pennsylvania Department as State Commander. He has also been appointed chairman of the Department’s Finance Committee and serves on its Internal Affairs Committee. His other state level service includes being state membership chairman when he helped lead the Pennsylvania VFW to top national membership honors. Eiler was post commander three times including twice being named All-State Commander for outstanding support for the VFW. In addition to serving as a National Council member, Eiler has served on the National VFW General Resolutions Committee and the Veterans Care Committee. Eiler’s Army career started in 1961 and he became an advisor in Laos and Vietnam. He earned the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal to become eligible for the VFW as well as the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Rifle Marksman Badge. After his military service, Eiler attended the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. He then opened a flight school and became a commercial airlines pilot for35 years.

In addition to its strong service to veterans and military families, community service continues to be a pillar in the VFW’s mission structure. In Pennsylvania alone, VFW units donated more than $3 million in scholarships, youth program support, charitable donations, public safety donations and other community support last year, and volunteered more than $10 million worth of community service. VFW State Service Officers, who are well trained and accredited to represent veterans in VA matters, connected veterans of all ages with more than $30 million in federal benefits over the past year. The Department of PA VFW has helped to pass many state and federal legislative programs to help veterans, military personnel and local communities.

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