The local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars recently celebrated its newest member signing a lifetime membership.
New member Jeff Trenary is an Iraq War veteran who has been out of the service since 2013.
“I know we sound like we’re excited to have this young guy in here, but I’m one of the youngest guys in here, and I’m 67 years old,” said VFW Post 1254 Commander Charlie Cravens, who is a Vietnam War veteran.
“It’s nice to have a young man to sign up for the VFW.”
Trenary the Marine
While serving in the Marines, Trenary spent six years in Okinawa, Japan, and four more stationed in North Carolina.
He didn’t talk much about his time in the military, but did say he worked on helicopters while he served.
Trenary is not the first person in his family to enlist or serve overseas.
His grandfather, Ron Tousley, is a Korean War veteran.
“He’s done pretty good,” Tousley said of his grandson.
Tousley was the owner of Tousley Auto Supply for 47 years.
He served for two years in the Army as a combat engineer, from 1952 to 1954.
“When I got to Theopolis, France, the bows of the ships were still sticking out of the water (from World War II),” he said. “The ones in the English Channel were, too.”
Tousley was serving overseas in France when Queen Elizabeth II was crowned.
“I loaned my friend money to go to the coronation,” he remembered.
Tousley and Trenary’s son, Kaiser, were on hand to witness Trenary’s enrollment in VFW.
Benefits and membership eligibility
VFW State Commander Michael Holland, an Arkansas City resident, also is a Korean War veteran.
Holland gave Trenary a stack of information that can be helpful in navigating the veterans benefits for which he now is eligible.
A lot of people don’t realize they might be eligible to be a member of VFW, Cravens said.
Anyone who deployed in a combat zone and was generally or honorably discharged from any branch of the military is eligible to become a member. Those still serving might be eligible, as well.
Right now, those who are discharged dishonorably are not able to sign up, but Holland said VFW is working on changing some of its bylaws.
“Some guys get discharged from the service and they find out it was because of (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder),” Holland said.
VFW is working to make sure people who fall into this category can have their status changed to reflect the circumstances.
“It wasn’t so bad with World War II and Korea, but when we came back … we want to make sure that you’re treated fairly,” Holland said. “It took a long time for some of us to get over it. Some of us can’t.”