The announcement that the Korean War Veterans Association chapter in Washington is dissolving is sad news for all veterans and for our community.
The chapter did much to foster patriotism and raise awareness of the Korean War and those who served in it. It also had an impressive record of financially supporting veterans organizations and veterans in VA facilities.
The organization officially was Chapter 324 of the national Korean War Veterans Association, Missouri Chapter 7. It is being dissolved due to declining membership, low attendance at meetings and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has halted the chapter’s fundraising efforts. Health conditions of a number of veterans prevented them from attending meetings.
It has been an official chapter of the national association since 2013, but before that members were active in veterans events, including raising money for the Korean War Memorial in Krog Park.
Most of the fundraising had been conducted by members soliciting donations outside of retail businesses. Members collected $46,487 in that manner. There also were several donations made privately.
As impressive, the chapter raised approximately $36,000 in five weeks to provide uniforms for the Washington Navy JROTC unit based at Washington High School. The unit also serves students at St. Francis Borgia Regional and Union high schools. The chapter assisted the Washington School District in establishing the unit.
The Korean War veterans chapter also took the lead in requesting officials to designate Franklin County as an MIA/POW county. Franklin was the first county in the country to be so designated. Many cities have that designation, including Washington.
The Washington chapter was not having financial problems except in fundraising, due to the pandemic.
Practically all the money raised went to veterans causes. The money left in its treasury has been allocated to American Legion Post 218, which provided meeting space for the Korean vets; the MIA/POW Museum at Jefferson Barracks; and the Washington Naval JROTC unit.
Members of the Korean War vets chapter spoke at Veterans Day programs at schools and at other patriotic events in recent years. It sponsored the program at the Korean War Memorial to mark the 60th anniversary of the cease-fire in Korea July 27, 2013. Gov. Jay Nixon was the main speaker.
In this season of thanksgiving, it is appropriate to offer our thanks and praise for this special group of veterans and their service on behalf of other veterans and to our country.