Betty J. Stahm
2019-2020 National "Buddy"® Poppy/VFW National Home for Children Ambassador
Plant, Nurture and Grow
Every gardener knows that a flower needs to be planted and nurtured before it can grow. A flower neglected will wither and die. This holds true for the VFW memorial flower – our “Buddy”® Poppy.
I attended the Eastern Conference meeting in October. It was our privilege to have William J. “Doc” Schmitz, Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, speak to our membership. Commander Schmitz notified us that purchases of “Buddy”® Poppies for distribution are down. As I am the National Ambassador for this Program, this statement caught my attention. How can this be? It’s our flower. Why are we not planting, nurturing and growing our memorial flower?
This led to my phone call to the VFW Director of Programs, Lynn Rolf III. I was surprised to learn from Lynn that purchases of “Buddy”® Poppies are down by a half million poppies. Again, how can this be? Lynn also explained to me that three “Buddy”® Poppy assembly locations have closed due to the lack of purchases. This conversation got me thinking of a question I have often heard, “Why do we need to buy another box of “Buddy”® Poppies when we have three boxes in our closet?” This is why: for each “Buddy”® Poppy purchased by your Department for distribution:
- One-and-a-half cents go to your Department’s Veterans Service Fund.
- One cent goes to VFW National Headquarters Veterans Service Fund.
- One cent goes to the VFW National Home for Children.
What we need to do:
- “Plant” our “Buddy”® Poppy in our communities.
- Nurture to bring awareness to our organization and our veterans’ needs.
- Grow to support our membership.
Without the one-and-a-half cents to your Department’s Veteran’s Service Fund and the one cent to the VFW National Headquarters Veterans Fund, who will take care of our veterans’ needs? Without the one cent to VFW National Home for Children, who will give our military and veteran children the happy family they deserve?
If there are multiple boxes of poppies in your closet, you are not using the “Buddy”® Poppy the way they were planted and nurtured for. Lynn is encouraging Posts, Auxiliaries, Districts and Departments to incorporate the “Buddy”® Poppy Program into their daily activities and to get out and get involved in community events. This Program is an essential piece of all our Program efforts.
We should be:
- Hosting “Buddy”® Poppy Drives.
- Using “Buddy”® Poppies at all our holiday and fundraising events.
- Decorating gifts for our hospitalized veterans with “Buddy”® Poppies.
- Including “Buddy”® Poppies in care packages to our military.
- Decorating gifts/awards for our youth and scholarship contestants with “Buddy”® Poppies.
- Including “Buddy”® Poppies with Flags that are handed out in our communities.
- Including “Buddy”® Poppies in photos sent to our local newspaper.
- Including “Buddy”® Poppies in letters sent to our legislative representatives.
We as an organization need to continuously plant, nurture and grow our memorial flower. If we do not, this flower will perish. The consequence of our memorial flower dying is a decline in our ability as an organization to support our veterans and their needs. This is the “WHY” we need to be the very best gardeners that we can be. We need to grow and nurture our flower. Our memorial flower will then grow and be what it’s meant to: a “Buddy” to our veterans, our military and our VFW National Home for Children.
Please incorporate the “Buddy”® Poppy in your Veterans Day events. Many people look for our members to distribute them this time of year. Our memorial flower brings a sense of comfort to veterans and their families; when they see a “Buddy”® Poppy, they know they are not forgotten.
Ulu me ke aloha (Grow with love).
If we continuously grow our mighty little flower, we will be able to “Serve our Veterans with Aloha.”