Airmen help build new VFW Post 2434 in Biloxi

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - More than a dozen Airmen volunteered several hours of their time towards the construction of the new Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 24-34 in Biloxi over the weekend.

"Currently we're in a temporary building that we got after Katrina. We can hold a meeting with maybe 50 members in that building, but our membership is over 400. So we're building a bigger building for that," VFW site superintendent Gary Durbin said.

On Saturday the airmen built a perimeter fence around the new building that will be a place of fellowship for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The 10,000 square foot facility is located on a very fitting road--Veterans Avenue.

The new building includes nine rooms, a stage, two bathrooms and a bar area. The former building was located on Howard Avenue, but was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

Durbin said he hopes to see the new place finished by October.

"So far just today we've been setting posts, drilling holes so we can set the posts and concrete them in. So it's a good stable foundation for this fence and right now we are putting the fence up itself," Staff Sgt. Dustin Clayton said.

Durbin said the volunteers are also going to help put up a flag pole in the center of a pond with a memorial around it.

When the building is complete, Durbin said it could be rented out for special events like weddings or corporate meetings.

But most of all, Durbin said the new building will be an environment where veterans of foreign wars can just be themselves.

"It's easier for a veteran to talk to another veteran because they can understand where they came from," Durbin explained. "We've got members going back to World War II although we're losing quite a few of those now. And it goes right up to Afghanistan now. The majority of the veterans coming in now are from Desert Storm, Desert Shield, which was 20 years ago."

Staff Sgt. Clayton said helping to build the facility holds a special place in his heart.

"We're it hits us home is, the VFW usually speaks on our behalf on a lot of different ways. Whether it be Congress or local city or whatever. So they kind of speak for us, whenever, sometimes we can't. That's why we want to give back to them. And show them our appreciation in helping them," Clayton said.

Membership in the VFW is limited to military veterans that have been in conflict.

"It makes all of us feel good to be able to help them out; mostly because they carried the torch for so long; and protected us when we were youngings and some of us were not even around," Clayton added.

The building will cost a total of $1.3 million. Most of the funds to cover that will come from insurance money the VFW received after their building was destroyed. If you're interested in learning how you can volunteer or donate funds call 228-365-3632.

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