No one does more for vets
Patchogue resident and Patchogue VFW commander Dave Rogers was installed as the first county commander with a service dog. He recently attended the National Convention in Florida with his 18-month-old service dog, Grunt.

Courtesy Photo

No one does more for vets

Story By: NICOLE FUENTES
8/1/2019


Patchogue vet becomes county VFW commander

U.S. Army vet, Patchogue Veteran of Foreign Wars Post 2913 commander, local artist and veteran advocate Dave Rogers is now this year’s Suffolk County Council VFW commander – the first SC commander with a service dog.

He and his service dog Grunt were officially installed in June at the state convention, where he also accepted the local Patchogue post’s several accolades including the National Community Service and Military Program Awards as well as All-American, placing the post in the top 25 percent. 

Now with membership at 100 percent, with about a dozen added new members this year, Rogers said, “It’s nice to be recognized for all the hard work we do.”

Rogers, 50, served from 1990-2005 as a staff sergeant in the Gulf War, Desert Storm, Bosnia and World Trade Center. He has been a member of the local post for over four years and previously served as the senior vice commander. At the county level, he has worked his way up from junior vice commander, to senior vice commander and now commander. He will serve as the county commander for one year, through May 2020.

Not everyone wants to be a commander, but Rogers is up for the job with the hopes of learning from county meetings and bringing information down to the posts.

Each post across Suffolk County, in which there are 29, is involved in their own projects. At the county level, projects include giving away cars, building homes, or youth programs like Voice for Democracy and Patriot Pens, aiding the VFW’s future leaders through grants, and raising money for all sorts of veteran programming.

“It’s not about praise, but about continuing a legacy,” he said, explaining that the motto of the VFW is “No one does more for veterans.” The mission of the commander is to put those words into play, he added. “But,” he said, “nothing happens without all the dedicated officers and members.”

As commander, he has already streamlined the county meetings by continuing the Skype service for veterans who cannot make the monthly meetings, which rotate locations across the county. He has also revamped all the county social media pages and email to reflect one, easy to remember name, “SCCVFW.”

“My responsibilities as a county commander are basically the same as the post commander, just at a bigger level,” he said.

During his visit to the National Convention earlier this month in Orlando, his eyes were opened to even more programming, sparking his idea to implement veteran resource days throughout the year.  The first one will be held this weekend—Aug. 3 at the Centereach VFW from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Programs, he said, like the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Outreach and Peer-to-Peer program and the Suffolk County Veteran Services, will be in attendance helping provide veterans with benefits they are entitled to. About 30 organizations will be there also, including women’s services like Stony Brook’s mobile mammogram and a clinic. Women, he said, make up 16 percent of the county’s veteran population.

“If we want to take care of veterans, we need to make sure we are reaching out to everyone,” he said. 

In the future, he hopes to implement a new “Tele-health” VA booth at a local VFW out east, which will allow veterans who have a hard time reaching the Northport VA access to medical services. The new medical booths, he said, are essentially a doctor’s office with state-of-the-art technology, virtually talking to a doctor with access to tools such as blood pressure devices and more.

As the first county commander with a service dog, Rogers said, he wants to show veterans like himself that it doesn’t matter the issues they might have – whether it be mental or physical, wheelchair bound or lost limbs – it doesn’t mean you can’t be a valued member and leader.

“It’s about deeds not words; that’s my motto this year,” he said. “I want to be out there doing.”

To donate to the VFW or become involved, email Rogers at sccvfw@gmail.com. 

EVENT

SC Veteran Resource Day

The first one will be held this weekend—Aug. 3 at the Centereach VFW from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.