Members of Whitehall's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8794 can boast something few other VFW members can: They belong to one of 35 All-American Posts in the United States.

Members of Whitehall's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8794 can boast something few other VFW members can: They belong to one of 35 All-American Posts in the United States.

Whitehall's VFW post, located at 4100 E. Main St. but tucked almost out of view from the arterial road, was named an All-American Post for 2016 after achieving a number of required benchmarks.

"It's something we came close to before ... we are ecstatic to be recognized this year," said Richard Curry, who in July was elected to his fourth one-year term as commander of Post 8794.

The Pickerington resident retired in 2010 as a colonel from the U.S. Army after a 30-year career and is employed today at Defense Supply Center Columbus in Whitehall.

Among the requirements to be named an All-American Post are organizing and hosting civic and community events as well as programs and services for veterans.

Membership requirements also must be met.

The Whitehall VFW post was chartered in 1954 and has been in continuous service since then.

Curry said Whitehall's VFW post had about 270 members the first year he was commander.

"Our numbers had dropped because some people had moved or died ... but others had stopped paying dues," Curry said.

VFW officers worked to increase membership, and this year the Whitehall post has 383 members.

Slightly more than half of the members who have joined in the past four years were reinstated; the others are new members and include East Columbus resident Patrick Kelly, 42, a member of the VFW men's auxiliary.

Kelly's grandfather was a U.S. Army veteran and served in World War II.

"It's a respect thing," Kelly said about joining auxiliary units of the VFW and the American Legion.

"I joined, too, because I wanted to give something back. I feel it's a way for us to show respect and give something back to the veterans who allow us to have the liberties and freedoms we enjoy."

To earn the honor this year, the Whitehall post exceeded the recruiting standard by reinstating 33 members, recruiting 22 new members and retaining 100 percent of current membership, Curry said.

The post also accomplished all its community- and veterans-support programs and met the requirement of being designated an All-State Post for Ohio.

Community-support programs included participation this year in Rebuilding Together Central Ohio, a multiagency effort in May involving teams of volunteers who helped improve 16 selected residences in the Norton Field subdivision.

The Whitehall post conducted ceremonies to observe Memorial Day, Flag Day and Pearl Harbor Day and last year established a Veterans Day parade that began at Holy Spirit Church on South Yearling Road and concluded at Whitehall-Yearling High School, about a mile south of the church.

The VFW selected Whitehall police officers of the year and worked with the school district on a "Patriotic Pen" essay-writing contest, Curry said.

"We had been close (to being named All-American Post) in the past and it was something I wanted us to do when I became commander," Curry said.

"I'm pleased to receive the recognition for doing something we want to do anyway for our veterans."

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo