MacKenzie named first female VFW commander
ANDY FASNACHT Review Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
Amy MacKenzie is a familiar face to many in the community and has worn many hats over the years.
But following last week’s appointment, she will wear one neither she or any other women in the area has ever figuratively donned previously.
Last Wednesday evening at the VFW Post 3376 of the Cocalico Valley, MacKenzie was named the first Commander in the post’s 77-year history.
"I am honored to be the first female Commander of our post," MacKenzie said. "I know that many may see this as a groundbreaking achievement, however, women continue to serve around the world alongside their male counterparts, and often in harm’s way; I want to focus on how best to serve them as they serve and upon leaving the military.
"As a woman, I can perhaps reach out to female veterans who may not know what the VFW can offer them; or they may feel uncomfortable in what was traditionally a men’s organization.," she continued.
The VFW has a relatively new outreach program called "She Serves," designed to support and advocate for women veterans.
Statistically, a CNN report said that in 2011 there were 203,000 active duty women serving in the U.S. military or about 14.5 percent of the total force. There are also about 36,000 in the officer corps.
Various news agencies report different totals of how many women have paid the ultimate sacrifice since 2001, with numbers ranging from 137-145.
MacKenzie was trained as a German cryptological linguist and Spanish cryptological linguist and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1988 to 1992. She was stationed in Berlin, West Germany and Key West, Fla. and was honorably discharged as an E-4.
Both she and her husband Dwayne (who was installed as Senior Vice Commander) are both Life Members in the VFW.
"After leaving the military, Dwayne and I moved to Ephrata in 1994," she said, adding that they have been active members in the post since 2006.
"Both Dwayne and I have a firm belief in volunteering and giving back to the community," MacKenzie said.
She said they give their time to many worthwhile organizations, such as Boy Scouts, marching band, Junior Chamber of Commerce (which no longer exists in the Ephrata Area), and a civic group they helped form, which existed in the late 1990s – 2007, called ARO (Adults Reaching Out).
MacKenzie was asked how she got to the point of possibly being commander of VFW.
"I was asked to "run the chairs" at the VFW in 2011," she said. "This is the term we use for someone who will go through the officer positions of Junior Vice Commander, Senior Vice Commander, then Commander of a post.
"As a younger member, I look forward to welcoming new members, recent veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf Wars, or the many other combat service areas that qualify for membership in the VFW," MacKenzie continued. "Additionally, I hope to see more women join the VFW. There is definitely a place for them in today’s VFW. Our post, and the VFW in general, has a lot to offer veterans of all ages and service backgrounds."
She said many of the Post’s current, active members are veterans from the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam wars.
"Our post prides itself in giving back to the community," MacKenzie said. "We support local organizations or individuals who ask for assistance, such as EASS, Boy Scouts of America, Children’s Miracle Network, a variety of veteran’s groups, and so many more. Additionally, we assist local veterans and their families in need, provide hospitality picnic days to the Coatesville VA Hospital, provide free medical equipment to our members and families who need them (such as wheelchairs, walkers, etc). We (also) host the annual Jack Frost Children’s Parade in the fall."
The post also holds monthly bingo with proceeds used to benefit service men and women overseas.
She said members can often be found replacing torn, worn out flags at local businesses for free, teaching flag etiquette classes to local scouts, placing flags at grave markers at local cemeteries, or packing and mailing care packages to service men and women overseas.
MacKenzie said she is a member of the Post 3376 Ladies Auxiliary as well, and encourages all eligible women to consider joining this organization.
"I will work together with our Post’s Ladies Auxiliary to accomplish our main goal of supporting our service members, veterans, and their families," she said.
"I am looking forward to my year of service as Commander, and know that our post will continue to be a benefit to the Ephrata/ Akron area," MacKenzie said. "I want to thank all men and women who have served or are currently serving in the military. And I invite them to check out the VFW and join if they are eligible.
The post also accepts social members.
For membership information call Quartermaster Jack Snyder at the post, 733-9904.
More VFW, page A17