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Cape Fear Voices and The Teen Scene is Named 2024 Non-Profit of the Year by the North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices / The Teen Scene named 2024 Non-Profit of the Year by North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Who are the Veterans of Foreign Wars?

They are known for service in a combat zone.
Vietnam War Veteran
Vietnam Veterans Commemoration

The answer begins with the name. We are the only veteran’s organization where the first requirement for membership is that you must put your life on the line in a combat zone in defense of our country. EVERY member has served their time in “hell.” Yes, some had a better situation in that combat zone than others, but all have spent time in a combat zone. In my war, none were more dangerous than that of tunnel rats or brown water Navy. (By near-unanimous vote of veterans, the tunnel rats win out.)

Leland Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 12196 was founded on January 19, 2020, amidst a once-in-a-century lockdown. Finding 25 new members to obtain the Charter and then to hold them together when you couldn’t get together was an interesting challenge. However, the leadership of Post 12196 developed a solid business plan for success and began immediately to implement it.

We faced all the obstacles of no in-person meetings and restricted business activity in the community. Still, we set about obtaining all the necessary tools of business i.e., bank accounts, licenses, insurance, meeting space, and developing an active/committed membership.

Our crowning achievements that first year were two very successful drive-by birthday celebrations for two WWII veterans Alex Moskowitz and Paul Phillips. We also hosted our first Coat Drive and raised over 200 coats for Brunswick Family Assistance. Our efforts that year were rewarded with recognition as the “Mayor’s Choice of Citizen of the Year for 2020.” We also finished 4th nationally for member growth among post our size with a 200% growth during a lockdown.

Each year, the VFW lays out requirements of the “corporate” priorities of the organization. If a Post accomplishes those priorities, they will receive the very coveted All-State or All-American honors. Post 12196 developed a business plan to achieve those requirements.

We didn’t have the resources to match other veterans’ organizations in our area, so the thought was to be the best “VFW” post we could be to develop a track record of success and community service. Our plan was that a solid and consistent track record of success would attract combat veterans who appreciate the notion that “our service didn’t end with a DD214.”

There seems to be some confusion in our community on the role of Post 12196 in our community. Here is a list of programs implemented in 2020 by Post 12196 and continue today. We ARE the veteran’s organization doing these programs:

  • Annual Can Drive and Coat Drive to benefit Brunswick Family Assistance.
  • Vietnam War Era Veterans Commemoration (Mar. 29 each year).
  • Korean War Era Veteran Commemoration (July 27 each year).
  • National Day of Remembrance (Sept. 11 each year).
  • Annual recognition of POW/MIA Day in partnership with Blossoms Restaurant
  • Annual Thanksgiving and Christmas meal donations to area schools.
  • Memorial Day Ceremony and Buddy Poppy Drives to aid veterans in need.
  • Annual recognition of Voice of Democracy, Patriot Pen, Teacher of the Year, Safety Officer of the Year, and Civil Air Patrol Cadets of the Year.
  • Tuesday Coffee with veterans.
  • Fundraisers where every dime was given to the cause-Kentucky Flood, Maui Fires, Manna Ministries.
  • Two blood drives

We have some very supportive people in our community who have helped us along the way such as Deb Pickett, Financial Advisor at Signature Wealth Strategies, Carrie Dunlap and her team at Lower Cape Fear Life Care, and Jeremy and Billie Gunn at JBG Services, Painting Division. Without them, we could not have completed many of our goals. But with the exception of a dance this past July, we have managed to accomplish these goals without a single fundraiser. We are not about raising money for ourselves except as necessary to pay bills and help needy veterans. We are all about projects to give back to our community.

Other activities include participating in local festivals and partnering, when possible, with the Leland Police Community Services and Outreach team and Chamber of Commerce activities. Our overall effort this past year was enough to earn #17 in North Carolina for community service.

Additionally, for the VFW calendar year 2022-2023, Post 12196 earned recognition as follows: (rankings are based on Posts our size)

  • #5 Post in the Nation
  • #1 in North Carolina for growth
  • #11 nationally in growth
  • All-American (for the second time)
  • All-State (for the second time)

The Veterans of Foreign Wars in Leland is not a single-focused organization. We are a multi-faceted group that takes pride in the programs we are able to implement in our community.

When you see a veteran say, “Thank you for your service.” When you see a combat veteran or member of the Veteran of Foreign Wars, say, “Thank you for your service and welcome home.”

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About the Contributor
Gerald Decker
Gerald Decker, Founder, President
Gerald Decker is a 4-year Navy veteran with four tours to Vietnam between 1968-1971. Gerald earned a Master’s Degree from George Washington University. He worked for nine years as a U. S. Senate staffer after college and later as a Senior Manager for a small business lobby organization. Gerald also taught Political Science at the high school and college levels. He is a certified trainer in Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Gerald founded Athens/Oconee Adult Baseball, Decker Diamonds, the Leland VFW Post 12196, and Teen Scene, Inc. In addition to his work with Teen Scene, Gerald is founder and Past Commander of the Leland VFW Post 12196. The Post was the Mayor's Choice of Citizen of the Year in 2020 and was ranked #5 in the nation for 2022-2023. Since 2020, Gerald has co-written two books. The first was about his good friend and WWII veteran Alex Moskowitz. The second was published by Teen Scene, Inc. in Oct. 2021, entitled "The Great Lockdown of 2020: An Anthology." Gerald is still married to his high school girlfriend (55 years) and has two children and three grandchildren. Following a 15-year hobby of playing catcher in a men’s adult fast-pitch baseball league, his hobbies now include heating pads, grandchildren, and genealogy. Teen Scene and VFW are not hobbies. They are passions.

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