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Sussex VFW welcomes new members in new space

Post finds more accommodating home on Waukesha Avenue

Dec. 24, 2012

Village of Sussex - Christmas music cheerily played in the new home of the Horne Mudlitz VFW Post 6377 on a recent December afternoon. Sunshine poured in the post's main room, and goodie bags waited packed for children attending the post's annual Christmas party held on Sunday.

The new space is much more comfortable for 6377 members. And there are still the familiar pieces that have been part of the local VFW, including the original bar, a mainstay and proud display of coins, medals and other veterans' memorabilia encased in a clear coat on top.

"It's a lot nicer than that old foxhole we were in on Main Street," said member and Korean War veteran, Art Rude.

The Horne Mudlitz post has actually been in the new space at W232 N6342 Waukesha Ave. since fall. With the help of Mike Judson from Judson Real Estate and attorney Larry Knauf, the post was able to find a more suitable home. The former post was held in the basement of the Wee Welcome Inn on Main Street.

"We were in the basement for nearly 20 years and some of the members could no longer make the trip," down the stairs said Rude, and the ladies auxiliary years ago chose to start meeting at the library, he added. "Now we can share the new space."

The new post is obviously bigger and better. A former heating and cooling business, there is a large, enclosed garage area in back that has plenty of room for post meetings and possibly a new location for the annual tiddly winks tournament that attracts hundred of participants.

But the most important message the VFW 6377 members wanted to share today is, "We're not closed."

"We're looking for new members with the new space. It's hard to get members today," said Post Commander Chuck Eberhardt, now in his 80s, who has been with the post since the 1960s.

The Sussex post isn't the only one that has been struggling to attract new members. Steve Lawrence, state adjutant quartermaster for VFW Department of Wisconsin, said the problem is multifaceted.

"We are having some problems recruiting new members from recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A lot of it has to do with veterans coming back and just wanting to get back to their families," he said.

Lawrence said another problem is that members many recruiters were World War II and Korean War veterans, and they are passing on. "The Vietnam veterans haven't taken over because they are still working full time, for the most part. A lot of times, it takes someone to explain what we do for veterans and their families," he explained. Veterans organizations are instrumental in helping veterans secure medical benefits, lobby for veterans' rights and offer other means of support.

Membership in the VFW has been declining since the mid-1990s, "when we started to suffer the losses of the World War II veterans. That rate is now much higher; 1,000 a day are dying," he said.

But Eberthardt, a Korean War veteran, and his comrades are hoping the new location will revive the local post with some fresh membership in the new, larger space. They hope Post 6377 doesn't die off with the older generations. Participating in the Memorial Day parade since its inception in 1946, helping local veterans and being a part of the community, like the annual Christmas party, Horne Mudlitz Post 6377 is a staple of Sussex.

"We need these younger people to get involved and know what the post is about. They may think it's just a bunch of old guys, but it's not," said member Tom Klein.

Horne Mudlitz VFW Post 6377 meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month. You can also stop by between noon and 6 p.m. every Saturday to play cards and socialize. Call (262) 820-9704 to find out more.

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