Steve Milbourn, 6/21/12
Nearly three years after members of VFW Post 1674 in Siloam Springs had met with District and State VFW officials concerning a possible closure, Commander Steve Milbourn who has led the Post from less than 25 members to an unprecedented 145 members passed the gavel to Thomas Flatt, a Gulf War veteran.
Milbourn is also the District 1 Commander for the Northwest Arkansas area which includes 13 Posts and over 1,600 combat veterans.
As Milbourn tells it, "I had to work the night of the meeting in August 2009 so I went by told District Commander Randy George I would help in any manner I could," and the rest is history. In 2009 and 2010 Milbourn with the help of Quartermaster Ron Green and a few other veterans collected nearly $20,000 in cash to put a new roof on their building, new windows, heat and air, drop ceiling in the kitchen and both bathrooms, a new gas line, a new water line and many other needed repairs.
Two local businessmen, Ron Drake and Mark Alexander, were urged by Pastor Wayne Thomas to help make the building a place for the veterans of our community. They all set in motion the resurrection of the dilapidated Post building. On November 21, 2009 Drake, Thomas and over 75 other construction and non-construction people descended to clean, scrape, paint and put the new roof on the building.
Alexander has been an extremely loyal supporter of the VFW since the beginning.
One of the Post's finest moments came in June 2011 when it was named Post of the Year in the State of Arkansas; Milbourn and Quartermaster Frank Lee were selected as Captain and Co-Captain of the All-State Post team; Milbourn was named Commander of the Year and both received several other awards.
In February 2012 the greatest gift was bestowed on VFW Post 1674 when eighth grade student Lydia Macfarlan of Siloam Springs was chosen as the winner of the Patriot's Pen essay contest at the National VFW. She and her mother traveled to Washington, D.C. Where she gave her speech and received a $10,000 Savings Bond. Lydia competed against 110,000 other students her age. "Although Lydia did the work," Milbourn said, "it was an extremely proud moment when your Post is the recipient of the accolades. She is well-deserving of the award."
In 2011 the Post has achieved over 225% in membership increase and this year went to 250%.
The new officers assume their positions effective July 1, 2012. They are Thomas Flatt, Commander; Paul Wing, Sr. Vice Cmdr.; David Hoover, Jr. Vice Cmdr.; Frank Lee, Quartermaster; Don McKinney, Chaplain; Ron Evans, Judge Advocate; Bennie Gallant, Surgeon; Mike Chilton, 1 yr. Trustee; Roger Gilbert, 2 yr. Trustee; Don Martin, 3 yr. Trustee; and Steve Milbourn, Adjutant and Service Officer.
from left to right are: Frank Lee, Quartermaster; Paul Wing, Sr. Vice Commander; Thomas Flatt, Commander; and David Hoover, Jr. Vice Commander.
The Post meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. At 830 S. Lincoln St. in Siloam Springs.
Milbourn stated, "I've met a lot of good people and have enjoyed helping to bring the Post back on its' feet. It has been a passion with me as anyone who knows me can tell you. To do the position right, it requires being available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."
Last winter he received a call around 8 p.m. The caller said a veteran in West Siloam had just had his gas, electric and water turned off. He and his wife were also three months past due on their rent. Post members gathered together and were able to collect over $700 to get their utilities turned back on. A good Samaritan had paid for some propane heating fuel. Another time the Siloam Springs Police Dept. called and told Milbourn a veteran was hitch-hiking through town on his way to Ohio. Milbourn went to the police dept., picked up the veteran, met with Frank Lee at the Post and put the fellow up for a night in a motel and gave his some money and got him on his way the next day. When the tornado hit Cincinnati, Arkansas Milbourn and three other VFW members were there the next day. Milbourn was there nearly every day nearly for two months.
The VFW helps all veterans regardless of whether they served in combat or not. They only need to prove they are a veteran. To date this fiscal year the Post has completed 60 projects with 328 volunteers working 965 hours and expending $3,122.21
The Post was recently notified that both Milbourn and Lee were selected to receive All-American Post honors. It is the most prestigious award presented to Post Commanders and Quartermasters. To receive the award about 10 different tasks have to be completed throughout the year. The most difficult is the increase in membership percentage. In Arkansas this year only four Post Commanders and Quartermasters have qualified. For the last two years only two Commander and Quartermasters qualified.
The Siloam Springs VFW was also named Post of the Year for the second consecutive year and Milbourn again was honored as Commander of the Year for Arkansas. Milbourn was also recently told he had earned All-American status as District 1 Commander. Both Lee and Milbourn were also named Captain and and Co-Caotain of the All-State Team of Commanders this year.
When asked what he was going to do now, Milbourn remarked, "My work has just started for the new year. My involvement as District Commander has taken me on the road in Northwest Arkansas over 2,100 miles visiting Posts multiple times. I will also be keeping a close watch on our Post in Siloam Springs to train and show the new officers what needs to be done."
Steve Milbourn / firstname.lastname@example.org / 479-427-9307