The Montana’s Veterans of Foreign Wars organization has shuttered three posts without any option for appeal because they didn’t send in necessary paperwork.

Posts in Twin Bridges, Cut Bank and Lima were closed after post leaders failed to submit election reports detailing the post’s new officers.

Twin Bridges post Cmdr. Walt Whitfield said he received a call in September from state VFW officials requesting a meeting. He said he thought it was for an annual inspection.

But, he and other Twin Bridges officers said, the state VFW officers told them they had to surrender their charter and the money they’d accumulated because they didn’t turn in the proper paperwork.

Twin Bridges post quartermaster Dick Marshall said he had failed to send the reports in June, but once he was contacted, he sent the state VFW a slip he received from the national VFW with a correct list of the post’s officers and dues amounts, and he thought he was off the hook.

He and other officers with the Twin Bridges post say they never received any further notice that the post had failed to meet the requirements. And they certainly didn’t expect to have their post shut down without any appeals process.

“That kind of came as a surprise,” Marshall said. “We didn’t have any warning.”

State VFW Quartermaster Tim Peters, one of the officers who visited the Twin Bridges post, said the post was sent two letters telling them they needed to send in the paperwork. He said Montana’s three posts aren’t the only ones that have been shut down this year; he said on average and for various reasons, many posts nationally close each year.

“We didn’t want it to happen,” said Peters. “It’s sad but it happens every year.

“Some things are mandatory,” he added.

Whitfield said the Twin Bridges post has yet to surrender its money. He said the post didn’t have much money, but the money it has was bequeathed to them from a veteran, and is to be used for the community services the post provides, including an annual Christmas dinner and kids’ fishing derbies.

“These vets are always the first to come to the aid of anyone needing assistance,” the town’s mayor, Thomas Hyndman, wrote in a letter to The Montana Standard. “My town is far better off from their efforts.”

The posts may be closed, but Twin Bridges will still receive support from veterans, just by another name. Members of the VFW have created a different organization, the United Veterans and Auxiliary of Twin Bridges.

— Reporter Piper Haugan: 496-5572, piper.haugan@mtstandard.com or Twitter.com/Piper_Haugan

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