Members of one veterans post are not letting diminishing membership stand in their way when it comes to helping former soldiers.
The Col. Mickey Marcus Post 336 of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America regularly collects donations to help veterans. In the last few months, the group raised money to sponsor three barbecues at the Long Island Veterans Home — one in August and two in September — along with a September golf outing for the home. Norman Weitz, post commander, said many of the members volunteer at the veterans home, and while the post has contributed funds in the past, including a $5,000 donation in 2017, this is the first time they are sponsoring events.
Fred Sganga, executive director of the Long Island Veterans Home at Stony Brook University, said the post’s contributions are valued.
“Their generosity has a direct impact on the quality of life of those veteran residents we are so honored to serve each and every day,” he said.
Since October 2017, the vets have contributed approximately $16,000 to causes dedicated to helping U.S. veterans, according to Weitz. In addition to the veterans home, the Col. Mickey Marcus Post 336, which meets in Centereach, has donated to various organizations including Paws of War, the Suffolk County United Veterans, and Operation Remember, a campaign spearheaded by county Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) to update memorials in Setauket, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson to include those who served in the Gulf wars.
When it comes to donation dollars, Weitz and Barry Kopeloff, junior vice commander and chaplain, credit member Stan Feltman, 93, for enabling the group to donate as much as they do.
“He’s an amazing individual,” Weitz said.
Feltman can be seen every day outside the Middle Island Walmart selling poppies to raise money for his fellow veterans. Weitz said Feltman, at times, has collected up to $1,800 a month, and while many give a single dollar or two to the veteran, others sometimes give more.
“Their generosity has a direct impact on the quality of life of those veteran residents we are so honored to serve each and every day.”
— Fred Sganga
“One lady said here’s an extra $30 just for you, and Stan is independent, so he just throws that money back in the pot,” Weitz said.
Kopeloff said when it comes time to donate money, post members suggest organizations and then the group votes on whether or not to do so.
While many have heard of the Veterans of Foreign Wars or the American Legion, there are those who are unfamiliar with the Jewish War Veterans.
“We’d like people to understand what we do for the veterans, what we do for the community,” said Weitz.
Members of the post, which was originally called the Three Village Post 336, meet at the New Village Community Center in Centereach once a month. While there are more than 100 members who live in various areas in Brookhaven and even outside the town, Weitz said they may get around 20 members who can show up.
The post is always looking for new members, and like similar veterans groups, have no younger members who served after the Vietnam War.
“After Vietnam, it’s hard to get them because they’re young, and they’re working,” said Kopeloff, who is also on the Jewish Committee on Scouting.
Kopeloff said during Scout Sabbaths, when Eagle Scouts visit synagogues, he will ask if anyone in the congregation is interested in the post. Weitz and Kopeloff said members can be anyone from the Jewish faith that have served with any of the military branches of the United States or any allied nations. He said everyone has something important to contribute.
“The veterans that are coming home today from the Gulf War, from Afghanistan, are more attuned to helping veterans, and I think this would be a great plus,” Weitz said.
To help the Col. Mickey Marcus Post with its fundraising goals or for more information on the post contact: Col. Mickey Marcus Post 336, Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A., P.O. Box 583, Centereach, NY 11720-2716.