YARMOUTH — AmVet members sipped on sodas, chatted, and played darts on Monday afternoon in their post’s dimly lit pool hall on North Road.
Finance Director Steve Smith called it a typical 2 p.m. scene at the half-century-old post, which is dedicated to U.S. Army veteran Robert W. Boyd, of Yarmouth, who was killed serving in Vietnam.
One of 15 posts in Maine, Post 2 has served as a convening space for veterans and their families from surrounding towns – Freeport, Durham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth – since 1967.
“There’s a big social aspect to (the AmVets),” Smith said. “There’s a camaraderie down here … it’s a gathering place.”
Post Cmdr. Normal Newell said that at one point, every town had their own post, noting that AmVet membership across the nation has been decreasing.
“Younger (veterans) don’t want to get involved and feel everything’s fine,” Newell said. “When they get up around mid-60s or 70s, and they start having problems, they’ll come in and start to get help. When they’re young, they’re invincible.”
Today, the post has about 175 members, but not all are active. The post also hosts Sons of AmVets and Ladies Auxiliary units.
An open house will be held at the post Saturday, Oct. 28, to celebrate it’s 50th anniversary, show off renovations made to the function hall, and, hopefully, increase membership.
The post’s kitchen was recently remodeled, and heating and sprinkler systems were added to its function hall – which can be rented by non-members for $500 per event.
Although the post’s primary mission is to raise money for AmVets, members also donate to causes including Hospice House, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Durham Warriors, and K9s on Front Lines, with $15,000 set aside each year for scholarship funds. Anyone related to a member can apply for the scholarships.
Last year, the post allocated almost $45,000 in donations to various nonprofits and organizations.
Newell said the worry around organization-wide declines in membership is the eventual folding of posts and a lack of funding needed to keep lawyers and lobbyists advocating for the AmVets in Washington.
“What young veterans don’t understand is that, if they don’t keep these organizations going, it’s going to hurt the veterans,” he said. “If they don’t join … we’re not going to have anybody to speak for the veterans.”
Norman and the rest of the post hopes veterans, their families, and the general public will join them on Saturday to learn more about the organization and membership.
U.S. Army veterans Heather Burr, left, Ralph Waterman, Steve Smith, and Norman Newell outside AmVets Post 2 in Yarmouth with Newell’s service dog, Seven. The post will host an open house and membership drive on Saturday, Oct. 28.