Local veteran aims to revive VFW Post 4651

Posted 3/20/24

The Nelson-Mack-Narragansett Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4651, one of three VFW posts in Cranston, was on the verge of closing until Garry Crum became the commander.

Crum, a 45-year-old …

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Local veteran aims to revive VFW Post 4651


The Nelson-Mack-Narragansett Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 4651, one of three VFW posts in Cranston, was on the verge of closing until Garry Crum became the commander.

Crum, a 45-year-old Iraq war veteran, father of four and Cranston resident for over 30 years, started this role in January as the post faced closure due to declining membership and finances.

“We were probably a week or so within closing down, maybe even closer than that,” Crum said. “We had to have an emergency meeting – I had to reach out to all the previous members of this VFW, so I had to send them all letters. Then I also had to reach out to all the guys that I did have communication with and that I thought would show up and join and be a part of it, which did happen luckily.”

On the financial side, Crum describes the VFW Post’s financial health since taking over as “not the greatest, but it is trending in the right direction.”

One of the issues facing the post, low membership, contributed to it being under suspension since last year. A suspension typically happens when there is a violation of bylaws and can be implemented by either the state’s VFW department or the national organization.

Alongside increasing revenue and membership, Crum sees getting several much-needed repairs done as a piece of the puzzle to keep this post afloat.

“We need to rehab these bathrooms, they’re in really rough shape,” he said. “The kitchen as well because that’s a good source of income once that is renovated and actually working. The bar as well is in pretty rough shape. We need to clean that up and revitalize that.”

Community rallies

Other repairs Crum mentioned were renovating apartments that are located upstairs, missing shingles, plumbing and electrical work, the outside of the building and missing pieces of the roof that are causing leaks. Additional repairs can be seen in a Facebook post written earlier this month by his mother, Judith Crum-Fortes. Since that Facebook post, Crum said that Sherwin-Williams donated paint, a handful of friends donated their time to help paint and John Marietti Jr. of Clarity Buildings LLC has met with him about remodeling the building’s bathroom. Crum expects to apply for supporting grants. Monetary donations are also being accepted to purchase supplies they don’t get donated to them.

Crum estimates the cost of repairs between $200,000 and $300,000, with most of that to fully renovate the apartments so Crum can make them available to veterans. A major cost will be replacement of the heating systems.  Crum said that the building is owned by the VFW Department of Rhode Island. After approaching the idea of having them help with the cost of repairs, Crum said he was told the organization, which is a nonprofit, has a small budget.

During the day, Crum works as a scheduler for the Worcester, Massachusetts site of AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company, and during his spare time when not at his day job, he’s doing his work related to the VFW Post. His connection to the post dates back to his middle school years.

Accustomed to this VFW

“During my time going to [Hugh B] Bain Middle School, Western Hills [Middle School] or even Cranston East [High School], folks would have parties here,” he said. “I’m accustomed to this VFW, I’ve been here plenty of times as a teen.”

After Crum’s time in service and attempting to revive a different VFW Post in Providence in 2012, he eventually reconnected with this post – but this time in a leadership position.

“I heard about it more recently because one of the VFW members in charge of membership – they reached out to my mom to get ahold of my stepfather who had passed away and was a veteran himself,” Crum said. “He was just trying to reach out to the older members who weren’t active anymore, and she had a conversation with him and then she told me about it a couple of times. Then finally I reached out to the gentleman and he roped me in.”

Another goal of Crum’s for this VFW post as he aims to increase membership and finish repairs is to “make it more attractive and appealing” for younger veterans.

He said, “Maybe have a video game night or a movie night or just something that’s going to be more appealing to that generation versus things of the past.”

Crum added that he’s open to any ideas prospective members have in mind to help attract even more veterans to join.

He also plans to improve community outreach programs. Initiatives that are being planned include handing out ROTC Junior diplomas to high school graduates and placing American flags on the gravestones of veterans during Memorial Day weekend.

There are multiple ways for those interested in donating, and for eligible veterans who want to join the post, to contact Crum. The VFW Post’s telephone number is 401-942-9768 and monthly meetings are held on the second Sunday at 10 a.m. He added that a website for this specific post is in the works.

VFW, post, veteran


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