Coast Guard volunteers with VFW in Anchorage, Alaska for building renovation

Coast Guard Alaska NewsANCHORAGE, Alaska — Volunteers from Coast Guard Sector Anchorage partnered with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10252 on Mountain View Drive in Anchorage to assist with the renovation and restoration of one of the VFW’s buildings Friday.

“It was great giving back to an organization that does so much for the military,” said Lt. j.g. Laura Gadziala, a volunteer from Sector Anchorage.

VFW Post 10252 has been working to renovate their building in an effort to expand the services they offer and attract more active duty military personnel by serving as a hub for entertainment and relaxation. Several Coast Guard volunteers lent their time and youthful energy to some of the demolition tasks that are more challenging for the veterans to complete on their own.

“The work that was done today would not have been possible without the assistance of the Coast Guard (volunteers)” said Senior Master Sgt. Victoria Lambert, the event coordinator at the VFW Post 10252.

Lambert has spearheaded efforts to revitalize the Post with a full kitchen renovation and demolition of one uninhabitable wing of the building.

“The VFW building is one of the older buildings in the Anchorage,” said Lambert. “We believe the area we demolished was built on the loading dock when B & J Commercial occupied the building many years ago. It had fallen into disrepair over the years and had become a health hazard to the VFW patrons.”

Lambert envisions the renovations will breathe new life into the VFW Post. A member of the Air National Guard who worked in the aviation field for 35 years, she is familiar with the challenges that young military members face when trying to find a safe place to spend time.

“We want this to be a place where members can come before they go out on the town and also at the end of the night before going back on base,” Lambert said.

One of her primary goals in this endeavor is to alleviate drunk driving by providing a means of conveyance between base, the VFW and the local night life. With the newly renovated kitchen the VFW can provide meals to military patrons. Entertainment, such as Xbox tournaments and iPod parties, will also be held.

“As it stands now, the VFW is inhabited dominantly by an older crowd, averaging in age between 40 and 70,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class William Russell, who dedicates a lot of volunteer hours to the VFW.

The volunteer effort brought together military members from across generations and military branches, the end-goal Lambert strives for. Before lunch the volunteers demolished most of the old building. By the end of the day, the team was standing on the original timbers of the old loading dock.

“I’m very excited to work in an organization that believes in helping out in the community,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Crandall from Sector Anchorage. “ I joined the Coast Guard to help people and volunteering in the community is a great way for me to do just that. I feel lucky to have a job that provides these opportunities.”

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