In 1944, a group of 18 veterans from nine veterans’ clubs formed The American Veterans of World War II. On July 23, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed Public Law 216, making AMVETS the first World War II organization to be chartered by Congress.
Millis AMVETS, which according to its Facebook page was created on July 23, 1947, used to be in a chicken coop, says member Paul Howard, or “Ducky,” who explains that the current location of Millis AMVETS Post 495, at 404 Village Street in Millis, is the fourth home for the post since the 1970s.
“They went through four different places: one on Pleasant street, then Main Street, then to the chicken coop that was on Ira Tucker’s property, and then we got this place,” says Howard, who credits Donny Pettis, Sr., of DP construction, for footing a lot of his own money to build the place. “There was even a softball field,” he says.
The AMVETS is a private club that is comprised of three components, according to current Commander Michael Delaporta, 22-year member who served in the Massachusetts National Guard. While he is Commander of AMVETS, Deb Ela is President of the Women’s Auxiliary, and Danny Coffey is the Commander of the Sons of AMVETS.
To be an AMVET, says Delaporta, you must have served in any branch of the U.S. military from WWII on. Members of the Women’s Auxiliary and the Sons of AMVETS must have had a family member in the military. All pay annual dues.
“We are a private club, by our charter, by our insurance and by our business model,” says Delaporta, who says that about half of the members come from Millis, and the other half from surrounding towns, “but that does not exclude the public from coming in and enjoying the club, free pool, free darts and free Wifi. It’s an institution, and the club also hosts a lot of fun events.”
The public can come to the club and sign in through the guestbook, he says.
Members say the camaraderie of the organization was the draw for them.
“I joined just to help out and support the veterans, and it’s such a fun bunch of people,” says Ela, who’s been involved for about 8 years.
Coffey, too, agrees. His father was a Marine, and he’s been a member of the Sons of AMVETS for 12 years. He says,” I just enjoy doing stuff for the veterans and the Sons, and helping out at the fundraisers. We do a breakfast buffet once a month, too, on the first Sunday.” (The breakfasts, $8 pp, are held September to June, from 9-10:30 a.m.).
“We serve the veterans and support service members that are in. Right now, one of our members is serving overseas, so we’re putting together care packages,” says Delaporta. He invites anyone who has a loved one currently serving to contact AMVETS.
“You have to have an APO, a specific military post office for them,” he says. Without that, he says, often by the time the packages get to the soldier, they would have been shipped to another location.
AMVETS also holds fundraisers for various veteran-related groups. They’ve raised over $5,000 for the Wounded Warriors project, and the location hosts a couple of different bike runs each year.
“We also have the reception hall upstairs. Obviously, people can rent that, and we also donate it for multiple fundraisers, turkey shoots, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts. There have been multiple fundraisers for people with cancer. We let them use the hall, which holds about 125, and they have to pay the bartender.”
AMVETS also serves the community in a number of ways, including a number of scholarships for graduating Millis Seniors. “Anybody can apply,” says Ela,” and there’s a preference if you have a family member who’s a veteran.”
In addition, the site hosts Toys for Tots near Christmas time, as well as a giving tree that time of year for families in need. On Monday nights, AMVETS has a pitch league, and it also hosts two pool teams.
The club also puts together a number of fun events, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and the Kentucky Derby, and the Sons put together tailgate parties to celebrate football games, for instance. Coming up on June 2nd is a crawfish boil, with just a limited number of tickets available.
These occasions provide a get together, says Delaporta, “for the folks that don’t have a lot of family around – certainly the older veterans.”
Certainly, that falls in line with the mission the organization states on its Facebook page:
“To enhance and safeguard the entitlements for all American Veterans who have served honorably and to improve the quality of life for them, their families, and the communities where they live through leadership, advocacy and services.”
To find out more about Millis AMVETS Post 495, visit their Facebook page, call (508) 376-2672 or stop by at 404 Village Street, Millis, and sign in as a guest.