Hastings VFW raises a white flag from falling to debt

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Updated: Mon, 28 Apr 2014 08:26:19 CST

After 60 years the Hastings VFW is closing its doors for good.

Friday night members gave it one final salute.

Membership is on the decline, and they can no longer afford to keep their post.

"This is where we meet our friends." Said Keith Dreher, Quartmer Master, VFW.

"We get real close, a lot like brothers." Said Marlin Hartman, VFW member since 1963.

"They form a bond and that's something you never lose." Said Orlin Siemers, Air Force Veteran.

After nearly 60 years in service the Hastings VFW is raising a white flag.

"I hate to be the one to turn the keys over. I'd rather be the one that's opening the door." Said Dreher.

Keith Dreher served 33 years in the Navy, and spent the last 22 as a member of the Hastings VFW.

"When I started there were over 700 members, now there's 360." Said Dreher.

"It seems like younger members don't take interest in the service clubs." Said Hartman.

With membership numbers down, the club is nearing debt, and they opted to cut their losses before going bankrupt.

"We landed and it's the end."  Said Siemers.

For the members it's about brotherhood and continuing service.

"We try to look out for veterans that are down and out." Said Dreher.

The non-profit donates proceeds to area organizations like the Salvation Army, Crossroads and SASA.

"We don't have the patronage, all of our veterans are getting older and are passing." Said Hartman.

The VFW staple is bingo. The bi-weekly event was cut down to just Friday's last fall.

This Friday, they're calling the final numbers.

"We hate to see it go, but it's one of those things the times coming." Said Siemers.

The VFW building has already been sold. The group will continue to have monthly meetings in a different location. The Hastings Disabled American Veterans Club, Eagles and Elks have all offered to host the VFW.