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South suburban VFW post with ties to Tuskegee Airmen receives grant to help veterans hone computer skills
The SouthtownStar - 12/5/2022
Dec. 4—A Veterans of Foreign Wars post with a storied past is in line for a $100,000 grant from Cook County that the post will use to help south suburban veterans gain computer skills and navigate their benefits online, according to the post's commander.
The Honor Grant, awarded by the county, is going to Richton Park-based Benjamin O. Davis VFW Post 311, which recently marked its 20th year.
The post is named for U.S. Army Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Sr. — the first African American to rise to the rank of brigadier general and the father of Air Force Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr., who commanded the Tuskegee Airmen.
Post Cmdr. Aretha Spurlock said it was among the recipients from "hundreds of candidates" and that she believed it was first time the post had applied to Cook County for the grant.
The post provides veterans benefits and education sessions, and will use some of the grant to expand services with one-on-one assistance in using computers to check on things such as benefits claims, she said.
The sessions will also assist veterans in improving their computer skills, Spurlock said.
"We want to help the veterans get a little more savvy with the computers and the internet in general," she said. "It will enhance our services surrounding the benefits sessions and make them more valuable."
The post is in temporary headquarters at 22341 Governors Hwy., which had previously been a bank building.
Spurlock said there are no immediate plans to relocate, but some of the grant money could be used to offer private conference and counseling rooms at the new location for staff to talk to vets.
The post's membership stands at a little more than 300, although Spurlock said the COVID-19 pandemic did a bit of damage to membership and post services.
She said the annual toy drive is underway and a food drive is being considered.
"We are making every effort to reestablish our work in the community and in helping veterans," Spurlock said.
According to a biography on the post website, Benjamin O. Davis Sr. had a distinguished career.
Born in 1877 in Washington, D.C., he was the son of a servant for Civil War Gen. John A. Logan.
Davis was a high school cadet and attended Howard University in 1897 as a member of the Black unit of the National Guard, according to the biography.
In 1919, he was a professor of military science and tactics at Tuskegee Institute, and in 1938 was given his first independent command, with the 369th National Guard Infantry Regiment. After 42 years of service, he earned the rank of general in 1940, according to the biography.
A 23-mile stretch of Interstate 57, from Sauk Trail in Richton Park to Wentworth Avenue in Chicago, bears the honorary name of Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Trail.
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