“FOUNDED IN 1896 by Jewish Civil War veterans, JWV is the oldest continuously active veterans’ organization in the United States. JWV serves veterans throughout the country by advocating for veterans’ rights and benefits at the national, state and local levels. JWV is dedicated to upholding America’s democratic traditions and fighting bigotry, prejudice, injustice, and discrimination of all kinds.”
Jlife had the pleasure of speaking with two members of the Inland Empire’s chapter of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, Post 512. Commander Stan Vitt and Simon Saul gave us the inside scoop on the organization, their local post and challenges that they face.
Stan Vitt, Post 512 Commander
In which branch of the armed services did you serve and during what years?
I served in the US army actively from 1952-1954 and in the inactive reserve from 1954 – 1960.
If you were an active service-member during a conflict were you deployed overseas?
I did not serve overseas, as I was more valuable as an Infantry Field Instructor in Leader’s Course…I had eight weeks of infantry training, eight weeks of engineering training and eight weeks of Leader’s Course after which I was assigned to Leader’s Course as an Instructor/Permanent Party.
How did you first become involved with the Jewish War Veterans of the United States? I first became involved with the JWV a few years after my wife passed away in late 2003 when I saw an ad in the paper.
Are there JWV members within your post from various branches of the military? Yes we have veterans from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm. We are all concerned with supporting the local VA Medical Center.
Simon Saul , Post 512 Member
During your term, how large of a Jewish presence did you observe in the Marine Corp or the armed services in general? Was there a Rabbinic Chaplain available for spiritual or religious counsel during your term of service? There was a minimal Jewish presence during my first two years. One [Jewish] recruit during Boot Camp and one between the end of Boot Camp and deployment to Japan. There was no Jewish Chaplain offered and I did not request to see one.
For Pesach 1954, I volunteered to go to Tokyo for a Seder. It was a lavish affair – GIs from all the branches of the military…We were ‘bunked’ somewhere in Tokyo for the night after the Seder, before being bused ‘home.’
How did you become involved with the JWV?
After 9-11, I joined Post 512 of the JWV, becoming a ‘life member’ in January 2003. I served about 10 years as Adjutant of the Post, resigning from that position in 2016, but retaining my membership and attending most meetings. As Adjutant, I published a monthly publication called the Post Script. I continue publishing a monthly abbreviated version of the Post Script, calling it a Report.
What would you like readers to know about the JWV or Post 512? In many veterans’ organizations, membership and attendance is falling. Recently, one of our long-time members died, one has moved, and another is in the process of moving.
When you reflect on your decision to enlist, and your time in the military, how did it affect you? My experiences in the United States Marine Corps were positive, and helped me integrate/assimilate into American society, since I had been in the U.S. barely two years, and in a then-small city, Albuquerque. I left the Marine Corps in February of 1955, after serving three years. I was a Supply Sergeant at the time.
Perry Fein is a writer and copy editor for Jlife.