Tom Gaudio served in the military during the Iran crisis in the 1990s, earning ribbons. Because he served in harm’s way during that time, he was eligible to join the VFW. When he decided to join, he talked to his boss, who was the commander of the North Branford/Northford VFW at the time and his boss convinced him to join him at Post 8294.
Since then, Gaudio has gotten more involved in the post and is presently its Commander. As Commander, he has been busy getting ready for the 's annual Memorial Day Parade.
North Branford Patch: What is the VFW?
Gaudio: It’s the Veterans of Foreign Wars. VFW is the largest organization that works for veterans, military and family of military and our whole duty is to take care of veterans. If not for the VFW, we probably wouldn’t have any veteran benefits at all. After World War I, the VFW lobbied to get benefits for those who had served their country. I wanted to be involved for that.
North Branford Patch: How is the VFW involved in the community?
Gaudio: Ages ago it had the reputation of being a drinking club and that’s far from what we try to do. We work with community we’re involved with because we owe it to them. We honor past veterans and honor the dead. This weekend, we’ll get together with other community groups and put flags on the graves of the fallen. I’d love to get our post more active with the community and I encourage anyone with ideas to contact me.
North Branford Patch: Why would you encourage veterans to join the VFW?
Gaudio: The VFW is made up of veterans who have served in harm’s way so there’s a camaraderie here. A person who has never been through it can’t understand the stress a veteran has been through, what it was like to actually put yourself in harm’s way. Many times veterans won’t talk about what they’ve been through and if a veteran does want to talk, we’re here.
North Branford Patch: Tell me a little about the .
Gaudio: It’s Monday morning (May 28) and runs from beginning at 10 a.m. to Northford Center.
North Branford Patch: What kind of groups march in the parade?
Gaudio: Though I won’t have the final list until Saturday morning, there will be Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, nursery schools, the band, the Connecticut Blues Band, the Knights of Columbus, the Ladies Auxiliary, the Men’s Auxiliary, the and the . The Friends of the Potato Fest will also have a float. It’s really a nice local parade. The streets are usually lined with people and it’s really nice to see.
North Branford Patch: Are there activities planned for after the parade?
Gaudio: We will perform a ceremony on the Memorial in the center of Northford and then the VFW will host a cookout immediately afterwards for the entire community with hamburgers, hot dogs, corn and some salads. There’s no cost but there will be a donation basket.
North Branford Patch: Why is celebrating Memorial Day so important?
Gaudio: We have to continue to honor and thank our veterans and our active duty people who are still overseas protecting our freedom. Without them, we woudn’t have this freedom.
For information on joining the VFW, which is located at 1038 Middletown Avenue, Northford (across from Trailer Depot), contact Tom at 203-239-1188. Commander@vfw8294.org.