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NH Veterans' Views: Women taking the helm

January 03. 2018 11:58PM

“It’s about time!”

That phrase was just about the general reaction to the article in the inaugural NH Veterans’ Views column this past November in which I wrote about the American Legion electing its first female national commander in the 98-year history of the country’s largest veterans’ organization.

“Long overdue” ranked second among the generally positive comments.

Denise Rohan was a groundbreaker to be sure, and the consensus is that her early term grades are very high. More updates will appear periodically.

Around the same time that she was elected last summer, the Disabled American Veterans welcomed aboard U.S. Army veteran Delphine Metcalf-Foster as the group’s first-ever national commander.

The 74-year-old former Army nurse, whose father passed away when she was only 7 years old, says she can still vividly remember his pride when he would tell her about his military experiences as a Buffalo soldier during the Spanish-American War. She was inspired to serve her country, and she is still doing so.

My research has also led me to conclude that prior to the elections of the aforementioned female commanders, the first and possibly most recent woman to preside over a major national veterans’ organization was Mary Stout, who led the 30,000-member Vietnam Veterans of America in 1987.

Many female veterans are also in leadership positions on a local level.

The untimely passing of Army veteran Rose Connor-Allard, commander of Queen City Memorial VFW Post 8214, leaves us in shock and disbelief. We will truly miss you, Commander. You led and inspired us with your dedication and inspiration. We may fill your vacated office but not your shoes. RIP — you have earned it. (Please put in a good word for your chaplain.)

A touching holiday gift

Family members of former New Hampshire resident and Korean War veteran C.J. Grandmaison are spending the holidays in the Bay Pines veterans’ hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. They email: “You cannot believe all the gifts he is getting from the local veterans organizations ... as well as the staff. (Socks), personal items, flowers, playing cards ... (toiletries) and so on. We were most impressed by 2 cloth stars in small plastic bags with (the) enclosed note saying ‘I am part of an American flag. I have proudly flown over a home in the USA. I can no longer fly as the sun and winds have taken their toll and I have become a bit tattered and torn. Please carry me as a sign that you are not and never will be forgotten.’ Merry Christmas.” That has to pick up a person’s spirit! My guess is that similar actions were carried out throughout this great nation.

Veterans Count counts

I was a little surprised (OK, very) when a fellow vet recently told me that he had heard about an organization called “Veterans Count” but he didn’t really know much of anything about it. Based on that encounter I figure there must be others like him out in Neverland, so, as I explain in the proverbial nutshell, listen up. VC is a free and confidential service available to anyone who has served in the military, regardless of age, status or VA eligibility. (It says so in the brochure.) It provides care coordination and emergency assistance for service members, veterans AND their families. Got your attention, right? It offers services in the areas of housing and homelessness, emotional support and counseling, transportation, legal issues, aging and senior programs, and more. Sound good? (Don’t call me; I can barely take care of myself.) Contact info: (603) 315-4354 or You’re welcome.


Question: Who are the only ones who can order the Stars and Stripes to fly at half-staff in honor and respect?

Answer: Only the President of the United States and the states’ governors. (OK, so you knew that.)

VFW 8214 Senior Vice Commander Susan Cuddy advises us that the winners of the New Hampshire VFW Voice of Democracy award and Patriot’s Pen award will be announced Saturday, Jan. 13, at the annual luncheon being held this year at the Littleton Elks Lodge in Littleton. She extends congratulations and good luck to all who submitted winning essays. For information, send an email to

I am trying to get in touch with a member of the Women Marines Association. (Help!)

Catholic War Veterans Post 1341 in Manchester is holding a gathering on Jan. 13, with a meal following the 4 p.m. Mass at St. Hedwig Church in Manchester. For info, contact Bryan Zorawowicz at (603) 620-3897 or

Happy New Year.

Al Heidenreich is past commander of Henry J. Sweeney American Legion Post 2. Write to Al with your questions and comments at


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