A historic event took place Saturday, April 16th at the Jerry V. Horn Memorial VFW Post # 10046 in Soldotna. The installation of a new commander and officers is always a prestigious event for the VFW, but Anne Toutant became the first female commander of the Post since 1982. It was WWII veteran MP Solveig Olson who was the commander from 1981-1982, “She was the first female commander and they called her Big Sandy for short.” Toutant has served the VFW as Vice Commander for the last two years and in an interview with the Dispatch said, “I’m overwhelmed. I was a girl today that’s for sure, I during half the ceremony. It’s a huge honor.” Outgoing commander Mike Meredith commented, “I couldn’t be turning it over to a better person. She’s well trained, she knows her job and I trust her completely.” Regarding the work of the VFW Meredith said, “We have a lot of Vets coming home and moving to the Kenai Peninsula, we work with them regarding their benefits. A lot of people want to know about the Choice program, we can get them in touch with the proper people if they have something wrong with their records. Those are just some of the things we are here for to help with,” he said. “What we’ve been doing the last few years has been working, but I want to increase our outreach to more vets. I know our website needs to be reconstructed and put up, also we are going to continue to work on our building here in Soldotna so we can serve more and continue to reach out to more vets. The fund raising for the Iron Mike statue and memorial to all vets that will be installed at Soldotna Creek Park is on track for dedication this summer,” said Toutant.
To the veterans returning from deployments and service who want to start a new life and put their experience behind them Commander Toutant said, “I was one of them. I faded away into the woodwork for twenty years until my commander found me and got me re-intouch with the veterans and what they need and what we need to do to help them come home. Helping them has actually helped me and rebuilt my faith in my country and my fellow man and brothers and sisters in arms. Serving our country, our community and each other is healing and that’s what we are here for and that’s not just VFW, it’s AMVETS, American Legion, the Vet Center or any veteran organization that is there to serve those who have served, ” said newly installed Commander of VFW Post # 10046.
Rachael Jurco was installed as president of the VFW Auxillary which is also open to sons and daughters of Veterans of Foreign Wars. Other officers of the VFW Auxiliary that were installed are Sr. Vice President Margaret Martin, Jr. Vice President Ann McElrea, Conductress Gail Erickson, Chaplain Ruby Taylor, Guard Millie Evans, 3-yr. Trustee Margaret Martin and Secretary Rhonda Foster-Deskins. Serving with Toutant will be: Senior Vice Commander John Walke, Jr. Vice Commander Benjamin Clark, Quarter Master Allison Bohac, Chaplin Richard Williams and Trustees Nick Nelson and Jim Fasler.