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Huge milestones were achieved by a couple of NVC Life Members. Congrats to Craig Dougherty as the newly elected Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Washington State Commander and Walt Tanimoto as the VFW Washington State Surgeon!

Craig remembers many of the Nisei growing up on Beacon Hill and participating in many NVC events during COVID-19 restrictions. Craig volunteered to be a flag bearer with the NVC color guard video for the state legislature’s opening ceremonies for the Day of Remembrance and to be a member of the honor guard folding the U.S. Flag at Colonel Jimmie Kanaya’s memorial service at the NVC.  Craig’s motto for his year in command is to “Do More for Veterans” — a key phrase used by the VFW National Headquarters and one that all VFW members strive for.

Walt served as NVC Commander from 2018 – 2021.  His election to be the VFW State Surgeon is quite a milestone because he is the first American of Japanese descent to hold a line officer position in Washington State’s VFW.  As the State Surgeon of the VFW in Washington, Walt will oversee VFW Post volunteers at VA and State-run facilities for veterans and the VFW Service Officers.

One only need to reflect on what happened to returning WWII Nisei soldiers when they submitted their application to join the VFW.  In particular, two 442nd Regimental Combat Team veterans, Richard Naito and Thomas Imai, asked to join their local VFW Post.  On 8 June 1945, Richard Naito was denied membership, as was Thomas Imai.

The VFW has come a long way since 1945, and the VFW is open to all combat veterans regardless of race, religion, orientation, and others.  Walt’s election is significant in this respect.

Walt says this is an opportunity not only to give back but to effect change constructively by serving in a position where he can influence positive change.

The VFW of Washington’s leadership program is a five-year process that begins with the State Surgeon position, then progresses each year to the State Judge Advocate position, the State Junior Vice, and the State Senior Vice Commander, and culminates with election into the State Commander position. Washington State VFW members elect their state officers.

Congratulations to Craig and Walt, and we look forward to seeing Walt progress through the chairs to eventually become the commander of the VFW in Washington State five years from now.