Dowagiac VFW post names new director

Published 11:09 am Monday, June 17, 2024

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DOWAGIAC — Paul McGowan has been appointed the new commander of VFW Post 1855 in Dowagiac, continuing a proud family tradition of military service. 

Originally from Lawton, Oklahoma, McGowen joined the Army shortly after graduating from high school. He served on active duty for three years before transitioning to the reserves and becoming a police officer in 1991. During his tenure as a Deputy Sheriff, he was called to serve in Iraq, where he completed his service as a Staff Sergeant in 2009.

McGowan’s involvement with the Dowagiac VFW began in 2006 when the then-commander offered him a complimentary first-year membership. He accepted the offer and has been a dedicated member ever since. Having served on the board for several years, he was approached by former commander Bill Bobik to take on a leadership role in November of last year.

In his first eight months as commander, McGowan has been instrumental in revitalizing VFW Post 1855. Under his leadership, members and auxiliary volunteers have worked diligently to improve the post’s facilities, creating a welcoming atmosphere. The post now regularly hosts dinners and open mic nights, which are open to the public. Additionally, the post offers a beautiful rental space, including a pavilion overlooking Dowagiac Creek.

Looking ahead, McGowan aims to increase community engagement by offering more meals and reintroducing Bingo nights. “I am a social guy and I know a lot of people. Having been a deputy for 24 years, I have met many great individuals. Now that I am the commander, I want to see the post thrive and grow beyond its current state,” McGowan stated. He encourages community members to support the VFW, even if they do not qualify for membership, by considering auxiliary membership or simply by showing appreciation to veterans.

McGowan’s primary goal as commander is to attract younger veterans to the post. He acknowledges that younger veterans often have competing priorities but believes that as they age, the value of camaraderie and connection becomes increasingly important. “Talking with someone who has experienced similar challenges is healing. Regardless of age or service period, everyone has a story to share,” he said.

McGowan expressed his deep commitment to the community and the VFW post, which is nearing its 100th anniversary. 

“This post has been a cornerstone of the community for nearly a century, and we want to preserve its legacy. We need younger veterans, auxiliary members, and community support. Our veterans fought for you, and while displaying your flag is important, supporting your veterans is equally crucial. Everyone can contribute something, and it all adds up. We are a very friendly bunch, and all are welcome.”

To learn more about becoming involved or about upcoming events, follow the VFW Post 1855, Dowagiac, MI Facebook page. For information about facility rentals, call (269) 782-2235.