Episode 42 | VFW Post
In Arizona, to the east of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Huachuca, lies the city of Sierra Vista. This tight-knit military community in the beautiful mountain foothills of the Sulphur Springs Valley is the retirement location of choice for many veterans stationed at the fort during their service.
Sierra Vista is also a leading hub for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). VFW is the largest and oldest war veterans service organization, founded in 1899. This organization aids and advocates for America’s service members, veterans, and their families.
When City Electric Supply (CES) Sierra Vista Branch Manager Ed Hooper received a call to help the aging VFW facility with a lighting project, he gladly helped to make it a safer, more inviting gathering place. And his generosity inspired the community to give back even more.
Bringing Light to the Community
James R. “Bob” Currieo VFW Post 9972, chartered in 1958, has the largest membership in Arizona and the third largest in the world. It’s where the community’s veterans regularly gather, as it includes a restaurant and bar. While functional, it has needed repairs for some time, but the VFW lacked the funds.
“This town exists only because Fort Huachuca exists, and the VFW building is a nice, respectable place for the vets,” said Hooper. “But the building is in the older part of town up by the main gate of the military base and is showing its age. Rather than fix it up, the VFW would just shut down portions.”
VFW Chairman of the Grounds and Maintenance Committee Paul St. George has 13 years of military service and 20 years as a member of the VFW. When he recently took on the position, he wasted no time on his mission to restore the building. First, they would repair the parking lot lighting.
“We have disabled veterans, guests, and staff that leave at night. So, safety was an issue,” said St. George.
Luckily, he knew the right person for the job.
“I called my brother from another mother, Ed of CES, because he knows lighting. I’ve known him for 30 years, so I went to him first. Once you get that level of quality service and technical advice, you’re not going to go anywhere else.”
Hooper helped St. George determine that a solar light would be the best option, then sold the solar pole and LED light to VFW at cost.
“Ed also knew the city codes and what we could and couldn’t do. He knew what the pole height could be and how to face it, so we weren’t shining into the hotel across the street.”
St. George had the material—now he just needed help installing it.
VFW Gets New Parking Lot Lighting
St. George contacted Eddie Soule, Foreman at Sulfur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (SSVEC).
“I called my other brother from another mother, Eddie. He and another journeyman from SSVEC came and directed the installation at no cost,” said St. George.
Soule, who also knew Hooper at CES, was glad to help.
“Ed’s a heck of a guy. I used to work at a different electrical supplier in Sulphur Springs many years ago. Since I’ve known him, I go talk to him every time I need something,” said Soule.
All three men were there that Saturday to help coordinate the solar post installation.
“Me and another journeyman showed up in our bucket trucks. The pad was all set up when we got there, so we just had to center it and make sure it was angled correctly. They planned it out really well,” said Soule.
“I’m glad we’re ensuring the future safety of our veterans,” said St. George.
And while each was proud of the achievement, nobody expected that the project would inspire Post 9972 to do even more.
Updating VFW Inside and Out
A short time after, Hooper had lunch with St. George at the VFW and was surprised by what he heard.
“Getting the parking lot done sparked something,” said Hooper. “They started to get the roof re-done, put in new tiles for the drop ceiling, and do other fixer-upper projects.”
Hooper became inspired to do more for the interior, so CES Sierra Vista donated a couple of dozen Fusion Lamps LED floodlights for the recessed cans. Additionally, Halco Lighting Technologies donated 14 two-by-four LED flat panels, and Leviton donated dimmer switches. The veterans were thrilled by the generosity and excitedly installed the lighting themselves.
“Right now, we’re just concentrating on the main dining area,” said Hooper.
The new track lighting is an especially nice touch, as it better displays awards and pictures honoring the service of VFW officers throughout the years.
“CES should be very proud to have Ed Hooper and his staff,” said St. George.
“I just want to say a thank you to the vets,” said Hooper. “$1,000 for light fixtures is a small price for our branch to pay considering that all gave some and some gave all. I’m happy to give them a safe, comfortable place to enjoy themselves.”