As the daughter of a U.S. Army soldier, Lynn Vineyard's formative years were spent on the move while she attended elementary and high school near various military bases throughout the United States and Germany. These experiences, along with the Vietnam service of her late husband, have inspired her desire to honor service members and their families through her continued work with the Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Born in Huntingburg, Indiana, in 1954, Vineyard proudly exclaims she was raised an "Army brat." Her father, a veteran of the Korean War, made the decision to return to the U.S. Army after a break in service, thus beginning a worldwide adventure for their family.
"We were sent to Salinas, California, so that my father could complete training at Fort Ord, and from there we went to Germany for three years," she recalled. "I have quite a travel history because then we moved to Maryland, then back to Indiana for a while, and onto Fort Knox, Kentucky," she added.
The next several years consisted of an odd rhythm of duty assignments and continued moves while her father was transferred between various military posts. This period would also come to include her father's three deployments to Vietnam. Eventually, Vineyard graduated from Dixon High School in 1972, at a time when her father's duty station was nearby Fort Leonard Wood.
She explained, "When we lived in Dixon, our family rented a house from a very nice family with whom we became good friends. They had a son that had graduated in 1968 and joined the U.S. Navy. He came home on leave from his duties aboard the USS Enterprise, and that's when we began dating and decided to get married shortly after I graduated."
Vineyard and her husband, Bobbie, moved to Alameda, California, where he had approximately six months remaining in service with the U.S. Navy. Her father was transferred to Fort Carson, Colorado, and soon retired from the U.S. Army.
After her husband received his discharge from the Navy in late 1972, the Vineyards returned to Missouri and settled in Fulton; four years later, they moved to Jefferson City. Her husband, she explained, spent 25 years as a route salesman for a uniform delivery company while she worked 10 years in state government.
"Our daughter, Crystal, was born in 1974, and we had our son, Joey, in 1976," Vineyard said. "Eventually I was hired in the claims department at Missouri Farm Bureau and retired from there in 2014," she added.
Bobbie decided to join the former VFW Post 1003 located on East Capitol Avenue. As Vineyard recalled, she initially did not become involved with the post since she was focused on working and raising her young children, but an unexpected event soon led to lengthy connection with the organization.
"My husband came home after a meeting and said, 'I volunteered you to do something,'" she recalled. "It turns out the VFW post was having a Buddy Poppy program (to raise money for veterans' programs) and he told them that I could draw a poster to advertise the initiative."
She continued, "I was soon helping the auxiliary of the VFW and had to bring the poster to a meeting to show the members of the post. I then became a member of the auxiliary, and the first year I just kind of watched and learned while working in the kitchen during bingo events."
As the years passed, Vineyard "moved up the chairs," serving in a number of auxiliary officer positions with the Jefferson City post. In 2001, she became secretary for the Jefferson City Veterans Council and continues to volunteer in that capacity.
Unfortunately, in 2003, her husband died at age 54. Vineyard has since identified a means by which to honor the military legacy of both her late father and husband through her continued dedication to the VFW Auxiliary.
"I eventually became the president of the auxiliary for VFW Post 1003 in Jefferson City and served in that capacity for three years," she said. "After the post closed and consolidated to become Basinger-Sone VFW Post 1003 in St. Martins, I remained with the auxiliary and am in my third year as auxiliary president for this post," she added.
Throughout her years of involvement with the auxiliary, Vineyard has also served as a district president in addition to volunteering as the department chairperson for youth programs such as Voice of Democracy, Patriot Pen and Patriotic Art.
"It is truly rewarding being involved with all of these programs and events, especially the Memorial Day services here in Jefferson City," she said. "We have a two-bell ceremony to honor veterans who died in the previous year, and it is difficult because I can see the pain on the families' eyes at these events."
With a heavy pause, she added, "But I understand because I have been there and it is an honor to read their loved one's names in recognition of their service."
Vineyard distressingly noted fewer younger veterans and their families tend to join organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars. On a personal level, she acknowledges her own continued involvement not only affords her opportunities to memorialize loved ones, but is also a means of fellowship.
"It is such a great feeling to be involved in the auxiliary and all of the post activities," she said. "My husband and father are both gone, but my service with the VFW provides me an enduring connection to them."
Jeremy P. Amick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America.