HAMLET — After more than 20 years since its charter, AMVETS Post 316 will soon have a home.
Post Commander Ed O’Neal recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Hamlet City Manager Matt Christian for the veterans group to use the former police “hut” behind the American Legion hall.
The signing was Feb. 22 at the East Rockingham Fire Department — where AMVETS has been meeting for years — after the agreement was approved by post members.
O’Neal told the members that he has been working on trying to find a post home for the past 18 months, with not much luck.
But a lunch discussion with Hamlet City Councilman Eddie Martin turned things around.
“He asked if there was anything in the city of Hamlet that might be available,” recalled Martin, a Marine Corps veteran who has been an inactive member of the post for years. “I couldn’t think of anything right off the bat, but then I thought about the old Hamlet Police club. It hasn’t been used in years.”
Martin said the building has become slightly dilapidated, but added that “it’s still basically in good shape.” He added that it was scheduled to be burned down — “and I didn’t want that to happen.”
“And then I thought, ‘That would be a possibility if they were still interested,’” Martin added.
Several AMVETS members met with Martin and Christian to look at the building and felt like it could work, according to O’Neal.
The Hamlet City Council approved offering the memorandum at its February meeting, Christian said.
“We’re extremely pleased to has a real post home after almost 21 years in existence,” O’Neal said. “We look forward to holding events there and having a place to display post awards and our history. A special thanks to the Hamlet City Council and city leaders for their willingness to partner with us and continue our mission of helping veterans.”
The agreement outlines AMVETS’ responsibilities, including paying the utilities and liability insurance.
It will also cost an estimated $10-$30,000 to renovate the building, including a new metal roof and a new HVAC system.
Sam Standridge said a sink has been offered and the group will be seeking other donations. Anything not donated will have to be paid for through fundraising efforts.
The post will be co-hosting a golf tournament May 20-21, along with the Salute Military Golf Association at Scotch Meadows in Laurinburg.
The mission of that group, according to its website, is to “provide rehabilitative golf programs, experiences, and family inclusive golf opportunities for post 9/11 wounded war veterans in an effort to improve the quality of life for these American heroes.”
The two organizations will be splitting the proceeds 50/50, according to O’Neal.
AMVETS will use half of its share on building renovations and donate the other half to the N.C. AMVETS Disaster Relief Fund.
The process of cleaning out the building has already started, according to O’Neal.
While there is still a lot of work to do, O’Neal said he hopes for the group to have its first meeting there in April.
AMVETS Post 316 was chartered in 2001 with 10 members and has grown to more than 100, according to O’Neal. However, several have passed away in recent months.
The group is also recruiting members to join its honor guard, which performs at military funerals as well as events observing Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
For more information on the honor guard, contact Johnny Patrick at 910-995-6167.