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John Ruch Posted by on June 2, 2017.

New VFW post to open at Bobby Jones Golf Course

A new Veterans of Foreign Wars post based at Buckhead’s Bobby Jones Golf Course will celebrate its official opening June 3.

Named for Army 1st Lt. Tyler Hall Brown, who was killed in action in Iraq, it’s the only VFW post within the city of Atlanta and aims to particularly serve veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq.

“It just seemed a great spot to do it,” said William Makepeace, a Marine Corps veteran who is among the new post’s organizers, about the golf course location.

Makepeace works part-time at the historic golf course, whose clubhouse at 384 Woodward Way is the VFW post’s base. He has also volunteered with the Marine Corps’ Wounded Warrior Regiment and at the Buckhead-based Shepherd Center, where many veterans with spinal cord and other injuries recover. Another point of attraction is the golf course’s location within Atlanta Memorial Park, “a memorial park, where there was a [Civil War] battlefield,” he noted.

John Paulson, a Sandy Springs city councilmember and a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam, is another organizer of the VFW post.

“I fully support this post and its goals to provide a venue for veterans of overseas conflicts in the Buckhead/north Atlanta area to get together and socialize,” said Paulson. “The camaraderie of [Makepeace’s] team has already been great and will get better as the post is established.”

Makepeace and Paulson are both members of American Legion Post 140 in Buckhead’s Chastain Park, which has operated for decades and has plans for a new, larger facility in the works. The VFW is a different organization from the American Legion, and the new Buckhead post aims to have a different mission.

While the Legion is open to veterans who have served during certain specific times of war, the VFW focuses on combat veterans. Makepeace said the new post’s naming for Brown reflects its mission of especially serving veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Brown was a Brookhaven native who was president of his classes at the Woodward Academy and Georgia Tech. He was killed by a sniper while serving in Iraq in 2004.

“We thought it would be fitting that it be named for someone from the current generation,” Makepeace said.

He said it’s about reaching out to a group of veterans “with a high suicide rate and let them know there’s a place to go.” The VFW also helps any veteran navigate the Veterans Affairs services or other bureaucracies, he said.

Despite the ever-growing number of veterans returning from Afghanistan, Iraq and anti-terrorism operations, many traditional veterans organizations are shrinking. Makepeace said the state VFW is “usually closing VFW posts, not opening them.” The nearest VFW posts currently in operation are in Dunwoody and Marietta.

The new post hopes to attract the younger generation with monthly Saturday morning meetings that leave time for other activities, including enjoying the golf course and adjacent Atlanta Memorial Park, with a coffee-and-doughnuts environment.

“No beer or bingo,” he said.

The post had its first organizational meeting in March. At its June 3 gathering, state chapter officials will grant its official post number.

The golf course is under the management of a private foundation as it recently shifted from city to state ownership and is undergoing renovations and reconstruction. The work will include conversion to a nine-hole layout and the including of a new Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. Makepeace said the VFW post is definitely able to use the clubhouse through November and hopes to remain during and after renovations.

Any combat veterans interested in joining the new post can contact Makepeace at wrm4444@gmail.com or 404-219-9389.