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A video is circulating on the Internet to help raise funds to save the VFW in Mitchell. The VFW has been closed since mid-May, due to concerns about a wall it shares with a the old Longhorn Bar that is being demolished. (Jordan Steffen/Republic)

Video shows plight of local VFW

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Video shows plight of local VFW
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

A new video on Youtube and Facebook outlines the financial troubles faced by the Mitchell Veterans of Foreign Wars post, which is struggling to save its business as a neighboring building is razed.


The video was produced by volunteer Jenna Schmaltz, a Mitchell resident who is a veteran and a member of the Army Reserves. Schmaltz also is part of an ad-hoc committee that's meeting regularly to find ways to raise money -- possibly as much as $50,000 -- and hopefully save the post, which has been closed for a month.

"When you're in a position like this, you feel all alone," said Pat Ziegler, commander of the local VFW post. "But the response we have had so far from some local businesses has just been great."

Watch the video here:

Although it was only posted to the Internet Monday morning, Ziegler said by late afternoon the video already was popular. As many as 1,000 people had viewed it, he said.

"We put a blurb (on Facebook)," he said. "We like it when they click 'Like,' but we really want them to share it. ... I have high hopes and high expectations. Maybe the people of Mitchell and the businesses of Mitchell, in their good hearts, may come through for us."

The VFW has been closed since mid-May, due to concerns about a wall it shares with a neighboring building that is being demolished. When workers began taking down the former Longhorn Bar -- believed to be the oldest structure in town at 134 years old -- they realized the wall between that building and the VFW was unstable.

Due to safety concerns, the VFW was closed and therefore has lost its revenue source. Meanwhile, the building has been braced, while everyone involved -- including the city of Mitchell -- considers what to do next.

The VFW has put together a committee and has begun a fundraising campaign, appointing Schmaltz as its coordinator. In hopes of raising awareness to the plight of her organization, she created the video, which asks viewers to "Help Save Our VFW."

The video is about 70 seconds long and shows pictures of ongoing demolition while referencing past news coverage. The video is basic, but tells of the VFW's plight, including that the business remains closed.

"Now we are looking for support," the video says. "We need to raise at least $50,000 through fundraiser events and donations to repair our building or look for a new home. Either way, we need help."

Those wishing to help are asked to contact Schmaltz at

"I already have gotten quite a bit of feedback on it," Schmaltz said around 3:30 p.m. Monday.

She called the VFW's situation "unique" but also said there appears to be plenty of support for the organization.

"We do need help. We're not bringing anything in for revenue right now," she said. "This organization is about supporting veterans and widows and children. We're all working together to carry out the cause. That's important for us."

The VFW is working on an August fundraiser, potentially including live music, a silent auction or a pancake feed. Ziegler and Schmaltz said the Moonlight Bar has offered the use of its new venue on Main Street -- the former Jackpot Bar building -- to host any events that come to fruition.

"We've been in full gear since Tuesday and now we are trying to pick a date," Schmaltz said. "We are not trying to tell people they have to donate. We just want to get the word out there, and then it's up to them to do what they want to do. If they just want to share the video, that's more than we can ask for."

Said Ziegler: "I've never done anything like this before, so I have no idea (what to expect). Whatever we get, we get, and whatever we get, we can use."

Korrie Wenzel
(701) 780-1103