SPRINGFIELD – Surrounded by the 2019-2020 leadership team of Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Missouri, Warrensburg resident Teresa Shane took the oath of office as the District 6 commander, along with 12 other district commanders from Missouri.
“Ten years ago, this never even crossed my mind I would be here,” she said Saturday, June 8, after the installation ceremony.
Shane is the first woman to be elected as commander in District 6, which covers 22 posts in nine counties, including three posts in Johnson County.
She joined the William A. Carleton VFW Post 2513 in 2009, serving through the positions as junior and senior vice commander, before being elected as post commander in 2016.
“Marvin Neal and Bryan Lee were after me for the longest time to join the post,” she said. “I met them when I worked for the Star-Journal, and I usually covered the military events and activities at the veteran’s home.”
There was a time when women were told to join the Ladies Auxiliary, but Shane said she never heard that from post members.
“Now, the VFW Auxiliary is men and women whose family members are eligible for the VFW,” she said. “So, even that statement doesn’t apply.”
The same year she became post commander, the post underwent major renovations and changes, and she began serving at the district level. Also in 2016, she met Mike Shaw, who she married the following spring.
“Mike stepped up and helped us renovate the post building,” she said. “He’s been right beside me in everything I’ve done with the VFW.”
Shane said she could not have done it without the members who stood by her.
“I’m not going to say that first year was easy,” she said. “It was a challenge because I was the first woman to be elected post commander. We were going through a lot of changes. Some members did not know how to take that.”
She credits her leadership team with all of the success.
“I have the best quartermaster in the whole VFW,” she said. “Glen Conen is my rock and my friend. He tells me when I need to back off and stands up for me to those who disagree with our actions. If I’m smart, I listen to him.”
The Warrensburg post membership is at 168, the most it has ever been, according to post research. For the first time, Post 2513 is on target to make All-American, one of the top membership awards in the VFW. The post now has a digital newsletter and is on social media.
“I’m proud to say our youngest post member is 23 and our oldest is 94,” Shane said. “We have a lot of history in our post and more than a dozen women.”
Shane’s family history with the military starts in the Revolutionary War and continues with cousins who are in the service.
“My dad and grandfather were involved in D-Day,” she said. “I have a sister and brother who served, and an uncle in Leeton who also served in the U.S. Navy.”
The VFW as an organization is changing, Shane said.
“Many people are not aware of what the VFW does, or how much it contributes to the communities they are in,” she said. “I encourage every veteran to visit a VFW post. Each one is a little different, but most are active in their community and they all serve veterans. I love the VFW and everything it does for veterans and their families.”