The first rule David Griswold learned when he became an officer in the Marine Corps was to take care of his troops.
“It’s drilled into you to take care of people who work for you,” Griswold said. “Troops always eat first, officers go hungry if there isn’t enough food.”
Griswold has carried that lesson through his life. As Post Commander for the Veterans of Foreign War Post 1467 in Old Lyme, he helped begin the Vets In Need Program with the aid fellow veterans and an anonymous donor in 2010 during his first tour as Post Commander.
With the first contribution of $10,000 and continued donations from the community, the Post has helped over 60 veterans in a wide range of services including medical assistance, home repairs, utility bills, transportation and coordinating additional support.
“Old Lyme is a funny town. People often think we are all wealthy, but there are some very poor people that are too proud to ask for help or even go to the food pantry,” Griswold said. “We hear about their needs through word of mouth, the senior center or social services and then do our best to help as we can.”
The VFW never gives cash, instead they pay directly for the services, such as a car repair or heating bill to help the veteran stay financially on their feet.
This last year, the Old Lyme post was honored for its successful program, when it was named one of the top ten posts of the 110 in the state of Connecticut.
Fourteen veterans from the Post 1467, including Griswold, were sworn into office by District Commander Ken Harstein: Larry Olsen, Doug Wilkinson, John Vilcheck, J.T. Scott, Larry Ghirardi, Ron Boremski, Andrew Brennan, Joseph Lacasse, John Fielder, Bob Roser, Ken McAdam’s, Edward Shyloski and Peter Intagliate.
“It is really a privilege to be part of the post,” Griswold said. “I get more credit than I deserve, I have a really good bunch of people.”
Griswold was born and bred in Old Lyme. He was supposed to go to Choate, then Yale, then marry the wealthy girl down the street. If he had to join the service, it should be the Navy. It was the Griswold way.
After graduating from Darrow School and Springfield College, Griswold decided to make yet another uncharacteristic move. He joined the Marine Corps.
“I was deciding between the Navy and Marine Corps when a guy challenged me. He said he didn’t think I was tough enough to make it as a Marine. I wanted to prove myself,” Griswold said.
Griswold was 22 years old when he was trained and then deployed to Vietnam.
The VFW relies on donations to sustain their veterans in need programs. To donate contact Griswold at DHWG@sbcglobal.net