VIEW's Cooties Celebrate 100 Years of Service

By Dyhouse, Janie | VFW Magazine, September 2020 | Go to article overview

VIEW's Cooties Celebrate 100 Years of Service


Dyhouse, Janie, VFW Magazine


For 100 years, the lives of hospitalized veterans have been made a bit brighter thanks to a fun-loving group known as the Military Order of the Cootie. As an auxiliary to the VFW, Cooties have a slogan that aptly states one of their objectives: "Keep 'em Smilin' in Beds of White."

Local groups, known as Pup Tents, work with VA hospitals and veterans homes to enrich the lives of veterans through entertainment.

The Cooties' newly elected Supreme Commander, Darin Combs, said his Pup Tent 11 in Phoenix sponsors monthly dog races at the Arizona Veterans Home. Cooties set up a vinyl track on the floor and place six dog figurines on the track. Each dog is assigned to a patient. Dice is rolled and a dog advances. The winner receives some money for use in the commissary.

"We also sponsor a 'Shells and Bones' night at the home," said Combs, a member of VFW Post 9400 in Phoenix. "That's a steak and shrimp dinner. Anything we can do to help our fellow vets."

Combs, who served with the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing in the United Arab Emirates in 2004, said his Pup Tent also hosts such events as game night, pizza parties and wing nights.

"Each Pup Tent may focus on a different area," he added. "My fellow Cootie, Charles Peterson with the Grand of California, his sole purpose is to get an electric wheelchair to any veteran who needs it."

A HOME FOR CHILDREN

Cootie membership was opened up on Sept. 17, 1920, at the Oxford Hotel in Washington, D.C. The idea behind the ancillary organization was that it would help VFW's membership grow, which was in the midst of an influx of WWI veterans.

Spanish American War vet Fred C. Madden was the first Supreme Seam Squirrel (the forerunner to Supreme Commander). Some 300 VFW members signed up to be a part of the inaugural group, which promised to offer fun.

A year later, on Sept. 24, 1921, the Cooties officially became a part of the VFW during the VFW Encampment in Detroit.

Cooties take pride in the name, which is derived from the lice that scurried on and around the troops in the trenches during WWI. …

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