Angels don’t always have wings and halos. Some of them proudly wear Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary uniforms and Buddy Poppies.

Angels don’t always have wings and halos. Some of them proudly wear Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary uniforms and Buddy Poppies.

Sherri L. Anderson, Pittsburg, is Third District VFW Auxiliary senior vice president, and also currently holds the same office for VFW Auxiliary Post 1158, Pittsburg. She and her fellow auxiliary members strive to be “angels” to area veterans, including those in local nursing homes.

Veterans have been a big part of her life. Her father, Francis Leroy Collins, was a medic during World War II, serving in Germany, and her husband, Eugene  K. Anderson, served in the U.S. Air Force.

“I joined the VFW Auxiliary through my father,” Anderson said. “Veterans of Foreign Wars is open to veterans who served overseas. Anybody who received pay for hazardous duty overseas is eligible to join.”

She added that  membership in the women’s auxiliary is open to women who are the wives, daughters, sisters, granddaughters, foster or stepmothers, foster or stepdaughters, foster, step- or half-sisters of veterans who are or were eligible for VFW membership.

“I was born in Parsons at the old Mercy Hospital, but left Kansas when I was 10,” Anderson said. “I came back when I was 28. I told my mother that if I could make it back home, I could make it anywhere.”

Her first job since arriving in Pittsburg in 1992 was at Superior, then she worked in the laundry department at Shields Adult Care.

“I earned my CNA and went to work at Beverly Nursing Home, which is now Golden Living Center,” she said.

A chance meeting in 1997 with Pam Ireland, director at homecare for Mt. Carmel Home Health Care, led to Anderson earning a license in home health care and working there for six years.

“I’ve been at the hospital for 13 years now,” Anderson said. “I worked in the psychiatric unit on fifth floor for around four years, and now I’m a unit clerk and aide.”

She’s been married for as long as she’s worked at the hospital. After early unhappy marriages,  she has found happiness with Eugene Anderson.

“We met on Aug. 3, 1995, and it took him three years to grab me,” Anderson said. “We went on a trip to Arkansas and were married in the Little Bell Wedding Chapel. We had 7 Up for champagne and cupcakes for a wedding cake.”

She said the couple enjoys traveling, hunting for treasures at flea markets and fishing. Her husband is currently a patient at Via Christi Hospital, but they hope for many more happy times together.

Anderson has six daughters and 12 grandchildren.

She joined the VFW Auxiliary in 1986 while living in California, and became a lifetime member in 1997.

“I got involved with the local auxiliary when Martha Friend invited me to go to the VFW post home because they were trying to start a chapter,” she said. “I was chaplain for five years, then junior vice president. In 2003 I became Third District chaplain and served for two years, then I was district junior vice president for a year.”

Since she is now district senior vice president, her logical next step is to run for Third District president.

“My theme, if I’m elected, will be ‘Rock and roll angels’,” Anderson said. Rebecca Polok has written my theme song, set to ‘GI Blues’.”

VFW’s aim is to honor the dead by serving the living. The Pittsburg auxiliary does this by sending socks to the VA Hospital at Winfield, and helping veterans at 10 area nursing homes.

“We go to nursing homes in Pittsburg, Frontenac, Girard and Arma,” Anderson said. “We give them gifts and treats at Christmas and Valentine’s Day. This year for Christmas we gave them blankets, candy canes and note pads and pencils. We also adopted two veterans at Vintage Place who don’t have families. We also do Christmas every year at the hospital for patients and staff, and our ongoing project is doing scarves for the Via Christi Cancer Center.”

VFW and auxiliary also stress patriotism.

“I love the flag pledge and the national anthem, and I’d like to tell parents to teach their children to respect the flag and learn the national anthem,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the veterans, we wouldn’t have what we have today, and we need to respect and appreciate our police and fire fighters, too. It takes everybody doing their best to keep America going.”

She would love to see more veterans join VFW and their womenfolk join the auxiliary. Chapters in some areas also have men’s auxiliary posts for the husbands, widowers, sons, brothers, grandsons, etc., of women veterans.

“If we get more to join, we’ll be able to do more for the community,” Anderson said. “I’ve got a lot of ideas. I just want to give back what the Lord, the little angels and Via Christi have given me.”