Dennis Wambangco spent most of his 10 years in the Army with the military police, including a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
As platoon leader and executive officer of his team, Wambangco helped lead reconstruction efforts and mentored the Afghan National Police.
“The experience taught me how to develop partnerships and secure relief for those in need, like people living in war-torn villages,” he said. “My time in the military formed the foundation of my values, including my drive to continue #StillServing, which I’m doing every day.”
As the Junior Vice Commander of VFW Post 5036 in St. Charles, Illinois, Wambangco has found that community service can be an opportunity to teach and connect different groups.
“It’s difficult to describe my military experience to non-military civilians, so I show my family and community what I learned through volunteerism,” he said. “Serving others has become my therapy and a way to bridge divides between people.”
Wambangco is especially interested in supporting future generations.
“I want to instill a strong sense of national pride in younger Americans,” he said. “That’s why we partner with local youth organizations — to create a legacy of patriotism and civic responsibility that will endure for generations.”
Among other things, Wambangco has helped organize a program where local Cub Scouts prepare and serve dinner to veterans at his Post. After the program took off, Wambangco helped another troop set up a similar one for a local American Legion chapter.
“In turn,” he said, “the VFW supports these youth through a fundraiser that provides financial aid and scholarships.”
Recently, Wambangco led efforts to host a veteran and community breakfast, serving food to over 350 attendees, and further unifying veterans and his local community.
Wambangco’s volunteer efforts extend beyond the VFW, including as the leader of his employer’s Employee Resource Group and as a member of the Parent Teacher Organization at his children’s school.
“I spent years only volunteering for military and veteran organizations, but I’ve found that we — meaning past and present service members — find purpose by serving others,” Wambangco said. “It is a unifying force that brings people together. It can take many forms — from helping your local community to serving our country. In each instance, service means rising to the occasion for others.”