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National VFW Auxiliary president to visit West Fargo

Cortina Barnes, the Ladies Auxiliary VFW National President from Washington D.C., will be a special guest in West Fargo and Fargo, Friday, Oct. 8 through Sunday, Oct. 10. Hosting her visit will be the West Fargo Ladies Auxiliary Post 7564.

Janice Best, North Dakota VFW Auxiliary president from West Fargo, who has also held various offices at the local level, said she is looking forward to Barnes visit. "I'm so excited to be part of her team this year. She is a gracious lady and a wonderful leader for our organization."

Barnes has the distinction of being the first national president from Washington, D.C., elected to the national auxiliary position.

Upon her arrival at the Fargo airport, Barnes will be officially welcomed by Auxiliary members from across North Dakota with a special aisle of honor. A noon luncheon will follow at the Fargo Holiday Inn. Barnes will spend Friday evening at the West Fargo VFW visiting with post and auxiliary members and other club patrons.

Saturday has been designated a 'fun' day, featuring a mystery bus trip that will leave the West Fargo VFW on Saturday morning, traveling to the Lisbon Soldiers Home, from there through the scenic Sheyenne Valley, including Little Yellowstone and Kathryn, before stopping for lunch at the Valley City VFW, followed by shopping. The final leg will involve a stop at Casselton for a winetasting event at the Maple River Winery. In addition to the traveling and all the visits along the way, the members will also participate in a scavenger hunt with winners announced at the conclusion of the road trip. The day will conclude with a special dinner in Barnes' honor in the evening at the West Fargo VFW.

As added recognition, West Fargo Mayor Rich Mattern has proclaimed Saturday as "United by Love for Our Veterans and Country" Day in honor of Barnes and all members of the Ladies Auxiliary VFW for their outstanding volunteer service to veterans and their families.

  Barnes was elected National President of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States at its 97th National Convention in Indianapolis, Ind., on Aug. 26, 2010.

The theme for the 2010-2011 year is "United by Love for Our Veterans and Country." Barnes plans to focus attention on the auxiliary's core programs for veterans and their families. She also hopes to lead members in topping donations to the Cancer Aid & Research Fund at more than $3 million to assist members with cancer and fund important research to fight this disease.

A life member of Woodbridge Auxiliary #9755 in Washington, D.C., she is eligible through her father, Benjamin F. Willis, who served in the United States Army from 1944-1946 in the European Theater.

Since joining in 1987, Barnes has served in several capacities for the organization including Auxiliary President and 2000-2001 District of Columbia Department President. As Department President, she earned Outstanding Department President of the Year. She has served several terms as Auxiliary Treasurer, Auxiliary Secretary, and Department Secretary; and also served three terms as the Ladies Auxiliary National VFW-Political Action Committee Director.

Barnes has been employed with the federal government for 32 years. She worked with the Department of Defense Human Resources Activity outside of Washington, D.C., as a Resource Manager and is a Certified Defense Financial Manager. She received a bachelor of arts degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Barnes is a life member of the VFW National Home for Children, a member of Sodality of Our Lady at St. Francis de Sales Church, American Society of Military Comptrollers and the Military Order of the Cooties Auxiliary (MOCA).

She is married to Vietnam veteran Gerald C. Barnes Sr., who is a Native American, gives lectures and demonstrations on the traditional Native American culture and the art of basket-making in addition to weaving traditional Native American baskets. Gerald is a Life Member of the VFW and a Past All-American District Commander.

Barnes is stepmother to three adult children and step-grandmother to five.