Changing of the Guard: Duane Sarmiento, N.J. State VFW Commander

By Michael D. Boll

Every year the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) loses thousands of members, and recently our younger veterans aren’t joining up. The VFW is the largest veteran organization in the United States, and it’s responsible for countless veterans’ rights. Unfortunately, the younger veteran generation is moving away from this organization and not helping with its amazing veteran assistance programs.

The VFW was in desperate need of change, and at this year’s convention, retired Gloucester County Sheriff/Greenwich Police Officer Duane Sarmiento was voted in as the 2018–2019 VFW State Commander.

Duane is a great friend/teammate who really understands our veterans from all eras. Through his leadership, the VFW is working tirelessly with helping our veterans receive their life-saving benefits and resources. Duane makes sure our veterans aren’t forgotten and strives to build up this outstanding organization.

Approximately, twenty-two veterans take their lives each day, and unfortunately this number hasn’t changed. Duane and the VFW are committed with suicide prevention and PTSD therapy groups. Also, he joined the Operation Rebound Racing Team and assists them with their mobile outreach program. Having this partnership has already been successful, and it will spread throughout the veteran community.

This year will be a start of a new era for our veterans, and it makes me proud to work with such a dedicated and committed veteran leader. Our veterans have a powerful and hardworking advocate on their side fighting for them.

Get to know our new VFW State Commander!

Duane was born and raised in Gibbstown, New Jersey. He is a 1987 graduate of Paulsboro High School. He is a true family man and has been married to his wife Ellen of 26 years and has three children, Alexis, Gabrielle and Michael.

He served as an Operation Specialist on active duty in the United States Navy from 1988 until honorably discharged in 1997. During his time in service, he earned three Navy Achievement Medals, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Southwest Asia Campaign Medal with 3 battle stars and 9 other medals and ribbons. He later served in the United States Naval Reserve from 2002 – 2007 and was selected as “Sailor of the Year” in 2003 at Naval Reserve Center Fort Dix.

In 1998, he was hired by the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Department and worked as a sheriff’s officer from 1998-2000. In 2000, he left the sheriff’s department and joined the Greenwich Township Police Department and returned to the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Department as an investigator in 2007, where he served until his retirement in 2010.

In 2011 Duane became the Director for the Gloucester County Office of Veterans Affairs.

In addition to his years of service both in the military and law enforcement, he has been a member of the Anthony T. Calista VFW Post 5579 in Gibbstown, New Jersey since1992.

He has also been the VFW Post 4-time post commander and past VFW District 13 Commander, as well as serving as NJ VFW Judge Advocate, Jr Vice Commander and Sr. Vice Commander.

Duane’s unwavering commitment to the service of others and to the VFW makes him the perfect choice to lead and serve as New Jersey’s Veterans of Foreign Wars State Commander.

Michael D. Boll is a police sergeant at the Union Police Department in NJ. He is currently in his 23rd year of law enforcement service. He previously served as a United States Marine, and is a Gulf War veteran. He is the founder of Operation Rebound Racing Team, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans and first responders enjoy a better quality of life.