A proud family tradition in VFW
Cassie Walsh is hoping that when her uncle, Jim Tenhoff, looks down from heaven, he feels proud of what she is doing.
Walsh, a 2002 Osakis High School graduate, took over the role of Osakis VFW quartermaster from Tenhoff after he passed away from pancreatic cancer last December.
"And, as it would happen, I am also the first female officer at the Osakis VFW," said Walsh. "We don't have many female members in our ranks, though we're actively recruiting them."
Tenhoff, who also graduated from Osakis High School — in 1966 — had been in the position for 43 years as he took on the role in 1974.
"He left big shoes for me to fill," said Walsh, explaining that the quartermaster is basically the chief financial officer of the VFW.
The journey of taking over the position from her uncle has been emotional because of how important the Osakis VFW was to Tenhoff.
"It was his baby," she said. "My uncle, and many other volunteers, worked so hard to make it successful. He invested a lot of himself into it and I want to protect that legacy for him."
Besides being the quartermaster, Tenhoff also served in the honor guard and he volunteered, without any hesitation, for many VFW events.
Walsh said all members of the VFW are military personnel who served in an overseas conflict.
Her uncle was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Tenhoff served his country from 1968 until 1970 and he received the Bronze Star service medal.
Walsh was also in the U.S. Army and served during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2005.
"I was deployed with the 1st Infantry Division out of Wurzburg, Germany," she said. "I served as an intelligence analyst."
After leaving the Army in 2006, Walsh worked as a government contractor and was deployed a second time to Iraq. During that time, she received a bachelors of accounting degree, which she said has served her well in her new role of quartermaster.
In 2014, she left her government contracting career to pursue her dog training/rescuing passion.
"I purchased the Minnesota franchise locations of Off Leash K-9 Training and moved back home to Osakis," said Walsh. "Soon after I moved back, I joined the VFW — at my uncle Jim's urging — and started participating in the monthly meetings."
After joining the VFW and before she took on the role of quartermaster, Walsh spearheaded the effort to place wreaths on the headstones of all veterans graves in Osakis during the holidays through a program called Wreaths Across America.
This year's holiday season will mark the third year that Walsh's efforts will make sure no veteran is forgotten during the holiday season.
This year, she noted, will also mark the third year of her involvement with the non-profit organization, Eagle's Healing Nest, which is committed to meeting the needs of veterans, service members and their families who might be suffering from the invisible wounds of war.
The third annual Nest Pet Expo, which was planned and sponsored by her Off Leash K-9 Training, will take place June 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Eagle's Healing Nest, 310 Highway 71 North, Sauk Centre. For more information, visit www.nestpetexpo.com.