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About Us

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James Ballentine “Uptown” VFW Post 246

James Ballentine “Uptown” VFW Post 246 is a Veteran non-profit organization based in a recently renovated mid-century building. The original ballroom is now a 440 capacity music venue and nightclub. We feature three bars and a restaurant in the same building. The karaoke bar has been featured on Esquire TV’s Best Bars of America and remains untouched by any major remodeling since it’s establishment in the 1950’s. Voted “Best Party Bar” by City Pages Best of the Twin Cities 2017 and “Best Karaoke” several years in a row we offer local, national and international acts, of all genres, 7 nights a week!

We host a variety of special events for both the public and veteran members.  Our past special events hosted by our veteran and auxiliary members include:
Operation Donation
2021 State Fair Kick Off
Poppy Donations
Pride Picnic
Military Appreciation Day at the MN State Fair
Members Picnic
Blood Drive

Vision

Our Post provides a crucial link between veterans and the Minneapolis community. We have a new age feel with old school principles. Our goal is to provide a place for veterans to belong and have a sense of responsibility, engagement, and comradery post military, while enhancing the local community.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is a nonprofit veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, guard and reserve forces.

We trace our roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service: Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves.

In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations that would eventually band together and become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Today, membership stands at nearly 1.7 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary.

Mission

To foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. To serve our veterans, the military and our communities. To advocate on behalf of all veterans.

Core Values

  1. Always put the interests of our members first
  2. Treat donors as partners in our cause
  3. Honor military service
  4. Ensure the care of veterans and their families
  5. Serve our communities
  6. Respect the diversity of veteran opinions

Leadership

James McCloden

Post Commander

James McCloden is honored to serve as the Commander of Post 246. He grew up in Chicago, IL and joined the Army at 17 in 1983. While in the Army, he served at Fort Riley, Kansas as a Radio Technician in tanks. He left the military for 2 years before re-enlisting as a Propaganda Dissemination Specialist. In jump school, he was the Honor Grad for his class at Fort Benning. He also went to Korean Language School where he was also named Honor Grad. James is a born leader and led combat teams in Operation Just Cause (1988) and Desert Storm (1991), where he captured prisoners of war. Today, James is a Senior Outreach Coordinator at MACV. His passion is ending Veteran Homelessness in the state of Minnesota. Anyone that knows James also knows his better half, Renee who has served as the President of Post 246 Auxiliary. James enjoys Science Fiction, making fun of his feeble minded Veteran friends, and is the best karaoke singer at the Post 246.

Dakin Hargest

Sr. Vice Commander

Dakin entered the US Army in The Delayed Entry Program his Senior Year of 1990 at Seventeen. He Graduated from Hopkins HS in June of 1990 and on July 6, 1990 went to Basic and AIT training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO. Dakin became a Tracked Wheeled Vehicle Engineer (12Foxtrot) operating CEVs, AVLBs and M9 ACE equipment. Dakin’s orders changed from Germany to Ft. Riley, KS when Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi Army invaded Kuwait in September 1990. Dakin deployed with Cco 1st Engineer, 1st Infantry Division (Mech) fought, returned home, and joined the MN Army National Guard serving in Hutchinson, MN at the 682nd Engineers and reclassified as a Military Police in Monticello, MN at the 257th MPs. Along the way Dakin Married, had four Children, and Divorced. Dakin enjoys spending time with his Five Grandchildren, Reading, Learning, playing sports, games as well as Traveling.

Jeff Rustad

Jr. Vice Commander

Jeff Rustad served as a driver and gunner running convoy security in Iraq, March 2006 – July 2007. The longest single deployment in the war on terror. He honorably discharged as an E4. As Jr. Vice Commander my goal is to help grow our membership by informing veterans what the mission of the VFW is and how easy it is to make a difference after becoming a member. I also plan to broaden the kinds of community support our members provide in order to meet the evolving needs of both the community and our members. His hobbies include ice fishing, snowboarding, car shows, attending sporting events, and golfing. He is currently working as an HR Operations Manager at Travelers Insurance.

Auxiliary Leadership

Brendan Sapienza

President

Brendan joined the VFW Auxiliary in honor of his family members, immediate and extended, who have served in the military over the years. Both of his parents served in the Army/WAC, his dad continuing with the National Guard until retiring as a Brigadier General in 2004. Brendan qualifies for VFW Auxiliary life membership under both his grandfather, who served in Burma during WWII, and his younger brother, who served as a flight medic in Helmand, Afghanistan. Inspired by his brother's deployment as well as his wife joining the VFW Auxiliary months earlier, Brendan became a member in 2019. He enjoys the boisterous, inclusive, and involved community at Post 246 and looks forward to many fun and rewarding events in the future. Brendan is an architect who spends his free time listening to music and hanging out with his wife and two cats.

Jen Sapienza

Senior Vice President

Shortly after retiring, Jennifer’s father starting driving fellow disabled veterans to VA appointments for the DAV. Inspired by her father’s continued service, Jennifer searched out a local VFW that was not just inclusive of all, but held the honor, service and support of veterans that she came to expect out of veterans. While much of Jennifer’s extended family has and continues to serve, Jennifer chose her father to qualify for the VFW Auxiliary. A point man for the Marine Corps in Vietnam, David was one on the Magnificent 7th, a major source of pride for Jennifer. She loves the comradery of the members and creating a new family with them. Jennifer is a graphic designer who enjoys spending time her free with family and friends.

Tea Simpson

Junior Vice President

Coming Soon!

Success Stories

Dollars at Work

4400000 $ in monetary aid to veterans, active-duty military and their families
878349 volunteered hours in VA medical centers, hospitals, nursing homes and veterans homes
145550 legislative contacts to help pass or block important bills affecting veterans and their families
126000 $ awarded in scholarships
336400 youth worked with across America
292781 U.S. Flags Distributed