Joy Cumming, the commander of the Ramsay/Toy #8772, a Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post on Woodrow Ave., says she is used to breaking the mold. The Four Corners resident is focusing her career and her volunteer time on helping fellow veterans find a warm welcome and much-needed services close to home.
Cumming, 42, served in the US Army for three years in the 1990s— including a stint in Korea.
Today, she is the the Women’s Committee Chairman for the state’s Department of Massachusetts and works as an administrator at the committee’s State House office. She is currently in her third year as a member of the VFW’s National Women’s Veterans Committee.
Originally from Maine, Cumming moved to Dorchester four years ago. She says she made the move after spending ten years in Lynn because she was so active in the post and wanted to be closer.
Cumming joined the historically African-African led Ramsay/Toy Post six years ago after attending a Sunday brunch there with a friend. The Ramsay/Toy Post #8772 was instituted and chartered in February 2007, following a merger of the Patrick E. Toy Post — the first exclusively African-American VFW Veteran’s post in the United States — and the David L. Ramsay Post. Cumming was elected as the first female commander of the post in June 2010. Cumming is one of only two white members in her current post.
“It’s no different than being a low-percentage female in the military,” she said. “I’m used to being in the minority as far as when it comes to gender.”
“I think you fit in wherever you make yourself fit in,” she said.
The Ramsay/Toy Post has a small facility on Woodrow Avenue and— like many vets posts — an aging membership. As commander, Cumming has put her focus on putting together care packages for local service men and women overseas and visiting members in the hospitals.
Cumming says she expects there will be a renewed interest in joining posts as a new wave of younger veterans get a bit older.
“For me, it was ten years after I got out that I joined a post. It can sometimes takes a minimum of 10 years. They need to find their sea legs and that takes a while before they start to seek out the kind of comradeship they experienced in the military.
Cumming, who attended Mass College of Art, served in the Army from 1991 to 1994. Stationed in Fort Jackson and Fort Gordon, she received basic training in army information technology (AIT) before going overseas to Korea.