MILITARY ORDER OF THE COOTIE
The name may sound a bit silly, but members of the Military Order of the Cootie have a serious mission: to bring a little joy into the lives of wounded and hospitalized veterans.
Retired U.S. Air Force computer specialist Mark Newman, of Dover, was elected Supreme Commander of the MOC during a national convention held in July. The Cooties are a division of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Newman came to the post from his position as a life member of the Vinson-Chason VFW Post 3238 in Camden.
There are three chapters, or "pup tents" of the MOC, each associated with a VFW chapter in Delaware. The group has about 170 members throughout the First State.
Q The VFW is considered a serious organization, so why is it associated with a strange sounding group like the Cooties?
A The name is all in fun, and that's what the Cooties are about – fun. We're a high degree of the VFW and our mission, as we say, is to 'keep them smiling in beds of white.' We go to hospitals and veterans homes and just talk with vets. It helps take their minds off their worries and gives them a chance to talk to someone with a common interest.
Q Why is it that when something good occurs, you say it's 'lousy?'
A Because cooties are bugs and we do things the opposite way from the VFW, when things are good, we say they're 'lousy.' Our titles include terms like seam squirrel, gimlets and tightwads. We wear our caps sideways and have little bugs and lice tracks on our shirts. When you walk into a veterans' home or a hospital, that's what the vets see, and it brings a smile to their faces.
Q How do you feel about being the Supreme Commander?
A To hold this position is an honor. When people looking for management and leadership put you in this position, it's very humbling. Because we're there for the vets and because we work to bring a smile to their faces, it's a feeling you can't get in any other organization.