ANNAPOLIS, Md. - More than 130 service officers from across the nation and world are attending a weeklong training conference here to continue developing the skills they need to successfully help U.S. military veterans obtain their earned benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Sponsored and conducted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, the training is one of four basic and advanced courses the VFW holds annually to improve the skills of VFW service officers and those from other veterans service organizations, and state and county agencies who are accredited through VA.
"The VA requires a minimum of 40 hours of continuing education a year to maintain a service officer's accreditation, but we provide up to 80 hours of training every year," said VFW National Veterans Service Director Ryan Gallucci. "That's because our network of benefits professionals are in our communities every day, and in order to successfully advocate on behalf...
If you received a Purple Heart for being wounded in Vietnam, you could be one of nine lucky veterans to win the VFW's "Return to Vietnam" trip.
This in-country tour from April 25 - May 8, 2019, will include the sites of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), the DMZ, Khe Sanh, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, Marble Mountain, Cu Chi and Tay Ninh. Airfare, accommodations and meals are included.
Don't miss this chance to revisit battle sites and share your experiences with fellow Vietnam veterans!
Entries must be received prior to the drawing on November 30, 2018. Click here for complete information....
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - With its 2017 Legislative Conference only weeks away, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. has designed a new mobile event app to give attendees the tools needed to make the most of their visit to the nation's capital. As the official guide to the 2017 VFW Legislative Conference, the VFW DC 2017 mobile app is available for download now at both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.VFW to Deliver Veterans' Voice to Congress
WASHINGTON - More than 500 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. are arriving in the nation's capital this weekend to urge their members of Congress to continue transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs so that it can more efficiently and effectively serve America's veterans.
"The VFW is fully committed to working with Congress and the VA to change the way the department delivers health care, to include finding the best way to leverage what the VA provides with what public or private practitioners out in the community can offer, with the end goal being the delivery of the highest quality integrated care so that no veterans are ever stranded in line again," said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy.
The VFW national commander is scheduled to present his organization's legislative positions at 2 p.m., Wednesday, in testimony before a joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees in room G-50 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Along with f...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Next weekend, more than 500 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., the nation's largest and oldest war veterans' organization begin rallying in Washington, D.C., to voice the concerns of veterans directly with the nation's lawmakers during the 2017 VFW Legislative Conference, Feb. 26 - March 2.
The annual conference strengthens the VFW's advocacy efforts on behalf of America's veterans, service members and their families, as VFW members meet with elected representatives in the House and Senate to discuss the VFW's stance on a number of high priority veterans' issues.
The 2017 VFW Legislative Conference culminates on March 1, as VFW National Commander Brian Duffy testifies before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Aff...
WASHINGTON - This afternoon, before a joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees, Brian Duffy, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. delivered testimony focused on fixing the VA and ending sequestration.
"Let me be perfectly clear: Congress must end sequestration!" he told the committee members in attendance." He explained that despite ongoing conflicts and the rise in new threats since the 112th Congress created sequestration in 2011, America's service members continue to operate under a budget ax which has adverse effects on how successfully they're able to defend our nation, as well as quality of life programs. VFW Announces Top Youth Scholarship Winners
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliary proudly announced the national winners of its annual Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen youth scholarship competitions, live during last night's 2017 VFW Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
|VFW and SVA Announce 2017 Student Veteran Fellowship Class
WASHINGTON - Ten Student Veterans of America (SVA) leaders have been selected to join more than 500 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. when they converge on Capitol Hill, Feb. 26 to March 2, to advocate on behalf of all veterans, service members and their families. The fellowship selections were announced this afternoon at SVA's 9th National Conference in Anaheim, Calif.
"Through our fellowship program, the VFW and SVA seek to work with exemplary student veterans to hone their unique skills as advocates on campus, in the community, and on the national stage," said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy. "The VFW sees this fellowship as yet another way of supporting our shared mission with SVA to transform today's scholars into tomorrow's leaders."
The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is a semester-long academic experience that involves research, action, reporting and advocating on behalf of one of four veterans...
WASHINGTON - This morning, before a joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. delivered testimony focused on ending sequestration and improving the care, services and programs provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"The VFW is pleased Congress recently passed a bipartisan budget agreement to alleviate the sequester's impact on our military and veterans, but you only delayed its return by two years," VFW National Commander Keith Harman told members of the committees. "Our service members, veterans and their families are counting on you to repeal sequestration once and for all!"
Harman commended the committee members in attendance for making some VFW-proposed changes to the Choice Program that have improved access to care, but reminded them the Choice Program is merely a stopgap, and must be replaced with a permanent and improved program that would:
WASHINGTON - More than 500 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliary are arriving in the nation's capital this weekend to urge their respective members of Congress to end sequestration and to continue improving the programs and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"The VFW is appreciative of the two-year budget agreement because it will bring temporary funding stability to the Defense Department," said VFW National Keith Harman, "but a two-year agreement doesn't end the continued threat of sequestration on a military that is still at war with an all-volunteer force that is fighting with less training and overused equipment," he said. "Sequestration has been the law of the land for seven years, so service members, veterans, their families and the VFW are counting on the newly-established super committee on budget and appropr...
WASHINGTON - More than 500 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. will take to the nation's capital the first week of March to advocate on behalf of America's nearly 25 million veterans and military service members, as well as their families and survivors.
VFW members meet regularly with their elected officials in their home offices and on Capitol Hill to enlist their support in bringing the VFW's legislative Priority Goals to fruition. Highlighting this year's conference will be VFW National Commander Keith Harman's testimony before a special joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees, the presentation of the VFW Congressional Award to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), and the Voice of Democ...
WASHINGTON - Ten Student Veterans of America (SVA) leaders have been selected to join more than 500 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) when they converge on Capitol Hill, March 4 to 7, to advocate on behalf of all veterans, service members and their families. The fellowship selections were announced during SVA's 10th National Conference in San Antonio.
"Thank you for thinking about people like me who need that extra hand to make their dreams a reality," said VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" recipient Brian Blakey.
Blakey, a specialist in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard for 8 years was deployed to Kuwait where he worked as a cavalry scout, a position the Army describes as the "eyes and ears of the commander during battle."
"My pursuit of a college degree is what drew me to the military," said Blakey. "I wanted to do something different than what I was doing and really challenge myself.
"Although many moments are etched in my memory, one of the most meaningful is the day I swore in and took my oath to defend our country against foreign and domestic enemies."
Blakey is thankful for the opportunity to have earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice with a concentration in cybersecurity from Strayer University.
"I chose this field because someone saw something in me that I didn't know I had. This person inspired me to go for it. I...
From the Revolutionary War to today's military conflicts overseas, immigrants and noncitizens have been serving honorably in America's military.
Many foreigners who come to the U.S. work for years to receive citizenship. But, this country has always placed noncitizens who serve in the U.S. military in a special category - oftentimes allowing for an expedited path to citizenship for those service men and women.
A Department of Justice document from October 1948 shows that more than 300,000 immigrants served during World War II. Interestingly, of the 109,000 noncitizens who served, almost 92 percent, or more than 100,000, received citizenship while serving during the war.
According to the Migration Policy Institute, 31,000 immigrants who served during the Korean War became U.S. citizens while in the service.
As of 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had naturalized 109,321 service members since October 2001. Of those men and women, 11,069 troops were naturalized in ceremonies at overseas loc...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The "Uniting to Combat Hunger" campaign - a collaboration between The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), Harvesters-The Community Food Network and After the Harvest - has surpassed its goal of raising 50,000 meals for local individuals in need. The announcement was made during the Joint Opening Session of the 119th VFW National Convention held at the Bartle Hall Kansas City Convention Center.
The "Uniting to Combat Hunger" campaign was established to raise awareness and fight food insecurity in the Greater Kansas City are...
"This is the best and hardest job I have ever had. The rewards are in seeing the change in our veterans after they receive their awards."
Wendy Griffin of Salt Lake City, Utah spends her days passionately advocating for veteran's rights. In her role as a VFW Department Service Officer, she assists veterans and their families in filing claims and helping them obtain the benefits they have earned. As a veteran, Griffin knows just how much these benefits matter.
Griffin served in the United States Air Force from January 1983 to December 1990. In her role as a linguist and historian, Staff Sgt. Griffin was stationed in South Korea and Arizona.
Her journey with the VFW began in 2014. Griffin began volunteering by answering phones, then became an accredited claims consultant a year later. She started her role as a VFW Department Service Officer in 2017. During a typical day, she works with up to six veterans ranging from World War II veterans to those currently serving active duty.
"There are veterans who do...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is pleased to announce 172 student veterans have been chosen as 2018 fall semester recipients of the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship." Together, these student veterans will receive nearly $790,000 in college scholarships.
For more than a decade, the VFW's long-standing relationship with Sport Clips Haircuts has focused on assisting service members, veterans and their families. In 2014, the focus expanded to establish the Help A Hero Scholarship program.
With the continued rising costs of education, military education benefits often run out or fall short of covering the full costs of a college education which leaves many student veterans without a degree. The Help A Hero Scholarship provides student veterans with the chance to achieve their education goals without incurring excessive student loan debt.
To date, the Help A Hero program has awarded nearly $5 million in college tuition assistance and has provided scholarships ...
VFW officers in the "Great Lakes State" are demonstrating that young members with families can be active in all levels of the organization.
Phil and Lynn Patterson, who were married more than 10 years ago, are leading the Department of Michigan this year - Phil as commander and Lynn as quartermaster/adjutant. Phil said he believes this is the first time in VFW history that a married couple has served in those positions at the same time.
"It's great working with my wife," Phil said. "Our lives are consumed by the VFW every hour of the day. We are always talking about the VFW."
Before both were officers with the Department, they led at the Post and District levels of VFW, too. Both joined VFW in 2009 as charter members of Post 12082 in Ionia, Mich. Lynn was the quartermaster for the Post from 2009 to 2014, and Phil became the commander in 2010.
Phil later served as commander of Michigan's District 9 in 2011-12, quartermaster in 2012-13, and chief of staff in 2012-13. Lynn was the District quartermaster fro...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Depart of Labor outlined their priorities to VFW members at the annual VFW National Convention last week.
Dr. Paul Lawrence, VA's under secretary for benefits, said the agency is focusing on the Forever GI Bill, the Rapid Appeals Modernization Program (RAMP), and the Transition and Economic Development office. He also said the VA processed nearly 160,000 claims that came from the VFW in fiscal year 2017 and reminded VFW members that the VA is hiring. Fifty-five percent of Veterans Business Administration employees are veterans.
Matt Miller, deputy assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment and Training Service, said he is focusing on veteran unemployment, which was at just 3.7 percent in 2017.
"We all know the great benefits of hiring veterans," he said. Miller also touted the Labor Department's HIRE Vets Medallion Program Demonstration - an effort that will recognize up to ...
WASHINGTON - "The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is incredibly encouraged by the news that North Korea has returned 55 boxes of remains believed to be U.S. service members who have been missing in action since the Korean War," said new VFW National Commander Vincent "B.J." Lawrence. "This is a huge step in the right direction that we hope will finally bring peace to the peninsula and closure to American families who have been waiting more than six decades for their loved ones to return home from their war."
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency lists 7,699 missing Americans from the Korean War, with some 5,300 believed to be in North Korea. DPAA also lists 111 Cold War losses in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula.
"The return of our missing is a humanitarian mission that transcends politics," said Lawrence, whose organization sent a VFW Urges MIA Families to Provide DNA Samples
WASHINGTON (July 27, 2018) - Now that North Korea has unilaterally turned over 55 boxes of remains believed to contain missing American servicemen from the Korean War, the new national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is urging the families of Korean and Cold War missing to ensure the Defense Department has a DNA reference sample on file to help speed the identification process.
"Some 5,300 of 7,699 American unaccounted-for war dead are believed to be in North Korea, and 111 of our 126 Cold War missing are in the vicinity of the Korean peninsula, yet family reference samples on file only account for 91 percent of Korean War missing and 85 percent of Cold War losses," said new VFW National Commander Vincent "B.J." Lawrence.
"We have to do better than that, and that's why I'm calling on more than 1.6 million VFW and VFW Auxiliary members to canvas their neighborhoods and urge every MIA family - even distant relatives - to provide a family reference...
The Home Depot has started accepting applications for their 2018 Community Impact Grant. VFW members can receive up to $5,000 to fund repairs or construction projects at their Post building.
While there are no guarantees to being funded, several VFW Posts have been awarded this grant in the past.
Applications are only accepted through Home Depot's online form. Telephone calls, emails or written submissions sent to Home Depot will NOT be accepted, nor will you be able to turn this application in at your local Home Depot store.
Applicants should expect a decision by email within six weeks of submission. Grants are awar...
Hunting, much like war, forms a bond between people of different backgrounds. This holds true for the disabled veterans who participated in this year's 35th annual VFW magazine - and Doonan Gulch Outfitters - sponsored antelope hunt. Four Vietnam War veterans participated in hunting antelope, sightseeing and conversations.
Located 25 miles west of Broadus, Mont., Doonan Gulch Outfitters is owned and operated by Russ and Carol Greenwood. Russ Greenwood said Carol and he started hosting the annual hunt in 1982 because they didn't like the way Vietnam War veterans were treated when they came home.
Russ Greenwood also has a personal connection to Vietnam War veterans. His twin brother - Roger, a member of VFW Post 987 in Black River Falls, Wisc. - flew helicopters during the war. The Greenwoods started hosting disabled veterans 20 years ago. Since then, Doonan Gulch Outfitters has hosted veterans of every generation since the Vietnam War.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. and KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), one of the nation's leading health and well-being companies, through the Humana MarketPoint organization, has enhanced its exclusive agreement with the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), the nation's largest organization of war veterans and the oldest major veterans' organization in the U.S. As part of this expanded relationship, Humana is the national Medicare Advantage (MA), Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) and Medicare Supplement plans carrier for the VFW with exclusive marketing and promotional rights to the VFW.
The 750,000+ members of the VFW, and their spouses, who are eligible, or approaching eligibility, for Medicare, will get seamless education, guidance and access to these plans.
Torrey Wingate of Rochester, N.Y., joined the United States armed forces after she met an Army recruiter who inspired her to become more. Wingate was first stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., and went on to serve at Fort Myer, Va. During her time at Fort Myer, Wingate injured her back and knees.
She thrived in the structured routine of her military life, and missed this steadiness and stability when it came time to transition to civilian life. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder made the transition even more challenging. The fear and anxiety she felt took a great toll on her mental health.
Securing a job and leaning on her support system of husband, Todd, and their five children (ranging from 5 to 28 years old) helped smooth her transition.
Her progress came to a sudden halt when her family moved from upstate New York to North Carolina. With the increased cost-of-living and Wingate unable to find a job, they went from a "two-income household to a fraction of one."
She was devastated to see her dreams crumble as ...
WASHINGTON - The nation's top three veterans service organizations have released their latest edition of The Independent Budget to coincide with the Administration's fiscal year 2019 budget recommendation for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
For more than 30 years, the three Independent Budget co-authors - DAV (Disabled American Veterans), Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans), and the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States) - have presented budget and policy recommendations to Congress and the Administration. These recommendations - which are supported by 27 other health, family, military, and veteran service organizations - are meant to inform lawmakers of the needs of all veterans, and to offer substantive solutions to address the many health care and benefits challenges they face. This independently-developed budget serves as the veterans groups' benchmark for properly fu...
WASHINGTON - Early this morning Congress voted to keep the government open for six more weeks as it works out a two-year budget deal that increases sequestration-levied spending caps for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. The good news is the two-year budget deal should provide the Department of Defense the predictable funding it needs to improve readiness, and build a larger, more capable and lethal force. But the deal does not eliminate sequestration.
"Reducing the impact of sequestration by raising spending caps is a step in the right direction," said Keith Harman, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, "but the deal doesn't eliminate the sequester, which will still be the law after the two-year deal expires."
This morning's action raises spending caps by nearly $300 billion for both defense and non-defense spending for FYs 2018 and 2019. The VFW believes that the funding increase will protect military quality of life programs, the promised 2.4 percent pay raise, and oth...
Marine veteran Jordan Soderman wears many hats. Everyday he is a full-time firefighter for the city of Minneapolis, Minn., father to 7-year-old Hunter and 5-year-old Caleb, husband to wife Jessica, Staff Sergeant in the Air Force Reserves and master's student in Emergency Management. It's a lot of responsibility and he takes great pride and care in each role.
Soderman was extremely grateful to be a recipient of the VFW's "Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship," especially because his family depends on his salary for a living.
Soderman grew up in the rural Midwest on his family's farm. He joined the Marines in 2006, right out of high school. He felt called to enlist because his parents taught him how much respect service members deserve, even though they were civilians themselves.
"The military was on a pedestal to me, and I wanted to give back to my country and travel outside my small town."
Soderman was deployed three times between 2007-2010. During the first two deployments, he was assigned to a Fleet An...
At PatientsLikeMe, a member of the VFW's Mental Wellness Campaign, we've been shining a spotlight on voices in the veteran community. We've heard from a military caregiver battling caregiver fatigue, a lung cancer survivor celebrating a year cancer free, and a veterans advocate who shared how he stays calm with embroidery.
Parents who have had to leave their children for an extended period of time can attest to the difficulties the absence can cause. Those serving in the military know this all too well. And those with no spouse with whom their children can stay during deployments find themselves in an even worse situation.
This Mother's Day, the VFW pays tribute to moms who have sacrificed by leaving their children behind for overseas deployments.
Here's a look at some of those mothers, and in their own words, how deploying overseas affected them and their children.
WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is saluting the House Veterans Affairs Committee for passing H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2017. The VFW-supported bill, which must still be approved by the full House and Senate before going to the president, would restore benefits to thousands of Vietnam veterans, expand inclusive dates to those who served along the Korean DMZ, and benefit children born with spina bifida due to a parent's exposure to Agent Orange-related herbicides in Thailand.
"The VFW salutes the bipartisan leadership of House VA Committee Chairman Phil Roe and Ranking Member Tim Walz for getting this bill through committee," said VFW National Commander Keith Harman, who served in Vietnam as an Army helicopter crew chief and door gunner with the 101st Airborne Division
Once passed into law, H.R. 299 will restore VA benefits to some 100,000 Blue Water Navy veterans who had their disability eligibility taken away in 2002 after regulatory changes....
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In the true spirit of Memorial Day, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) is collaborating with Ace Hardware to honor veterans by pledging to give out 1 million American-made flags nationwide. On Saturday, May 26, consumers are encouraged to visit participating Ace stores to receive a free 8" x 12" American flag*, while a second flag is donated to a local VFW Post to be used for marking and honoring veteran graves this Memorial Day.
"We are thrilled to continue our long-standing history of honoring veterans by supporting VFW Posts and local communities this Memorial Day," said John Surane, Executive Vice President for Ace Hardware. "The sacrifices that these men and women have made for their country is something that should be recognized every day, and we at Ace want to make this Memorial Day even more meaningful. We applaud the VFW for the incredible support the...
WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. applauds the House of Representatives for passing the VA MISSION Act of 2018.
The bipartisan, bicameral legislation is the result of hard work by members of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs to improve VA's ability to hire high-quality health care professionals, consolidate and improve VA community care programs, expand caregiver benefits to pre-9/11 veterans, and establish a process to evaluate and reform VA's capital infrastructure to better serve veterans.
"This bill honors the nation's commitment to our veterans to provide them with the care they have earned," said Keith Harman, national commander of the 1.7 million-member VFW and its Auxiliary. "It will help improve services throughout the VA health system while utilizing private sector resources when needed, striking the right balance to make sure we provide veterans with the best care possible.
"Americans expect Congress to work together when it comes to veterans' i...
WASHINGTON - The Senate passed the VA MISSION Act of 2018 on Wednesday with a vote of 92-5. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. thanks the senators who put veterans and their caregivers first and voted in favor of the bill. It will now head to the desk of President Donald Trump, who has indicated he will sign it.
The VA MISSION Act is a bipartisan bill that improves VA's ability to hire high-quality health care professionals, consolidate and improve VA community care programs, expand caregiver benefits to pre-9/11 veterans, and establish a process to evaluate and reform VA's capital infrastructure to better serve veterans.
"This historic legislation is the result of years of negotiating what role the private sector should play in providing care to America's veterans," said Keith Harman, national commander of the 1.7-million member VFW and its Auxiliary. "The VA MISSION Act helps provide veterans with the care they earned and deserve. It helps improve the VA health care system while relying on th...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to name the top three teachers in its 2018 Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award contest.
Each year, the VFW selects one teacher from the elementary (K-5), middle (6-8) and high school (9-12) levels to receive the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award. Established in 1999, the award recognizes our nation's top teachers for their exceptional commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students by promoting civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism in the classroom. The award is named after former VFW National Commander John Smart and retired VFW Quartermaster General Larry Maher.
Emily Cowan Ezell, a third-grade teacher at Cowan Elementary School in Cowan, Tenn., was named the elementary school winner for fostering students' patriotism through an annual production of her self-written and designed patriotic play, This Is Our Country. Ezell is known for planning ann...
Sergeant Spencer Dwight Hardesty, 26, of Canyon Lake, Calif., joined the United States Air Force at the age of 19.
"I thought it would be an awesome experience to serve in the same branch as my brother," he said. "As time drew on, I gained a love and deep appreciation for the United States Air Force."
Hardesty recently graduated from Trident University with a degree in business administration. He's now working toward a credential at Villanova University with the hope of commissioning as an officer in the Air Force. The VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" is helping pay Hardesty's tuition expenses.
"Although I had finished my undergraduate program, the VFW is still opening doors in pursuing my education and helping me become a stronger candidate for commissioning as an officer," Hardesty expressed.
"This scholarship affirmed my belief that applying one's self as much as possible will allow you to succeed. It's just a stepping-stone to achieving my ultimate goal. I know I need to apply myself in w...
Female veterans continue to make great strides within the ranks of VFW. More than ever, seasoned leaders within the organization welcome women with the realization that they, too, are a part of VFW's future.
This is exactly what happened at Post 7511 in Monroe, Wash., where the members met Global War on Terrorism veteran Jaymie Weber in January.
Weber, who served nine years in the Air Force, saw a Facebook notice about a pancake breakfast at the Post - about 35 miles northeast of Seattle - and decided to check it out.
"I stepped out of my introverted shell a little bit," said Weber, a mom of two daughters, ages 3 and 5. "I showed up and about half of the people were Vietnam vets and the other half younger."
Weber signed up to be a member, and it wasn't long before she was viewed as a "doer." She got the home-improvement retailer Lowe's to donate 43 flags to the Post just by asking. Post leaders were so impressed, they asked her to become quartermaster. She was elected in mid-2017, becoming the Post's ...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce that for the eighth-consecutive year, it will be a presenting sponsor for the 29th annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.
The memorial march is a challenging, full-marathon expedition through 26.2 miles of high desert terrain, conducted in honor of the heroic service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II, sacrificing their freedom, health, and in many cases, their very lives.
Held annually since 1989, the March 25 event is anticipated to be the biggest event to date, with nearly 8,400 military and civilians participating individually or as teams.
"The VFW is honored to help ensure the sacrifices and stories of U.S. and Filipino soldiers who endured and perished during the Bataan Death March are never forgotten," said VFW National Commander Keith Harman. "For nearly 119 years, the VFW has been dedicated to honoring and pr...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is now accepting entries for its 2018-19 Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen youth scholarship competitions. The announcement comes just a week after the VFW's 2018 Legislative Conference concluded in Washington, D.C., where the top students from across the globe were recognized.
Dedicated to encouraging a better understanding and appreciation of America, the VFW's Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen essay competitions help foster patriotism among today's youth. The programs also foster friendly competition as well as rewards success in the form of some $3 million in scholarship monies being distributed.
The Voice of Democracy theme for 2018-19 asks high school students to reflect on "Why My Vote Matters." The audio-essay ...
Fifteen years ago this month, U.S. troops launched Operation Iraqi Freedom.
VFW magazine spoke with the organization's members who served during the war's opening phases. Older and 15 years wiser, they provide some perspective on their service, their shared sacrifices and their feelings about how the war ended.
In the cozy basement office - or "man cave" - of his tidy Vermont home, Zachariah Fike picks up a Purple Heart, perhaps the military's best-known medal, and cradles it lovingly in the palm of his beefy left hand. He turns over the slightly scuffed and tarnished heart-shaped medal and sees a name inscribed on the back.
"World War II," he says as he looks over the medal that was recently sent to him. "At least that is what it looks like. Might have been lost or stolen or sold."
Fike, a blue-eyed, 6-foot-6-inch, 36-year-old full-time Vermont Army National Guard major, turns over the Purple Heart and carefully smooths out its frayed and curled purple and white ribbon.
"These medals were awarded to people who fought, bled and died for this country," he explains. "That's why we should do everything we can to see that they are returned."
As he carefully puts the medal back in its battered purple and gold presentation case, Fike, a VFW life member of the Department of Vermont, said, "The soldier who was award...
Last year, two VFW Posts ushered in a new era. One elected its first female commander and the other elected its first black female commander. Both women hope to increase their Post's involvement in their communities.
VFW Post 9931 Commander Kimberly Napoleon said she initially didn't understand "what the impact would be" or how she would be received by her fellow Post members. However, she added that she was honored to be elected commander of the Bridgeport, Mich., Post last July.
"Our Post is predominantly all men, and to have them have enough confidence in me to take us to another level, that meant a lot," said Napoleon, who served in the Persian Gulf in 1990 as a local purchase agent with the 364th Supply and Service Company.
A "community servant by nature," Napoleon said her goal as commander is to bring more awareness of the VFW to the community.
"I believe in patriotism," Napoleon said. "I also believe in giving recognition to those to whom it's due, such as our veterans."
WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is saluting former Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David Shulkin for his faithful and dedicated service to veterans of all generations. He came aboard in 2015 as Undersecretary for Health as the VA was still reeling from a nationwide crisis in care and access that had rocked veterans' confidence a year before. He was retained by President Trump and confirmed as VA Secretary by the Senate 100-0. Under his tenure, the VA has achieved a host of successes ranging from increased accountability and transparency to a beefed-up education package and increases in overall funding and patient satisfaction. "The VFW wishes him and his family all the best in their futures," said VFW National Commander Keith Harman.
WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce the national winners of its 2017-18 Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen youth scholarship competitions. The winners were announced live during last night's Parade of Winners at the 2018 VFW Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
The Voice of Democracy audio-essay program celebrated its 71st year with nearly 40,000 students weighing in on this year's theme, "American History: Our Hope for the Future." Robyn Anzulis, sponsored by VFW Post 10076 and its Auxiliary in Mt. Airy, Md., received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she was presented with the $30,000 T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship award and delivered her first-place essay.
The second-place winner, Philip Dunagan, sponsored by VFW Post 2471 and its Auxiliary in The Dalles, Ore., was awarded the $16,000 Charles Kuralt Memorial Scholarship. Th...
Michael R. Aaron of Lebanon, Ore., joined the United States Marine Corps during his senior year of high school after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Aaron served as a Machine Gunner in the Marines for over five years.
During his years of service, Aaron faced many physical and mental health challenges. While stationed in Iraq, he broke his wrist and suffered a burst fracture in his spine.
The horrific experiences of war followed Aaron home from Iraq and Afghanistan in the form of a Traumatic Brain Injury, Tinnitus and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). He jumped from job to job, searching for a greater purpose, but nothing seemed to help.
Aaron felt like he was drowning under the weight of the PTS, and with the devastating news of the suicides of several of his brothers he served with, he could no longer stay afloat.
His mental health continued to decline. The strain on his wife, Whitney, and his two children, Henry and Laura, was immense and finally prompted Aaron to seek help.
Aaron sought treatment at...
Today, the father of three is preparing to graduate with a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., a feat, he said, that wouldn't have happened without the VFW.
In 2008, Tjaden deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Bde., 1st Armd. Div., for 15 months. As a close air support coordinator, Tjaden spent time at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Camp Liberty and Camp Stryker.
While deployed, Tjaden said he had trouble with his ankles, constantly rolling them. He would wrap his ankles and move on. It wasn't until he returned stateside that he learned he should have had doctors examine and properly care for his ankles long before.
He had surgeries on both ankles at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. During the process, nerves in his legs were damaged, and he could no longer walk. When he was medically retired in 2014, he was told a wheelchair would be his new way of life.
Undeterred, he contacted his alma mater, Eastern Illinois University (EIU) in Charleston, Ill., to enroll an...
After losing his leg in an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan, Kionte Storey has hiked to two of the highest points in the world.
Storey, who served in Iraq (2008 to February 2009) and Afghanistan (2010) with the 3rd Bn., 7th Marines as a basic infantry rifleman, said when he reached the summit of Mount Vinson in Antarctica in 2013, it was "such a big relief" that he cried.
"It was such a big moment for me because, here a year ago I was in the hospital. I didn't know how life would be, walking and struggling through my depression and not wanting to live," Storey said, "and now I'm at the summit of Mount Vinson blessed that I'm alive."
In what he called a "life-changing" moment, Storey said he thought about his brothers from combat and realized, after completing the 16,067-foot trek, that living to help others was what he needed to do.
"If I never went through that experience, I honestly couldn't tell you where I would be," Storey said.
‘I'm here for something better'
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) and Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix) are pleased to announce they've entered into an official alliance designed to benefit all veterans and service members, as well as their families and caretakers. By teaming up, both organizations increase awareness of the opportunities offered by both the VFW and Vet Tix. The organizations share the common goal of helping veterans during their time of service and as they transition back into civilian life by providing them with resources and support services.
"It is such an honor to partner with the VFW, which has such a rich history of supporting veterans since 1899," said Mike Focareto, CEO of Vet Tix. "This collaboration will provide opportunities for all veterans to become VetTixers while experiencing the benefits of both Vet Tix and the VFW. We have found that our tickets not only provide smiles and memories to our VetTixers but have also helped their reintegration into the community. I look forward t...
Matthew Carbonelli, 30, of Lake in the Hills, Ill., was recently awarded the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship." The funds will help him finish his doctorate in Counseling Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
"I've seen friends in the military struggling with mental health problems, and I also work part-time at a shelter that serves the homeless population in Milwaukee. I've interacted with several veterans there," he said. "This is one of the reasons I want to spend my career combating the mental health crisis in the military."
Carbonelli served six years as a Combat Medic in the National Guard, and deployed to active duty in Afghanistan.
He related, "I wanted to do my duty to serve my country, and follow in my grandfather's footsteps."
Carbonelli is an active member of the VFW and the Student Veterans of America chapter at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He developed a training workshop on suicide prevention and awareness for student veterans at his campus.
Rich Synek remembers the day he encountered a hungry World War II vet. Synek was postmaster in Vernon Center, N.Y., in 2008 when he asked the Battle of Okinawa vet why he purchased stamps one at a time rather than buying a book of stamps.
Mr. B., as Synek refers to the vet, told him he couldn't afford it and for that matter, he and his wife could only afford to eat two weeks out of every month because their money didn't last.
The idea of the elderly vet going hungry was too much for Synek. He and his wife, Michele, went out that night and purchased a box of food to take
"There was nothing in the refrigerator other than condiments," said Synek, a VFW Department of New York member. "Nothing in the freezer, no cans of beans in the cupboard. It was sickening to me that our veterans can't afford such a basic necessity as food."
Out of this one act was born Feed Our Vets, a nonprofit founded by the Syneks in 2008 in New York. In addit...