Theodore Roosevelt Harry Truman Dwight D. Eisenhower John F. Kennedy Lyndon B. Johnson Richard Nixon Gerald Ford George H.W. Bush

Did You Know? Eight presidents have been members of the VFW: Theodore Roosevelt Harry Truman Dwight D. Eisenhower John F. Kennedy Lyndon B. Johnson Richard Nixon Gerald Ford George H.W. Bush

Formed by veterans of the Spanish-American War, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Inc. is a federally chartered corporation formed in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 29, 1899.

The organization, as it is known today, is actually a merger of three national war-veteran societies that were founded near the end of the 19th century. The American Veterans of Foreign Service, the Colorado Society of the Army of the Philippines and another society also known as the American Veterans of Foreign Service merged in a convention in Pittsburgh, Pa., to become the single nationwide association known since then as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. In 1936, it was chartered by Congress.

The objects of the organization are to: ensure the national security through maximum military strength; speed the rehabilitation of the nation’s disabled and needy veterans; assist veterans’ widows and orphans and the dependents of needy or disabled veterans; and promote Americanism by means of education in patriotism and by constructive service to communities.

The national organization maintains both its legislative service and central office of its national rehabilitation service in Washington, D.C. The latter nationwide program serves disabled veterans of all wars, members and nonmembers alike, in matters of government compensation and pension claims, hospitalization, civil-service employment preference and more.

Across the world, the VFW has more than 6,800 local chapters, which are known as “posts.” The national headquarters is in Kansas City, Mo.

Membership in the VFW is restricted to any active or honorably discharged officer or service member who is a citizen of the United States and who has served in its armed forces “in any foreign war, insurrection or expedition, which service shall be recognized by the authorization or the issuance of a military campaign medal.”

Some of the medals, ribbons and badges that the VFW uses to determine membership eligibility include the Navy and Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon (with Gold Border), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal, Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, Yangtze Service Medal, China Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Combat Medic Badge, Combat Action Badge and SSBN Deterrent Patrol insignia.

The VFW operates three national military services programs to promote community involvement, communication and financial support to qualified military service members.

Launched in 1996, Operation Uplink connects deployed and hospitalized service members with their families through free phone calls. The VFW provides Free Call Days three times a month to service members deployed abroad. Since then, Free Call Days have provided service members with more than 7.5 million free phone calls home.

The Military Assistance Program is the most direct connection between military units and local VFW posts. Through the program, posts have held going away and welcome home events for numerous military units. Since 2005, the program has helped posts host more than 1.8 million service members and their families. The Adopt-a-Unit program also falls under the Military Assistance Program and connects military units around the world with a local post that can offer resources and support.

Unmet Needs was created through a corporate partnership to assist service members and their families who run into unexpected financial difficulties as a result of deployment or other hardships directly related to service. This program assists with basic life needs, such as mortgage and rent, home and auto repairs, insurance, utilities, food and clothing. It also helps meet unanticipated financial demands on service members’ families that can not be remedied through existing means, and provides service members with the comfort of knowing that their families have additional support stateside. The financial assistance comes in the form of up to $2,500 in grants that do not need to be repaid. All grants are paid directly to the “creditor” (such as an electric company) and not to the individual. Each case is reviewed individually and acceptance determined by a committee.

Annually, the VFW and Ladies’ Auxiliary donate more than 12 million volunteer hours and $50 million to community service projects. Members mentor youth groups, help in community food kitchens, volunteer in blood drives, and visit hospitalized veterans. Others help veterans file compensation claims for those unfamiliar with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VFW’s Community Service programs are designed to encourage community service and increase civic pride. Scholarship programs have also provided more than $3.5 million in scholarships to our nation’s youth. They include Voice of Democracy, Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest, and Scout of the Year. The VFW’s partnership with the Boy Scouts of America includes sponsoring more than 1,200 Scouting units with 40,000 members across the nation.

Information from Encyclopedia Britannica, VFW.org and Wikipedia.

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