NEWS

Veterans’ Organizations Establish Veteran’s Creed

WASHINGTON - Eleven major veterans' organizations have announced the development and adoption of a Veteran's Creed. The participating organizations presented the creed at an event on Flag Day, June 14, at 1 p.m. at the Reserve Officers Association headquarters at 1 Constitution Avenue, NE, Washington, D.C.

The Creed is the result of extensive discussions and consultations among the group that began last fall at Georgetown University. It is meant to inspire veterans to continue to serve and lead in their communities and our country, and to continue to make a difference in our world.

Eleven major veterans' organizations, including the VFW, sign the newly created Veteran's Creed during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on June 14. The creed is meant to inspire veterans to continue to serve and lead in their communities and our country, and to...


Unmet Needs Keeps Veteran Out of ‘the Rabbit Hole’

Nick Guerrero was behind on utility bills - the electric company shut off power - and car payments until the VFW stepped in to help.

Guerrero, who deployed four times during the Iraq War, said support through VFW's Unmet Needs program helped him get current on bills and purchase groceries.

"The grant saved us from falling further down the rabbit hole,"

Guerrero said. "I was in a point of my life where everything was collapsing around me, and if it wasn't for the existence of this program, I don't know where my family and I would be in this very moment. I cannot fully express my gratitude in words for this nonprofit to be there when we needed the help desperately."

Guerrero served with the 1st Bn., 17th Inf. Regt., 172 Stryker Bde. (2005-06 and 2006-07) as an infantryman and with the 1st Bn., 18th Inf., 2nd Armd. Bde. Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div., (2008-09 and
2010-11) as a combat medic. He was medically discharged March 27, 2015, for PTSD, anxiety, depression, psychosis, anger disorder, paranoia and ...


Learn How to Support VFW Programs by Donating Your Vehicle

VFW Foundation Manager Richard Freiburghouse said 80 percent of the vehicle's value, after expenses, goes toward the VFW Foundation, VFW's official 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization.

"These vehicles can be used as a tax-deductible contribution to support VFW programs and services," Freiburghouse said.

It's simple - call 1-844-839-4438 (1-844-VFW-GIFT) or visit vfw.careasy.org to schedule a free and convenient pick up. Every vehicle, running or not, is considered. Donors also will receive a tax receipt for the donation.

As of November, Freiburghouse said, some 40 VFW members have donated vehicles to the program. One of those members is Kenneth Aponte, a member of the VFW Department of Texas. He said it was a "straight-forward" process.

"It was very smooth from start to finish," said Aponte, an Army veteran who served as a satellite systems technician from 1986 to 1991.

Aponte, who served in Panama from 1990 to 1991 with the 1109th Sign...


VFW, Humana, Harvesters and After the Harvest Are Uniting to Combat Hunger in Greater Kansas City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), Harvesters-The Community Food Network and After the Harvest announced they are "Uniting to Combat Hunger" through a collaborative campaign designed to raise awareness and fight food insecurity in the Greater Kansas City area. The goal of the campaign is to provide 50,000 meals to local individuals in need, with a special focus on veterans, via community-wide initiatives.

Food insecurity is a societal issue that affects 1 in 8 people in the United States. In the Kansas City area alone, nearly 14 percent of the community face food insecurity. Defined as the lack of access to enough nutritionally adequate foods to live an active, healthy life, food insecurity contributes to poor health, lower productivity and higher medical costs. <...


VFW to Sponsor 78th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce it is the official sponsor of the 2018 Military Appreciation Day at the 78th Annual Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally™.

Held annually in the Black Hills of Sturgis, S.D., the rally draws more than 400,000 motorcycle enthusiasts to the area for 10 days of open roads and entertainment. This year's rally will be held Aug. 3 - 12.

The VFW invites all attendees to join in celebrating and thanking active-duty service members, veterans and their families by gathering for the "noon crowd photograph" on historic Sturgis Main Street, flyover and more on Tuesday, Aug. 7 for Military Appreciation Day.

The VFW also encourages attendees to stop by the VFW kiosk located in the Armory each day until 8 p.m. to learn more about the VFW's wide array of programs and services as well as information on how to join America's largest organization of combat veterans. For event-related news and schedule of events visit <...


VFW Announces Top Veterans Service Officer

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce the selection of retired Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Cynthia Archuleta as its VFW Accredited Service Representative of the Year.

Archuleta, who resides in Albuquerque, N.M., is an integral part of the VFW's nationwide network of nearly 2,000 accredited service officers who last year alone helped more than a half-million veterans recoup $7.7 billion in earned benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Accredited means VA accreditation, which means they can assist and file VA claims on behalf of veterans, as well as represent them before the Board of Veterans Appeals if needed. The support is free to all honorably discharged veterans, and is a continuation of the VFW's "service to others" mission that the organization began nearly a century ago after returning World War I veterans faced the same government neglect as the VFW's forefathers did two decades earlier when they


VFW Selects Inside Rx to Offer a Free Drug Savings Card to Members and Their Families

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) today announced an agreement with Inside Rx to offer easy access to its 1.3 million members and their families who can benefit from the free Inside Rx savings card that provides deep discounts to the uninsured and underinsured who pay cash for their prescription medications. The Inside Rx card can be used in any of the more than 40,000 participating pharmacies in the U.S. and offers more than 125 brand-name medications at a savings average of 40 percent, and a robust list of generics with an average of nearly 80 percent off retail*.

"We are honored to work with the VFW to provide an important stop-gap measure that may lower the cost of the prescription medications for our veterans," said Leslie Achter, CEO of Inside Rx, a partially owned subsidiary of Express Scripts (NASDAQ: ESRX). "In working with manufacturers and retail pharmacies, we are able to provide deep discounts to eligible patients who are currently paying full-list price on the pr...


President Trump Signs VA MISSION Act

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. thanks President Donald Trump for signing the VA MISSION Act.

The VA MISSION Act was the result of a bipartisan and bicameral effort led by Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson, Ranking Member Sen. Jon Tester and House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Chairman Rep. Phil Roe. The legislation passed in the House on May 16 with a vote of 347-70. The Senate passed the bill on May 23 with a vote of 92-5. 

"President Trump signaled his support for this bill early on in the process which shows that he puts veterans before politics," said Keith Harman, national commander of the 1.7-million member VFW and its Auxiliary. "This historic legislation will help our veterans get the care they earned when they joined the military." 

"The VFW and other veteran service organizations worked closely with Congress and the White House to help create a carefully negotiated bipartisan deal with the fingerprints of veterans who rely on th...


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...


VFW Launches Mobile App for 2017 Legislative Conference

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.Legislative Conference Mobile Event AppVFW to Take Veterans’ Voice to Capitol Hill

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...


VFW Testifies: ‘Congress Must End Sequestration!’

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. 2017 Duffy Congressional TestimonyVFW 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.

Photo Caption: (Left) VFW National Commander Brian Duffy and VFW Auxiliary President Colette Bishop present Savannah Wittman with her $30,000 award; (right) VFW National Commander Brian Duffy and VFW Auxiliary President Colette Bishop present Lindi Compton with her $5,000 award.
2017 VOD PP WinnersVFW and SVA Announce 2018 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. (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.

"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 Keith Harman. "The VFW sees this fellowship as yet another way of supporting our shared mission with SVA to empower future 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' policy areas: Success in higher education; transitioning from military to civilian life; succeeding in th...


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...


VFW to Congress: 'Repeal Sequestration Once and for All'

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:

  • Ensure timely access to high quality care;
  • Consol...


VFW to Deliver Veterans’ Voice to Congress

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...


VFW to Discuss Veterans' Issues With Congress

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...


VFW Announces 2013-2014 National Youth Scholarship Contest Winners

The winners of the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary sponsored Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition and the Patriot's Pen essay competition were announced yesterday during the 2014 VFW Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Voice of Democracy program celebrated its 67th year with this year's theme, "Why I'm Optimistic About Our Nation's Future." The first-place winner, Madison Haley, sponsored by VFW Post 777 and Ladies Auxiliary in Mount Pulaski, Ill., received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she was presented with the T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship Award in the amount of $30,000. The second-place winner, Grace Speas, sponsored by VFW Post 10097 and Ladies Auxiliary in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., received the $16,000 Charles Kuralt Memorial Scholarship Award. The third-place winner, Luke Ball, sponsored by VFW Post 2573 and Ladies Auxiliary in Wilmington, N.C., received the $10,000 VFW Scholarship Award. All other state winners received at least a $1,000 college scholarship. More than 40,000 students ...


Humana and VFW Enhance Efforts to Drive Optimal Health for Veterans

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[1]. 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. 

"Humana...


Application Period for The Home Depot 2018 Community Impact Grant is Now Open

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...


Four Purple Heart Vets Hunt on the Great Plains

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.

‘We didn't dwell on the war' 
George Stavropoul...


Unmet Needs Grant 'Cleared the Fog' for Veteran on the Brink of Eviction

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 ...


Leading Veterans Groups Commend President's VA Budget Submission

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...


VFW Awards Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship to Big-Hearted Veteran

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...


VFW Applauds Two-Year Budget Deal

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...


From Struggling to Finding Strength

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. 

Today, we'd like to introduce Lynn, an Iraq war veteran living with PTSD and depression. Lynn shared about how he went from struggling daily to crossing the finish line of the Bataan Death March, a 26-mile trek through high desert terrain. 

...


House VA Committee Passes Blue Water Navy Act

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....


Mothering from the War Zone

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.

 
...


VFW, Ace Hardware Honor Veterans with 1 Million American Flags

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...


VFW Applauds Passage of VA Mission Act

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...


Senate Passes VA MISSION Act of 2018

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...


VFW Members to #ThankBK for Continued Support

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliary will be out in force on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 19, 2018, to show their support and appreciation for BURGER KING® franchisees as part of the VFW's second annual #ThankBK Appreciation Day.

Since 2007, BURGER KING® franchisees and their customers have contributed over $5 million to the VFW Unmet Needs program. This program provides financial assistance to military families who have fallen on hard times as a result of deployment, injury, or other military-related activities. Since the program's inception in 2004, Unmet Needs has provided nearly 9,000 veterans and military families with more than $10 million in financial grants.

The VFW is encouraging its members, their families and friends to stop in, purchase a meal and say "thank you" to the franchise owners, managers and BURGER KING® team members for their continued support of the veteran community. It's also asking all members to post to social media abou...


VFW Announces Top National Teachers

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...


VFW Patriotic Youth Scholarship Contest Opens

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 ...


‘I Never Feel Out of Place'

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 ...


VFW Continues Support of Bataan Memorial Death March

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...


Air Force Sergeant Propels Success in Military Career

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...


Taking Posts to the ‘Next Level’

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."

Specifically, ...


VFW Statement on VA Secretary Change

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.

The nominee to become the next VA Secretary, Navy Rear Adm. (Dr.) Ronny Jackson, served in Iraq as an emergency physician in charge of resuscitative medicine for a forward deployed surgical shock trauma platoon, and since 2006, has been the ...


Iraq War Veterans: Recalling Their Roles

This article is featured in the March 2018 issue of VFW magazine and was written by Kari Williams, associate editor, VFW magazine. USCG photo by PA1 Tom Sperduto.

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.

...


Reuniting Purple Hearts with Those Who ‘Fought, Bled and Died’

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...


VFW Names Youth Scholarship Winners

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...


VFW Unmet Needs Grant ‘Is Not a Hand Out, It Is a Hand Up’

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...


Help A Hero Recipient Credits the VFW for His Law School Success

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...


VFW Teams Up With Vet Tix to Support Veterans

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...


Living a Better 'Storey'

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'


Combat Medic Earns Counseling Psychology Degree to Help Fellow Veterans

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.

He als...


Unmet Needs Grant Relieves Military Family Facing Homelessness

Michael Ward, 39, of Sacramento, Calif., has lived a full life with the military. He's been a part of the Marine Corps, Army and Army National Guard. He gives high praise to his family for supporting the military lifestyle.

"My wife Elaina has also done more than her part to serve in her own way," he said. "She has always gone the extra mile in supporting the armed forces by planning events on bases and actively supporting other spouses."

They are proud parents of four; Stephen (13), Malcolm (9), Justice (7) and Michael (2). 

In 2004, before his first child was born, Ward was serving as a sergeant in Iraq. After being briefed at a command station, he and his group came under enemy fire.

"I was blown from my truck, and hit my head on a rock. The attack was surreal … it felt like I was in a movie," Ward said.

Upon returning to the states, Ward faced a homecoming all too familiar for many troops. After serving his country with pride for 16 years, he suddenly felt isolated and unsupported.

Ward...


Hunger Among Veterans is a Growing Concern

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
to Mr. B. 

"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...


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