NEWS

Another $11,000 Donated!

VFW Post 8495 donates $11,000


VFW & Auxiliary Donate over 200 Christmas Stockings

Post donates Christmas stockings full of goodies to local VA Hospital


VFW Post 8495 Donates $10,000 to Benefit Female Veterans

Post donates funds to help prepare female veterans housing


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OVERSEAS VETERAN

JULY-AUGUST-SEPTEMBER


NEW VFW Post Website Solution Program

VFW National is offering a website solution that connects key data to national website for Articles, Events & News. And the Best News is that it is FREE for the first year through a grant from VFW National!


DOC is SR Vice

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 25, 2018) — William J. "Doc” Schmitz, of Corning, N.Y., was elected Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. on July 25, 2018, at the 118th VFW National Convention in Kansas City, MO.


VFW National Commander Opposes Flag Disrespect

"I stand for our flag and anthem. I kneel for our fallen." Washington - The national commander of Americas's largest and oldest major combat veterans organization is raising his voice in opposition to those who disrespect the flag.


VFW Partners with Humana

VFW has selected Humana as its National Medicare Advantage Plan carrier!


VOD & Patriot's Pen Winners

2017-18 VOD & PATRIOTS PEN WINNERS


Help a Veteran Go Back to School When You Get a Haircut at Sport Clips

Sport Clips on White

GEORGETOWN, Texas - Sport Clips Haircuts' annual "Help A Hero" scholarship campaign starts today, and you can be a part of the mission to help service members and veterans take the next step toward civilian careers through education. Today through Veterans Day, November 11, you can "Help A Hero" when you get a haircut at one of the almost 1,800 Sport Clips locations across the U.S. The goal this year is to raise $1.5 million toward scholarships through the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW)-administered program.

Veteran Gets Help So He Can Give Help

Javier Galvan signed up for the United States Marine Corps in 2006 at age 17, right out of high school. He didn't have plans for his future and felt the military offered a way to have a career and do something with his life. He also thought it might be a way to validate his American citizenship.

"I was born in the U.S., I'm from California, but I felt like society didn't welcome me because of my Mexican heritage," said Galvan. "I wanted to feel like a real American."

Galvan served his country for four years, deploying to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2009. He enlisted with the idea of having a military career, but his experiences in the Marines gave him the desire to do other things. The Post-9/11 GI Bill helped him see he had an opportunity to go to school.

"I started college within weeks of leaving the military," Galvan said. "The Marines do not really have their own medical personnel, but seeing the work done by our Navy corpsmen and combat lifesaver training made me realize I wanted to be a doctor."

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Annual BURGER KING Fundraiser Set to Begin Nov. 1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is pleased to announce that for the twelfth consecutive year, participating BURGER KING franchisees will be raising funds throughout the month of November for the VFW's Unmet Needs program. Patrons are encouraged to donate $1 or more to the program upon checkout. The fundraising campaign officially beginsNov. 1, and last year raised nearly $800,000.

"America's military and veteran families have given so much to our country, and not being able to make their rent or mortgage payment is a stress they shouldn't have," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "Every year, BURGER KING franchisees and their loyal patrons set the bar of support higher and higher, helping to ensure the VFW can keep meeting the needs of America's service members and veterans and provide them with the support they deserve."

The Unmet Ne...


VFW to Draw for 'Return to Vietnam' Trip

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 herefor complete information.

...


VA Bears Responsibility to Make Student Veterans Whole, Says VFW

The Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement yesterday regarding the implementation of Forever GI Bill changes that were supposed to have been enacted this past August. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has now directed the Veterans Benefits Administration to cease attempting to implement the changes and instead reset the entire effort in order to get the job done correctly. The reset begins this Saturday, with the full implementation date now shifting to December 2019. Student veterans are expected to see positive effects of the changes in the spring 2020 semester.

"The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was disappointed to learn about the 12-month delay in implementing this amazing benefit, but we recognize why hitting the reset button was necessary in order for the VA to get this right," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence.

The Forever GI Bill changed student housing allowances to reflect the ZIP codes where students attend the majority of their classes. This cha...


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 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 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 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...


Ten Years of Second Chances

It's been 10 years since the first veterans treatment court started in Buffalo, N.Y., and Jack O'Connor is pleased with what he's seen over the past decade. Veterans who would be in prison - and without treatment - are healing and rebuilding their lives.

O'Connor, the former program director for Medicaid in Erie County, N.Y., started the court in 2008 with two other veterans advocates. Hank Pirowski, court coordinator for the county's mental health court at the time, and Judge Robert Russell also helped get theprogram going.

It all started when O'Connor and Pirowski were observing drug and mental health court sessions. A Vietnam veteran stood before Russell, looking at the floor and mumbling in response to questions.

Russell asked O'Connor and Pirowski, both Vietnam veterans, to have a chat with this veteran.

"All that man wanted was to talk to other Vietnam veterans," O'Connor said. "He was in a good program, but there were no veterans in it."

After talking with the two men, the veteran came b...


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'sonline 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 Budgetto 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 caregiverbattling caregiver fatigue, a lung cancer survivorcelebrating a year cancer free, and a veterans advocatewho 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.

...


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 VFWpays 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.

...


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....


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 withAce 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...


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 ...


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...


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, ...


Iraq War Veterans: Recalling Their Roles

This article is featured in the March 2018 issue ofVFW magazineand was written byKari 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.

...


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...


VFW Awards Nearly $790,000 in College Tuition for Veterans

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 ...


Training The Best Service Officers To Be Even Better

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...


This is a Family Organization

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...


VA May Have Denied Half of Military Sexual Trauma Claims in Error

WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General released a 33-page report this week that indicates nearly half of all denied military sexual assault-related claims may have been denied in error.

According to the report, entitled "Denied Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Claims Related to Military Sexual Trauma," the Veterans Benefits Administration processed approximately 12,000 claims annually over the past three years for PTSD related to MST. In FY 2017, VBA denied about 5,500 of those claims. The OIG review team sampled 169 denied claims and discovered 82 were incorrectly processed, which indicates an overall adjudication error rate of 49 percent.

"The Inspector General's report is very troubling," said B.J. Lawrence, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. "The VA's own statistics show that suicide rates among military sexual assault victims are a grow...


More US Troops in Africa to Receive Imminent Danger Pay

The Pentagon announced in March that troops serving in the Sahel region of Africa will now receive monthly bonus pay for being in danger of hostile fire.

The monthly $225 Imminent Danger Pay (IDP) will be paid to U.S. troops in Niger, Mali and parts of northern Cameroon. The pay will be retroactive to June 7, 2017.

This decision means there now are19 African countries where troops receive IDP.

The issue was brought forth after four U.S. soldiers were killed in Niger last October. This measure will allow the families of Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Sgt. La David Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright to receive an additional $225 a month for the time the soldiers were assigned there. All four served with the 2nd Bn., 3rd Special Forces Group. The unit's U.S. headquarters are located at Fort Bragg, N.C.

During a U.S. military training mission last year in Niger, a dozen American soldiers were ambushed by about 50 fighters believed to be associated with the Islamic State Greater Sahar...


Scholarship Recipient Pursues Career in Cybersecurity

"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...


Continuing the Call to Serve

"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...


VFW-SVA Fellows Reflect on Legislative Conference

For the past five years, the VFW has partnered with Student Veterans of America (SVA), giving student veterans an opportunity to research and promote causes that are important to veterans. In March, nine students spent one week in Washington, D.C., during the VFW's annual Legislative Conference, fulfilling an aspect of the fellowship opportunity.

Student veterans focused on one of the following four policy areas:

  • Success in higher education.
  • Transitioning from the military to civilian life.
  • Succeeding and thriving in the civilian workforce.
  • Crafting the future of veterans' health care.
  • VFW magazine spoke with the 2018 fellows after their trip to Washington, D.C.

Joseph Sacco
War: Global War on Terrorism: Operation Inherent Resolve (the fight against ISIS)
Dates of deployment: October 2014 to January 2015
Service: Navy
Ship: USS Bunke...


Earning American Citizenship the Hard Way

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...


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