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Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
File:Veterans Of Foreign Wars Logo.jpg
Cross of Malta of the Veterans of Foreign Wars
Formation December 1, 1899; ago (1899-12-01)[1]
Headquarters Kansas City, Missouri
  • Over 7400 Posts covering all 50 States
2 Million[2]
National Commander
John E. Hamilton

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) is a congressionally chartered (Title 36 USC Chapter 2301) war veterans organization in the United States. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, VFW currently has 1.5 million members belonging to 7,644 posts, and is the largest American organization of combat veterans.

Membership eligibility

M60 tank, VFW post 2408, Ypsilanti, MI

Members must be a U.S. citizen or national with an honorable discharge from the U.S. military, or currently serving in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, or Coast Guard. Membership also requires military service overseas during an operation or conflict and decoration with an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, a campaign medal (or ribbon). A Leave and Earnings Statement showing receipt of hostile fire or imminent danger pay is also acceptable proof for membership eligibility.

Partial list of awards, devices, ribbons & medals for eligibility

VFW World Map of Membership Eligibility


Service for thirty (30) consecutive days duty in Korea or sixty (60) days of non-consecutive duty in Korea.

Service members currently deployed to a combat zone meet the qualification for joining the VFW.

A DD214 or World War II era discharge paper with campaign medals, and/or badges printed on back is used to verify membership eligibility.[3]

Several presidents of the United States have been members of the VFW. They include - Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and George H. W. Bush.[4] Vice Presidents Spiro T. Agnew and Albert Gore were also members.


In 1899, a Post began in Denver, Colorado. There are two other Posts which claim to be the first, but the VFW national organization recognizes the Denver Post as being first; it is now officially "VFW Post 1, John S. Stewart Post".[1]

Historic marker commemorating the founding of the VFW in Pittsburgh.

The VFW name was created on September 17, 1914 at a conference at the Schenley Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The new organization was a merger of two prior veterans organizations, both beginning in 1899: the American Veterans of Foreign Service and the National Society of the Army of the Philippines.[5] The former was formed for veterans of the Spanish–American War, while the latter was formed for veterans of the Philippine–American War.

On May 28, 1936, by an act of the United States Congress, the VFW became a government-chartered non-profit organization.[5] As such, it receives no funding from United States tax receipts and is supported by charitable donations.


VFW works on behalf of American veterans by lobbying Congress for better veterans' health care and benefits.[6] The VFW also maintains a nationwide organization of employees and volunteers to assist veterans with their VA disability claims.[7]

VFW also donates much money and lots of hours for work for the city. One of their most popular programs provides free phone calls to overseas active military members.

The current Commander of the VFW is John E. Hamilton.[8]

National Military and National Veterans Service Programs

National Military Services

VFW National Military Services (NMS) promotes positive awareness of the VFW through community involvement, communication tools, and financial support to qualified military service members. With the variety of support offered, three separate programs were developed under the VFW National Military Services department. These programs are the Operation Uplink, Military Assistance Program, and Unmet Needs.

Operation Uplink

VFW started Operation Uplink in 1996 to connect deployed and hospitalized service members with their families through free phone calls. In 2004 VFW began providing Free Call Days twice a month to service members deployed abroad. Since then Free Call Days have provided service members with more than 4 million free phone calls home.[9]

Military Assistance Program

The Military Assistance Program (MAP) is the VFW's most direct connection between military units and Posts at the local level. Through MAP Posts have held going away, welcome home events, and unit picnics for numerous military units. In the last 5 years MAP has helped Posts host more than 1 million service members and their families. The Adopt-a-Unit program also falls under MAP and connects military units around the world with a local Post that can offer resources and support.

Unmet Needs

VFW Unmet Needs was created in 2004 through a corporate partnership to assist military service members and their families who run into unexpected financial difficulties as a result of deployment or other hardships directly related to military service. Unmet Needs assists with basic life needs such as mortgage and rent, home and auto repairs, insurance, utilities, food, and clothing. Unmet Needs helps meet unanticipated financial demands on service members' families that can not be remedied through existing means and provides service members with the comfort of knowing that their families have additional support stateside. The financial assistance is in the form of up to $2,500 in grants that do not need to be repaid. All grants are paid directly to the "creditor" (such as an electric company) and not to the individual. Each case is reviewed individually and acceptance determined by a committee.

National Veterans Services

The National Veterans Services exist to assist veterans in dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is usually in the form of providing advice and assistance to veterans filing disability claims for pensions, but can also come in the form of advice filing for VA home loans, education benefits, small business loans, or filling out other VA forms. VFW National Veterans Services can offer guidance to veterans wishing to file their own claims, or full-on support preparing, submitting, and tracking the progress of a claim.[10] VFW Service Officers can also help veterans or surviving spouses resubmit denied claims or file a Notice of Disagreement as well as simply answer questions regarding medical, death/burial, and other miscellaneous benefits.

Community involvement

Direct community involvement is a VFW priority, extending beyond the realm of veterans helping fellow veterans.

Annually, VFW and the Men's and Ladies Auxiliaries donate more than 13 million volunteer hours of community service.[11] VFW members mentor youth groups, help in community food kitchens, volunteer in blood drives, and visit hospitalized veterans. Others help veterans file compensation claims.

VFW's Community Service programs are designed to encourage community service and increase civic pride, which ultimately enhances education, improves the environment, and ensures the availability of health services for veterans.

VFW's Citizenship Education program is designed to stimulate interest in America's history and traditions and to promote citizenship, civic responsibility, and patriotism.

VFW's Youth Scholarship programs provide more than $3.5 million in scholarships to our nation's youth. They include Voice of Democracy, Patriot's Pen youth essay contest, and Scout of the Year.

The VFW's partnership with the Boy Scouts of America includes sponsoring more than 1,200 Scouting units with 40,000 members across the nation.

VFW's Safety Program encourages VFW Posts and Auxiliaries to conduct programs in home, auto, and bicycle safety, as well as programs dealing with drug awareness and substance abuse.

The VFW National Home for Children is a community development in a family-like environment that is home to orphaned or single parent children of VFW or Ladies Auxiliary members. The home, which was established in 1925 on 160 acres (0.65 km2) in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, emphasizes the values of education, good work habits, and sound moral character.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Veterans of Foreign Wars Established 1899 in Denver, CO". VFW Post 1. Retrieved 2013-10-01. 
  3. "VFW Eligibility Information" (PDF). VFW. October 2005. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  4. "Presidents". Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "VFW At A Glance" (PDF). VFW. 2004-09-02. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  6. "Legislative Victories" (PDF). VFW. 2004-09-02. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  7. "Services to Veterans" (PDF). VFW. 2004-09-02. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  8. Veterans of Foreign Wars. VFW (2011-09-01). Retrieved on 2011-11-13.
  9. VFW National Military Services – Operation Uplink, Unmet Needs, Military Assistance Program. Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  10. National Veterans Service NVS Assistance from. the VFW. Retrieved on 2011-03-13.
  11. Veterans of Foreign Wars. VFW. Retrieved on 2011-03-13.

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