The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service: Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves.
In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations with what would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado, and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum. By 1915, membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000.
Since then, the VFW’s voice had been instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, creating a GI bill for the 20th century, the development of the national cemetery system and the fight for compensation or Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, VFW won a long-fought victory with the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st Century, giving expanded educational benefits to America’s active-duty service members, and members of the guard and Reserves, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.
Besides helping fund the creation of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service memorials, the VFW in 2005 became the first veteran’s organization to contribute to building the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in November 2010.
Annually, the 2.1 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary contribute more than 11 million hours of volunteerism in the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week. VFW members and their post’s also hold a strong commitment to the support and prayer for the VFW National home for children in Eaton Rapids, MI. The VFW National Home for Children is a non-profit organization that provides America’s military and veteran families a place to turn in difficult times.
Established 1914, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Auxiliary set out to serve the veterans of this country and our communities in honor of the sacrifices and commitment of every man and woman who has served in uniform. The VFW Auxiliary is one of the nation’s oldest veterans’ service organizations and our members are the relatives of those who have served in overseas combat. More than 470,000 members in nearly 3,800 Auxiliaries nationwide who volunteer millions of hours and fundraise millions of dollars for charitable projects that benefit veterans, military service personnel and their families.
Through our National Programs, we assist the VFW pass or block legislation that impacts veterans and their families, provide nearly a million volunteer hours in the VA medical system, conduct patriotic programs with thousands of students and offer hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships for our nation’s youth.
During the 2018-2019 Program Year, Auxiliary members:
Provided $6.2 million dollars in goods and services to veterans, service members and their families.
Volunteered more than 630,000 hours in VA Medical Centers, hospitals, nursing homes and veterans homes.
Made nearly 120,000 legislative contacts to help pass or block important bills affecting veterans and their families.
Awarded nearly $170,000 in scholarships.
Worked with more than 413,000 youth across America.
Distributed nearly 375,000 U.S. Flags.
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