Veterans of Foreign Wars

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"VFW" redirects here. For other uses, see VFW (disambiguation).
Veterans of Foreign Wars
of the United States
Veterans Of Foreign Wars Logo.jpg
Abbreviation VFW
Motto "Pro deo pro patria" (Latin)
"For God, For Country"
Established September 29, 1899; 115 years ago (1899-09-29)
Founder James Putnam
Merger of American Veterans of Foreign Service,
National Society of the Army of the Philippines
Type Veterans' organization
Legal status Federally chartered corporation
Purpose Fraternal, patriotic, historical, charitable, educational
Headquarters 406 West 34th Street,
Kansas City, Missouri
Region served
Membership (2014)
Official language
John Stroud
John Hamilton
National Council of Administration
Publication VFW Magazine
  • Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW,
  • Military Order of the Cootie,
  • Sons of the VFW,
  • VFW Foundation,
  • VFW National Home,
  • VFW Political Action Committee,
  • VFW Riders
Slogan ″No One Does More for Veterans″
Formerly called
Army of the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Inc. is a federally chartered corporation formed in Columbus, Ohio, on September 29, 1899, by Spanish–American War veterans of the Seventeenth U. S. Infantry.[1]


The basic aims of the VFW are to ensure the national security through maximum military strength, to speed the rehabilitation of the nation’s disabled and needy veterans, to assist veterans’ widows and orphans and the dependents of needy or disabled veterans, and to promote Americanism by means of education in patriotism and by constructive service to communities. The VFW maintains both its legislative service and the central office of its national rehabilitation service in Washington, D.C. The latter nationwide program serves disabled veterans of all wars, members and nonmembers alike, in matters of government compensation and pension claims, hospitalization, civil-service employment preference, and so on. The VFW has more than 10,000 local units, which are known as “posts.”[2]

Membership eligibility[edit]

VFW World Map of Membership Eligibility

Membership in the VFW is restricted to any active or honorably discharged officer or service member who is a citizen of the United States and who has served in its armed forces “in any foreign war, insurrection or expedition, which service shall be recognized by the authorization or the issuance of a military campaign medal”.[3]

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

Notable members[edit]

Past and current members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars have included:[4]

National Military and National Veterans Service Programs[edit]

National Military Services[edit]

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[edit]

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.[5]

Military Assistance Program[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.[6] 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[edit]

M60 Main Battle Tank on display at C. Robert Arvin Post, No. 2408

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.[7] 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[edit]



Further reading[edit]

  • Watch on the Rhine Post, No. 27, V. F. W. (1999). White, Dean A., ed. Watch on the Rhein: A History. Wiesbaden, Germany: Watch on the Rhine Post, No. 27, V. F. W. (published July 2, 1999). 

External links[edit]