Veterans of Foreign Wars
|Established||September 29, 1899|
|Founder||James C. Putnam|
|Merger of||American Veterans of Foreign Service (organized on September 29, 1899 at Columbus, Ohio) and the Army of the Philippines (organized on December 12, 1899 at Denver, Colorado, as the Colorado Society, Army of the Philippines)|
|Type||501(c)(19) – U.S. war veterans organization|
|Legal status||36 U.S.C. 2301 – U.S. chartered corporation|
|Purpose||Fraternal, patriotic, historical, charitable and educational|
406 West 34th Street,|
Kansas City, Missouri
|Keith E. Harman|
|B. J. Lawrence|
|William J. Schmitz|
|National Council of Administration|
|Affiliations||Student Veterans of America|
|Army of the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico|
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (officially known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States) is a U.S. war veterans organization established on September 29, 1899, whose membership consists of veterans who, as United States Army soldiers, United States Navy sailors, United States Marines, United States Coast Guard sailors, and/or United States Air Force airmen, served the U.S. in wars, campaigns, and expeditions on foreign soil or hostile waters. Its main rival for members is the American Legion, founded in 1919.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States resulted from the amalgamation of several societies formed immediately following the Spanish–American War in 1899, little groups of veterans returning from campaigning in Cuba and the Philippine Islands, founded local societies upon that spirit of comradeship, known only to those who have faced the dangers of war side by side. Similar experiences and a common language drew them together. The American Veterans of Foreign Service (predecessor to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States) was established in Columbus, Ohio, September 29, 1899, by Spanish‑American War veteran James C. Putnam. The Colorado Society, Army of the Philippines, was organized in Denver, Colorado, December 12, 1899. Shortly thereafter, a society known as Foreign Service Veterans was born in Pennsylvania. These organizations grew up side by side, increasing in scope and membership until 1913, when at a convention held at Denver, they merged their interests and identities in a national organization now known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
The purpose of the VFW is to speed rehabilitation of the nation’s disabled and needy veterans, assist veterans’ widows and orphans and the dependents of needy or disabled veterans, and promote Americanism by means of education in patriotism and by constructive service to local communities. The organization maintains both its legislative service and central office of its national rehabilitation service in Washington. The latter nationwide program serves disabled veterans of all wars, members and nonmembers alike, in matters of U.S. government compensation and pension claims, hospitalization, civil-service employment preference, and etc.”
National Military ServicesEdit
The VFW's National Military Services unites three successful, long-standing programs; Operation Uplink, Unmet Needs, and Military Assistance Program (MAP). These initiatives focus on troop support.
Military Assistance ProgramEdit
MAP is the link between the VFW and the community. MAP is designed to promote VFW interaction within the local military community through the Adopt-A-Unit Program. MAP Grants are available to posts, districts, and departments who participate in a variety of morale boosting functions such as farewell and welcome home events.
Operation Uplink keeps military members in contact with their loved ones by allowing deployed troops to call home at no charge from MWR internet cafés in Afghanistan, Kuwait and other locations all around the world. Operation Uplink also distributes "virtual pins" which enable wounded warriors and veterans in Veterans Affairs facilities to call from home at no cost.
Unmet Needs assists 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. Assistance is in the form of a grant of up to US$2,500. Unmet Needs assists with basic life needs such as: mortgage and rent, home and auto repairs, insurance, utilities, food and clothing.
The VFW celebrates Americanism in communities across the nation. Through local and national events, VFW members help others understand the sacrifices made by veterans and the importance of patriotism.
Voice of DemocracyEdit
Each year, more than 39,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of the US$2.2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the VFW's Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition.
Patriots Pen challenges students from grades 6-8, to enter to win one of 46 national awards totaling US$46,000, as well as an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the national first place winner. Students draft a 300-400 word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic, annual theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief.
Scout of the YearEdit
Scout of the Year selects three young people – of the Boy or Girl Scouts, Sea Scouts or Venturing Crew – who have demonstrated practical citizenship in school, scouting and the community. The first-place winner receives a US$5,000 award, the second-place winner receives a US$3,000 award and the third-place winner receives US$1,000.
Teacher of the YearEdit
Teacher of the Year recognizes three exceptional teachers for their outstanding commitment to teach Americanism and patriotism to their students. The VFW recognizes the nation's top classroom elementary, junior high and high school teachers who teach citizenship education topics – at least half of the school day in a classroom environment – and promote America's history, traditions and institutions effectively.
Membership in the VFW is restricted to any active or honorably discharged officer or enlisted person who is a citizen of the U.S. 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 U.S. military campaign medal."
The following is a list of campaign medals, ribbons, and badges used by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States to determine membership eligibility.
|Campaign Medal||Start Date||End Date|
|Navy Expeditionary||February 12, 1874||Open|
|Marine Corps Expeditionary||February 12, 1874||Open|
|Spanish Campaign||April 20, 1898||December 10, 1898|
|Army of Cuban Occupation||July 18, 1898||May 20, 1902|
|Army of Puerto Rican Occupation||August 14, 1898||December 10, 1898|
|Philippine Campaign||February 4, 1899||December 31, 1913|
|China Relief Expedition||April 5, 1900||May 27, 1901|
|Cuban Pacification||September 12, 1906||April 1, 1909|
|Mexican Service||April 12, 1911||June 16, 1919|
|First Nicaraguan Campaign||July 29, 1912||November 14, 1912|
|Haitian Campaign||April 9, 1915||June 15, 1920|
|Dominican Campaign||May 4, 1916||December 5, 1916|
|World War I Victory (with battle or service clasp – including Siberia and European Russia)||April 6, 1917||April 1, 1920|
|Army of Occupation of Germany||November 12, 1918||July 11, 1923|
|Second Nicaraguan Campaign||August 27, 1926||January 2, 1933|
|Yangtze Service||September 3, 1926||December 31, 1932|
|China Service||July 7, 1937||April 1, 1957|
|American Defense Service (with foreign service clasp)||September 8, 1939||December 7, 1941|
|Combat Infantryman Badge||December 6, 1941||Open|
|Combat Medical Badge||December 6, 1941||Open|
|Navy Combat Action||December 6, 1941||Open|
|European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign||December 7, 1941||November 8, 1945|
|American Campaign (30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days of duty outside continental limits of the U.S.)||December 7, 1941||March 2, 1946|
|Asiatic–Pacific Campaign||December 7, 1941||March 2, 1946|
|Navy Occupation Service||May 8, 1945||October 25, 1955|
|Army of Occupation (30 consecutive days of duty)||May 9, 1945||October 2, 1990|
|Korean Service||June 27, 1950||July 27, 1954|
|Korea Defense Service||July 28, 1954||Open|
|Vietnam Service||July 1, 1958||April 30, 1975|
|Armed Forces Expeditionary||July 1, 1958||Open|
|SSBN Deterrent Patrol Insignia||January 21, 1961||Open|
|Coast Guard Combat Action||May 1, 1975||Open|
|Southwest Asia Service||August 2, 1990||November 30, 1995|
|Air Force Expeditionary Service (with gold border)||October 1, 1999||Open|
|Kosovo Campaign||March 24, 1999||December 31, 2013|
|Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary||September 11, 2001||Open|
|Afghanistan Campaign||September 11, 2001||Open|
|Air Force Combat Action||September 11, 2001||Open|
|Combat Action Badge||September 18, 2001||Open|
|Iraq Campaign||March 19, 2003||December 31, 2011|
|Inherent Resolve Campaign||June 15, 2014||Open|
The Cross of Malta is the VFW's official emblem. The cross, radiating rays, and Great Seal of the United States together symbolize the character, vows and purposes distinguishing VFW as an order of warriors who have traveled far from home to defend sacred principles. Its eight points represent the beatitudes prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount: Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the pure, the merciful, the peacemakers; blessed are they who mourn, seek righteousness and are persecuted for righteousness' sake. The eight-pointed Cross of Malta harks back to the Crusades, launched during the 12th century.
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States
Harry Truman, 33rd President of the United States
Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States
John Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
Lyndon Johnson, 36th President of the United States
Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States
Gerald Ford, 38th President of the United States
George Bush, 41st President of the United States
Albert Gore, Jr., 45th Vice President of the United States
Robert Kennedy, United States Senator from New York
Chuck Hagel, 24th United States Secretary of Defense
General John Pershing, 10th Chief of Staff of the United States Army
General Martin Dempsey, 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Major General Smedley Butler, Two-time Medal of Honor recipient
First Lieutenant Audie Murphy, Medal of Honor recipient
Sergeant Alvin York, Medal of Honor recipient
Carl Sandburg, Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner
Roger Staubach, Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee
- "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax." Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Guidestar. August 31, 2015.
- Mason, Jr., Herbert Molloy (1999). VFW: Our First Century. Foreword by Senator Chuck Hagel. Lenexa, Kansas: Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. pp. 29, 39, 92. ISBN 1-88611072-7. LCCN 99-24943. OCLC 777720483 – via Addax Publishing Group.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Congressional Charter, National By-Laws, Manual of Procedure and Ritual (2017 Podium ed.). Kansas City, Missouri: Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. 2016. p. 7.
- "Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2015. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
- Proceedings of the 34th National Encampment of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (Report). Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Veteran. 1933. p. 20 – via Internet Archive. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
- Mason, Jr., Herbert Molloy (1999). VFW: Our First Century. Foreword by Senator Chuck Hagel. Lenexa, Kansas: Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. pp. 29, 38–40. ISBN 1-88611072-7. LCCN 99-24943. OCLC 777720483 – via Addax Publishing Group.
- "National Military Services". Recruiter Success Pocket Guide [Brochure]. Kansas City, MO: Veterans of Foreign Wars. January 2014.
- "Programs". Recruiter Success Pocket Guide [Brochure]. Kansas City, MO: Veterans of Foreign Wars. January 2014.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Congressional Charter, National By-Laws, Manual of Procedure and Ritual (2018 Podium ed.). Kansas City, Missouri: Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. 2017. pp. 56–61.
- Mason, Jr., Herbert Molloy (1999). VFW: Our First Century. Foreword by Senator Chuck Hagel. Lenexa, Kansas: Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. p. 15. ISBN 1-88611072-7. LCCN 99-24943. OCLC 777720483 – via Addax Publishing Group.
- Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Congressional Charter, National By-Laws, Manual of Procedure and Ritual (2018 Podium ed.). Kansas City, Missouri: Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. 2017. p. 44.
- Mason, Jr., Herbert Molloy (1999). VFW: Our First Century. Foreword by Senator Chuck Hagel. Lenexa, Kansas: Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. pp. 9, 16, 47, 90–91, 118, 104, 132, 204. ISBN 1-88611072-7. LCCN 99-24943. OCLC 777720483 – via Addax Publishing Group.
- Ford, Gerald R. (1979). A Time To Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford (1st ed.). New York: Harper & Row. p. 62. ISBN 0-06-011297-2. LCCN 78020162. OCLC 4835213. OL 4731652M.
- Bottoms, Bill (1991). The VFW: An Illustrated History of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Foreword by Senator Bob Dole. Rockville, Md.: Woodbine House. ISBN 0933149344. LCCN 89040627. OCLC 22593204. OL 8387800M.
- Proceedings of the 99th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States [Summary of Minutes] (Report). Washington: GPO. 2000 – via Internet Archive.
- Proceedings of the 100th Annual Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States [Summary of Minutes] (Report). Washington: GPO. 2000 – via Internet Archive.
- White, Dean A., ed. (1999). Watch on the Rhein: A History. Wiesbaden, Germany: Watch on the Rhein Post 27, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
- Official website
- Military Order of the Cootie
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation
- Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children at Eaton Rapids, Michigan
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Veterans Village at Fort McCoy, Florida
- General information
- Proceedings of the Annual Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States at The Online Books Page
- United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration at the Department of Defense Vietnam War Commemoration Program Office
- Veterans of Foreign Wars articles in the archive of the Chicago Tribune
- Veterans of Foreign Wars politician members at The Political Graveyard
- Works by or about Veterans of Foreign Wars at Internet Archive
- World War I Centennial Commission at the United States Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars