The initial concept of our modern VFW was envisioned by veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) who founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service in these conflicts. Many veterans arrived home wounded and/or ailing with no medical care or pension to assist them in meeting their needs once they returned home.
Out of desolation and despondency, many of these veterans banded together in brotherhood to form organizations which would later become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Fledgling chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania and the movement quickly gained momentum. By 1915 membership in this organization had increased to 5,000. Significant growth followed, and membership was nearing 200,000 veterans in 1936.
Since these early days, the VFW’s voice has been instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, creating the GI bill for the 20th century, developing the United States National Cemetery System, and in fighting to provide compensation for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange as well as those who are diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. The VFW secured a significant victory in 2008 with the passing of the GI Bill for the 21st Century. This updated GI Bill expanded educational benefits for America’s active-duty service members (and members of the National Guard and Reserves) who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VFW has also been instrumental in improving VA Medical Center services for female veterans who had largely been overlooked by the system.
The VFW assisted in sponsoring the Vietnam War, Korean War, World War II, and Women in Military Service memorials. The VFW became the first veterans’ organization to contribute to building the Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which was dedicated on October 5, 2014.
The 2.1 million members of the VFW, and its Auxiliary, volunteer more than 11 million hours annually in their communities. This includes participating in the National Volunteer Week (third week of April) and the National Make A Difference Day (fourth Saturday in October).
The VFW organization, as a whole, contributes $2.5 million in annual scholarships and savings bonds for college students and continues to raise awareness for the Department of Veterans Affairs on all fronts.
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 for 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 veterans’ 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.
From providing $2.5 million in college scholarships and savings bonds to students every year, to encouraging elevation of the Department of Veterans Affairs to the president’s cabinet, the VFW is there.