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Priority Issues of the VFW

VA Health Care

  • Ensure sufficient funding
  • Keep women’s health issues at the forefront of service
  • Continue to oppose efforts to reduce presumptive service-connected conditions

Suicide Prevention and Homelessness

  • Ensure Congress funds support programs
  • Ensure Congress provides education and career training
  • Ensure Congress provides substance abuse and mental health services
  • Ensure Congress provides permanent housing solutions for all homeless veterans

VA Benefits and Compensation

  • Urge Congress to require the Veterans Benefits Administration to reduce the claims backlog
  • Urge Congress to improve quality without reducing benefits or imposing new requirements

Education and Employment

  • Urge Congress to address the unemployment rate among veterans
  • Fight to sustain G.I. Bill benefits
  • Insist on strengthing USERRA

Defense and Homeland Security

  • Support troops and their mission in the war on terrorism
  • Support the securing of U.S. borders against foreign nationals intent on doing us harm


  • Achieve the fullest possible account of American MIAs from WWII through the war on terror

Seamless Transitions

  • Demand an integrated electronic medical and personnel record for service members
  • Demand improvements to the Transition Assistance Programs to help transition to civilian life

Military Quality of Life

  • Oppose all proposals that will damage morale
  • Call on Congress to improve the quality of life for all service members
  • Support efforts to lower the Reserve Component retirement pay age to 55

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Early History

The VFW’s trace back to 1899 when vets of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded a local organization to secure rights and benefits for their service. In 1899 in Colombus, Ohio, the American Veterans of Foreign Service was founded. Likewise in 1899, the National Society of the Army of the Philippines was founded in Denver, Colorado.

These two organizations merged in 1914 to create the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United StatesOther chapters quickly began to form in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania. By 1915, membership grew to 5,000. By 1936, membership had climbed to almost 200,000, and in that year, the VFW was chartered by Congress.

Membership Qualifications

  • Those serving honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces in a foreign war or oversears operation recognized by a campaign medal
  • Those in Korea after June 30, 1949
  • Recipients of hostile-fire or imminent danger pay
  • Veterans of World War II
  • Veterans of Korea
  • Veterans of Vietnam

  • Veterans of Grenada
  • Veterans of Panama, Lebanan and the Persian Gulf
  • Veterans of Iraq and Kosovo
  • Veterans of Afghanistan
  • Veterans of smaller, expeditionary campaigns and occupation duty



  • Since 1936, the VFW has helped establish the Veterans Administration, created a GI Bill for the 20th Century, developed the national cemetery system and fought for compensation for vets exposed to Agent Orange and for those diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrom.
  • In 2008, the VFW helped pass the GI Bill for the 21st Century, which gives expanded educational benefits to active-duty service members, members of the Guard and members of the Reserves
  • The VFW has fought to improve VA medical center services.
  • The VFW helped fund the creation of the Vietnam, Koren and World War II Memorials as well as the Women in Military Service Memorial.
  • In 2005, the VFW was the first veterans organization to contribute to the building of the Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial. This memorial opened in November 2010.
  • The VFW’s partner organization, the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW, was founded in 1914 and is the backbone of many local VFW volunteer efforts.
  • Currently, there are nearly 1.9 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and many foreign countries.
  • Annually, VFW members contribute more than 8.6 million hours of community volunteerism.
  • Annually, over $3 in college scholarships and saving bonds are provided by the VFW to students.
  • The VFW also works to encourage the elevation of the Department of Veteran Affairs to the president’s cabinet.