NEWS

Paul Bezazian, Chicago Firefighter as well as Post Quartermaster taught attendees the dangers of fire, how to prevent them, and how to make escape plans in case of fire. Paul Bezazain also put on safety training for the children and parents along with another retired fire fighter. Smoke Detectors and boxes of baking soda (For grease fires) were given away. A local business provided fire extinguishers that were raffled off.  VFW Posts 8322 and 1284 have made plans to hold annual safety events with the Chicago Police Department.The Veterans of Foreign Wars Posts 1284 and Post 8332 hosted a Fire Prevention Week Open House October 7that Armed Forces Post 8322, 6940 W Diversey, Chicago.

Veterans Service Organizations Issue The Independent Budget Policy Agenda for 116th Congress

WASHINGTON - Today, DAV, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States released The Independent Budget Veterans Agenda for the 116th Congress which contains policy recommendations to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs remains fully-funded and capable of carrying out its mission to serve veterans and their families both now and in the future. The Independent Budget is a roadmap for the 116th Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Administration to navigate critical veteran issues. It includes detailed recommendations in the areas of benefits, health care, infrastructure, education, employment, training and memorial concerns facing veterans and their families. For over 30 years, the three partnering organizations have co-authored The Independent Budget.

The Independent Budget sets full and faithful implementation of the VA MISSION Act as the critical issue for the 116th Congress. This his...


Action Alert: Tell Congress to Pass Blue Water Navy Legislation Now!

The VFW is urging its members and supporters to tell Congress to pass Blue Water Navy legislation now!

This past year, Congress failed to pass H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which would finally restore VA benefits to some 90,000 veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Veterans who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam, during the Vietnam War, continue to be arbitrarily and unjustly denied benefits for illnesses associated with Agent Orange exposure.

Do not stand by as veterans suffer. Contact your members of Congress to demand they pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. Congress must not delay while Blue Water Navy veterans sicken and die from diseases related to exposure to Agent Orange.

Take action and contact your representatives today!

...


Painting Away the Trauma

In the aftermath of experiencing war, some VFW members have returned to their previous passion - art - to manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and bring hope to others.

VFW Life member Pete Damon is one of them. He was in Iraq for only a few weeks when everything changed.

On Oct. 21, 2003, Damon, who served with the Army's 3rd Assault Bn., 158th Aviation Regt., was working on the wheel of a helicopter at Balad Air Base when the rim "exploded." The blast severed Damon's arms and killed Spc. Paul J. Beuche, 19, of Daphne, Ala.

"I don't remember much," Damon said. "It was just flashes of horror of realizing my arms were gone."

Damon lost his right arm above the elbow and left arm below the elbow. He spent 15 months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center - three as an inpatient and 12 as an outpatient. In the following weeks, he underwent "multiple surgeries."

"I was pretty optimistic, I guess - as far as you can be in that situation," said Damon, a member of VFW Post 697 in Middleboro, M...


'What We Do Changes Lives'

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of VFW's National Veterans Service (NVS) Department. That is a century of working on behalf of the nation's veterans to ensure they are granted the benefits they have earned.

It's not an easy mission, as the NVS staff at VFW's Washington Office will attest, but one that grows increasingly more important each year. In 2017-18 alone, VFW's NVS staff recovered a record-breaking $8.36 billion for veterans. Of that, $1.4 billion was for new clients. VFW service officers filed more than 109,000 new claims last year.  

"What we do changes lives," NVS Director Ryan Gallucci said. "It's humbling, challenging and rewarding. The scope of responsibility the VFW has to make sure veterans understand their benefits and that those were earned is tremendous."

An Iraq War vet, Gallucci said that he and those who work for him know better than most what it's like to assist discharging veterans get what they are entitled to receive.

"What we went through ourselves after d...


VFW Announces Spring Scholarship Recipients

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce its "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" program has surpassed awarding $5.7 million in scholarships to nearly 1,300 military and student veterans. The latest award of more than $768,000 will now help ensure 172 student veterans can continue their higher education classes this upcoming spring semester.

"The Post-9/11 GI Bill was a great piece of legislation that was made even better with the passage of the Forever GI Bill," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, whose organization championed both pieces of legislation through Congress. "But higher education is expensive, and oftentimes 36 months of benefits isn't enough for new veterans to fulfill their educational goals," he said. "I'm very proud that the VFW can help change the lives of 172 student veterans this ...


VFW and SVA Announce 2019 Student Veteran Fellowship Class

WASHINGTON - Ten Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. members and Student Veterans of America leaders have been selected for the 2019 VFW-SVA Fellowship program. The announcement was made Saturday at SVA's 11th National Conference in Orlando, Fla. The 10 fellows will now join more than 500 VFW members of when they converge on Capitol Hill in early March to advocate on behalf of all veterans, service members and their families. 

"The VFW is proud to provide 10 student veterans the opportunity to participate in the legislative process to help improve the care and benefits of their fellow veterans," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "We look forward to working with this year's fellows to hone their skills as veterans' advocates on campus, in their communities, and on the national stage." 

The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is a semester-long academic experience that involves research, action, reporting and advocating on behalf of one of four veterans' policy areas: student veteran success on cam...


VFW Announces Annual Publications Contest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is now accepting submissions for its 2019 National Publications Contest. VFW publications published up to four times annually, or five or more times annually, will be judged in four categories.*

The categories are:

Department-level publications:

  • Newspaper/Newsletter
    • Defined as being printed on newspaper stock or designed for online distribution as a PDF.
  • Best Feature Story
    • Entries from all publications will be considered for this category. Each article must be submitted separately. The story must be a published article of at least 300 words. It can be originally written by your newspaper/magazine staff or by a freelance writer, or be reprinted from a newspaper within your state. Feature articles published in online/electronic newsletters, newspapers or magazines also are eligible, but must be printed in color ...


Is the Cyberworld Safer Than the 3-D World?

With every passing year, more and more of Americans' lives are lived online. Why drive to the bank or the DMV when you can deposit checks with your cell phone and renew your driver's license from home? Adults socialize with friends, pay bills and file their taxes online. High school seniors average a whopping six hours a day online,1  texting, playing games, and on social media. 

All this Internet activity means we're safer in some ways-we can't lose our wallet in our living room or get into a traffic accident at our desk. But the online world carries its own dangers, and cybercrime is unfortunately exploding. A September 2018 Forbes article2 listed these five statistics:

  1. Every minute, 1,861 people fall victim to cyber-attacks and $1.14 million is stolen.
  2. Over the next five years, 146 billion records will be breached-four times the current rate.
  3. Ransomware attacks are increasing 350% per year, and damage costs will be $11.5...


Utah Senator Stops Blue Water Navy Bill

WASHINGTON - The objection by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to passing H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018, by unanimous consent today on the Senate floor has effectively doomed any chance of the bill being passed in the 115th Congress. Lee now joins Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), who objected last week due to the bill's overall cost. Lee's objection was because he wants to wait and see more sufficient evidence.

"We don't need more sick veterans to prove sufficient evidence," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "Agent Orange made Vietnam veterans sick, and science agrees that there isn't any reason to treat so-called Blue Water Navy veterans any different than their peers who served ashore or on the inland waterways of Vietnam," he said. "What both senators have done is fail thousands of veterans - many of whom reside in their home states. Their obstruction to this bill's passage forsakes our nation's promise to take care of those who were injured or made ill due to their military service. T...


Navy Veteran Discovers a ‘Gem’ in VFW Pre-Discharge Representative

Veteran James E. Jones, Jr. of San Diego, Calif., is a remarkable person surrounded by the love and support of his family and friends. He has spent 26 years of his life in service to his country, and is set to retire from the Navy in a few months.

Growing up in a small community in Alabama, Jones knew he wanted to leave but was too intimidated by the thought of college. Instead, he joined the Navy and traveled all over Europe, before spending 12 years devoted to the conflicts in Africa and Iraq.

He still found the time to marry his love, Gidget, and have two daughters, Alexis and Jameiah. Then, with the experience and confidence gained in the military, he graduated cum laude with a degree in criminal justice, focusing on emergency management and homeland security. 

The years abroad were understandably not easy on Jones, physically or emotionally. Like many veterans, Jones knows what it feels like to be caught in enemy fire. 

After returning from combat, he began the transition to civilian life. But, this...


Texas VFW Post Brings Christmas Spirit to Community

VFW Post 2195 will host its second "Operation North Pole" event on Dec. 15 in the dining room of Market Street in Allen. Children will speak to Mrs. Claus, who will be set up across town, through a ham radio.

Post member Jim Brevard, a Vietnam War veteran who served from 1964-65 with the Air Force's 619th Tactical Control Squadron, said the idea came from something he and Post Junior Vice Commander Robert Evans did while in the service.

"The radio guys would go down and set up and let the kids talk to Mrs. Claus at the North Pole," Brevard said.

They brought the idea to the Post, according to Brevard, because of their efforts to "give back to the community."

"It gives us a chance to show the community that we're here," Brevard said, "and we've done other community events, and we generally have a lot of people come up and talk to us and ask about the Post and what we do. This presents us with another opportunity for that."

As the only two ham operators at the Post, Brevard and Evans took the lead o...


First Afghanistan War Veteran to Lead Arkansas Post

Trisha Leslie, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom from 2010-2013, took on the role in April for VFW Post 4556 in Pocahontas, Ark. And to her, the accolade symbolizes change.

"Not only am I the first Afghanistan War veteran elected, but I am also the first female combat veteran and the youngest elected commander for our Post," Leslie said. "Too often, we are scared of change and not knowing what comes with it. But in order to evolve and keep the VFW a successful organization, we have to accept change."

When Leslie exited the Army, she knew she wanted to do more, but said she wasn't sure what that "more" would entail.

"Years went by before I figured out what it was I was looking for," Leslie said. "Then the opportunity presented itself when I was invited to a local Post meeting to visit with other former military members. It was then that I realized that I might be able to help out more at home than I ever could abroad."

She hopes to make her Post more inclusive by recruiting younger members and coll...


VFW to Senate: Pass Blue Water Navy Bill Now!

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is calling for the U.S. Senate to finally pass H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018, which would end the injustice of denying Vietnam, Korean DMZ and Thailand veterans who suffer from life-threatening health conditions related to exposure to Agent Orange the care and benefits they deserve. The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 299 earlier this year by a unanimous vote, but the bill has been stuck in the Senate. The VFW national commander is urging all senators to support its immediate passage.

"Agent Orange made Vietnam veterans sick," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, whose 1.6 million-member organization supports H.R. 299, which would restore VA benefits to some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans who had their disability eligibility taken away in 2002 after regulatory changes. It would also require the VA to make whole veterans who were previously denied benefits.

The legislation would also h...


Sport Clips Haircuts Just Donated $1.35 Million to the VFW

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - At the national headquarters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., the Vietnam War veteran who founded Sport Clips Haircuts handed over a check for $1.35 million to the VFW Foundation today in order to support Help A Hero Scholarships for active-duty U.S. service members and veterans. Sport Clips began fundraising in October with the goal to exceed the $1.25 million raised last year for the program. By Veterans Day, November 11, Sport Clips, along with its clients, team members and product partners, raised the money for the largest donation in its 11-year history of supporting those who've served through the Help A Hero initiative. 

In attendance was first-time scholarship recipient Army Specialist Ian Tucker, who is currently enrolled at Missouri State University studying criminal justice and legal studies. Tucker's goal is to earn his law degree, work for the Department of Justice ...


Veteran Gets Help So He Can Give Help

Javier Galvan signed up for the United States Marine Corps in 2006 at age 17, right out of high school. He didn't have plans for his future and felt the military offered a way to have a career and do something with his life. He also thought it might be a way to validate his American citizenship.

"I was born in the U.S., I'm from California, but I felt like society didn't welcome me because of my Mexican heritage," said Galvan. "I wanted to feel like a real American."

Galvan served his country for four years, deploying to Iraq in 2008 and Afghanistan in 2009. He enlisted with the idea of having a military career, but his experiences in the Marines gave him the desire to do other things. The Post-9/11 GI Bill helped him see he had an opportunity to go to school.

"I started college within weeks of leaving the military," Galvan said. "The Marines do not really have their own medical personnel, but seeing the work done by our Navy corpsmen and combat lifesaver training made me realize I wanted to be a doctor."

<...


VA Bears Responsibility to Make Student Veterans Whole, Says VFW

The Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement yesterday regarding the implementation of Forever GI Bill changes that were supposed to have been enacted this past August. VA Secretary Robert Wilkie has now directed the Veterans Benefits Administration to cease attempting to implement the changes and instead reset the entire effort in order to get the job done correctly. The reset begins this Saturday, with the full implementation date now shifting to December 2019. Student veterans are expected to see positive effects of the changes in the spring 2020 semester.

"The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was disappointed to learn about the 12-month delay in implementing this amazing benefit, but we recognize why hitting the reset button was necessary in order for the VA to get this right," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence.

The Forever GI Bill changed student housing allowances to reflect the ZIP codes where students attend the majority of their classes. This cha...


Ten Years of Second Chances

It's been 10 years since the first veterans treatment court started in Buffalo, N.Y., and Jack O'Connor is pleased with what he's seen over the past decade. Veterans who would be in prison - and without treatment - are healing and rebuilding their lives.

O'Connor, the former program director for Medicaid in Erie County, N.Y., started the court in 2008 with two other veterans advocates. Hank Pirowski, court coordinator for the county's mental health court at the time, and Judge Robert Russell also helped get the program going.

It all started when O'Connor and Pirowski were observing drug and mental health court sessions. A Vietnam veteran stood before Russell, looking at the floor and mumbling in response to questions. 

Russell asked O'Connor and Pirowski, both Vietnam veterans, to have a chat with this veteran.

"All that man wanted was to talk to other Vietnam veterans," O'Connor said. "He was in a good program, but there were no veterans in it." 

After talking with the two men, the veteran came b...


Gold Star Peak is 'Closer to Heaven'

Kirk Alkire is not a medical professional in any sense. But the emotional moments he has witnessed atop mountain peaks in Alaska prove to him that climbing in honor of fallen service members is therapeutic.

One Gold Star father spoke of  his deceased son, a Marine, for the first time in more than 15 years as he hiked to the summit.

"This poor guy has been carrying this around, bottled up, since 2002, and we had no idea," said Alkire, who led a mission to name an Alaskan mountain peak after Gold Star families. "We just figured this is who he is, and this is how he talks about [his son]."

Alkire, a Life member of VFW Post 9785 in Eagle River, Alaska, said it wasn't the people who caused this father to open up.

"We were just a vehicle that got him there," Alkire said. "But the process, the climb and then reaching the summit and seeing all the wonderful stuff that's there… It's a powerful thing. And, like I said, I have no certifications in mental health or anything, but I can tell you that these mountains -...


National Academies Link Hypertension, MGUS to Agent Orange Exposure

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs to add hypertension and a precursor to multiple myeloma to the current list of 14 presumptive diseases associated with contact with chemical defoliants used in Vietnam, Thailand, and along the Korean DMZ.

The VFW's case is bolstered by a new report just released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The report, entitled Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 11 (2018), found that sufficient evidence exists that links exposure to at least one of the hazardous chemicals with hypertension and MGUS, or monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance. The hypertension finding is an upgrade from th...


VA Rates 70 Percent of its Nursing Homes as Failures

WASHINGTON - The national commanders of the nation's two largest veterans organizations are demanding that Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie bring immediate attention to his nursing home program that currently has 70 percent of its 132 homes receiving failing grades by the VA's own rating system.

The call by Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. National Commander B.J. Lawrence and American Legion National Commander Brett Reistad is in response to a series of scathing articles by two USA Today and Boston Globe reporters who documented substandard and negligent care at the VA nursing home in Brockton, Mass., which is one of 45 nursing homes that received the VA's lowest rating of one star. Forty-seven homes received two stars, 16 homes three stars, and 15 homes four stars. Only nine nursing homes received the VA's top five-star rating.

...


The Great War's Great Women

One of the requisite World War I recruitment posters showed a beautiful and composed nurse bending over a young soldier gazing up at her in gratitude and admiration.  

Such art was, of course, a fantasy, and  by war's end it was an affront to truth. Thousands of U.S. nurses served admirably during the Great War of 1914-18, but there was nothing romantic about their experience. Trench warfare and the impact of the machine gun on infantry operations created an avalanche of casualties that turned field hospitals into hospices of horror. 

During the Battle of Belleau Wood in June 1918, for instance, "hundreds and hundreds of wounded poured in like a rushing torrent," Army Nurse Eula Crow wrote in her diary. "The packed, twisted bodies, the screams and groans, made me think of Dante's Inferno."

Conditions were no better at the evacuation station near the old St. Mihiel salient south of Verdun, in northeast France. It was there that the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), under the command of Army Gen. John J. Persh...


VFW National Commander Visits Troops at Fort Irwin

VFW Commander-in-Chief B.J. Lawrence visited with Army units during predeployment training at the nation's largest Army training center.

Fort Irwin's National Training Center (NTC) is the only U.S. military training facility that supports brigade-level, live-fire exercises ranging from small arms to aircraft-launched bombs.

Lawrence met with the Commanding General of Fort Irwin and the Army's National Training Center (NTC), Brig. Gen. Jeff Broadwater, to talk about troop readiness and morale. 

"Talking to troops on the ground-level helps us better advocate for them on Capitol Hill," Lawrence said.

Lawrence also met troopers of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), including Col. Scott Woodward, to talk with him about the realistic training Army brigades endure during its month-long visit. The 11th ACR acts as a lethal and professional opposing force to train the Army's Brigade Combat Teams.

"NTC is the only place for brigade-size training," Woodward said. "The entire focus of this whole post is...


VFW Announces New Brand Identity

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., America's largest and oldest major combat veterans organization, is pleased to announce it has deployed a new look. 

The new VFW logo and visual language embraces the organization's storied 119 years of service to America's veterans, service members and their families, while underscoring its forward-thinking approach to service and distinguished membership base. The VFW believes the new logo will improve market position and provide visual clarity to its mission.

 

"We're excited about the bold, new look," said B.J. Lawrence, national commander of the VFW. "There's a lot of complex meaning b...


The VFW Helps Injured Veteran Receive 100% VA Rating

Charles Honaker of Vancouver, Wash., joined the United States Army when a recruiter visited his college campus. He served for "20 years, one month and one day" in the I-18 Airborne Military Police Company at Fort Bragg, N.C., and as an Army recruiter.

"The values instilled by the Army have led me to leadership opportunities and lifelong friends," Honaker said.

The support system the Army has provided him over 20 years has been vital. When Honaker's wife, Becky, became sick with a disease that shut down both of her kidneys, he didn't even question the decision to give her one of his. The Army not only gave him six months off for recovery but also covered his wife's entire hospital bill so the family could focus on healing rather than worrying about the costs of treatment.

While Honaker was serving at Fort Bragg, he was conducting a multi-branch training program with a large number of troops on a continuous airborne jump. Being the third person up, he jumped from the plane as the light turned green to go. Little...


VFW National Commander to Visit Army’s National Training Center

WASHINGTON  - The national commander of America's largest and oldest major combat veterans' organization will be visiting the nation's largest Army training facility in California next week.

B.J. Lawrence, national commander of the 1.6 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary, will be visiting the National Training Center at Fort Irwin on Tuesday and Wednesday to learn more about the live-fire training required of armored brigades before they deploy overseas. He is especially interested in troop training, readiness and morale.

The National Training Center, more commonly known as NTC, is the only U.S. military training facility that supports brigade-level, live-fire exercises. The more than 460-square-mile facility supports joint and combined team operations expending live munitions ranging from small arms to 2,000-pound aircraft-launched bombs.

The NTC visit is part of a larger initiative that will have the VFW national commander meeting up with an armored ...


VFW Scholarship Helps Veteran Continue His Studies at Military College

Juan Campana was born in Ecuador and immigrated to the United States at a young age. Entering the United States Marine Corps after September 11, 2001, he spent four years as a Combat Engineer. He served two tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.

Once Campana retired from the military, he continued to work in other capacities for the United States government. Campana then enrolled into The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina and wants to use his Intelligence and Security Studies major to return to work in the federal government after graduation.

As he was receiving a free haircut at Sport Clips on Veteran's Day, Campana heard about the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" for the first time. When his GI Bill was exhausted two years later, he was recommended to apply by his campus chapter of Student Veterans Association. The scholarship has made all the difference to Campana's future.

"I cannot be more grateful and honored to receive this award. I...


Opioids Offer ‘No Advantage’ and Are Addictive

Minneapolis VA researchers found that opioid pain medication might not be the powerful "wonder drug" many people believe it to be. Published in March by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), a study by the group of researchers did not support the use of opioids for chronic back, hip or knee pain relief.

The study, featured in the JAMA article "Effect of Opioid vs. Nonopioid Medications on Pain-Related Function in Patients with Chronic Back Pain or Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis Pain: The SPACE Randomized Clinical Trial," was conducted from June 2013 to December 2015. Researchers randomly selected 240 patients from 62 VA primary care clinics in the Minneapolis area. 

Results showed that opioid pain medication treatment was "not superior" to treatment with nonopioids. It also showed that while there wasn't a "significant difference" in pain-related function between the two groups, pain intensity was "significantly better" in the nonopioid patients over the 12-month period.

"Our study contri...


Navy Vet Has ‘Passion’ to Serve

Navy veteran Melissa Fahlgren's ultimate goal in life is to start an arts and crafts consignment shop in her hometown of San Antonio. To get there, she plans to earn a bachelor's degree in business administration then a master's degree in marketing. 

For help along the way, Fahlgren applied for VFW's Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship. 

Fahlgren, who served as a logistics specialist from 2012 to 2016 and aboard the USS George H.W. Bush, said she found out about the opportunity from Palo Alto College in San Antonio, where she currently attends. It sent her an email of scholarship opportunities for veterans.

Fahlgren said it was "very easy" to apply - all she had to do was fill out an information form and write a short essay. Those two things provided her with more than $1,600 for her tuition and fees during this semester. She added that the scholarship will "significantly help with tuition costs."

Fahlgren said she is transferring next semester to Texas A&M University-San Antonio to continue toward her b...


Annual BURGER KING® Fundraiser Set to Begin Nov. 1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is pleased to announce that for the twelfth consecutive year, participating BURGER KING® franchisees will be raising funds throughout the month of November for the VFW's Unmet Needs program. Patrons are encouraged to donate $1 or more to the program upon checkout. The fundraising campaign officially begins Nov. 1, and last year raised nearly $800,000.

"America's military and veteran families have given so much to our country, and not being able to make their rent or mortgage payment is a stress they shouldn't have," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "Every year, BURGER KING® franchisees and their loyal patrons set the bar of support higher and higher, helping to ensure the VFW can keep meeting the needs of America's service members and veterans and provide them with the support they deserve."

The Unmet Ne...


VFW Continues Its Strong Support of GWOT Memorial

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is proud to continue its support of building a memorial in the nation's capital dedicated to the Global War on Terror.

Michael "Rod" Rodriguez, an Army Special Forces retiree, was recently named President and CEO of the Global War on Terror Memorial Foundation. He visited the VFW Washington Office this week to provide an update on the foundation's progress.

"Building a memorial is a 24-step process," said Rodriguez, who's a life member of the VFW Department of North Carolina. "We are on steps 9 through 12, which is site selection. Site selection involves the foundation itself coming together with a program and going before the various commissions that exist within this area."

Rodriquez says the GWOT Memorial Foundation is trying to raise $50 million for the project, which received the support of President Donald Trump in August 2017 when he signed the VFW-supported Global War on Terrorism Memorial Act into law. It clears the way for...


‘VFW Has Helped Me So Much’

An Army veteran received a $1,500 grant from VFW's Unmet Needs program for living expenses because he is unable to work.

Jesse Thorsen, a member of VFW Post 5789 in Lee's Summit, Mo., served two deployments in Afghanistan. During the first in 2009-10, Thorsen was an infantryman with 2nd Bn., 509th Regt., 25th Inf. Div. He later served as a combat engineer with the 402nd Engineer Company (Sapper) while in Afghanistan in 2012-13.

Thorsen, of Lee's Summit, Mo., said that he suffers from epilepsy and had to separate from the Army after 14 years of service in August 2016. He is rated 70 percent disabled by VA due to his service-connected disabilities. After his discharge, he applied for social security disability due to having seizures.

"Originally, I was denied on my social security disability," Thorsen said. "So I figured I would work to try to make some money for my family."

Working as a bricklayer, Thorsen suffered a seizure on a job site and was unable to keep his job because of the episode.

"I un...


VFW Tops $8.3 Billion in VA Benefits Recoveries for Veterans

WASHINGTON - The Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that more than a half-million veterans represented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. this past fiscal year received in excess of $8.3 billion in VA disability compensation and pension benefits, which far exceeds last year's record recovery of $7.7 billion.

"The VFW advocates for veterans in many ways, from lobbying Congress to create good quality of life legislation for America's veterans, service members and their families and survivors, to helping veterans and transitioning service members receive the VA benefits they earned after they return home wounded, ill or injured," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "For nearly a century - and a full decade before the VA's predecessor organization was created - the VFW has helped veterans understand and file for their government benefits, a service that is needed now just as much as it was then."

The VFW accredits an international network of more than 2,0...


VFW Urges Congress to Hold Oversight Hearings on Forever GI Bill

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is calling on both the Senate and House Committees on Veterans' Affairs to hold oversight hearings on the recent delayed payments of Department of Veterans Affairs educational benefits.

VFW is also urging the Senate to pass the SIT-REP Act of 2018, which would ensure that student veterans cannot be disenrolled from their educational programs due to processing errors by VA.

In a letter sent to the House and Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs chairmen and ranking members, Carlos Fuentes, VFW's director of National Legislative Service, said that in the months preceding the deadline to enact the Forever GI Bill by Aug. 1, "VA officials repeatedly vowed that students and schools would receive payments on time and, while the amounts may not be correct, veterans would not be harmed."

Fuentes also noted that the SIT-REP Act of 2018 was passed unanimously in the House in May, "but lack of Senate action has prevented this ...


‘Veterans’ Needs at Heart’

While unemployed and in the middle of finding new living arrangements, Army veteran Wanda Griffin turned to VFW's Unmet Needs program. 

She came across the program while researching options for assistance and applied for the grant in March. Since receiving the $1,303.65 grant, Griffin has become more financially secure. She also now has the means to secure housing for herself and her son. 

"[The Unmet Needs grant] meant the world to me," Griffin said. "It came at a time in which I was having to move from one place to another while I was unemployed and in need of assistance." 

Unmet Needs, according to Griffin, is significant to the veteran community because it's "designed to help all who have served in their time of need." 

"A lot of times, we don't know what's available to us," Griffin said, "and to have an organization that's real and available saying, ‘Thank you for your service,' ‘What can we do to help you because you served?' is a wonderful and outstanding compliment that goes a long way in our com...


Air Force Veteran Continues to Serve Her Country Through the VFW

Amber Putnam, 59, of Parrish, Fla., has lived her life in service of others. Helping others was instilled in her at a young age.

In her role as a VFW Assistant Department Service Officer, Putnam works tirelessly to help veterans receive the benefits they deserve. 

"I feel like I'm making a difference in veterans' lives by helping them obtain the benefits they earned through their service to our country."

As a veteran, Putnam knows first-hand the struggles and challenges veterans face. Inspired by her grandfather's advice to give back to her country through military service, she joined the United States Air Force. 

For 32 years, Putnam served her country with pride. She was deployed to Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She retired as a senior master sergeant.

Putnam's husband, William, and children, Elaine and Justin, supported her in the transition from military to civilian life. She searched for an opportunity to continue to serve veterans when she retired.

Putn...


Wounded Warrior Project Renews VFW Service Officer Grant

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce that Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has renewed a service officer grant in the amount of $443,145 that will continue to help more transitioning military to receive their earned Department of Veterans Affairs benefits. The grant will be used to support the VFW's Pre-Discharge Claims Program, which has a proven history of providing free and expert VA claims filing assistance on two dozen of America's largest military installations. 
 
To date, WWP has provided grants totaling more than $1.8 million to support VFW's Pre-Discharge Claims Program, an effort that last year enabled the VFW to file nearly 15,000 claims and recover more than $155 million in disability compensation for newly-transitioned veterans. Collectively, VFW's nationwide cadre of 2,100 VA-accredited service officers helped well over 500,000 veterans to secure $8.3 billion in earned benefits in fiscal year 2018. Membership in the VFW is not required to receive its fr...


Michigan VFW Posts Video Game Event Attracts Hundreds

Repetitive keyboard clicks and sudden, synchronized shouts of awe echo through a Michigan VFW Post as video gamers wage war against one another while others, some dressed as characters from gamer culture, gather around a large display monitor to watch the action unfold - all in an effort to raise money for veterans.

More than 250 people converged this summer at VFW Post 4113 in St. Johns, Mich., roughly 25 miles north of Lansing, for its second Combo Con - a two-day fundraiser featuring video game competitions, cosplay (dressing up as characters from popular culture) and special guests from the fighter-game community.It raised more than $2,500 for the Post.

Hunter DeSander, the 25-year-old commander of VFW Post 4113, is the brainchild behind Combo Con. A fan of gaming since his youth, DeSander's passion continued during his military 
service, and he saw that gaming was "still a predominant thing" that brought people together.

While there are similar, nationally recognized events in the state, DeSander sai...


New Chief Vows to ‘Make it Happen’

VFW's newest commander-in-chief is a man who wants to get things done, sooner rather than later. His experiences as an artilleryman in Korea and an undercover police officer in New Mexico, as well as his rapid rise through VFW's ranks, underscore his leadership philosophy.

"I believe in more action and less talk," Lawrence said. "And this all comes back to membership recruiting. We know what the plan is, now we have to execute it. That's why I chose ‘Make it Happen' as my slogan."

To attract veterans of the post-9/11 generation, Lawrence said VFW members must do a better job of spreading the message about the organization's reasons for existing.

"We've come a long way on reaching those vets," he said. "What we need to do better is simply tell our story about the wonderful things we do for veterans and our communities. Young vets are interested in participating in projects where they believe they are making a difference."

Lawrence said being a veteran who came of age in the 1980s puts him in a unique posi...


Help a Veteran Go Back to School When You Get a Haircut at Sport Clips

Sport Clips on White

 

GEORGETOWN, Texas - Sport Clips Haircuts' annual "Help A Hero" scholarship campaign starts today, and you can be a part of the mission to help service members and veterans take the next step toward civilian careers through education. Today through Veterans Day, November 11, you can "Help A Hero" when you get a haircut at one of the almost 1,800 Sport Clips locations across the U.S. The goal this year is to raise $1.5 million toward scholarships through the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW)-administered program.

Control Diabetes While Controlling Costs

Controlling the "ABCs of diabetes"  -- A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol levels -- is difficult enough, but when you add that second C - costly medications - it's easy to see how one's levels can spiral out of control quickly.

According to the American Diabetes Association, for the 30 million people living with diabetes in the U.S., health care costs are more than double (2.3 times) the costs of those without diabetes. This is due to the ever-increasing costs of medications to treat diabetes and the chronic conditions that often accompany the disease, namely high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In fact, between 2002 and 2013, the cost of insulin has tripled, and newer cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering medication costs are also on the rise.

Now consider that in the U.S., more than 2 million children and adults living with diabetes do not have access to health insurance, and millions more are in high-deductible plans that can require high out-of-pocket costs.

Lack of access to diabetes medications c...


Searching for Sunday

Bob Martin recalls vivid details of the day he found Roberta Sunday 48 years ago this month. It was a typical, hot and humid August day in Vietnam's Quang Tri province. A sergeant with C Troop, 3rd Sqdn., 17th Air Cav, Martin was leading a platoon to search an enemy bunker complex that had just been pummeled with U.S. bombs.

"It was our job to provide a damage assessment after the strikes," said Martin, now commander of VFW Post 889 in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. "There were a lot of dead bodies. In one bunker, I found two dead NVA men and one woman dressed all in black. I imagine she had been supporting them."

As Martin turned to leave the bunker, he heard a faint sound, almost like a cough. He thought perhaps it was the sound of a rat because it wasn't coming from the people who were "obviously" dead. After hearing it again, he searched the bunker and discovered a naked baby girl under the woman's body.

"I thought, ‘Oh my God, now what? I can't just leave her here,'" Martin recalled. "I wrapped her in one of the e...


Easy Tips to Save Money on Health Care

As Americans work hard to meet all the obligations that come with work, family and everyday life, many are challenged to find time to manage all the financial elements affecting their health care.

The details associated with health care insurance can be confusing. At the same time, you want to make smart decisions about the quality health care you and your family need.

Out-of-pocket health care spending rose by more than 50 percent between 2010 and 2017, The Atlantic recently reported, partly because half of all health insurance policyholders in the U.S. are dealing with annual deductibles of at least $1,000.

Whether you're uninsured or simply facing a high insurance deductible, you can take several steps to better manage your health care budget. Consider how the following money-saving tips can help control the rising costs of health care.

  • Read bills with a critical eye. Any bill can include administrative errors, and some estimates have indicated errors on as many as 80 percen...


VFW Patriotic Competition Deadlines Approaching

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For more than 70 years, encouraging patriotism within our nation's classrooms has been a principle of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., but time is running out for this year's annual student scholarship award competitions and teacher recognition programs.

Students, teachers and VFW Posts only have until Oct. 31 to submit their entries and nominations for the popular Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen youth scholarships, and the Teacher of the Year award.

As one of the top student patriotic essay competitions in the nation, nearly 40,000 high school students compete for their chance to win a $30,000 college scholarship. This year's participants are faced with the challenging theme, "Why My Vote Matters."

With the chance to win a slice of more than $54,000 in Patriot's Pen national awards, this year's sixth through eighth-grade students must...


Delayed Housing Payments Impacting 180,000 Student Veterans

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is urging tens of thousands of student veterans to immediately contact the Department of Veterans Affairs at 888-GIBILL-1 (or 888-442-4551) if they are facing a financial hardship due to delayed VA housing payments.

The VA said that as many as 180,000 student veterans housing payments were delayed this month in part due to computer updates to reflect benefit changes through the Forever GI Bill. Until the problem is fixed, VA is requiring benefits processors to work overtime and weekends, while many student veterans may be forced to raid their individual savings accounts or borrow money from their families to hopefully avoid late fees, ruined credit ratings or eviction.

"The VA reports that education claims will be processed immediately, as will disbursements, but if student veterans do not achieve resolution within three business days, I urge them to contact the VFW through our VFW Grant Provides Food for Veteran Without Groceries

Veteran Tonya Palmer of Mechanicsville, Va., was getting used to not having enough food to eat. On the day she applied for the VFW's Unmet Needs grant, she was down to a few slices of cheese.

Palmer joined the Army at 33 years old, just after the September 11, 2001 attacks. After completing basic training in Ft. Jackson, S.C., she moved on to Georgia to learn satellite maintenance and control. Soon after, Palmer was injured during training. She suffered physically and emotionally after breaking both her legs, damaging her lower back and developing Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).

"I have suppressed much of that time. But now, 15 years later, I still suffer every day. It affects every aspect of my life. I joined to protect my family and country, and when I left the military I was a private first class," Palmer said. 

Even with her 100% rating for service-connected disability, the loss of pay after being laid off in 2016 made it impossible for her and her fiancé to keep up their finances.

Palmer couldn't buy g...


‘Thank God I Was Blown Up’

Two moments stand out for former Army Spc. Justin Lane when he recalls his deployment to Afghanistan - one he'll never forget and one he'll never remember. 

Always happy-go-lucky with an air of optimism, Lane's attitude became jaded and vengeful when on March 26, 2011, his brother in arms, and friend from his hometown, Army Cpl. Justin Ross, was killed in Afghanistan. Less than four months later, on July 2, 2011, Spc. Lane was in a vehicle that hit an improvised explosive device (IED). It nearly ended his life. 

Lane vowed to return one day and leave Afghanistan on his terms. In April, he got that opportunity. Another wounded combat veteran introduced Lane to an organization called Feherty's Troops First Foundation. The Laurel, Md.-based nonprofit supports "wellness, quality-of-life and event-based initiatives" for troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to its website.

Through its program, Operation Proper Exit, Troops First gives wounded veterans the opportunity to return to Afghanistan or Iraq and ...


‘Phenomenal’ Dinners Accelerate the Healing Process

During a cool March evening at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., service members and veterans were able to take a break. They were laughing, relaxing and, even for a couple of hours, not thinking about the treatment they were receiving at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Md.

Since 2003, wounded warriors from Walter Reed have gathered for the Aleethia Foundation's Friday Night Dinners. Foundation founder and executive director Hal Koster, a life member of VFW Post 2562 in Silver Spring, Md., said these dinners are an important part of the healing process.

"In the beginning, we saw mostly combat injured service members at the dinner," said Koster, a Vietnam War Army veteran who served as a helicopter door gunner with the 174th Assault Helicopter Company. "We have now transitioned into providing a night away from the hospital to patients who have cancer, [traumatic brain injuries] and other illnesses."

GETTING AWAY TO ‘FEEL HUMAN AGAIN'
Retired Mari...


VFW Scholarship Ignites a Passion in Veteran

"I want to thank everyone at the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Sport Clips for giving me the opportunity for a second chance at an education," said VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" recipient Nikolay Maltsev. 

The first time Maltsev attended college, he quickly realized he wasn't prepared for this life change without real-world experience.

"I went to the Army recruiter and decided to get some hands-on training as a wheeled vehicle mechanic to get another view of the world. I spent time in South Korea, Fort Riley and Kuwait."

While serving active duty in Kuwait, Maltsev began planning ahead for future educational opportunities and searching for financial aid. He stumbled upon the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" and filled out an application.

Maltsev is thankful for the second opportunity to pursue a degree in economics at the State University of New York at Albany.

"My passion has been ignited to study economics … in my opinion it is the best way to learn how the world works t...


VFW, HonorBound Foundation Team Up to Help More Veterans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - HonorBound Foundation has awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. a $55,263 grant to help offset a larger initiative that will begin equipping VFW Service Officers with new laptops and tablets so that they can more efficiently and effectively help more veterans to file disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VFW has nearly 2,000 VA-accredited service officers across America and abroad. In 2017, more than a half-million veterans represented by the VFW received $7.7 billion in benefits from the VA, to include $1.2 billion in new benefit awards. VFW Service Officers are stationed at every VA Regional Office and on two dozen military installations to help transitioning service members to complete and file their claims, but despite being seemingly everywhere, there are still veterans residing elsewhere who are need of the professional - and free - services the VFW ...


Simple Ways to Save on Your Pet's Medical Costs

Pet parents know that there's nothing like the love of furry family members. Keeping your pets healthy is a priority because you want them to live as long as possible. However, health care costs for pets are expensive, and if you are dealing with additional expenses such as prescriptions for chronic conditions, it can become a burden to your budget.

Fortunately, there are several things pet owners can do to proactively keep pets healthy and save money on health care costs.

Invest in preventative care
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is just as applicable to pets as it is to their human caregivers. One of the most important things a pet parent can do to ensure the ongoing health of any animal is to bring them in for annual checkups whether they are experiencing health issues or not.

During wellness checkups, veterinarians can screen for a variety of health conditions. They provide insight on diseases, age-related concerns, dental health, nutritional considerations and so m...


National News

Important info from National VFW

Veterans Service Organizations Issue The Independent Budget Policy Agenda for 116th Congress

WASHINGTON — Today, DAV, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States released

Action Alert: Tell Congress to Pass Blue Water Navy Legislation Now!

The VFW is urging its members and supporters to tell Congress to pass Blue Water Navy legislation now!

This past year, Congress failed to pa...

Announcements

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