Our Mission & Vision
To foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. To serve our veterans, the military, and our communities. To advocate on behalf of all veterans.
Ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country.
Our Core Values
Always put the interests of our members first
Treat donors as partners in our cause
Honor military service
Ensure the care of veterans and their families
Serve our communities
Promote a positive image of the VFW
Respect the diversity of veteran opinions
About the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US
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 nearly 2 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries contribute more than 8.6 million hours of volunteerism in the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week.
From providing over $3 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.
Voice of Democracy
The VFW Voice of Democracy contest provides students in grades 9-12 the opportunity to explore democratic ideals and principles through audio essays. The first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C.
The VFW Patriot's Pen essay contest is for students in grades 6-8 and challenges them to reflect on American history and their own experiences based on a patriotic theme. The first-place winner receives $5,000 and a trip to Washington, D.C.
Teacher of the Year
Each year the VFW recognizes three exceptional teachers - one each from the elementary, junior high and high school levels - for their outstanding commitment to teach Americanism and instill patriotism in their students.
Military Assistance Program
The VFW Military Assistance Program (MAP) is the outstretched hand between the VFW and the local military, offering VFW support around the world.
Through the MAP's Adopt-a-Unit Program, VFW Posts and their Auxiliaries adopt hundreds of military units around the world. Adopt-a-Unit's goal is to develop supportive relationships with units before, during and after deployments to help deliver the vast network of resources the VFW has available to the military.
Posts worldwide host public commemorations and other events on many patriotic days, honoring America's veterans and rich history.
Scout of the Year
Each year the VFW honors three young people - from Boy or Girl Scouts, Sea Scouts or Venturing Crew - who have demonstrated exceptional citizenship in school, scouting and the community. The first-place winner receives $5,000.
VFW in the Classroom
Veterans play an important role in educating our nation's youth about the founding principles upon which America was founded. As combat veterans, VFW members can provide students with insight into the great sacrifices our service members make to maintain freedom for all of us.
Operation Uplink - a calling program for deployed service members that provides free phone time to active-duty military personnel and hospitalized veterans.
Operation Uplink initially provided calling cards to deployed and hospitalized troops, but on Mother's Day in 2006, due to the growing popularity of the program, and thanks to the generosity of corporate donors like Sport Clips Haircuts and Harleysville Insurance, the program began hosting "Free Call Days."
The red poppy is a symbol of war and remembrance, dating back to Canada's Col. John McCrae's poem, "In Flanders Field," which describes blowing red fields of poppies among the graves of the fallen.
For more than 75 years, the VFW's "Buddy"® Poppy program had raised millions of dollars in support of veterans' wellbeing.
The VFW knows how important community service is to America, with volunteerism benefiting education, the environment, health sciences and civic projects.
We work closely with other organizations, such as Boy Scouts of America, Citizen Corps, March of Dimes, and America's Promise-The Alliance for Youth, among others. Each year VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members donate more than 11 million volunteer hours and $50 million to community service projects.