Jorge Velez is awarded 2019 Veteran of the Year.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce it is working to restore the sounds of life for VFW members and their families with significant savings on hearing care through its new relationship with Amplifon Hearing Health Care. This newest member benefit is one of several the VFW has recently rolled out, to help ensure its members have the best access to meaningful savings and benefits.
Currently, one in nine Americans suffer from hearing loss, and veterans are even more likely to experience hearing loss due to their military experience and exposure to situations where noise levels easily exceed the threshold where damage starts.
Amplifon is the nation's largest independent provider of hearing health care solutions with a network of over 5,700 credentialed provider locations nationwide, enabling people to obtain hearing care solutions averaging 62% off retail pricing.
"Hearing plays such a vital role in a person's daily life, and too often veterans suffer in...
WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and Student Veterans of America (SVA) are now accepting applications from student veterans who are interested in participating in the upcoming 2020 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship program. The fellowship, now in its sixth year, will bring up to 10 student veterans - who must be VFW members - to Washington early next March to meet face-to-face with their members of Congress and senior policy makers.
Student veterans interested in applying for the 2020 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship must complete an application package that includes a 1,500-word or less essay that proposes legislative improvements to one of the following four specific veterans' issues:
The essay proposal should include a discussion of w...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - William J. "Doc" Schmitz, of Corning, N.Y., has been elected the new leader of the 1.2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, a congressionally-chartered veterans service organization comprised of eligible veterans and military service members from all five branches of the armed forces.
Schmitz's election to VFW Commander-in-Chief occurred at the conclusion of the organization's 120th national convention in Orlando, Fla,. which drew approximately 10,000 veterans, and military family members.
Each year, VFW members from around the globe representing a myriad of conflicts converge at the event. Their mission during the weeklong convention is to approve new national priorities to guide the organization in its advocacy and business efforts throughout the ensuing year.
Schmitz takes office during a time of great momentum for the organization which recently announced its first increase in membership numbers in 27 years, reached a milestone achievement of more...
KANSAS CITY, Mo.- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie will be joining more than 10,000 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary at the 120th VFW National Convention as it convenes this Saturday through July 24 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. The business sessions are closed to the public, but a free, two-day weekend veterans walk-in claims clinic and four-day health fair are accessible to all veterans, service members and their families in West Hall C-WD1.
"It's been 11 years since our last national convention was held in Orlando, so it is great to be back!" exclaimed VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, of Alamogordo, N.M., "and we are honored to have two cabinet secretaries join us next week, as well as recognize some very deserving individuals with the VFW's highest national awards," he said.
"We hope to hear Secretary Pompeo address issues, challenges and successes as it pertains t...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The 120-year-young Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States just added almost 25,000 members to snap a 27-year decline in membership.
America's largest and oldest war veterans' organization began its new membership year earlier this month with almost 1.165 million members, a million less than its peak in 1992, yet significant nonetheless, according to VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, who attributes the growth to the organization being more visible on the national scene as well as in more than 6,000 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and 11 foreign countries.
"The VFW is making a difference in the lives of countless others every day, and thanks to the power of social media and the internet, more people are taking notice and wanting to be part of our team," said Lawrence.
"The internet allows us to share our story of service to others, and social media allows us to engage not only with our members but with potential members,...
WASHINGTON - In advance of this weekend's start of the 120th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States in Orlando, Fla., the VFW national commander is asking all Vietnam veterans to search through their closets and footlockers for documents that might help Vietnam to determine the fate of an estimated 300,000 missing Vietnamese, and personal effects that might help bring comfort to their families.
"It is important for the Vietnam generation to recognize that the personal connection they have with their memorabilia will not transfer to their descendants, which means such items will either be donated or simply trashed," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "And even though it's been over a half-century for most Vietnam veterans, now is still a great time to help solidify our government's relationship with Vietnam, and to help make a difference in the lives of other families half a world away."
Lawrence said VFW senior leaders have traveled back to Vietnam every year ...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce the selection of the top three winners of its 2018 - 2019 Scout of the Year scholarship competition.
Enacted in 2001, the Scout of the Year competition was designed to reward eligible members of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Venturing Crew or Sea Scouts who have risen above their peers in exemplifying standout citizenship, patriotism and love of country with college scholarships of up to $5,000.
This year's first-place winner, Elizabeth Bock, was sponsored by VFW Post 3208 in Sierra Madre, Calif. She was selected for her activism with local youth and government programs, dedication to serving others and her work advocating for women's issues and gender equality. As the first-place recipient, Elizabeth will receive a $5,000 college scholarship.
Owen Sumter, sponsored by VFW Post 9675 in Bellevue, Neb., was selected as the second-place winner for his notable community service work, his work supporting the homeless com...
WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce the selection of Terry "Mike" Eshenbaugh as the VFW Accredited Service Representative of the Year.
Eshenbaugh, who is employed by the Texas Veterans Commission as the VFW Department of Texas service officer, is an integral part of the VFW's worldwide network of more than 2,100 accredited service officers who last year helped more than 526,000 veterans to recoup $8.3 billion in earned disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Accredited means VA accreditation, which allows VFW Service Officers to assist and file VA claims on behalf of veterans and transitioning service members, as well as to provide representation before the Board of Veterans Appeals if needed. The support is free to all honorably discharged veterans and is a continuation of the VFW's "service to others" mission that the organization began one century ago after returning World War I veterans faced the same government neglect as the VFW's foref...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) is pleased to announce participating BURGER KING® franchisees are set to kick off their summer fundraiser to benefit the VFW's Unmet Needs program.
Starting on July 1, patrons are encouraged to visit any of the nearly 850 participating BURGER KING® restaurants located throughout 31 states and donate $1 or more to the VFW's Unmet Needs program upon checkout. Donations will be accepted until the end of the month.
Established in 2004, the Unmet Needs program assists service members and military families experiencing financial hardship by providing financial assistance grants toward basic life necessities like rent, mortgage and utility payments.
Since 2007, BURGER KING® franchisees and their customers have contributed more than $6 million to Unme...
WASHINGTON - The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is saluting the president for signing the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 into law last night.
"Tens of thousands of Blue Water Navy veterans of the Vietnam War and dependent children born with spina bifida due to a parent's toxic exposure will now benefit from this new law," exclaimed VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, "and the VFW is proud to have helped lead the charge to return these benefits to these deserving veterans and to expand existing benefits to dependent children. We look forward to the Department of Veterans Affairs publishing implementation guidance on their website very soon."
The VFW-championed Blue Water Navy Vietnam ...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision that the World War I memorial in the shape of a 40-foot-tall cross can continue to stand on public land in Maryland. The high court's 7-2 decision in favor of allowing the cross to stand, clarifies the fact that the mere shape of a monument does not create an "Establishment" of religion. Therefore, the nearly 100-year-old memorial will be allowed to stay on public land. The Veterans of Foreign Wars' amicus brief is cited in the opinion.
"The Supreme Court made the right call," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "Today's decision not only protects this memorial outright, but helps to establish a precedent to protect thousands of other veterans' memorials that currently reside on federal, state or municipal land.
"My hat's off to all of the organizations that joined the VFW in filing amicus briefs concerning this case."...
WASHINGTON - The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is urging President Trump to quickly sign into law H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, which the Senate passed this evening by unanimous consent. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the VFW-supported legislation on May 14 by a vote of 410-0.
"We salute the entire 116th Congress for ensuring that taking care of veterans remains the most bipartisan and bicameral issue in Washington," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "We now urge the president to quickly sign the bill into law so that tens of thousands of Vietnam veterans can have their disability benefits restored, and well as an expansion of benefits to military dependents, veterans of the Korean DMZ, and those exposed to toxic hazards in Southwest Asia."
Once signed into law, H.R. 299 will restore VA benefits to thousands of so-called Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who had their disability eligibility taken away in 2002 aft...
NEW YORK - UNTUCKit, one of the fastest-growing retail brands in the United States, announced today the launch of the Chase Elliott Limited-Edition Made in America Shirt to support military service members and veterans. Crafted in North Carolina, the shirt features Chase's No. 9 car mark stitched into the sail of a signature UNTUCKit button-down and will be available beginning today for $109 at UNTUCKit.com/ChaseElliott.
The launch of UNTUCKit's Chase Elliott Limited-Edition Made in America Shirt coincides with the industry-wide launch of the NASCAR Salutes campaign from Memorial Day through Independence Day that honors the fallen, first responders, members of the military, and their families.
In honor of the shirt's launch, UNTUCKit is making a donation to the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" which The Chase Elliott Foundation will match. The Foundation is also making a separate donation to the In...
WASHINGTON - The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is saluting the U.S. House of Representatives for unanimously passing H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.
"The VFW salutes the united support of the entire House," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "Your vote this evening will positively impact thousands of lives, and it once again proves that taking care of veterans and their families is a nonpartisan issue."
The VFW-supported bill now heads to the Senate. Once signed into law, H.R. 299 will restore VA benefits to thousands of so-called Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans who had their disability eligibility taken away in 2002 after regulatory changes. It will also require the VA to contact those veterans who had filed claims that were later denied. Those veterans could be eligible for retroactive benefits.
The legislation will also mark a victory for other veterans and their families who suffer from conditions related to toxi...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce it is again expanding its member benefit offerings by teaming up with Eyemart Express to offer members and their families a 20 percent discount on prescription eyewear including glasses and sunglasses.
For nearly 30 years, Eyemart Express has been offering unique styles and quality frames with its focus on providing affordable, quality prescription eyewear without compromise. As one of the nation's leading optical retailers, it provides shoppers with the fastest production of glasses in the industry with more than 199 stores nationwide, each equipped with in-store labs for the convenience of same-day glasses.
The VFW and Eyemart Express have made it easy for veterans to enhance their vision and their look. VFW members and their families can visi...
WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is saluting the House Veterans Affairs Committee for unanimously passing H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. The VFW-supported bill, which must still be approved by the full House and Senate before going to the president, would restore VA benefits to thousands of Vietnam veterans, expand inclusive dates to those who served along the Korean DMZ, and benefit children born with spina bifida due to a parent's exposure to Agent Orange-related herbicides in Thailand.
"The VFW salutes the bipartisan leadership of House VA Committee Chairman Mark Takano and Ranking Member Phil Roe for leading this bill through committee," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, "and for following through on their commitment to get this bill passed in the new 116th Congress."
Once passed into law, H.R. 299 will restore VA benefits to tens of thousands of so-called Blue Water Navy veterans who had their disability eligi...
OAK BROOK, Ill. - In the true spirit of Memorial Day, Ace Hardware is once again collaborating with the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Ace Hardware is pledging to give out 1 million American flags nationwide on Saturday, May 25. Consumers are encouraged to visit participating Ace stores to receive a free 8" x 12" American flag* on May 25, while a second flag is donated to a local VFW Post to be used for marking and honoring veteran graves this Memorial Day.
"We are proud to again affirm our long-standing commitment to honoring veterans by supporting VFW Posts and local communities," said John Surane, Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer for Ace Hardware. "This Memorial Day, Ace stands with the VFW in honoring the courage of the brave men and women who have sacrificed everything for their country. We applaud the VFW for the incredible support...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliary will be out in force during the week leading up to Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 18, 2019, in effort to show their support and appreciation for BURGER KING® franchisees as part of the VFW's third annual #ThankBK Appreciation event.
Since 2007, BURGER KING® franchisees and their customers have contributed more than $6 million to the VFW Unmet Needs program, providing vital financial assistance to military families who have fallen on hard times as a result of their service. Since the program's inception in 2004, Unmet Needs has provided more than $11 million in financial grants to nearly 10,000 service members, veterans and their families.
VFW members, and their families and friends are encouraged to stop in, purchase a meal and say "thank you" to the franchise owners, managers and BURGER KING® team members for their continued support of the veteran community.
The VFW is als...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The VFW has announced the winners of the 2019 National Publications Contest. Three years ago, the contest changed significantly to encourage more participation. This created two new categories: Best Magazine and Best Feature Article. This year's competition retained those changes.
Two non-VFW-affiliated journalism professionals served as judges for the competition. This is designed to guarantee impartiality and objectivity in the judging. To reiterate, VFW staffers play no part in judging the entries.
The winning publications in each category are:
Texas VFW News
Dan West, Editor
NC VFW The Leader Magazine
Russ Chambers, Editor
Best Feature Article
"VFW Salutes Service of ...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - On Tuesday, May 7, nearly 200 veterans' service officers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. will converge on Valley Forge, Pa., to receive required continuing education in order to provide the best possible service to America's wounded, ill and injured veterans. They will also recognize the VFW's 100th year of support to service-connected disabled veterans.
"When World War I veterans began returning home in 1919, they encountered the same government neglect as VFW's founders did two decades earlier," explained VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "At the VFW's national convention in Providence, R.I., that year, this veterans service directorate, as well as a legislative advocacy directorate, were created so that our nation never again forces the families of wounded, ill or injured veterans to pay for their loved one's rehabilitation," he said. "One century later, VFW's worldwide cadre of 2,100 accredited service officers helped more than 526,000 veterans to recoup $8.3 billion ...
WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is saluting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie for saying during congressional testimony yesterday that he would recommend the Justice Department not contest a recent federal court ruling that will benefit some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans. His support to move forward potentially paves the way for the return of earned disability benefits that regulatory changes arbitrarily stripped away in 2002.
In Procopio v. Wilkie, Secretary Wilkie was sued by Navy veteran Alfred Procopio Jr., who was denied service connection for prostate cancer and diabetes mellitus because he never stepped foot on dry land or served within Vietnam's inland waterways. Procopio, a life me...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce the top three teachers selected in its 2019 Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award contest.
Each year, the VFW names one teacher from the elementary (K-5), middle (6-8) and high school (9-12) levels to receive the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award. Established in 1999, the award recognizes our nation's top teachers for their exceptional commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students by promoting civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism in the classroom. The award is named after former VFW National Commander John Smart and retired VFW Quartermaster General Larry Maher.
Bobbie Schamens, a fourth-grade teacher at Meadowview Intermediate School in Sparta, Wisc., was named the elementary school winner for her efforts in recognizing the service and sacrifice of her hometown's military families. Schamens' personal experience as a military spouse has...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is now accepting entries for its 2019-20 Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen youth scholarship competitions. The announcement comes just two weeks after the VFW's 2019 Legislative Conference concluded in Washington, D.C., where the top national winners were recognized.
Dedicated to encouraging a better understanding and appreciation of America, the VFW's Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen essay competitions help foster patriotism among today's youth. The programs also promote friendly competition and rewards success in the form of some $3 million in scholarships.
This year's theme for both programs challenges students to answer the question, "What Makes America Great?" The Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition is ope...
WASHINGTON - The president's federal spending plan for fiscal year 2020 adds 30,000 more troops and proposes a 3.1-percent military pay raise. It would also increase the Department of Veterans Affairs overall budget by 9.6 percent to $220.2 billion, which would enable the VA to implement the MISSION Act, strengthen mental health access and treatment programs, increase women's health services, boost electronic health record interoperability with the Defense Department, and support a host of legislative initiatives being championed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
"More money isn't always the solution to every problem, but the lack of it weakens every congressional initiative to improve the VA," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, who called the president's budget submission a very good start. "What the VFW now expects from Co...
WASHINGTON - This morning, during testimony before a joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. called for full congressional oversight over the implementation of the VA MISSION Act of 2018.
The organization made clear its dissatisfaction with the Department of Veterans Affairs' implementation thus far, citing arbitrary and misguided decision-making.
With more than 80 percent of VFW members relying on VA health care, and dedicating more than 10 million volunteer hours annually to supporting their fellow veterans at VA medical facilities, the VFW's views were actively solicited while drafting the legislation, but the organization has not been engaged to ensure its efficient implementation.
"Unlike appeals modernization, VA has elected to largely ignore the views of the nation's largest war veterans' organization when drafting rules to implement the VA MISSION Act," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, who leads the more than...
WASHINGTON - Last night the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. proudly presented $209,000 in scholarships and awards as it named the national winners of its annual Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen youth scholarship competitions. The winners were announced during the Parade of Winners ceremony at the 2019 VFW Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
Together, the VFW's Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen scholarship competitions have helped foster patriotism by challenging middle and high school students to examine our nation's history, its democratic processes, and their roll in America's future based on an annual theme.
More than 40,000 high school students addressed this year's "Why My Vote Matters" theme, and last night Christine Troll was named the Voice of Democracy first-place national winner where she received the $30,000 T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship award and delivered ...
WASHINGTON - More than 500 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliary are arriving in the nation's capital this weekend to urge their respective members of Congress to continue improving the programs and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Highlighting the annual legislative conference will be the VFW national commander's testimony before a joint hearing of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs, and the presentation of two VFW national awards: the VFW Congressional Award to Senate VA Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and the VFW News Media Award to Military Times Deputy Editor Leo Shane.
Elected in July 2018 to lead America's largest and oldest major war veterans' organization, VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence is set to pres...
High school students across the country recorded audio-essays on this year's Voice of Democracy theme: "Why My Vote Matters." We've selected one winner from each state to qualify for the grand prize, a $30,000 scholarship to the college or technical school of their choice. Listen to your state winning essay!...
After two tours overseas with the Navy - one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan - former Lt. Vincent Grasso returned to his Long Island suburb, ripped up his front lawn and crafted a self-sustaining,
agricultural ecosystem on his tiny 45-foot-by-100-foot lot. Grasso, the deputy mayor of Valley Stream, N.Y., jokes that his neighbors initially thought he was performing some sort of ritualistic pet burial.
A member of VFW Post 1790 in Valley Stream, Grasso served in Iraq in 2006 as a petty officer 1st class working as an intelligence specialist with SEAL Team 5. In 2013, he deployed to Afghanistan as an intelligence officer with the Special Operations Joint Task Force. Grasso is 5-feet-10-inches of pure, distilled sarcasm. He only revealed his true height after repeatedly insisting he was 6-feet-4, explaining, "I loom large."
It's unclear whether his sense of humor was learned in or was merely strengthened by the Navy. Perhaps it came from his mother, who once joked that she would move to Canada during wartime if she ...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Today, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. proudly presented a $12,000 donation to the Kansas City Warriors, the city's new ice hockey team comprised solely of disabled military veterans.
"We've been headquartered in Kansas City for more than 90 years and are happy to help support a hometown team, especially one that provides such a great opportunity for our local veterans to find healing and camaraderie," said VFW Adjutant General Kevin Jones.
The Kansas City Warriors operates under the mentorship of the Minnesota Warriors, a program that works in conjunction with the USA Disabled Hockey Program and a leader in the disabled veteran's hockey community. The teams use the game of hockey to assist veterans with disabilities in building self-confidence and helping them transition back into a mainstream lifestyle they had prior to their injury.
Participation in the Kansas City Warriors program is open to all injured or disabled veterans with a VA rating of 10 percent or highe...
The McKinney household is a bustling hub of love and activity. Veteran Stormie McKinney of North Carolina and her husband Tyrone, have six children and five dogs. Life has been a mix of happy times and intense trials for McKinney.
Joining the Navy in search of a prosperous career, McKinney achieved the rank of petty officer. However, a terrible sexual assault while she was working in the shipyards in France forever changed her path.
The horrific experience caused McKinney to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress (PTS) and she's now on disability. She was paying the family's bills with her checks and getting by, but the loss of her husband's pay put the family in a desperate situation.
McKinney had enough to pay for household expenses, but there wasn't enough left for things like food or clothes for her children. "I couldn't take care of them on my own. If I paid the bills, I couldn't feed my family," she said.
However, during a conversation with an online veteran community chat group, McKinney found ou...
Andrew Bramsch, 35, of St. Louis, Mo., didn't know what he wanted to do after graduating from high school, but he knew college was not for him. After exploring his options, he felt the military made sense and he enlisted in the Army.
Bramsch served in the Army for almost 11 years in airborne infantry. He was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., and in Vicenza, Italy. He also spent one year in Iraq and one and a half years in Afghanistan before medically retiring as a sergeant.
As fate would have it, events in Bramsch's military career ended up leading him to college after all. He is now finishing a master's degree in transportation and logistics management with American Public University System.
"I started in logistics in the Army after an injury. I was placed in the arms room and helped with supply. I saw there was a lot of planning and preparation in running a company. After that, I enjoyed being behind the scenes," said Bramsch. "I say that working in logistics means that no one knows what I do, but everyone goes ...
WASHINGTON - In advance of the Administration's budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and advance appropriations for FY 2021, the three coauthors of The Independent Budget (IB) - Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., Disabled American Veterans, and Paralyzed Veterans of America - today recommend a total of $103.3 billion to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) begins to fully and faithfully implement the VA MISSION Act of 2018, make needed improvements, and is able to timely deliver benefits and services to ill and injured veterans, their families and survivors. This is the first time the IB's recommended budget has topped the $100 billion mark, and represents a 17 percent increase over current FY 2019 funding.
Implementing the VA MISSION Act this fiscal year will require significantly more resources than have been provided through regular appropriations, and is the main reason why medical care ap...
Joel Capell sat at a book signing for his new memoir when a man came in and offered him a bit of rope. Capell took it, unsure what it meant. The man explained it represented the hope he found in Capell's book.
"No More Hope and No More Rope," said Capell. "That chapter in the book is one of the lowest points of my life."
The two men talked and cried. Capell was amazed. Not only was he there, but he was helping someone else. It was something he never would've imagined himself possible of years earlier. Capell is grateful for the rope thrown to him during a dark time. It came from the assistance navigating the VA he received, and the encouragement to tell his story, from friend and VFW accredited Veteran Service Officer, Zac Miller.
Capell, of Mount Victory, Ohio, joined the Army 23 years ago to pay for school. He spent most of his time in the National Guard as a combat engineer and has served three tours in the Middle East.
For a while, life seemed good. Capell considered himself bright and ready to take ...
In 2014, Feeding America initiated a Hunger in America national study. It showed that one in five households served by the Feeding America network has at least one member that has served or is currently serving in the military.
In Pennsylvania, that number is higher. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank reported that within its 27 county-service territory, 26 percent of all households receiving assistance have at least one member who served in uniform.
To help combat this problem, in 2015, the food bank initiated MilitaryShare, which offers monthly food distributions at VFW and American Legion posts to veterans. VFW Post 1754 in Huntingdon is one such distribution site.
According to Post 1754 member Reeder Swartz, he has about 25 volunteers each month to distribute the food. In two hours' time, some 120 families are served.
Each family receives eggs, milk, two types of meat, 40 pounds of dry goods, 10 pounds of potatoes, apples, onions and whatever fresh fruits and vegetables are in season.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.- The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. has designed a new mobile event app to give attendees the tools needed to make the most out of attending VFW national events.
The new VFW Events app allows for attendees of the VFW's Legislative Conference and National Convention to receive important notifications and reminders throughout the events, gain instant access to the daily agenda, the opportunity to connect with other attendees and more.
The new VFW Events app is available for download at both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store by searching "VFW Events." Users who don't have a smart phone or tablet can also access the app Member Service Center Reps Expect Your Call
The VFW's Member Service Center Director Ken Romine has a simple message to convey: "Call us."
Established in 2017, the Member Service Center does more than people realize, and Romine wants his customer service representatives swamped with telephone calls.
According to Melodi Dailey, one of the service center supervisors, customers don't always know to call the center for orders, even if there happens to be a problem with a past order. All questions about VFW Store orders, including returns and exchanges, should go through the service center.
"We do everything in our power to help," Dailey said. "But if by chance we don't have what they need, we help them by locating it on the computer and supply them with the information they need."
The Member Service Center staff also addresses questions about dues and membership and helps members obtain new membership cards. If a member has misplaced an issue of VFW magazine, calling the service center will guarantee you get the issue in the mail.
The Home Depot has started accepting applications for its 2019 Community Impact Grant. VFW members can receive up to $5,000 to fund repairs or construction projects at their Post building.
While there are no guarantees to being funded, several VFW Posts have been awarded this grant in the past.
Applications are only accepted through Home Depot's online form. Telephone calls, emails or written submissions sent to Home Depot will NOT be accepted, nor will you be able to turn this application in at your local Home Depot store.
New this year, Home Depot now requires a project budget that must be submitted as a Microsoft Excel file. This new requirement is covered in-depth in the guide.
Pay close attention to the Tax ID Instructions. You will use the Employee Identification Number (EIN) of your Post and upload the Post's 501(c)(19) IRS determination letter at the end of the application. If you ca...
John Bradford Yarbrough, Jr., 27, of St. Louis, Mo., has always wanted to serve others, serve his country and find a way to make a difference in the world.
"I had a deep desire to serve after the attacks of September 11. I still remember being in 8th grade in 2005, and a Marine who had gone to my grade school and was on the cover of Time magazine ["Street Fight: Inside the Battle for Fallujah"] came to speak to my class. I wished I could've joined right then," said Yarbrough. "I've always had the view that it's your duty as an American citizen to serve in some capacity. And the military breeds leaders. Joining seemed like the easiest way to forge my own path."
|VFW National Commander Heading to Eastern Europe
WASHINGTON - The national commander of America's largest and oldest major combat veterans' organization heads overseas this weekend to embed with members of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team from Fort Riley, Kan., who recently deployed to Eastern Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
The visit by B.J. Lawrence, national commander of the 1.6 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary, is the final chapter in a three-part story that began with a meeting with senior Army leadership in the Pentagon last fall. A discussion evolved around having the VFW national commander observe a unit undergoing pre-deployment training at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., then marrying up with that unit overseas. Fort Riley's 1st ABCT, part of the 1st Infantry Division, was selected, but since it had already completed NTC, Lawrence viewed similar training by armor ...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - During its recent Military Appreciation Weekend, the Kansas City Mavericks, along with fans, raised an impressive $7,745 for the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), a Kansas City-headquartered nonprofit who specializes in veterans, military and community service programs.
Today, the VFW is proud to announce it will donate those proceeds to the Kansas City Warriors hockey team who took the ice in its first exhibition game last Saturday against the Minnesota Warriors at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.
The Kansas City Warriors is a new organization operating under the mentorship and guidance of the Minnesota Warriors, an established program with 10 years of proven success and a leader in the disabled veteran's hockey community who operates in conjunction with the USA Disabled Hockey Program. Both Warriors teams are comprised of disabled American veterans who find healing through the sport.
"We want to thank all the fans who came out in support of the Mavericks and Warrior...
For the second year in a row, members of VFW Post 1587 in Speedway, Ind., and its Auxiliary walked to raise awareness about the rate of suicide among veterans.
Last year, the Post sponsored its first Walk 22 event and raised $10,000. This year, the event garnered $12,500. The goal for 2019 is $15,000.
According to Post Commander Tim Kanyuh, the money raised was donated to Families First Indiana for its Crisis and Suicide Intervention Hotline. Crisis intervention specialists are available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting CSIS to 839863.
"A lot of us have been touched by someone who has committed suicide," Kanyuh said, referencing a fellow Iraq War veteran. "We just want to see it end and want to do what we can to help."
About 60 people took part in the two-mile walk in September that weaved throughout the streets of Speedway, home to the Indianapolis 500.
Along the way, the walkers stopped at local businesses to drum up donations and let people know why they were walking.
A VFW Post in North Carolina has raised more than $165,000 for autism programs in its community. Post 4066 in Shelby, N.C., donated $58,000 to Cleveland County (N.C.) Schools in June for the district's autism programs.
Funds were raised thought private donations and Post events such as dinners, auctions, poker runs, raffles and yard sales. However, most of the money comes from an annual golf tournament, said Post 4066 Commander Clifford Ramsey.
"A lot of the money comes from community businesses that sponsor the event," the Army veteran said. "We have a lot of folks who get involved in our golf tournaments each year."
Over the past five years, Ramsey said, Post 4066's donations have funded summer camp, scholarships, curricular materials, scholarships, staff training and parent events. He said Post 4066 is aiming to raise $200,000 by the end of April, which is National Autism Awareness Month.
Ramsey, who served with the 52nd Aviation Battalion in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive in 1968, said that he and ...
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a decade-old ruling yesterday that potentially paves the way for the return of earned disability benefits for some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans from the Vietnam War.
The case, Procopio v. Wilkie, was supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and a number of other veterans service organizations and advocates. It had Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie Jr. being sued by Navy veteran and VFW Life member Alfred Procopio Jr., who was denied service connection for prostate cancer and diabetes mellitus because he never stepped foot on dry land or served within Vietnam's inland waterways. Procopio, a Life member of VFW Post 6587 in Spring Lake Park, Minn., was assigned aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which was stationed inside Vietna...
A member of VFW Post 10165 in Diamond Springs, Calif., works for homeless veterans in his community and around the country. He's doing what he can to make sure his fellow brothers and sisters are "good to go."
Tracey DiVita, a Marine Corps veteran who served from 1999 to 2003, got the idea to help homeless veterans when he came across a man living on the streets who asked for money.
"I usually don't carry cash," DiVita said. "But, that day I just so happened to have $10, so I gave it to him."
A couple of days later, he ran into the same man again. This time, DiVita had two bags of cans and bottles for recycling. He offered the man the bags, but the man refused to take them.
"I offered it to him, but he said he had a hernia," DiVita said. "I got so mad because he was just full of it. I watched him swing a black garbage bag over his shoulder. I just thought that his whole life was in that garbage bag."
That gave him, what he said was, a "light bulb moment" - he thought of a "sea bag," or duffle bag....
Iraq War veteran Truong Mai had just started his career while pursuing a Master of Business Administration when he came into financial hardship. And VFW's Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship provided the assistance he needed.
"This scholarship really helped me out in regard to paying for tuition, books and stipends stuff like that," said Mai, who wrote a letter of thanks to Sport Clips CEO Gordon Logan.
Mai served in Iraq from November 2007 to January 2009 with the 3rd Armored Cav. Regt., and in Afghanistan from March 2011 to March 2012 with the 3rd Inf. Div., 497th Movement Control Team. He received $5,000 for the fall 2018 semester. He is studying at Florida State University, and said, the way his admissions process was handled showed that the university cares about its veterans.
"Florida State is one of the most military friendly universities in the United States," Mai said. "I like their value. The president of Florida State also served in the military."
Mai said the military is a "good ground" to be...
Katie Bouchard and 6-year-old daughter, Piper, are getting a little bit better every day.
Katie and veteran Keith Bouchard had been married for over a decade when he took his own life. A family in despair with so many details to handle have managed a lot in the past year. What seemed to be a sudden occurrence had a long, telling trail leading to the loss of their hero.
Iowa native, Keith Bouchard joined the Marines in 1988 at 17 years old with the permission of his mother. In his 10 years, he experienced the Gulf War, deployments to Panama and Okinawa, and cold weather training in Norway. These trips were not without injury. Bouchard broke both legs during a helicopter jump performed in Panama.
Bouchard went on to join the United States Coast Guard after departing from the Marines. In addition to the Panama injury, he had to go through shoulder and back surgery. But, he truly loved the work he did in his 16 years with the Coast Guard before retiring in 2014.
"He was very good at what he did. He was in fe...
VFW Post 1467 in Old Lyme, Conn., has the motto: "No bar, no building; just Good Works!"
According to past Post commander Ed Shyloski, when the Post was chartered in 1993, its members met in the Old Lyme Senior Center and agreed there was no reason for a Post home or bar.
Instead, they decided to put their efforts and funds into serving Old Lyme and surrounding communities.
"As normal practice every year," Shyloski said, "we have sent thousands of dollars to the West Haven VA Hospital, Rocky Hill State VA Hospital Program, West Haven VA Blind Center, Fisher House for West Haven and the Giant Steps Art and Music Therapy Program at West Haven VA Hospital."
Five years ago, an anonymous veteran donated $10,000 to the Post, saying everything he has done in his life was because of his experiences in the military.
That donation started the Post's Vets-In-Need Outreach program. Shyloski said the Post advertised the program in local newspapers to spread the word that the Post was ready to help.
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...
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.