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November 21, 2014
WASHINGTON — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is thanking the 113th Congress for their unanimous support this week to approve a change to the VFW’s congressional charter that was signed 78 years ago by President Franklin D. Roosevelt when the military was comprised almost entirely of men.
The update consists of two wording changes — replacing men with veterans, and widows with surviving spouses — and was supported by two companion bills, S. 2782 and H.R. 5441, which were introduced by Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and House VA Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), respectively.
The change was prompted by VFW Resolution 301 that was passed in July by delegates attending the 115th VFW National Convention in St. Louis.
“We didn’t change our congressional charter to be politically correct,” said VFW National Commander John W. Stroud, “we changed it because being an eligible service member or veteran is what’s important to our great organization, not one’s gender, and changing widows to surviving spouses is more representative of today’s military. The VFW thanks the Senate and House VA Committee chairmen for their sponsorships, and Congress for their unanimous support.”
The bill now heads to the president for his signature.
November 24, 2014
WASHINGTON — The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States issued the following statement regarding Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s announcement to resign after a successor is confirmed.
“Chuck Hagel is a Vietnam veteran, double Purple Heart recipient, and a proud life member of VFW Post 3704 in Columbus, Neb.,” said John W. Stroud, who leads the 1.9 million-member VFW and its Auxiliaries. “We salute his service, his sacrifice, and his personal commitment to keeping America safe, as well as the close, unprecedented working relationship he built between the Pentagon and the VFW. His leadership and his presence will be missed.”
The following is a message from VFW National Commander John W. Stroud
November 06, 2014
I am extremely disturbed by the recurring reports from the field as well as the media’s portrayal of the VFW as an organization that is comprised of old and out of touch veterans who would rather drink in a dimly lit canteen than open their doors to our younger veterans. The VFW’s mission is far too important; our objectives and causes for which we work far too critical; and the current situation of the veteran population far too dire to let the negativity of a few divide us and dilute our efforts. We must empower the younger veterans to be forces of change within our organization while lending them the institutional knowledge to be effective leaders for future generations of veterans.
The fact remains that the stereotypical, dingy, dark and smoke filled VFW Post and canteen do exist, but they have no benefit to our organization, provide no aid to our mission nor to the veterans we strive to help and serve. These Posts are in the minority of our organization, but in order to shift the paradigm we must challenge every member to hold their Post accountable. It’s time for our membership to be emboldened into action and to push their Posts to strive for the high ideals that the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was founded upon.
Accordingly, I am charging my current Department VFW Commanders to be advocates of change and to challenge the officers of the subordinate units within their command to be more than officers — challenge them to be leaders cognizant of the current challenges today’s veterans face. To do this, our VFW Posts must change their operational tactics to better reflect the modern crises younger veterans are facing on their new “battlefield” – the homefront.
For those members and Posts who would rather serve themselves than the countless veterans who are in need, remind them that this organization exists for the benefit of all veterans rather than those of an entitled few. I want to make it clear that I will willingly provide my complete support to any of my Department Commanders who move to shut down any Post, or remove from our leadership rolls, anyone that is not committed to the goals of the organization. They simply don’t belong here. The need is too great for a dynamic and modern VFW that can continue to advocate and respond unhesitatingly to the needs of all veterans in the 21st century and beyond. To do less, would be an unconscionable betrayal of our responsibilities as Americans and as veterans.
John W. Stroud
VFW National Commander
Three MIAs Identified
The Defense POW/MIA Office has announced the identification of three American servicemen who had been missing in action since World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Returned are:
Veterans Day in Washington
Visitors coming to their Nation’s Capital on November 11 will be able to attend many special and free events to celebrate Veterans Day, including formal observances at the World War II Memorial at 9 a.m.; at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns and Memorial Amphitheater at 11 a.m.; at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 1 p.m.; and on the National Mall at 7 p.m. for the Concert for Valor.
Health Care Benefits for Camp Lejeune Veterans and Their Families Starts Today
Beginning today, veterans who were stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for at least 30 days between January 1, 1957, and December 31, 1987, will be able to receive health care for the 15 medical conditions associated with exposure to contaminated drinking water at the Marine Corps base. Eligible veterans may now enroll for VA care and receive treatment for any of the specified conditions without copay. Family members who lived at Camp Lejeune during that time period also may be reimbursed for out-of-pocket medical expenses they incur for care related to the 15 conditions. Family members will continue seeing their community providers, and then apply for VA reimbursement for any costs not covered by their normal health plans. Family members may be reimbursed for expenses incurred on or after March 26, 2013, the day Congress began funding the program. To enroll in VA health care, veterans should contact their local VA facilities. Apply online or dial 1-877-222-8387 for help. Family members may submit applications online or by dialing 1-866-372-1144. For more information about the program and to see the list of conditions and illnesses associated with exposure, click here.
October 13, 2014
When you get a haircut at one of the more than 1,200 Sport Clips across the country, you can “help a hero” at the same time by donating to the company’s Help A Hero program now through November 11, Veterans Day. Over the next four weeks, Sport Clips’ locations nationwide will have a collective goal of raising $600,000 for the company’s annual fundraising program that provides scholarship money to veterans. Since 2007, the company has partnered with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to support service members, and last year, created the “Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship” program to help service members and veterans in the next chapter of their lives. Each scholarship provides up to $5,000 of assistance to service members and veterans who are pursuing an education at post-secondary institutions, including trade schools.
Donations to Help A Hero will be collected in-store and at local fundraising events through November 11. In addition, Sport Clips will hold “The Biggest Haircut Day of the Year” on Veterans Day, when each store will donate a dollar from every haircut service to the VFW-administered scholarship program.
“Sport Clips team members, partners and our clients have already made a positive difference in the lives of more than 130 veterans by helping fund their education through Help A Hero scholarships. We’re hoping to award even more scholarships in the year ahead, and anyone can help — it’s as easy as getting a haircut,” says Sport Clips Founder and CEO Gordon Logan, a U.S. Air Force veteran and lifetime member of the VFW.
“Thousands of U.S. service members returning home from the front lines still face an unstable economy,” says VFW Commander-in-Chief John Stroud, a graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. “Together with Sport Clips, the VFW remains committed to providing our service members and veterans with the tools they need to reach their educational goals and successfully transition back into civilian life. The Help A Hero Scholarship has proven to be vital to those efforts.”
Veteran recipient James Robak says of his Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship, “It will help out immensely since my GI Bill has been exhausted, and I still have a year left in my dietetics program. As a father of four, with ages spanning 14, 8, 7 and nearly 2; a wife that works full-time; and me being a full-time student; this couldn’t have been a bigger blessing. It will really help take the edge off of the financial burden that a higher education carries, along with the benefits for a brighter future.”
Sport Clips is the official haircutter of the VFW, and its Help A Hero campaign is just one of the many ways it supports active-duty military and veterans. To find out more, visit your local Sport Clips or SportClips.com.
WASHINGTON — The House and Senate overwhelming passed an emergency funding package in late July to help the Department of Veterans Affairs overcome its nationwide crisis in care and confidence. H.R. 3230, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, was passed in the House by a vote of 420-5, and in the Senate by 91-3.
With federal midterm elections just weeks away, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States wants America to remember the names of the eight legislators who voted against disabled veterans: Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and Steve Stockman (R-Texas), and Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Not on the Nov. 4 ballot are Kingston and Stockman, Coburn, because he is stepping down, and Corker, whose six-year term doesn’t expire until 2018.
The hypocrisy of the “no” votes, according to VFW National Commander John W. Stroud, is that between 2003 and 2010, five of them voted to approve more than a half trillion dollars in supplemental war funding with little regard to corresponding offsets or spending oversight, yet in July they would vote against $16 billion to improve the care and services the VA provides to wounded, ill and injured veterans. The three not in office at the time of those war funding votes are Crawford, Sanford and Stockman. Sanford, however, was the governor of South Carolina from 2003-2011, a state that experienced tremendous active, Guard and Reserve deployments, as well as combat casualties.
“By voting no, those eight members failed to stand with America’s wounded, ill and injured veterans,” said Stroud, a retired Air Force first sergeant from Hawthorne, Nev. “Failing to support America’s veterans is inexcusable, and I hope every voting constituent in every home district and state remembers that, because the VFW will do our best to remind them,” he said.
“The VFW has a long memory when it comes to remembering those who vote for war but not the warrior, and though we will never tell our members and supporters who to vote for, we will always tell them who in Congress does — or does not — support veterans, service members and their families.”
The 13 members of the House and Senate who were not present to vote on H.R. 3230 — for reasons their constituents should ask — are Reps. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii), Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.), and Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
Along with Kingston and Stockman, Hanabusa will not be on the November ballot, nor will Senator Harkin. The three representatives lost their Senate primary challenges, and Harkin is retiring after serving five terms in office.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The VFW is still accepting entries for the 2014-2015 VFW Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen scholarship competitions. The deadline for student entries in both contests is Nov. 1.
The VFW’s scholarship competitions are dedicated to promoting patriotism among America’s youth. Students are asked to submit an essay in response to a question or statement on a subject that encourages them to consider how democratic ideals and principles apply to their lives. Each year the VFW awards more than $3 million in scholarships and awards to middle and high school students who participate in the two competitions.
This year’s Voice of Democracy theme asks students, “Why Veterans are Important to our Nation’s History and Future.” The Voice of Democracy scholarship competition is an audio-essay competition open to students in grades 9-12. The national winner will receive a $30,000 scholarship. Click here to learn more.
The Patriot’s Pen competition is open to students in grades 6-8. This year, students are asked to reflect on the statement, “Why I Appreciate America’s Veterans.” The national winner will receive a $5,000 award. Click here for the details.
Students should submit their entry (along with a completed entry form) to their participating local VFW Post.