The following is a message from VFW National Commander John W. Stroud

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


MIAs Identified

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:

  • Army Air Force 2nd Lt. Jimmie D. Collins III, 32, from Talladega County, Ala., copilot of a B-24H that was lost over The Netherlands on June 21, 1944. He was assigned to the 446th Bombardment Group, Eighth Air Force, and will be buried with full military honors on a date and location yet to be determined.
  • Army Cpl. Lonald D. Skeens, of Johnson, Ky., was lost Sept. 4, 1950, in South Korea. He was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, and will be buried with full military honors on a date and location yet to be determined.
  • Army Staff Sgt. James L. Van Bendegom, 18, of Kenosha, Wis., was lost July 12, 1967, in South Vietnam, and later died of his wounds in a POW camp. He was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, and will be buried with full military honors on a date and location yet to be determined.


Veterans Day in Washington

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

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.



Get a haircut, Help A Hero during Sport Clips’ scholarships for veterans campaign

Nation’s leader in men’s and boys’ hair care hosts annual fundraiser

SPORTS CLIPWhen 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


VFW Election Day Advice

Remember those who vote for war but not the warrior

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.


The Deadline for VFW’s Youth Scholarship Competitions is Fast Approaching

The Deadline for VFW’s Youth Scholarship Competitions is Fast Approaching

Applications are due November 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.


VFW Celebrates 115 Years of Service

VFW Celebrates 115 Years of Service

From 1899-2014 No One Has Done Does More For Veterans

These men could not have known then what would grow from such humble beginnings.

The simple and selfless desire to care for those who share in the common bond forged by war, laid the foundation for what has grown to become the multifaceted organization that is the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

Arguably the most recognized veterans service organization in America — and certainly the oldest and most accomplished — the VFW has evolved into nothing short of a powerhouse for veterans. It’s the veterans service organization that has positively impacted the life of each American veteran, or at the least, helped to provide them the promise of opportunity and a better future.

Since its inception so long ago, the VFW has been a determined advocate for all veterans, service members and military families. Generations upon generations have joined in its cause, each as steadfast and determined to help fulfill the VFW mission as the last.

Before the VFW came into existence, veterans did not receive health care for wounds received in combat; most of them didn’t receive any treatment for any disease or illness acquired as a result of military service; pre-VFW veterans had no reasonable expectation of receiving compensation of any sort.

The men who founded the VFW challenged the status quo and by doing so, helped shape the future for veterans forever.

It was the VFW that demanded America promise to graciously and appropriately care for those who bear the burden of war and put their lives on the line in defense of our nation and way of life. And throughout the years, it has been the VFW that has remained tenacious and resolute in its fight to ensure that America lives up to that promise.

Over its storied 115 year history, the VFW’s efforts led to the establishment of the Veterans Administration. It helped to create the Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bills. It was a key player in the development of the national cemetery system. It led the fight for compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. It was a powerful force in the passing of a record VA discretionary budget, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, the reinstatement of military Tuition Assistance programs and most recently, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014. These achievements offer merely a glimpse into its long list of legislative accomplishments.

But, the effect the VFW has had on the lives of those who’ve worn the uniform, as well as those of their families, extends far beyond its advocacy efforts. Its programs and services are second to none and have provided a hand up to millions of those who have needed it and deserved it the most. Its service officers have helped hundreds of thousands of veterans recover billions of dollars in benefits and compensation from the VA. It has provided millions of dollars in grants to military families who’ve fallen on hard times, millions of free calls home for deployed and hospitalized veterans, and raised billions of dollars for needy veterans through its “Buddy” Poppy program.

VFW Posts have and continue to act as pillars of support in communities across America and abroad. Posts are often the first to organize and offer aid or assistance to local veterans and military families in need. They are the patriotic pulse of local communities, working to foster patriotism in our nation’s youth, inciting good citizenship, erecting memorials, maintaining cemeteries, organizing community events and donating millions of volunteer service hours within their communities each year.

Though much has changed over the years, today’s VFW operates by the same creed upon which it was formed back in 1899. It exists only to care for those who fight to ensure America remains a nation free from tyranny and fear. It’s an organization that was created by veterans, for veterans, and owes all that it has accomplished over its many years to its members; the lifeblood of the organization.

No one has, does or will do more for veterans.


VA Updates Disability Claims Application


September 24, 2014

 New Process Will Reduce Processing Times and Improve Quality

 The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it is introducing a uniformed disability claims form to better serve Veterans, families and survivors. Standardizing the process by which Veterans file claims and initiate appeals will make it easier for Veterans and their survivors to clearly state what benefits they are seeking from VA and provide information that is necessary to process their claims and appeals. The new forms eliminate applicant guesswork, which often leads to delays in decisions and ultimately delays in receiving benefits. The new regulations go into effect in late March 2015.

“We must do everything that we can to make it as fast and easy as possible for Veterans and their survivors to file for and receive an accurate decision on their claim,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald. “Our Veterans and survivors will know, at the outset of the claims process, what is needed, which removes subjective interpretation from the process. We want to eliminate any barriers that make it difficult for our Veterans or survivors to receive benefits to which they are entitled.”

In the past, a Veteran or survivor did not have to use a certain form to seek compensation or other benefits from VA.  Claims or appeals (Notice of Disagreement) could be submitted on any piece of paper which caused delays due to missing information.

By using standard forms for all disability claims, VA can more quickly and accurately identify what the Veteran is claiming or appealing. This will allow VA to immediately move on to next steps in the evidence-gathering and decision-making process, which saves administrative processing time and speeds the delivery of earned benefits.  The existing process is also inconsistent with most, if not all, other government and non-government application processes, such as applying for social security, applying for a driver’s license, applying for a job or filing for an income tax refund.

“These days, government agencies and private businesses rely on standard forms to deliver faster and more accurate customer service,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey.  “VA’s ability to deliver better customer service requires the use of standard forms as well. That is why we worked extensively with our partners in the Veterans community to streamline the way we process claims while  preserving the effective date rules concerning informal claims through the creation of a new intent to file a claim process.”

The updated process also includes standardizing the traditional informal claims process by employing a new “Intent to File a Claim” process which affords the Veteran or survivor one year to compile the necessary documentation or evidence to support the claim while preserving an effective date of claim.

More information about VA Forms 21-526EZ, 21-527EZ, 21-534EZ or VA Form 21-0958, Notice of Disagreement, may be found at or


New Message from Commander-in-Chief and Ladies Auxiliary President

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