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 has been instrumental in establishing
the Veterans Administration,
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, the VFW won a long-fought victory with the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st Century. This gave expanded
educational benefits to America's active-duty service members. The VFW has also fought for improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.
In 2005 the VFW became the first veterans' organization to contribute the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial which opened in November 2010. The VFW has a legacy of giving going back to the creation of the Women in Military Service Memorial, The World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam War Memorial.
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 for America's veterans.
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