VFW Post 4572 - Wetumpka, Alabama

History

The VFW became a government-chartered non-profit organization by an act of the United States Congress on May 28, 1936; as such, it receives no funding from United States tax receipts and is supported by charitable donations.  The first VFW (then known as the American Veterans of Foreign Service) was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1899 and officially "VFW Post 1, John S. Stewart Post".  There are two other Posts which try to claim being Post 1, however the VFW National organization recognizes VFW Post 1 in Denver, CO as the first VFW Post.

The VFW name was created on September 17, 1914 at a conference at the Schenley Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from the merger of two prior veterans organizations which both arose in 1899: the American Veterans of Foreign Service and the National Society of the Army of the Philippines.  The former was formed for veterans of the Spanish–American War, while the latter was formed for veterans of the Philippine–American War.

Mission

VFW works on behalf of American veterans by lobbying Congress for better veterans' health care and benefits.  The VFW also maintains a nationwide organization of employees and volunteers to assist veterans with their VA disability claims.

VFW also donates millions of dollars and millions of hours for community service.  One of their most popular programs, Operation Uplink, provides free phone calls to overseas service members.

The current Commander of the VFW is William A. "Bill" Thien.

National Military and National Veterans Service Programs

National Military Services

VFW National Military Services (NMS) promotes positive awareness of the VFW through community involvement, communication tools, and financial support to qualified military service members.  With the variety of support offered, three separate programs were developed under the VFW National Military Services department.  These programs are the Operation Uplink, Military Assistance Program, and Unmet Needs.

Operation Uplink

VFW started Operation Uplink in 1996 to connect deployed and hospitalized service members with their families through free phone calls.  In 2004 VFW began providing Free Call Days twice a month to service members deployed abroad.  Since then Free Call Days have provided service members with more than 4 million free phone calls home.

Military Assistance Program

The Military Assistance Program (MAP) is the VFW's most direct connection between military units and Posts at the local level.  Through MAP Posts have held going away, welcome home events, and unit picnics for numerous military units.  In the last 5 years MAP has helped Posts host more than 1 million service members and their families.  The Adopt-a-Unit program also falls under MAP and connects military units around the world with a local Post that can offer resources and support.

Unmet Needs

VFW Unmet Needs was created in 2004 through a corporate partnership to assist military service members and their families who run into unexpected financial difficulties as a result of deployment or other hardships directly related to military service.  Unmet Needs assists with basic life needs such as: mortgage and rent, home and auto repairs, insurance, utilities, food and clothing.  Unmet Needs helps meet unanticipated financial demands on our service members' families that can't be remedied through existing means and provides our service members with the security of knowing that their families have additional support here at home.  The financial assistance is in the form of up to $2,500 in grants that do not need to be repaid.  All grants are paid directly to the "creditor" (such as the electric company), and not to the individual.  Each case is reviewed individually and acceptance determined by a committee.

National Veterans Services

The National Veterans Services exist to assist veterans in dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs.  This is usually in the form of providing advice and assistance to veterans filing disability claims for pensions, but can also come in the form of advice filing for VA home loans, education benefits, small business loans, or filling out other VA forms.  VFW National Veterans Services can offer guidance to veterans wishing to file their own claims, or full-on support preparing, submitting and tracking the progress of a claim.  VFW Service Officers can also help veterans or surviving spouses resubmit denied claims or file a Notice of Disagreement as well as simply answer questions regarding medical, death/burial and other miscellaneous benefits.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars is, in basic principle, Christian as indicated by the three regular prayers offered at each Post meeting and additional prayers at ceremonies for deceased members.  Additionally, in the initiation ceremony for new members the Bible, which is always on the altar at all meetings, is pointed out to new members by the Post Commander where it is usually stated to be the source of all wisdom and where one can find the rules of comradeship.  The VFW, along with the American Legion, refused to assist pagan families, churches and veterans organizations around the country in their campaign to have the US Department of Veterans Affairs allow the creation of a separate emblem of spirit for use on the headstones of deceased pagan veterans.  Such an emblem of spirit, the Pentacle, was finally approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Community Involvement

Direct community involvement is a VFW priority, extending beyond the realm of veterans helping veterans.

Annually, VFW and the Men's and Ladies Auxiliaries donate more than 13 million volunteer hours of community service.  VFW members mentor youth groups, help in community food kitchens, volunteer in blood drives and visit hospitalized veterans.  Others help veterans file compensation claims.

VFW's Community Service programs are designed to encourage community service and increase civic pride, which ultimately enhances education, improves the environment and ensures the availability of health services for our nations veterans.

VFW's Citizenship Education program is designed to stimulate interest in America's history and traditions and to promote citizenship, civic responsibility and patriotism.

VFW's Youth Scholarship programs provide more than $3.5 million in scholarships to our nation's youth.  They include Voice of Democracy, Patriot's Pen youth essay contest and Scout of the Year.

The VFW's partnership with the Boy Scouts of America includes the sponsoring of more than 1,200 Scouting units with 40,000 members across the nation.

VFW's Safety Program encourages VFW Posts and Auxiliaries to conduct programs in home, auto and bicycle safety, as well as programs dealing with drug awareness and substance abuse.

The VFW National Home for Children is a community development in a family-like environment that is home to orphaned or single parent children of VFW or Ladies Auxiliary members.  The home, which was established in 1925 on 160 acres in Eaton Rapids, Mich., emphasizes the values of education, good work habits and sound moral character.

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