Lawmakers Want Answers that U.S. May Send 14,000 More Troops to Middle East

U.S. airmen finish unloading a baggage truck and begin the process of finding their bags at Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB), Saudi Arabia, on Nov. 26, 2019. The U.S. is partnering with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at PSAB to enhance operational flexibility while maintaining security and stability in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Zakrzewski)

U.S. airmen finish unloading a baggage truck and begin the process of finding their bags at Prince Sultan Air Base (PSAB), Saudi Arabia, on November 26, 2019. The U.S. is partnering with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at PSAB to enhance operational flexibility while maintaining security and stability in the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Zakrzewski)

December 6, 2019 --- | By Oriana Pawlyk


Lawmakers called on Defense Secretary Mark Esper to clarify whether the Pentagon is considering sending as many as 14,000 U.S. troops to counter Iranian threats in the Middle East. A Wall Street Journal report, published Wednesday, said the Defense Department is weighing an increase in force posture, but Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah tweeted that the article was inaccurate.


"To be clear, the reporting is wrong," Farah said. "The U.S. is not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East." But lawmakers want to be sure. During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday, Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Josh Hawley of Missouri repeatedly grilled Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood about the news report.


Related: Thousands More Troops Deploying to Saudi Arabia as Iran Threatens


"Are you considering sending more troops to the Middle East?" Blackburn asked. "We're concerned about the threats that we're seeing," Rood said, adding that Pentagon officials plan to brief lawmakers next week in a closed-door session about Iran's activities in the region. When again pressed by Blackburn on whether the Pentagon is considering sending additional troops, Rood responded: "Yes."


"Is 14,000 the correct number or is there a lesser number?" she asked. "Esper has not made any decisions," Rood said. "He continues to evaluate with the advice of others what the appropriate number of forces to be deployed to the Middle East is. … Based on what we're seeing with ... the threat picture, it is possible we would need to adjust our force posture." However, Hawley was dissatisfied with the answer, asking for a yes or no response.


Rood reiterated that the Pentagon has not made a decision and frequently reassesses troop numbers. But Hawley defended The Wall Street Journal report, saying it is clear the Pentagon is considering the action. "What you're telling me now is that Farah misspoke," Hawley said. "I think at this point it would be helpful to hear from Esper on this issue, and I'd like to hear from him today on this issue."


He added, "Some clarification is in order, and I'd like to have it in public, because now the Pentagon has made multiple, public contradictory statements." The point of contention lies with how many troops are needed to deter Iran's antagonistic actions in the Middle East at a time when DoD officials have made clear that the Pentagon's focus should turn to aggressors such as Russia in China, as part of the National Defense Strategy (NDS). Trump has said his administration's vision is to reduce the U.S. troop presence in the Middle East, especially in Afghanistan, focusing instead on counterterrorism and peace negotiations with a smaller footprint in the region.


Since May, roughly 14,000 troops have deployed for the counter-Iran mission. "We've heard a lot from Pentagon leaders about prioritizing China and Russia," Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, said in a statement Thursday. "But with 14,000 troops deployed to the Middle East since May, we must ask if the urgent is once again outweighing the important. I'd like to hear from the department about how it is prioritizing China and Russia in new ways since the NDS came out. I'd also like to hear more about achieving a 'more resource-sustainable approach' in the Middle East as called for in the NDS."


The Trump administration announced May 5, 2019 that it was sending the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and a B-52 Stratofortress bomber task force to the region as part of a force buildup. Since then, U.S. troops have reopened the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia's east central desert, which had been in disuse since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.


In October 2019, Esper announced that the DoD would begin another increased rotation, sending 2 fighter squadrons, an Air Expeditionary Wing, 2 Patriot missile batteries, and 1 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, known as THAAD, to act as a force stabilizer -- bringing the number of additional troops who have had deployments authorized or extended since September to 3,000.


During an October 11, 2019 press briefing, Esper stressed that there were additional military units on alert ready for these regional missions "if necessary." This is "to send a message to the Iranians, 'Do not strike another sovereign state, do not threaten American interests, American forces,' or we will respond," he said. "Do not mistake our restraint for weakness. If you will, you will regret that," Esper added. Following the hearing, Farah issued a new statement regarding the potential deployment.


"As discussed in the hearing today, we are constantly evaluating the threat situation around the world and considering our options,” Farah said. "We adjust our force posture and troop levels based on adversary action and the dynamic security situation. "Secretary Esper spoke to Chairman Inhofe this morning and reaffirmed that we are not considering sending 14,000 additional troops to the Middle East at this time," she added. 





Navy Changes Tour Lengths for 50,000 Sailors and Boosts Reenlistment Bonuses

Sailors man the rails


Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Gridley (DDG 101) man the rails as the ship prepares to moor pier side in New York as part of a scheduled visit on August 30, 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cameron Stoner)

December 4, 2019 --- Stars and Stripes | By Joshua Karsten


MANAMA, Bahrain -- More than 50,000 sailors will see changes in their planned sea and shore tour lengths, the Navy announced an updated policy that will affect more than half of all job fields. The changes to the Sea Shore Flow policy, announced in an administrative message, will affect 47 ratings: 20 will have longer sea tours, 22 will see shorter sea tours and seven will have longer shore tours.


"This was a necessary adjustment to ensure that we have the right people in the right billets to maintain our operational readiness across the fleet," Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Admiral John B. Nowell Jr. said in a statement. The Sea Shore Flow system maps out a path to balance each sailor's time on land and at sea over the course of a hypothetical 30-year career.


Related: Navy Awards Massive $22.2 Billion Contract for 9 New Attack Submarines


Factors that impacted the changes to tour lengths included initial training, available duty billets and retention, the Navy said. Minemen will serve on a ship for an extra year during their first sea tour, the largest average increase among all ratings; however, they'll serve 6 months less of their third projected sea tour. Machinist's mates will see a 12-month average increase on their second sea tour.


Fire controlmen will have less sea duty across their careers, with decreases between nine and 12 months during each of their first four sea tours. Mass communications and religious program specialists will each be spending, on average, an extra year in their first 3 shore duties. The new policy will not affect sailors within 12 months of their next rotation date, but those who fall outside that window will have their tour dates adjusted in their records, the announcement said.


In a separate announcement released Monday, the Navy said it will be adding more than 60 select reenlistment bonuses for critical billets, ranging from $30,000 to $100,000, to try to keep talented sailors in the service. The special warfare ratings, including SEALs, and nuclear-trained ratings are receiving the biggest offers.


The bonus announcement also highlighted an expansion of the Pay for Performance pilot program for seven engineering ratings, helicopter crewmen and submarine culinary specialists. The administrative messages announcing the tour changes and new bonuses are available at the Navy Personnel Command website.





U.S. Military Bold Statement in First-of-its-Kind Exercise with India  

U.S. Marines and Indian soldiers prepare to depart Kakinada, India at the conclusion of exercise Tiger TRIUMPH, Nov. 21, 2019. During Tiger TRIUMPH, U.S. and Indian forces conducted valuable training in humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations by inserting a joint and combined Indian and U.S. force from ship-to-shore in response to a hypothetical natural disaster. While on shore, the forces conducted limited patrolling, moved simulated victims to medical care and produced and distributed drinking

U.S. Marines and Indian soldiers prepare to depart Kakinada, India at the conclusion of exercise Tiger TRIUMPH, November 21, 2019. During Tiger TRIUMPH, U.S. and Indian forces conducted valuable training in humanitarian assistance disaster relief operations by inserting a joint and combined Indian and U.S. force from ship-to-shore in response to a hypothetical natural disaster. While on shore, the forces conducted limited patrolling, moved simulated victims to medical care and produced and distributed drinking water. Military exercises like Tiger TRIUMPH improve partnership, readiness and cooperation. (Tori Sharpe/U.S. Marine Corps)


December 2, 2019 --- | By Gina Harkins


A new milestone was reached last week in the growing U.S.-India partnership when nearly 2,000 troops from the 2 countries completed a military exercise in the Bay of Bengal. About 500 Marines and sailors aboard the dock landing ship Germantown joined roughly 1,200 Indian troops for Exercise Tiger Triumph. It was the first time all of India's military services, including the army, navy and air force, participated in a training exercise with U.S. troops.


The 9-day exercise ended on November 21, 2019. The U.S. and India signed a defense agreement last year. Then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said at the time the 2 countries would "work together for a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific." Military leaders and defense experts have stressed the importance of a strong partnership between the U.S. and India as China's influence in the Asia-Pacific region expands. A January 2019 Pentagon news release calls the U.S.-India defense relationship "indispensable in promoting peace, prosperity and stability in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean region." The U.S. declared India a major defense partner in 2016.


Related: Admiral: Don't Sanction India for Buying Russian 'F-35 Killer' Missiles


During Tiger Triumph, U.S. troops sailed aboard Indian ships and Indian troops on the Georgetown to "gain exposure to their partners' naval capabilities," according to a U.S. Marine Corps video on the exercise. The ships sailed from Visakhapatnam along India's east coast about 100 miles south to Kakinada. An Indian UH-3H Sea King helicopter landed aboard the USS Germantown during the exercise, and there was live-fire training on the ship. The troops also practiced moving ashore to respond to a humanitarian crisis. President Donald Trump spoke about the exercise during a September rally in Houston where he appeared alongside India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.


The event was billed as "Howdy, Modi: Shared Dreams, Bright Futures." "In November, the United States and India will demonstrate a dramatic progress of our defense relationship, holding the first-ever tri-service military exercise between our nations," Trump said. "It's called 'Tiger Triumph.' Good name. ... We honor all of the brave American and Indian military service members who work together to safeguard our freedom."


While many see a U.S.-India partnership as a vital step in countering China, the relationship has been complicated when the country decided to move forward with a decision to purchase S-400 Triumf anti-air missiles, which Moscow bills as "F-35 killers." But last year, Admiral Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, warned Congress against the U.S. sanctioning India over the move, saying the partnership between the 2 countries to counter China should take precedence.


"If the United States decides to sanction these partner nations for their purchases of Russian equipment, this decision may hinder the growth of each developing partnership and increase each partner's dependence on Russia," Davidson told lawmakers. Last year, Mattis announced that U.S. Pacific Command was being renamed INDO-PACOM "in recognition of the increasing connectivity between the Indian and Pacific oceans." As Reuters noted, the move was seen as a symbolic nod to India and its growing importance to the Pentagon.





Navy Secretary Ousted Over Handling of SEAL's Trident Dispute  

FILE - In this July 12, 2018 file photo, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer delivers a speech during a re-dedication ceremony for the USS John S. McCain at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

July 12, 2018 file photo, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer delivers a speech during a re-dedication ceremony for the USS John S. McCain at the U.S. Naval base in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)


November 25, 2019 --- | By Hope Hodge Seck


The Secretary of Defense (Esper) is stepping into the commotion over disgraced Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, asking for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over the matter and directing that Gallagher keep his trident, the Pentagon announced late Sunday night. Esper lost trust and confidence in Spencer, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman said in a statement, "regarding his lack of candor over conversations with the White House" concerning Gallagher.


Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Spencer and Rear Admiral Collin Green, the head of Navy special operations, had said they'd resign or be fired rather than comply with an informal directive from President Donald Trump, via tweet, to end efforts to strip Gallagher of his trident pin. Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia Saturday, Spencer categorically denied that he'd threatened to resign.


Gallagher was acquitted in July of stabbing to death an ISIS prisoner of war in Mosul, Iraq, but found guilty of inappropriately taking a photograph with a corpse and demoted to Petty Officer 1st Class. Earlier this month, Trump moved to grant clemency to two soldiers in war crimes cases and restore Gallagher's rank to Chief Petty Officer.


According to the new statement, Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley met with Trump on Friday over the Gallagher case. Following that meeting, Esper "learned that Secretary Spencer had previously and privately proposed to the White House - contrary to Spencer's public position - to restore Gallagher's rank and allow him to retire with his Trident pin," Hoffman said in the Pentagon statement.


Despite that, according to the statement, Spencer never told Esper of this proposal. "I am deeply troubled by this conduct shown by a senior DOD official," Esper said in the statement. "Unfortunately, as a result I have determined that Secretary Spencer no longer has my confidence to continue in his position. I wish Richard well."


A spokeswoman for the office of the Secretary of the Navy referred all comment to the office of the Secretary of Defense. In a resignation letter first published by CNN, Spencer described his departure as the result of a stand on principle. While the Pentagon's statement alleged Spencer secretly had offered to deal with Trump over Gallagher, Spencer's letter implied he'd refused to follow Trump's order regarding the SEAL in favor of letting justice play out.


"I have striven to ensure our proceedings are fair, transparent and consistent, from the newest recruit to the Flag and General Officer level," Spencer wrote. "Unfortunately, it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the Commander in Chief who appointed me, in regard to the key principle of good order and discipline.


I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violated the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith to support and defend the Constitution of the United States." An hour after the Pentagon issued its statement, Trump responded in a series of tweets with his own, different perspective on the matter, saying Spencer was "terminated" amid the president's displeasure not only with the handling of the Gallagher trial but with "large cost overruns from past administration's contracting procedures."


This is an apparent reference to Spencer's oversight of the technology on the Gerald R. Ford, the first in the Navy's newest class of carriers. Earlier this year, Spencer testified that he'd made a deal that Trump could fire him if the Ford's weapons elevators weren't fully working by the end of the summer. When that deadline passed without a full complement of working elevators, Spencer said he planned to remain in the job, attributing delays to the shipbuilder.


Esper has directed that Gallagher retain his trident "given the events of the last few days," according to the Pentagon's statement, and plans to meet on Monday with Thomas Modly, former Navy Under Secretary and now acting Secretary, and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday. Esper is proposing that Kenneth Braithwaite, the U.S. Ambassador to Norway and a retired rear admiral in the Navy reserve, be the next secretary of the Navy, according to the statement.


In his tweet series, Trump endorsed the proposal. "Admiral and now Ambassador to Norway Ken Braithwaite will be nominated by me to be the new Secretary of the Navy," he tweeted. "A man of great achievement and success, I know Ken will do an outstanding job!" Spencer, a career investment banker and former Marine Corps aviator, became Navy secretary in August 2017.






These Are This Year's Best Jobs for Veterans

Veterans meet with small business representatives.


Hundreds of representatives from businesses small and large attend the 2019 Small Business Forum in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL., October 24, 2019. (U.S. Army/Catherine Carroll)


November 5, 2019 --- | By Richard Sisk


Jobs in health care topped the list of the 10 best career employment opportunities for the estimated 250,000 service members who transition out of the military each year, according to a survey released by Navy Federal Credit Union, in partnership with the nonprofit Hire Heroes USA.


In line with numerous studies by the government and other organizations, the Best Careers After Service survey of veterans who were already employed found that many transitioning service members leave their first job within a year. It added that its top 10 list of jobs offered the chance for lasting employment.


Careers for Veterans You can find your niche from entry level all the way to management. Join our team to move your career forward at Penske

"As we started researching Best Careers After Service, we discovered that factors like the overall mission of the organization and a support structure for veterans are often just as important as compensation and benefits," said Jaspreet Chawla, vice president of membership with Navy Federal Credit Union.


Related: The Veteran Jobless Rate Just Dropped Again


"With nearly half of U.S. veterans leaving their first civilian job within a year, it's important for transitioning service members to reflect on what motivates them and to know which industries offer opportunities that align with their personal career drivers," Chawla said.


The top 10 career paths identified by the survey include:

·       Health care

·       Government/Public Administration

·       Defense Contracting

·       Information Technology

·       Financial Services

·       Education

·       Law Enforcement

·       Retail

·       Manufacturing

·       Transportation/Warehousing


The Best Careers After Service study was fielded online among 1,001 veterans between August 29 and September 10, 2019. All veterans who participated were employed full-time or part-time, self-employed or working as an independent contractor. According to the survey, the competitive salaries in health care and the match with military experience put the health care category at the top of the list.


"Two other benefits that stood out were the strong sense of community and teamwork within the health care industry and its opportunities to help people," the survey states. Among the most popular career paths in health care are hospital operations and logistics, registered nurse, medical research and administration, it adds.


Although ranked No. 7, "law enforcement is one of the industries most suited for, and comparable to, military experience and skills," the survey found. "It's particularly popular among those living in the western U.S. and those who transitioned in 2001 or later." The most popular career paths in law enforcement identified by the survey include police officer, crime scene Investigator, emergency dispatcher and corrections officer.




Army Retention Bonuses

Army Retention Bonuses now up to $52,000

Cyber Command

The U.S. military has discovered that our country is under attack from Cyberspace.

VFW Celebrates the Service, Sacrifice of All Veterans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - To the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Monday, November 11 means, and always will mean, more to the more than 1.6 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary.

Veterans Day is a day of deep significance and it provides every American with the unique opportunity to not only keep alive the memories and accomplishments of every man and woman who has answered when their nation called, but to truly appreciate and understand the service and sacrifices our veterans and their families have made, and continue to make every day.

Originally established in 1919 to honor our nation's fallen World War I veterans, today Veterans Day now means honoring all who have bravely fought to preserve the freedoms and way of life we frequently take for granted.

Our nation is like no other in history, founded not on tribalism or classism, but on the rare and unique opportunity to disagree, and to worship, express oneself and live without fear of reprisal of unjust incarceration or execution. However, this fr...

VFW Witnesses Landmark Presidential Signing of the POW MIA Flag Act

WASHINGTON - Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) stood in solidarity with fellow members of the Veterans Service Organization (VSO) community as President Donald Trump signed the National POW/MIA Flag Act into law today.

"This is a historic victory for every man and woman who courageously defended this nation and remain unaccounted for," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "Today's presidential signing and the daily display of the POW/MIA flag at all prominent federal properties now serves as a daily reminder that these heroes, and their families, are forever etched in our DNA."

Law now requires the POW/MIA flag to be displayed whenever the American flag is displayed on prominent federal properties, including the White House, U.S. Capitol, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, every national cemetery, the buildings containing the official offices of the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, office of the Director of the Selective Service Syste...

VFW Donates $70,000 to Park University's Valor Medals Review Project

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz presented a $70,000 donation to Park University President Dr. Greg Gunderson today in support of the university's research initiative into the awarding or denying of World War I military service medals based on racial bias.

More than 367,000 African Americans fought during World War I, yet during that time not one was awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest possible military decoration awarded by the U.S. government to those distinguished by an act of conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Historians, scholars and researchers believe systematic racism may be to blame, thus prompting the Valor Medal Review project.

The project is being conducted by Park University's George S. Robb Centre for the Study of the Great War, the Valor Medals Review Task Force, and in conjunction with the Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars on behalf of the U.S. World Wa...

VFW Surpasses $9B in Benefits for Our Veterans Nationwide

WASHINGTON - Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Service Officers recovered more than $9 billion in benefits for veterans for the first time this past fiscal year.

VFW service officers were responsible for the recovery of a total of $9,059,726,902 for veterans, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

"This is a true testament to the dedication and service our VFW service officers have for every veteran he or she comes in contact with," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "Our veterans deserve nothing but the absolute-best customer service experience that our organization has proven to deliver day-in and day-out."

This year, as part of the VFW's Century of Service, leaders issued a challenge to its Department service officers nationwide to assist as many veterans possible who required help in filing benefits and compensation claims with the VA.

"The VFW's global network of professiona...

BK Annual Campaign Kicks Off in Support of the VFW

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars is pleased to announce nearly 800 participating BURGER KING restaurants will be raising funds throughout the month of November in support of the VFW's Unmet Needs program. BURGER KING customers are encouraged to donate $1 or more to the program with their purchase.

"Military and veteran families can count on the VFW when their military service causes unexpected financial hardship," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "But it's because of the loyal and continued support from thousands of BURGER KING franchisees and patrons that we're able to provide those families with the vital support they need to get through the tough and trying times."

The VFW Unmet Needs program provides grants of up to $1,500 to service members and military families who experience times of financial hardship due to military service. The grants help with basic life necessi...

VFW Delivers Vietnam War Memorabilia Artifacts to Defense POWMIA Accounting Agency

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States provided six artifacts and personal effects to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency today as part of its promise to help advance the noble POW/MIA missions.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. (ret.) Kelly McKeague, director, Defense POW/MIA Accountability Agency, received dog tags, among other items, today at the VFW Washington Office as part of VFW's commitment to help advance the noble POW/MIA mission.
"Our VFW members, and their families, continue to answer the call in this very important effort to bring closure to those who lost loved ones during the Vietnam War," said B.J. Lawrence, executive director, VFW Washington Offi...

VFW Demands Answers from White House, VA for Delayed Decision on Additional Agent Orange Diseases

WASHINGTON - Military Times today reported that White House officials, including Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, are responsible for the delayed decision on additional Agent Orange diseases.

"In light of today's news regarding the continued delay to add four presumptive diseases to the Agent Orange list, the VFW is extremely upset and dissatisfied with the backdoor political games that are being played in Washington as the lives of our veterans are at stake," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "The health and welfare of our nation's veterans should, and must, be our number one priority."

According to the story, White House officials challenged the authority of former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin and impeded enactment of three additional health conditions to the list of diseases eligible for Agent Orange benefits. The VFW, Gratitude Initiative Collaborate to Support Military Families

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars is proud to announce it is teaming up with Gratitude Initiative to provide vital support for the children of service members and veterans.

Co-founded by former Army Captain and Operations Desert Shield/Storm veteran, Lee Sechrist, Gratitude Initiative's College Success Academy program utilizes degreed counselors and an online environment to provide full-service college and career preparatory support for veteran and military children all over the world at no cost to the family.

America's military families face unique educational challenges, as children of active-duty service members are often required to relocate between six and twelve times before graduating high school. With more than 2 million military children having a parent on active duty, 66 percent struggle with academic and school-related issues.

"The VFW's more than 1.16 million members understand better than most the strains and hardship military life can put on not only service members,...

VFW Post 6786 First Site in Innovative Initiative Giving Veterans Access to VA Health Services Close to Home

Andover, Mass. and Kansas City, Mo. (October 16, 2019) - For the first time ever, U.S. veterans will be able to receive U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) health services at their local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or American Legion (Legion) Posts through a multi-site pilot program dubbed ATLAS (Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations).

This first-of-its-kind telehealth initiative is the product of an alliance between the VFW, VA, global health care leader Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) and The American Legion, which allows veterans to conduct virtual appointments with their VA providers without having to travel to a distant VA regional medical facility or outpatient clinic.

"Our goal is to make sure every veteran has access to health care," said VA Secretary, Robert Wilkie. "ATLAS eliminates another health care hurdle for Veterans living in rural areas or with limited Internet access, and it's a great example of how public and private organizations can work together to solve the challenges of healt...

Getting a Haircut at Sport Clips Haircuts Now Through Veterans Day Can Help A Hero

GEORGETOWN, Texas - Getting a haircut now through Veterans Day will support service member and veteran scholarships as a part of Sport Clips Haircuts annual "Help A Hero" campaign that kicks off in stores today. The Help A Hero Scholarship program is designed to reduce the burden of college, graduate and technical school tuition often needed to pursue post-military careers and is administered by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW). The goal this year is to raise $1.5 million toward scholarships in the more than 1,800 Sport Clips Haircuts stores across the country.

In just six years, 1,450 military and student veterans have been awarded Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarships with the nearly $6.5 million donated to date by Sport Clips Haircuts, its clients and product partners. These sc...

VFW to Host Facebook Live Event with VA

KANSAS CITY, Mo.- The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to team up with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday, Oct. 11, to bring our Facebook followers an opportunity to get their questions answered regarding the latest VA is offering to address barriers to care for rural veterans.

During the event, experts will discuss how tools and technologies, including My HealtheVet, Telehealth and Mobile technologies help deliver care to veterans. VA experts Dr. Leonie Heyworth, VA Director of Synchronous Telehealth and Dr. Thomas Klobucar, Executive Director Office of Rural Health will speak with Ryan Gallucci, VFW Director, National Veterans Service. Our experts will discuss how these technologies improve access to care and share information about future enhancements of these tools and technologies.

Participating in the event is e...

VFW Patriotic Essay Competition Deadlines Approaching

KANSAS CITY, Mo.- The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is still accepting applications for its popular Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen youth scholarship competitions, as well as its Teacher of the Year award.

Inspiring patriotism within our nation's youth has long been a top priority for the VFW, but with the Oct. 31 deadline fast approaching, time is running out to participate in this year's annual Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen student scholarship award competitions, and the Teacher of the Year award.

As one of the top student patriotic essay competitions in the nation, each year nearly 40,000 high school students compete in the VFW's Voice of Democracy...

VFW: VA Health Care Trending in Right Direction

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States this week released the results of its latest nationwide survey on the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system from the veterans' point-of-view. Now in its seventh edition, the VFW created "Our Care" in the aftermath of the nationwide crisis in access to care and confidence that enveloped the VA in 2014, and the ensuing legislative corrective actions that followed. More than 6,900 veterans participated in the latest edition, bringing the total number of "Our Care" respondents to more than 33,000 veterans from every state, territory, and the District of Columbia.

"The VFW prides itself on having the ability to take the pulse of veterans, especially in evaluating what works at the VA and what doesn't," said VFW National Commander William J. "Doc" Schmitz, of Corning, N.Y. "Veterans turn to VA for high-quality, individualized care, but there is always room for improvement, especially in the areas of access to quali...

VFW Energized Growing As It Begins Its 120th Year

KANSAS CITY, MO. - On Sept. 29, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is celebrating its 120th year as our nation's largest and most accomplished combat veterans service organization.

In 1899, in a small tailor shop in the heart of Columbus, Ohio, 13 Spanish-American War veterans allied together with a determined resolve to fight for the justly earned care and benefits our nation's warriors deserved. With no way of knowing if their mission would survive beyond their lifetimes, their perseverance ultimately paved the way for the multifaceted organization the VFW has become today.

For the past 120 years, the VFW has remained the voice for veterans on Capitol Hill where it has played a key role in nearly every piece of veterans' legislation passed since the start of the 20th century. It was the driving force behind the restoration of benefits to 100,000 Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange through the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019. It worked to expand college education benefits thro...

Wounded Warrior Project Renews VFW Service Officer Grant

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce that Wounded Warrior Project has renewed a service officer grant in the amount of $410,000 that will continue to help more transitioning military to receive their earned disability compensation benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. WWP has now provided grants totaling more than $2.2 million to support VFW's Pre-Discharge Claims Program, an effort that last year enabled the VFW to file thousands of claims on behalf of transitioning military servicemen and women on two dozen of America's largest military installations. Collectively, VFW's nationwide cadre of 2,100 VA-accredited service officers helped more than 525,000 veterans to secure $8.3 billion in earned disability benefits in fiscal year 2018. Membership in the VFW is not required to receive its free, professional claim...

VFW Statement on New Southern Border Initiative

WASHINGTON - The Department of Defense announced plans last week to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funds to build or replace 175 miles of southern border fencing. The reprogramming of funds will significantly delay the start or completion of 127 military construction projects, half of which are overseas. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is monitoring the issue closely, as its senior leaders are well attuned to the housing and associated quality of life construction project needs of the military community, to include the impact that the decision may have on some 3,000 active-duty military personnel and 2,000 National Guardsmen currently deployed to the southern border in support of Department of Homeland Security officials.

While the VFW understands and supports the need to...

VFW Statement on Wolfe v. Wilkie

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is applauding the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, who in a 2-1 decision Monday, correctly ruled for the plaintiffs in Wolfe v. Wilkie. The class action lawsuit was the result of the Department of Veterans Affairs failing to fully reimburse veterans for the emergency room care they received from non-VA facilities, an issue the VFW had thought solved in 2016 when the same court ruled in favor of Staab v. Shulkin. But a report released last month by the VA Office of Inspector General found that the non-VA emergency room claims of some 17,400 veterans were denied or rejected primarily due to a VA work culture tha...

Past National Commander John A. Biedrzycki Dies at 73

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is mourning the loss of Past Commander-in-Chief John A. Biedrzycki, who passed away yesterday, August 29, 2019.

John A. Biedrzycki was elected national commander of the VFW on July 22, 2015, at the organization's 116th national convention, held in Pittsburgh, Pa.

John served in the U. S. Army from 1967 to 1970. He served in Korea as a Pay Distribution Specialist with the 7th Infantry Division. His decorations include the National Defense Service Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and Korean Defense Medal.

He joined the VFW in 1969 at Post 418 in McKees Rocks, Pa., where he was a Legacy Life member. He served in elected and appointed positions at the Post, County, District and Department (state) levels culminating with his election as Department Commander 2002-2003 in which he achieved All-American status. On the national level, John served on many committees, including Chairman of the National VFW Programs Com...

VFW Statement on U.S. Military Dependents Overseas

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars is very concerned that the dependent children of U.S. service members and government employees stationed overseas, and who are also legal permanent residents of the U.S., may face difficulty returning to the United States.

The concern arose from an update published Wednesday by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) that rescinds a previous policy. The main concern to VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz is that the new USCIS policy specifically targets dependent children of U.S. military personnel and U.S. government employees.

"The big question is why target dependent children?" asks Schmitz. "This has a huge negative impact on the morale of those in the fight, supporting the fight, or who are projecting America's presence around the world," he said. "To intentionally target these children who are born to legal permane...

VFW, Sport Clips Haircuts Surpass $6.4 Million in Scholarships for Veterans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Together with longtime supporter Sport Clips Haircuts, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce its "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" program has surpassed awarding $6.4 million in scholarships to more than 1,450 military and student veterans. The latest fall semester award of nearly $762,000 will help to ensure 165 student veterans attending colleges across the country are one step closer to achieving their educational goals.

"Veterans transitioning from military to civilian life face a host of challenges, but together with our friends at Sport Clips we're able to ensure that struggling to finance their last semesters of college isn't one," said VFW National Commander Doc Schmitz.

Established in 2014, the Help A Hero Scholarship program awards service members and veterans with post...

VFW Members and Their Families Are on the Way to Better Hearing Health

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...

Applications Open for 2020 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship

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:

  • Student veteran success on campus and beyond;
  • Improving veteran's health care and benefits;
  • Transition from military to civilian life; or
  • Challenges for service members and military families.

The essay proposal should include a discussion of w...

New York Veteran Elected New VFW National Commander

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...

VFW National Convention Returns to Orlando

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...

VFW Snaps 27 Year Membership Decline

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,...

VFW Calls for Return of Vietnam War Memorabilia

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 ...

VFW Names 2019 Scout of the Year Winners

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...

VFW Announces Top Veterans Service Officer

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...

BK Franchisees Kick Off July Fundraiser for the VFW

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...

Blue Water Navy Act Now Law!

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 ...

SCOTUS Rules on Bladensburg Peace Cross

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."


VFW Urges President to Quickly Sign Blue Water Navy Act

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...

UNTUCKit and NASCAR's Chase Elliott Team Up to Benefit VFW

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

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...

House Unanimously Passes Blue Water Navy Veterans Act!

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...

VFW Secures New Eye Care Benefit for Members

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...

House VA Committee Passes Blue Water Navy Act

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...

Ace Hardware Honors Fallen Heroes with 1 Million American Flags

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...

VFW Members to Celebrate #ThankBK Week

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...

Winners of Publications Contest Announced

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:

Best Magazine

Grand Award:
Texas VFW News
Dan West, Editor

Silver Award:
NC VFW The Leader Magazine
Russ Chambers, Editor

Best Feature Article

Grand Award:
"VFW Salutes Service of ...

VFW Celebrates Centennial of Service to Nation's Veterans

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 ...

VA Recommends Dropping Blue Water Navy Legal Battle

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...

Nation's Top Teachers Selected for VFW Award

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...

VFW's Annual Youth Scholarship Competition Opens

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...

President Releases FY 2020 Budget Request

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...

VFW Concerned With VA MISSION Act Implementation

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...

VFW Awards National Youth Scholarship Winners

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 ...

VFW to Deliver Veterans' Voice to Congress

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...

VFW Names 2019 Voice of Democracy State Winners

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!...

Lieutenant 'Green Thumb'

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 ...

VFW Presents Donation to Kansas City Warriors Hockey Team

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...

Post News

Important Info for Post3348 Members

Army Retention Bonuses

Army Retention Bonuses now up to $52,000

Cyber Command

The U.S. military has discovered that our country is under attack from Cyberspace.

National News

Important info from National VFW

VFW Celebrates the Service, Sacrifice of All Veterans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - To the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Monday, November 11 means, and always will mean, more to the more than 1.6 mil...

VFW Witnesses Landmark Presidential Signing of the POW MIA Flag Act

WASHINGTON - Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) stood in solidarity with fellow members of the Veterans Service Organization (VSO) community as President ...