What is the difference between VFW and American Legion (A.L.)?


Both VFW and A.L. accept U.S. Citizens who are serving in, or have been Honorably Discharged from, the U.S. Armed Services. VFW requires the veteran to have served in a combat area during an actual conflict; A.L. does not. VFW accepts veterans who serve or served in the U.S. Armed Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, USMC and Coast Guard). A.L. accepts those veterans plus Merchant Marines.  


Officer Elections at the Post level: 

 Can a member, for whatever reason, who cannot make it to a meeting to vote for Post Officers, vote by proxy or absentee?

     o   No --- Proxy votes and Absentee ballots are specifically prohibited in elections --- observed by both VFW and A.L.


·       If more than one member is nominated for an office, voting can be by ballot. The majority winner wins. If more than two members are nominated and one of them does not get more than 50% of the vote, another vote is taken but limited to the top two. This applies to both the VFW and the A.L.


·       VFW Post Officer Nominations are always held in March & April; their election is in April for 6 elected VFW Post Officer positions:

            1)  Commander 

2)  Senior Vice Commander 

3)  Junior Vice Commander 

4)  Quartermaster 

5)  Chaplain, and 

6)  3-Year Trustee 


The former VFW 3-Year Trustee automatically becomes the 2-Year Trustee; the former VFW 2-Year Trustee automatically becomes the 1-Year Trustee. It is a procedural move i.e. they are not elected --- having once been elected the 3-Year Trustee.



·       A.L. Post Officer Nominations are held in March, April & May; elections are in June. There are 11 elected A.L. Post Officer positions:  

1)  Commander 

2)  1st Vice Commander 

3)  2nd Vice Commander

4)  Adjutant 

5)  Finance Officer 

6)  Service Officer 

7)  Chaplain 

8)  Post Historian 

9)  Sergeant-At-Arms 

10)             Member-At-Large #1, and 

11)             Member-At-Large #2.


These 11 elected officers make up the Post Executive Committee. Some Posts make the Member-At-Large #1 their Judge Advocate to mimic National.


·       National VFW By-Laws forbid any VFW Post member from holding more than one Post Officer position in his/her Post, whereas National A.L By-Laws do NOT forbid that; thus, it is not uncommon to find, at the A.L. Post level, one A.L. Post member holding more than one Post Officer position. 



As a VFW member, do I have to wear a VFW cap (official cap) during VFW meetings? 


No. In the Ritual section of the VFW Podium Edition, which also contains the ByLaws section and the Manual of Procedures section, General Rule 13(d) says: "Official caps will be the only head covering allowed to be worn at regular meetings of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States."

You will notice that 13(d) does NOT say that a VFW cap MUST be worn i.e. you are allowed to attend a VFW meeting without wearing any head covering.



As a VFW member, do I have to remove my VFW cap during prayers during VFW meetings and when I do, is there a specific way that I am to hold my VFW cap?

It depends. In the aforementioned Ritual section, General Rules 13b) says: "members will follow the action of the Chaplain or presiding officer relative to  removal of caps during prayers; if uncovering, the hat shall be placed on the extended closed fingers of the right hand in such a way that the Cross of Malta is exposed and held over the heart"


You will notice that 13(b) says "if uncovering" in reference to the "action" of either the Chaplain or the presiding officer (normally the Commander).  However, if the Chaplain or presiding officer do not uncover, and you feel that you should, you may. 



Are there specific meanings to the number of raps of the gavel, when the presiding officer raps the Gavel?  

Yes. In the aforementioned Ritual section, General Rule #6 it says: 

      "One rap of the gavel calls attention -or- seats the body when standing." 

      "Two raps of the gavel call everyone to standing attention." 



Are there any rules about discussing politics in a VFW meeting?  

     Yes --- In the VFW Podium Edition, ByLaws, Article VII - Miscellaneous Provisions, Sec. 702 - Politics, it says:


o  "No officer or member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) shall in any manner use the VFW for partisan questions shall be permitted and at any meetings nor shall any nominations, recommendations or endorsements for political office be made, provided this shall not apply to discussion of policies of any organization that seeks to alter our present form of government by force, violence or other unlawful means.


o  Participation in activities supporting or opposing legislation or administration of laws for veteran’s welfare or relating to other matters pertaining to the purposes of the organization shall be permitted. Such participation shall be consistent with the legislative and welfare programs and policies approved by the National Convention.


o  No Post … shall participate in a labor dispute --- either on behalf of labor or management. No member of the VFW shall wear the VFW uniform or VFW cap in any plant or picket line or meeting of employees where a labor dispute arises.


o  Nothing contained in this section shall prevent the organization of a lawful Political Acton Committee (PAC) to further the purposes of the VFW as set forth in … the Congressional Charter (1st section of the Podium Edition), nor prevent any discussion of the activities of such a committee.



Are there any rules about discussing religion in a VFW meeting?  No --- However, in the VFW Podium Edition, Manual of Procedure, Article II - Posts, Sec. 218(a) – Officers, (1) Commander, (c) says: 


"Insist that Post business and activities be conducted in such a manner that they do not violate any applicable governmental law, ordinance or regulation --- nor bring, or tend to bring, dishonor or embarrassment upon the Post, its members or the VFW.”



Can a Post Officer be removed from office prior to normal elections?  

        Yes --- In the VFW Podium Edition, ByLaws, Article IX, Sec. 905, it says:


o  At any time after charges are initiated [by an accuser submitting a signed incident report or appropriate documentation to the appropriate Commander (Post, Department or Commander-in-Chief)] on a member holding office, the Commander-in-Chief or Department Commander having jurisdiction, may suspend the accused member from office pending a final decision on the disciplinary action…


o  During the suspension of a Post … Commander, the office shall be temporarily filled by the Senior Vice Commander. Suspensions affected under this section are not subject to appeal.



Note: Soon after the following 5 main officers of our VFW Post are elected each year in April,

·       Post Commander

·       Senior Vice Commander

·       Junior Vice Commander

·       Quartermaster

·       Chaplain  

they each receive a current version of what is called the VFW Podium Edition. We keep older versions, so if a member wants to borrow one for reference, they may.

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Annual membership dues are $45, and due on the anniversary of the date you joined the VFW or the date of annual renewal. Our Quartermaster (QM) will notify you if your Annual membership dues are due; if you become a Life Member, you no longer pay annual dues.

Student Vet's Annual membership is $20.

We have our own Service Officer (Tim Miller) but we send most members to meet with what is called the Service Team which meets at Wilcox Hall @ 22909 56th Ave W in Mountlake Terrace every Tuesday and Wednesday.

The key person on the Service Team is Rob Caldwell. There are roughly 8-10 veterans who volunteer; some of whom are trained in VA benefits and two of which (Rob Caldwell & Bob Capriles) are lawyers. They are very good. They specialize in helping veterans with PTSD.


Our programs support our service members while they are on the front line, as they are being discharged and long after they return. Your tax-deductible donation will be immediately directed to the VFW programs where your support is most urgently needed.