What is the difference between VFW and the American Legion?
Both VFW and A.L. accept anyone who are serving in, or have been Honorably Discharged from, the U.S. Armed Services. The requirement to be a U.S. citizen has been removed since there are citizens of other countries who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. 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, Coast Guard and Space Force). A.L. accepts all those plus Merchant Marines.
Officer Elections at the Post level:
Can a member, who cannot make it to a meeting to vote for Post Officers, vote by proxy or absentee, in Post elections?
o No --- Proxy votes and Absentee ballots are specifically prohibited in elections --- observed by both VFW and A.L.
· VFW Post Officer Nominations are always held in March & April; their election is in April for 6 elected VFW Post Officer positions:
2) Senior Vice Commander
3) Junior Vice Commander
5) Chaplain, and
6) 3-Year Trustee
The VFW 3-Year Trustee automatically rolls down to be next year's 2-Year Trustee; the VFW 2-Year Trustee automatically rolls down to be next year's 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:
2) 1st Vice Commander
3) 2nd Vice Commander
5) Finance Officer
6) Service Officer
8) Post Historian
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; not the case in the A.L. --- their National A.L By-Laws do NOT forbid that. 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 Rule 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"
General Rule 3(b) says "if uncovering" in reference to the "action" of either the Chaplain or the presiding officer --- while the Post Commander is usually the presiding officer, prayers are usually conducted by the Post Chaplain. If the Chaplain or presiding officer does not call "uncover" but you feel that you should, you may do so.
Are there specific meanings to the number of raps of the gavel, when the presiding officer raps the Gavel?
Yes. General Rule #6 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 politics and no discussion of partisan questions shall be permitted 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 - Officers Duties & Obligations; (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.”
Since religion is personal, any discussion of it, other than private, has great potential for discomfort and possibly embarrassment --- so don't bring it up.
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 VFW Post officers are elected each year in April:
· Post Commander
· Senior Vice Commander
· Junior Vice Commander
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.
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.