NEWS

New Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's 1st Message to the Troops

 Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper arrives at the Pentagon for his first day as acting defense chief, Washington, D.C., June 24, 2019. (DoD/Lisa Ferdinando)

Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper arrives at the Pentagon as Acting Defense Chief, Washington, D.C., June 24, 2019. (DoD/Lisa Ferdinando)

 

June 25, 2019--- Military.com | By Oriana Pawlyk

 

In his 1st hours on the job, new Acting Defense Secretary has published a message to the Defense Department highlighting his priorities and reaffirming a path forward. Despite turnover, he exhorted his people to stay focused on the mission. Esper, who assumed the position at 12:01 a.m. Monday, June 24, 2019 said the National Defense Strategy would continue to be "our guiding document," in "everything we do." The message outlines his 3 objectives to maintain the Pentagon's competitive edge.

 

"We will continue to expand the competitive space through 3 mutually reinforcing lines of effort," Esper said. Those are: build a more lethal force; strengthen alliances and attract new partners; and reform the department for greater performance and affordability.

 

Esper, who served 10 years as an Army infantry officer and later became Vice President of government relations at defense contractor Raytheon, has served as Army Secretary since late 2017. A Gulf War veteran, his awards include the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star. Esper said he also understands the sacrifices troops and their families make by choosing to serve. "This is why I am committed to taking care of families and ensuring they have the resources they need to thrive," he said in his message.

 

Esper, alongside Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley and Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey, announced that the service would begin stepping up inspections of base housing and hold town halls for soldiers and families living in more than 87,000 homes plagued by unlivable conditions. The 3 officials met the same month with the heads of 7 companies to discuss how to solve problems, including peeling paint and mold, faulty wiring, rodent and bug infestations and more.

 

Esper also toured housing at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to speak with families on March 1. "I'd said the problems are unconscionable. There's no reason our soldiers and their families should live in the conditions they've lived in," Esper said at a news conference that followed a town hall meeting at the base.

 

Last week, Trump announced his intent to nominate Esper for Secretary of Defense. The news came after Trump announced that Shanahan would not continue to pursue the nomination, following reports of an FBI investigation into 2 domestic incidents in 2010 and 2011. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 prohibits a secretary nominee from serving in the role in an acting capacity. The position of acting Defense Secretary would default to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer until Esper is confirmed unless Trump chooses another individual to fill the role.

 

Esper's 1st assignment will be to represent the U.S. at the NATO Defense Ministerial in Brussels, Belgium beginning Tuesday. In his memo, Esper said he values accountability. He stressed a greater commitment, especially from leaders, to keeping the "character and integrity of the Armed Forces that the American people admire."

 

"Stay focused on your mission, remain steadfast in your pursuit of excellence and always do the right thing," he said. "Together we will remain the most ready and capable military force in the world, which is what our Nation expects and deserves."

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Seattle Will Be Home Port for New Class of Icebreakers  

Members of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star participate in various activities on the ice about 13 miles from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, Jan. 26, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/John Pelzel)

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star participate in various activities on the ice about 13 miles from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, January 26, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/John Pelzel)

 

June 19, 2019--- Seattle Times | By Hal Bernton

 

Seattle will continue to be the home port for the Coast Guard's heavy icebreakers in the next decade as shipyards build a new class of "Polar Security" cutters. "The Pacific Northwest has been the home of our icebreaking fleet since 1976, and I am confident that the Seattle area will continue to carry out our critical operations in the polar regions," Admiral Karl Schultz, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, wrote announcing the decision.

 

The first of the new class of vessels is projected to be delivered from the VT Halter Marine shipyard in Mississippi by 2024, and the contract award includes options to build two more. The overall costs for the 3 vessels would be about $2.95 billion, including shipyard contracts and other expenses, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

 

The Coast Guard statement said the new U.S. heavy icebreakers "will support the United States' ability to conduct national missions, respond to critical events, and project American presence in the high latitudes." The Coast Guard currently has 2 polar icebreakers in Seattle: The Polar Star, considered capable of breaking heavy ice, and the Healy, considered a medium polar icebreaker.

 

The Polar Star is well beyond its 30-year service life and has suffered from a series of serious breakdowns and other problems. "This is the only heavy icebreaker the United States has. We're the ones that have to do the mission." said Lieutenant Commander Karen Kutkiewicz, who steered the ship through the ice on a trip earlier this year to resupply Antarctica's McMurdo Station and was interviewed as the vessel returned to Seattle in March. "This is 43 years old. This takes a lot of TLC."

 

On February 10, 2019 in waters off McMurdo Station, a fire broke out on the Polar Star, which resulted in damage to an incinerator, several electrical systems and shipboard insulation. During that cruise, the 150 crew members also had to contend with a leaking shaft that drives a propeller and a 9-hour failure in the power system.

 

The Polar Star may be retired in 2022. So, at least through 2024, when the first of the new heavy icebreakers arrives, there would not be an increase in icebreakers based in Seattle. But that could change over time. The Coast Guard also has concluded that "based on operational and logistical needs," Seattle is the "appropriate" home port for the next two heavy icebreakers as they are completed, according to the statement released by Schultz.

 

The U.S. icebreaking capacity is dwarfed by that of the Russian government. The Russian government icebreaker fleet, as of 2017, totaled more than 25 vessels of varying capacities, according to the Congressional Research Service report. U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (Washington State) has pushed for years to secure funding for new icebreakers in a century when climate change is forecast to greatly increase vessel traffic in Arctic waters.

 

"This is great news," Cantwell said Monday in a statement about the port decision. "The Puget Sound region supports a cutting-edge maritime workforce, which is poised to meet the needs of these new world-class vessels. The Coast Guard also plans to build 3 medium icebreakers. It has not been determined where they would be homeported.

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Congress Takes 1st Step in Forcing Marines to Make Boot Camp Coed  

Drill instructors with Kilo Company set the tone for their new recruits during forming day one at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. Jan. 26, 2019. Kilo Company will spend forming day learning the rules and regulations of recruit training, regarding everything from how to act in the squad bay to how to speak to drill instructors. (Dana Beesley/Marine Corps)

Drill instructors with Kilo Company set the tone for their new recruits during "Forming Day” one at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, SC January 26, 2019. Kilo Company will spend "Forming Day” learning the rules and regulations of recruit training, regarding everything from how to act in the squad bay to how to speak to drill instructors. (Dana Beesley/Marine Corps)

 

June 13, 2019--- Military.com | By Gina Harkins

 

The Commandant of the Marine Corps will have 5 years to stop separating men and women at the service's oldest boot camp, if a new amendment added to the 2020 defense authorization bill survives to ratification. U.S. Representative Jackie Speier, a California Democrat and Chair of the House Armed Services Military Personnel subcommittee, proposed the amendment, which would prohibit gender-segregated training at the Marine Corps recruit depots.

 

"Training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina, may not be segregated based on gender," the measure states. "The Commandant of the Marine Corps shall carry out this subsection not later than 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act." All female Marine recruits currently complete their entry-level training at Parris Island. No women attend the Marine Corps' West Coast training depot for new enlistees.

 

Speier wants that to change, too. The Commandant would have 8 years to make training fully coed. The measure was passed by the House Armed Services Committee by a vote of 31 to 26. Next it must be approved by the full House before moving onto the Senate, where it could face opposition from the Republican majority.

 

Almost every operational role and training course in the military is gender integrated, except for Marine Corps boot camp. "Fully integrating women is not only the right thing to do, it makes our military stronger," she said. "The women Marines serving in recently opened combat positions that I have met are immeasurably brave, tough, and inspiring. Each of them have had to prove themselves, repeatedly, to male peers and superiors."

 

That problem can be solved, she said, by having all recruits train together at the start of their Marine Corps careers, regardless of gender. "If platoons are transformational units, women should be in them," Speier added. "Having men and women work together from day one shows that they are all Marines."

 

Related content:

Marines' Boot Camp Units Could Officially Be Going Coed, Next Commandant Says

Marine Corps Commandant: Boot Camp Will Never Be Completely Coed

Marine Corps Ordered to Make Boot Camp Coed, Remove 'Man' from Titles

 

Teresa Ovalle, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, which oversees the service's recruit training battalion, said Speier's amendment was "new information." "We'll know more once this information has worked its way through appropriate channels," she said.

 

This is not the first time the Marine Corps has been told it needs to make its entry-level training fully gender integrated. In 2016, former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus gave the Marine Corps 2 weeks to submit a plan for coed boot camp. Ultimately, Mabus allowed the Marine Corps to find ways to further integrate training at boot camp. And it has, Commandant General Robert Neller told Military.com.

 

Male and female recruits spend 65% of boot camp training together, Neller said. That includes time at the rifle range, in the field and in the squad bay. "I think this idea that we're trying to disadvantage women is inaccurate," Neller said. "I think what we're trying to do is give all recruits every advantage to have the best opportunity to earn the title of Marine."

 

A Longstanding Debate

The Marine Corps has been pushed toward ending its long-held tradition of separating male and female recruits at entry-level training for years. That has been the case as leaders have grappled with ending mistreatment toward women, stamping out sexual assault, and opening all ground combat specialties to female Marines despite requests for exemptions.

 

In 2015, the Lieutenant Colonel Kate Germano, the officer overseeing the Marine Corps' female recruit battalion, was fired after she said she pushed for better training for women. Marine officials said she was relieved because she was a toxic leader. Germano's case, and later a book she cowrote with longtime military reporter Kelly Kennedy, offered a glimpse into what she said were uneven training standards at Parris Island.

 

This year, the Marine Corps' first-ever coed company graduated from Parris Island. The Marines trained with the typically all-male 3rd Recruit Training Battalion's India Company. The company included 5 male platoons and 1 female platoon. The recruits lived in different squad bays, but otherwise completed much of their training together.

 

And in some cases, Neller said they performed better than all-male companies. That's often the case for companies training at Parris Island, said Captain Bryan McDonnell, a spokesman for the recruit depot. But the differences typically aren't significant since drill instructors always follow the same training model, he said.

 

"India Company scored higher than the overall Recruit Training Regiment average in marksmanship," he said, "but lower in water survival training." McDonnell stressed that the evaluations can help officials adjust training when required, but they "are not, and should not be, used to assess the 'success' or 'failure' of a training company." "Within a company, and within each platoon, Depot training staff ensure that all Marines graduating recruit training meet the rigorous standards for a basically qualified Marine," he added.


Lieutenant General David Berger, who will soon replace Neller as the Marine Corps' Commandant, told lawmakers that having the men and women train together at Parris Island went great. "We have to look at this for perhaps next year, Berger said. 

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'The Right Thing To Do:' Unclaimed Remains of 19 Veterans Laid to Rest 

Jeff Thelusme visits a friend's grave on Veterans Day at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Fla., Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. They served in Afghanistan together. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Jeff Thelusme visits a friend's grave on Veterans Day at South Florida National Cemetery. They served in Afghanistan together. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

 

June 12, 2019--- Sun Sentinel | By Wayne K. Roustan

 

Some veterans are missing in action (MIA) while others are missing from inaction -- their cremated remains languishing unclaimed in urns, on shelves, in closets of funeral homes across the country. The Missing in America Project interred the remains of 19 veterans and 6 military spouses at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth.

 

One veteran's remains had gone unclaimed since 1973, said ceremony co-organizer Kathy Church. "Nobody should be sitting on a funeral home shelf, let alone a veteran or spouse of a veteran or a child," she said. "And there are many others left sitting."

 

The organization seeks out unclaimed remains and then works to gather documents to verify their military service so they and their spouses can be interred with full military honors. To date, 300 veterans have been found and given the military burials they deserve. Vietnam veteran Paul Markonni is a South Florida team leader for the Missing in America Project, and he's organized at least a dozen such ceremonies across the state.

 

"It's become very personally satisfying for me to do this," he said. "Like our motto says, 'It's the right thing to do.'" More than 100 civilian volunteers and active military personnel showed up in place of the families who did not. U.S. Army veteran Floyd Chin, 72, of West Palm Beach, fought in Vietnam, but this was the first time he attended a service like this.

 

"It's so nice that they honored these veterans even though they don't know who they are," he said. Those interred included 15 Army veterans, 2 Marines, 2 Navy veterans and 1 Air Force corporal; they fought in World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. "Some of these folks have been in these boxes and bins or crypts and closets of funeral homes for decades," Markonni said. "It's not right."

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Fallujah Vet Will Be First Living Medal of Honor Recipient from Iraq War 

Staff Sgt. David Bellavia. (Screenshot via DVIDs)

 

Staff Sergeant David Bellavia. (Screenshot via DVIDs)

 

June 10, 2019 --- Military.com | By Hope Hodge Seck

 

A former Army Staff Sergeant who took on enemy fighters at close range, first with an M249 light machine gun and then with a knife, will be the 1st living veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom to receive the Medal of Honor.

 

David S. Bellavia, 43, of Batavia, New York, will have his Silver Star upgraded to the highest military award for valor in a June 25, 2019 ceremony at the White House. The White House is expected to announce the award next week.

 

Bellavia's Silver Star citation, for heroism on November 10, 2004, in Fallujah, Iraq, reads like the script of an action movie. An infantryman with Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division, Bellavia was ordered with his platoon to clear a 12-building block in which "jihadists" were taking shelter in order to fire on American troops.

 

After clearing the first 9 buildings and finding only weapons caches, Bellavia and 4 other soldiers entered the 10th building and found themselves under fire from insurgents. As more soldiers rushed in to reinforce them, the close-quarters combat became hot and intense, and troops began to go down with injuries due to small-arms fire and debris.

 

"At this point, Sergeant Bellavia, armed with an M249 SAW gun, entered the room where the insurgents were located and sprayed the room with gunfire, forcing the Jihadists to take cover and allowing the squad to move out into the street." 

 

In the street, the soldiers came under fire from enemy fighters shooting from the building's roof. As they took cover in an adjacent building, Bellavia went back into the street to call in a Bradley fighting vehicle to shell the structures. He then went back into the 1st building to see whether any insurgents remained alive.

 

He would find himself one man pitted against a house full of armed enemy fighters. "I wanted that revenge. I wanted to be that leader that I promised I would be," Bellavia later said about the fight, according to a 2016 Army release. "A light switch went off."

 

He first encountered an insurgent with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and gunned him down. "A second Jihadist began firing as the soldier ran toward the kitchen, and Bellavia fired back, wounding him in the shoulder,." A third Jihadist began yelling from the 2nd floor. Sergeant Bellavia then entered the uncleared master bedroom and emptied gunfire into all the corners, at which point the wounded insurgent entered the room, yelling and firing his weapon. Sergeant Bellavia fired back, killing the man."

 

Bellavia continued fighting, killing the insurgent upstairs. Then, another insurgent jumped out of the wardrobe in the bedroom where he was hiding and began "firing wildly around the room and knocking over the wardrobe."

 

The insurgent was shot and wounded by Bellavia but got away. As Bellavia tried to pursue him into the 2nd floor of the building, the soldier slipped on stairs slick with blood. Regaining his footing and climbing the stairs, he threw a fragmentary grenade into the upper room, flushing the insurgent onto the roof.

 

"Hearing 2 other insurgents screaming from the 3rd story of the building, Sergeant Bellavia put a choke hold on the wounded insurgent to keep him from giving away their position," the citation reads. "The wounded Jihadist then bit Sergeant Bellavia on the arm and smacked him in the face with the butt of his AK-47. In the wild scuffle that followed, Sergeant Bellavia took out his knife and slit the Jihadist's throat." He would continue to fight and fell insurgents until he was joined by 5 other members of the platoon.

 

Bellavia left the Army in 2005 after 6 years of service and would go on to co-found the political advocacy organization "Vets for Freedom”. He documented his military experiences in "House to House: An Epic Memoir of War," co-written with John R. Bruning and published in 2007.

 

The long-awaited and historic Medal of Honor comes as the Pentagon concludes a wide-ranging review of valor awards from the conflicts following Sept. 11, 2001. Bellavia's Medal of Honor upgrade will be the 3rd for the Army and the 5th overall as a result of the review.

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West Point to graduate 34 African-American women, the most ever from the same class 

West Point will graduate 34 African-American women this year, the highest number, from one class, in West Point's 217-year-old history. (Hallie Pound)

 

May 19, 2019 by Theresa Braine ---  New York Daily News |

 

A record 34 African-American women are set to graduate from West Point next week. This will be the largest number of African-American women, from the same class, to graduate together, in West Point’s 217-year history.

 

They are part of a cadet cadre that is increasing annually, school spokesman Frank Demaro told CNN. Last year there were 27 African-American female cadets, he said, "and the expectation is next year’s class will be even larger than this year’s class.

  History in the making: These cadets will be among 34 African-American women who will graduate with the Class of 2019 from the United States Military Academy West Point.

It was only last year (2018) that Lieutenant General Darryl A. Williams was appointed as the first African-American officer ever in command of the United States Military Academy (aka West Point). And just a year earlier (2017), Simone Askew became the first African-American woman to lead West Point’s Corps of Cadets.

 

"My hope when young Black girls see these photos is that they understand that regardless of what life presents you, you have the ability and fortitude to be a force to be reckoned with,” cadet Tiffany Welch-Baker told Because of Them We Can, a website that focuses on issues and achievements central to African-Americans.

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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.


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 UNTUCKit.com/ChaseElliott.

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...


VFW Grant Means More Than Money for Veteran's Family

The McKinney household is a bustling hub of love and activity. Veteran Stormie McKinney of North Carolina and her husband Tyrone, have six children and five dogs. Life has been a mix of happy times and intense trials for McKinney.

Joining the Navy in search of a prosperous career, McKinney achieved the rank of petty officer. However, a terrible sexual assault while she was working in the shipyards in France forever changed her path.

The horrific experience caused McKinney to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress (PTS) and she's now on disability. She was paying the family's bills with her checks and getting by, but the loss of her husband's pay put the family in a desperate situation.

McKinney had enough to pay for household expenses, but there wasn't enough left for things like food or clothes for her children. "I couldn't take care of them on my own. If I paid the bills, I couldn't feed my family," she said.

However, during a conversation with an online veteran community chat group, McKinney found ou...


Scholarship Gives Veteran a Chance to Finish College

Andrew Bramsch, 35, of St. Louis, Mo., didn't know what he wanted to do after graduating from high school, but he knew college was not for him. After exploring his options, he felt the military made sense and he enlisted in the Army.

Bramsch served in the Army for almost 11 years in airborne infantry. He was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., and in Vicenza, Italy. He also spent one year in Iraq and one and a half years in Afghanistan before medically retiring as a sergeant.

As fate would have it, events in Bramsch's military career ended up leading him to college after all. He is now finishing a master's degree in transportation and logistics management with American Public University System.

"I started in logistics in the Army after an injury. I was placed in the arms room and helped with supply. I saw there was a lot of planning and preparation in running a company. After that, I enjoyed being behind the scenes," said Bramsch. "I say that working in logistics means that no one knows what I do, but everyone goes ...


Veterans Groups Say $103 Billion in Funding Needed for FY20

WASHINGTON - In advance of the Administration's budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 and advance appropriations for FY 2021, the three coauthors of The Independent Budget (IB) - Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., Disabled American Veterans, and Paralyzed Veterans of America - today recommend a total of $103.3 billion to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) begins to fully and faithfully implement the VA MISSION Act of 2018, make needed improvements, and is able to timely deliver benefits and services to ill and injured veterans, their families and survivors. This is the first time the IB's recommended budget has topped the $100 billion mark, and represents a 17 percent increase over current FY 2019 funding.

Implementing the VA MISSION Act this fiscal year will require significantly more resources than have been provided through regular appropriations, and is the main reason why medical care ap...


Writing a Story of Hope and Healing With Help From a VSO Friend

Joel Capell sat at a book signing for his new memoir when a man came in and offered him a bit of rope. Capell took it, unsure what it meant. The man explained it represented the hope he found in Capell's book.

"No More Hope and No More Rope," said Capell. "That chapter in the book is one of the lowest points of my life."

The two men talked and cried. Capell was amazed. Not only was he there, but he was helping someone else. It was something he never would've imagined himself possible of years earlier. Capell is grateful for the rope thrown to him during a dark time. It came from the assistance navigating the VA he received, and the encouragement to tell his story, from friend and VFW accredited Veteran Service Officer, Zac Miller.

Capell, of Mount Victory, Ohio, joined the Army 23 years ago to pay for school. He spent most of his time in the National Guard as a combat engineer and has served three tours in the Middle East.

For a while, life seemed good. Capell considered himself bright and ready to take ...


VFW Post Feeds Hungry Veterans

In 2014, Feeding America initiated a Hunger in America national study. It showed that one in five households served by the Feeding America network has at least one member that has served or is currently serving in the military.

In Pennsylvania, that number is higher. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank reported that within its 27 county-service territory, 26 percent of all households receiving assistance have at least one member who served in uniform.

To help combat this problem, in 2015, the food bank initiated MilitaryShare, which offers monthly food distributions at VFW and American Legion posts to veterans. VFW Post 1754 in Huntingdon is one such distribution site.

According to Post 1754 member Reeder Swartz, he has about 25 volunteers each month to distribute the food. In two hours' time, some 120 families are served.

Each family receives eggs, milk, two types of meat, 40 pounds of dry goods, 10 pounds of potatoes, apples, onions and whatever fresh fruits and vegetables are in season.

It costs...


VFW Launches New Mobile Event App

KANSAS CITY, Mo.- The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. has designed a new mobile event app to give attendees the tools needed to make the most out of attending VFW national events.

The new VFW Events app allows for attendees of the VFW's Legislative Conference and National Convention to receive important notifications and reminders throughout the events, gain instant access to the daily agenda, the opportunity to connect with other attendees and more.

The new VFW Events app is available for download at both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store by searching "VFW Events." Users who don't have a smart phone or tablet can also access the app Member Service Center Reps Expect Your Call

The VFW's Member Service Center Director Ken Romine has a simple message to convey: "Call us."

Established in 2017, the Member Service Center does more than people realize, and Romine wants his customer service representatives swamped with telephone calls.

According to Melodi Dailey, one of the service center supervisors, customers don't always know to call the center for orders, even if there happens to be a problem with a past order. All questions about VFW Store orders, including returns and exchanges, should go through the service center.

"We do everything in our power to help," Dailey said. "But if by chance we don't have what they need, we help them by locating it on the computer and supply them with the information they need."

The Member Service Center staff also addresses questions about dues and membership and helps members obtain new membership cards. If a member has misplaced an issue of VFW magazine, calling the service center will guarantee you get the issue in the mail.

"W...


The Home Depot Opens Its 2019 Community Impact Grant

The Home Depot has started accepting applications for its 2019 Community Impact Grant. VFW members can receive up to $5,000 to fund repairs or construction projects at their Post building.

While there are no guarantees to being funded, several VFW Posts have been awarded this grant in the past.

Applications are only accepted through Home Depot's online form. Telephone calls, emails or written submissions sent to Home Depot will NOT be accepted, nor will you be able to turn this application in at your local Home Depot store.

New this year, Home Depot now requires a project budget that must be submitted as a Microsoft Excel file. This new requirement is covered in-depth in the guide.

Pay close attention to the Tax ID Instructions. You will use the Employee Identification Number (EIN) of your Post and upload the Post's 501(c)(19) IRS determination letter at the end of the application. If you ca...


Scholarship Sends Veteran on his Next Mission

John Bradford Yarbrough, Jr., 27, of St. Louis, Mo., has always wanted to serve others, serve his country and find a way to make a difference in the world.

"I had a deep desire to serve after the attacks of September 11. I still remember being in 8th grade in 2005, and a Marine who had gone to my grade school and was on the cover of Time magazine ["Street Fight: Inside the Battle for Fallujah"] came to speak to my class. I wished I could've joined right then," said Yarbrough. "I've always had the view that it's your duty as an American citizen to serve in some capacity. And the military breeds leaders. Joining seemed like the easiest way to forge my own path."

VFW Help A Hero Scholarship recipient John Bradford Yarbrough JrVFW National Commander Heading to Eastern Europe

WASHINGTON - The national commander of America's largest and oldest major combat veterans' organization heads overseas this weekend to embed with members of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team from Fort Riley, Kan., who recently deployed to Eastern Europe as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The visit by B.J. Lawrence, national commander of the 1.6 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliary, is the final chapter in a three-part story that began with a meeting with senior Army leadership in the Pentagon last fall. A discussion evolved around having the VFW national commander observe a unit undergoing pre-deployment training at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., then marrying up with that unit overseas. Fort Riley's 1st ABCT, part of the 1st Infantry Division, was selected, but since it had already completed NTC, Lawrence viewed similar training by armor ...


VFW Makes Surprise Donation to KC's Disabled Veterans Hockey Team

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - During its recent Military Appreciation Weekend, the Kansas City Mavericks, along with fans, raised an impressive $7,745 for the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), a Kansas City-headquartered nonprofit who specializes in veterans, military and community service programs.

Today, the VFW is proud to announce it will donate those proceeds to the Kansas City Warriors hockey team who took the ice in its first exhibition game last Saturday against the Minnesota Warriors at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.

The Kansas City Warriors is a new organization operating under the mentorship and guidance of the Minnesota Warriors, an established program with 10 years of proven success and a leader in the disabled veteran's hockey community who operates in conjunction with the USA Disabled Hockey Program. Both Warriors teams are comprised of disabled American veterans who find healing through the sport.

"We want to thank all the fans who came out in support of the Mavericks and Warrior...


Indiana Post Raises $12,500 for Suicide Awareness

For the second year in a row, members of VFW Post 1587 in Speedway, Ind., and its Auxiliary walked to raise awareness about the rate of suicide among veterans.

Last year, the Post sponsored its first Walk 22 event and raised $10,000. This year, the event garnered $12,500. The goal for 2019 is $15,000.

According to Post Commander Tim Kanyuh, the money raised was donated to Families First Indiana for its Crisis and Suicide Intervention Hotline. Crisis intervention specialists are available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting CSIS to 839863.

"A lot of us have been touched by someone who has committed suicide," Kanyuh said, referencing a fellow Iraq War veteran. "We just want to see it end and want to do what we can to help."

About 60 people took part in the two-mile walk in September that weaved throughout the streets of Speedway, home to the Indianapolis 500.

Along the way, the walkers stopped at local businesses to drum up donations and let people know why they were walking.

...


$165,000 for Autism Programs

A VFW Post in North Carolina has raised more than $165,000 for autism programs in its community. Post 4066 in Shelby, N.C., donated $58,000 to Cleveland County (N.C.) Schools in June for the district's autism programs.

Funds were raised thought private donations and Post events such as dinners, auctions, poker runs, raffles and yard sales. However, most of the money comes from an annual golf tournament, said Post 4066 Commander Clifford Ramsey.

"A lot of the money comes from community businesses that sponsor the event," the Army veteran said. "We have a lot of folks who get involved in our golf tournaments each year."

Over the past five years, Ramsey said, Post 4066's donations have funded summer camp, scholarships, curricular materials, scholarships, staff training and parent events. He said Post 4066 is aiming to raise $200,000 by the end of April, which is National Autism Awareness Month.

Ramsey, who served with the 52nd Aviation Battalion in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive in 1968, said that he and ...


VFW Blue Water Navy Vet Wins Federal Appeals Court Ruling

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed a decade-old ruling yesterday that potentially paves the way for the return of earned disability benefits for some 90,000 so-called Blue Water Navy veterans from the Vietnam War.

The case, Procopio v. Wilkie, was supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and a number of other veterans service organizations and advocates. It had Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie Jr. being sued by Navy veteran and VFW Life member 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 member of VFW Post 6587 in Spring Lake Park, Minn., was assigned aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which was stationed inside Vietna...


'I Can Feel Again'

A member of VFW Post 10165 in Diamond Springs, Calif., works for homeless veterans in his community and around the country. He's doing what he can to make sure his fellow brothers and sisters are "good to go."

Tracey DiVita, a Marine Corps veteran who served from 1999 to 2003, got the idea to help homeless veterans when he came across a man living on the streets who asked for money.

"I usually don't carry cash," DiVita said. "But, that day I just so happened to have $10, so I gave it to him."

A couple of days later, he ran into the same man again. This time, DiVita had two bags of cans and bottles for recycling. He offered the man the bags, but the man refused to take them.

"I offered it to him, but he said he had a hernia," DiVita said. "I got so mad because he was just full of it. I watched him swing a black garbage bag over his shoulder. I just thought that his whole life was in that garbage bag."

That gave him, what he said was, a "light bulb moment" - he thought of a "sea bag," or duffle bag....


Help A Hero Scholarship Helps 'Pave the Way' to MBA

Iraq War veteran Truong Mai had just started his career while pursuing a Master of Business Administration when he came into financial hardship. And VFW's Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship provided the assistance he needed.

"This scholarship really helped me out in regard to paying for tuition, books and stipends stuff like that," said Mai, who wrote a letter of thanks to Sport Clips CEO Gordon Logan.

Mai served in Iraq from November 2007 to January 2009 with the 3rd Armored Cav. Regt., and in Afghanistan from March 2011 to March 2012 with the 3rd Inf. Div., 497th Movement Control Team. He received $5,000 for the fall 2018 semester. He is studying at Florida State University, and said, the way his admissions process was handled showed that the university cares about its veterans.

"Florida State is one of the most military friendly universities in the United States," Mai said. "I like their value. The president of Florida State also served in the military."

Mai said the military is a "good ground" to be...


VFW Supports Grieving Widow and Daughter

Katie Bouchard and 6-year-old daughter, Piper, are getting a little bit better every day.

Katie and veteran Keith Bouchard had been married for over a decade when he took his own life. A family in despair with so many details to handle have managed a lot in the past year. What seemed to be a sudden occurrence had a long, telling trail leading to the loss of their hero.

Iowa native, Keith Bouchard joined the Marines in 1988 at 17 years old with the permission of his mother. In his 10 years, he experienced the Gulf War, deployments to Panama and Okinawa, and cold weather training in Norway. These trips were not without injury. Bouchard broke both legs during a helicopter jump performed in Panama.

Bouchard went on to join the United States Coast Guard after departing from the Marines. In addition to the Panama injury, he had to go through shoulder and back surgery. But, he truly loved the work he did in his 16 years with the Coast Guard before retiring in 2014.

"He was very good at what he did. He was in fe...


'Just Good Works'

VFW Post 1467 in Old Lyme, Conn., has the motto: "No bar, no building; just Good Works!"

According to past Post commander Ed Shyloski, when the Post was chartered in 1993, its members met in the Old Lyme Senior Center and agreed there was no reason for a Post home or bar.

Instead, they decided to put their efforts and funds into serving Old Lyme and surrounding communities.

"As normal practice every year," Shyloski said, "we have sent thousands of dollars to the West Haven VA Hospital, Rocky Hill State VA Hospital Program, West Haven VA Blind Center, Fisher House for West Haven and the Giant Steps Art and Music Therapy Program at West Haven VA Hospital."

Five years ago, an anonymous veteran donated $10,000 to the Post, saying everything he has done in his life was because of his experiences in the military.

That donation started the Post's Vets-In-Need Outreach program. Shyloski said the Post advertised the program in local newspapers to spread the word that the Post was ready to help.

"Now...


Veterans Service Organizations Issue The Independent Budget Policy Agenda for 116th Congress

WASHINGTON - Today, DAV, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States released The Independent Budget Veterans Agenda for the 116th Congress which contains policy recommendations to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs remains fully-funded and capable of carrying out its mission to serve veterans and their families both now and in the future. The Independent Budget is a roadmap for the 116th Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Administration to navigate critical veteran issues. It includes detailed recommendations in the areas of benefits, health care, infrastructure, education, employment, training and memorial concerns facing veterans and their families. For over 30 years, the three partnering organizations have co-authored The Independent Budget.

The Independent Budget sets full and faithful implementation of the VA MISSION Act as the critical issue for the 116th Congress. This his...


Action Alert: Tell Congress to Pass Blue Water Navy Legislation Now!

The VFW is urging its members and supporters to tell Congress to pass Blue Water Navy legislation now!

This past year, Congress failed to pass H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, which would finally restore VA benefits to some 90,000 veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

Veterans who served in the offshore waters of Vietnam, during the Vietnam War, continue to be arbitrarily and unjustly denied benefits for illnesses associated with Agent Orange exposure.

Do not stand by as veterans suffer. Contact your members of Congress to demand they pass the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. Congress must not delay while Blue Water Navy veterans sicken and die from diseases related to exposure to Agent Orange.

Take action and contact your representatives today!

...


Painting Away the Trauma

In the aftermath of experiencing war, some VFW members have returned to their previous passion - art - to manage post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and bring hope to others.

VFW Life member Pete Damon is one of them. He was in Iraq for only a few weeks when everything changed.

On Oct. 21, 2003, Damon, who served with the Army's 3rd Assault Bn., 158th Aviation Regt., was working on the wheel of a helicopter at Balad Air Base when the rim "exploded." The blast severed Damon's arms and killed Spc. Paul J. Beuche, 19, of Daphne, Ala.

"I don't remember much," Damon said. "It was just flashes of horror of realizing my arms were gone."

Damon lost his right arm above the elbow and left arm below the elbow. He spent 15 months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center - three as an inpatient and 12 as an outpatient. In the following weeks, he underwent "multiple surgeries."

"I was pretty optimistic, I guess - as far as you can be in that situation," said Damon, a member of VFW Post 697 in Middleboro, M...


'What We Do Changes Lives'

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of VFW's National Veterans Service (NVS) Department. That is a century of working on behalf of the nation's veterans to ensure they are granted the benefits they have earned.

It's not an easy mission, as the NVS staff at VFW's Washington Office will attest, but one that grows increasingly more important each year. In 2017-18 alone, VFW's NVS staff recovered a record-breaking $8.36 billion for veterans. Of that, $1.4 billion was for new clients. VFW service officers filed more than 109,000 new claims last year.

"What we do changes lives," NVS Director Ryan Gallucci said. "It's humbling, challenging and rewarding. The scope of responsibility the VFW has to make sure veterans understand their benefits and that those were earned is tremendous."

An Iraq War vet, Gallucci said that he and those who work for him know better than most what it's like to assist discharging veterans get what they are entitled to receive.

"What we went through ourselves after dis...


VFW Announces Spring Scholarship Recipients

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce its "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" program has surpassed awarding $5.7 million in scholarships to nearly 1,300 military and student veterans. The latest award of more than $768,000 will now help ensure 172 student veterans can continue their higher education classes this upcoming spring semester.

"The Post-9/11 GI Bill was a great piece of legislation that was made even better with the passage of the Forever GI Bill," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence, whose organization championed both pieces of legislation through Congress. "But higher education is expensive, and oftentimes 36 months of benefits isn't enough for new veterans to fulfill their educational goals," he said. "I'm very proud that the VFW can help change the lives of 172 stu...


VFW and SVA Announce 2019 Student Veteran Fellowship Class

WASHINGTON - Ten Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. members and Student Veterans of America leaders have been selected for the 2019 VFW-SVA Fellowship program. The announcement was made Saturday at SVA's 11th National Conference in Orlando, Fla. The 10 fellows will now join more than 500 VFW members of when they converge on Capitol Hill in early March to advocate on behalf of all veterans, service members and their families.

"The VFW is proud to provide 10 student veterans the opportunity to participate in the legislative process to help improve the care and benefits of their fellow veterans," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "We look forward to working with this year's fellows to hone their skills as veterans' advocates on campus, in their communities, and on the national stage."

The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is a semester-long academic experience that involves research, action, reporting and advocating on behalf of one of four veterans' policy areas: student veteran success on camp...


VFW Announces Annual Publications Contest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is now accepting submissions for its 2019 National Publications Contest. VFW publications published up to four times annually, or five or more times annually, will be judged in four categories.*

The categories are:

Department-level publications:

  • Newspaper/Newsletter
    • Defined as being printed on newspaper stock or designed for online distribution as a PDF.
  • Best Feature Story
    • Entries from all publications will be considered for this category. Each article must be submitted separately. The story must be a published article of at least 300 words. It can be originally written by your newspaper/magazine staff or by a freelance writer, or be reprinted from a newspaper within your state. Feature articles published in online/electronic newsletters, newspapers or magazines also are eligible, but must be printed in color and submitted via USPS, not emai...


Is the Cyberworld Safer Than the 3-D World?

With every passing year, more and more of Americans' lives are lived online. Why drive to the bank or the DMV when you can deposit checks with your cell phone and renew your driver's license from home? Adults socialize with friends, pay bills and file their taxes online. High school seniors average a whopping six hours a day online,1 texting, playing games, and on social media.

All this Internet activity means we're safer in some ways-we can't lose our wallet in our living room or get into a traffic accident at our desk. But the online world carries its own dangers, and cybercrime is unfortunately exploding. A September 2018 Forbes article2 listed these five statistics:

  1. Every minute, 1,861 people fall victim to cyber-attacks and $1.14 million is stolen.
  2. Over the next five years, 146 billion records will be breached-four times the current rate.
  3. Ransomware attacks are increasing 350% per year, and damage costs will be $11.5 billion in...


Utah Senator Stops Blue Water Navy Bill

WASHINGTON - The objection by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) to passing H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018, by unanimous consent today on the Senate floor has effectively doomed any chance of the bill being passed in the 115th Congress. Lee now joins Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), who objected last week due to the bill's overall cost. Lee's objection was because he wants to wait and see more sufficient evidence.

"We don't need more sick veterans to prove sufficient evidence," said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. "Agent Orange made Vietnam veterans sick, and science agrees that there isn't any reason to treat so-called Blue Water Navy veterans any different than their peers who served ashore or on the inland waterways of Vietnam," he said. "What both senators have done is fail thousands of veterans - many of whom reside in their home states. Their obstruction to this bill's passage forsakes our nation's promise to take care of those who were injured or made ill due to their military service. T...


Navy Veteran Discovers a 'Gem' in VFW Pre-Discharge Representative

Veteran James E. Jones, Jr. of San Diego, Calif., is a remarkable person surrounded by the love and support of his family and friends. He has spent 26 years of his life in service to his country, and is set to retire from the Navy in a few months.

Growing up in a small community in Alabama, Jones knew he wanted to leave but was too intimidated by the thought of college. Instead, he joined the Navy and traveled all over Europe, before spending 12 years devoted to the conflicts in Africa and Iraq.

He still found the time to marry his love, Gidget, and have two daughters, Alexis and Jameiah. Then, with the experience and confidence gained in the military, he graduated cum laude with a degree in criminal justice, focusing on emergency management and homeland security.

The years abroad were understandably not easy on Jones, physically or emotionally. Like many veterans, Jones knows what it feels like to be caught in enemy fire.

After returning from combat, he began the transition to civilian life. But, this t...


Texas VFW Post Brings Christmas Spirit to Community

VFW Post 2195 will host its second "Operation North Pole" event on Dec. 15 in the dining room of Market Street in Allen. Children will speak to Mrs. Claus, who will be set up across town, through a ham radio.

Post member Jim Brevard, a Vietnam War veteran who served from 1964-65 with the Air Force's 619th Tactical Control Squadron, said the idea came from something he and Post Junior Vice Commander Robert Evans did while in the service.

"The radio guys would go down and set up and let the kids talk to Mrs. Claus at the North Pole," Brevard said.

They brought the idea to the Post, according to Brevard, because of their efforts to "give back to the community."

"It gives us a chance to show the community that we're here," Brevard said, "and we've done other community events, and we generally have a lot of people come up and talk to us and ask about the Post and what we do. This presents us with another opportunity for that."

As the only two ham operators at the Post, Brevard and Evans took the lead o...


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

Blue Water Navy Act Now Law!

WASHINGTON - The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the Uni...

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-ta...

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