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WASHINGTON – Today, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) pauses to remember the more than 156,000 brave Allied troops who landed by air and by sea targeting the 50-mile stretch of Normandy’s beaches to liberate German-occupied France and bring an end to the Nazi regime.
June 6, 1944, forever changed the course of history. With over 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and more than 150,000 servicemen, the Allied forces’ airborne and amphibious invasion of Europe was, and remains, the largest air, land and sea operation ever undertaken.
Sand-colored beaches turned crimson, and bodies littered the beaches and water. Yet, because of their valor, sacrifice and sheer determination, by the end of the day the Allied forces had successfully breached the German’s fortress. But Allied success on D-Day came at a very steep price, with nearly 10,000 casualties and 4,000 confirmed dead.
Now, 79 years after the massive operation that changed the tide of World War II, the 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary remain thankful for the bravery and heroism displayed that day, and we reflect on a selflessness that has transcended continents and generations.
WASHINGTON – June is Pride Month, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) joins the nation in recognizing LGBTQI+ veterans and service members.
It is estimated that there are a little more than 1 million LGBTQI+ veterans in the United States. Since the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, surveys have found that more than 5% of active-duty service members identify as part of the LGBTQI+ community. They are counted among the less than 1% who serve or have served in the U.S. military.
Beginning in 1999, four U.S. presidents officially declared June as Pride Month – President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama, President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. The 2023 White House proclamation for Pride Month can be found here.
The 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary salute all LGBTQI+ veterans, past, present and future, and say “thank you” for your service to our great nation.
WASHINGTON – This Memorial Day, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) joins a grateful nation in honoring and remembering the soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, guardians, and Coast Guardsmen, who, as President Abraham Lincoln so eloquently put during the Gettysburg Address, “gave the last full measure of devotion.”
Originally called Decoration Day, the holiday was officially proclaimed in 1868 to honor those who died during the Civil War. After World War I, the solemn day was expanded to honor those who died in all wars. It became an official federal holiday in 1971, set aside to remember all those who died in service to the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Memorial Day honors more than 1 million men and women who have died in military service since the Civil War began in 1861.
President Harry S. Truman established a tradition through Proclamation 2889, proclaiming Memorial Day, May 30, 1950, and each succeeding Memorial Day, as a day of prayer for permanent peace. The 2023 White House Proclamation: Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day can be found here.
The 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary asks each American to take time this Memorial Day, and every day, reflecting on those who paid the ultimate sacrifice supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States.
WASHINGTON – Tomorrow is Armed Forces Day, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) joins a grateful nation in paying tribute to the soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen, guardians, and Coast Guardsmen who right now are defending freedom both here at home and around the globe.
According to the Department of Defense website, on Aug. 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.
Armed Forces Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May, which occurs during Armed Forces Week and Military Appreciation Month. The 2023 White House Proclamation on Armed Forces Day can be found here.
The 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary salute all U.S. service members and encourages everyone to take a moment to recognize those wearing the uniform, thanking them for their service and for protecting our democracy and way of life.
Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, said they could no longer accommodate them. The VFW is deeply troubled by reports indicating the move was in effort to turn a higher profit by offering these rooms for government use.The VFW is actively following the recent news that nearly two dozen homeless veterans were suddenly forced to find alternate temporary housing when suburban New York City hotels, to include the
The VFW Department of New York remains actively engaged with state government, local municipalities, and regional VA offices to ensure the needs of these veterans are being addressed, and on Wednesday VFW representatives will attend a State Veterans Council meeting where the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Veterans Services will provide a status update.
Through a continued partnership with Humana, the VFW Department of New York, remains committed to alleviating veterans homelessness and food insecurity, raising and donating nearly $80,000 to shelters throughout the state in 2021-2022.
Nationally, the VFW remains committed to helping combat veterans homelessness and actively advocates for increased funding for HUD-VASH vouchers, grant and per diem payments, and pilot programs geared to assist veterans in their time of need. It encourages any veteran who is, or at risk of homelessness to visit www.va.gov/homeless or contact the VA’s National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at 877.424.3838 for assistance.
OAK BROOK, Ill., – Ace Hardware is collaborating with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) once again this year to honor the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country by giving away 1 million American flags nationwide on Saturday, May 27, 2023.
Consumers who visit a participating Ace store on May 27th will receive a free 8″ x 12″ American flag.* A second flag will be donated to a local VFW Post to be used for marking and honoring veterans’ graves this Memorial Day.”
Ace is proud to be a part of this nationwide effort to distribute flags to our customers and to the VFW to help honor our fallen heroes on Memorial Day,” said Kim Lefko, Chief Marketing Officer, Ace Hardware. “With Ace stores easily accessible to millions of Americans, we wanted to step up and provide a way for our customers, and our store owners and associates, to pay tribute to our military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
“Memorial Day reminds us of the true cost of freedom, and while we as a nation mourn the loss of our brave and patriotic heroes, we vow to never forget their sacrifice and remain forever grateful to them,” said VFW National Commander Tim Borland. “We are proud to work alongside patriotic and compassionate companies like Ace Hardware to help ensure our fallen service members are never forgotten.”
Last year, over 500,000 American flags were given away to customers at Ace stores nationwide. In addition, Ace sent 595,000 flags to more than 1,800 VFW Posts for placement on veterans’ graves.
“The American flag giveaway aligns with Ace Hardware’s long history of supporting veterans nationwide,” added Lefko. “Ace’s very name is a commemoration of the “flying aces,” the courageous fighter pilots from World War I. Ace’s patriotism continues through the support of its veteran retailers, and the sincere appreciation for all the veterans and active-duty military who work in Ace stores, distribution centers, and its corporate offices.”
*Flags will be available at participating Ace stores while quantities last. Limit one 8″ x 12″ flag per customer. No purchase necessary.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has announced the winners of the 2023 National Publications Contest. More than six 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:
Texas VFW News
Lupita M. Perez, Editor
Rodger Meier, Editor
Best Feature Article
“VFW Motorcycle Riders”
Michael P. Mauer, The South Hills Mon Valley Messenger
Department of Pennsylvania
“VFW Member Helps Fellow Veterans Through Music
Glenn M. Chrisman, Illinois VFW News
Department of Illinois
“Stolen Ceremonial Military Rifles Recovered”
Mathew N. Wells, The Daily World
Department of Washington
Large Frequency (printed 5+ times per year)
Wisconsin VFW News
Marla J. Morgan, Editor
Small Frequency (printed 1-4 times per year)
Illinois VFW News
Barb Wilson, Editor
Iowa Voice Newspaper
Linda Jones, Editor
Department of South Carolina Sentinel
Bill LaMonte, Editor
Large Frequency (printed 5+ times per year)
Greenwood VFW Post 5864 Newsletter
Steve Milbourn, Editor
Department of Indiana
SSG Dozier VFW Post 2894 Newsletter
Dan Eaker, Editor
Department of Virginia
Watch On The Rhine News (Post 27)
Lee R. Wolverton, Editor
Department of Europe
Small Frequency (printed 1-4 times per year)
Veterans of Mount Prospect Illinois (Post 1337)
John DeGroot, Editor
Department of Illinois
Fort Atkinson Post Dispatch (VFW Post 1879)
Kelly Stine, Editor
Department of Wisconsin
VFW Post 1587 Monthly Newsletter
Larry Patch, Editor
Department of Indiana
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to announce the second annual VFW Day of Service kicks off May 6, marking the start of veteran-led community service projects to take place throughout the month.
The VFW Day of Service was born from the organization’s award-winning #StillServing campaign launched in 2020 to recognize the ongoing dedication of veterans and service members who continue to serve through service to their communities.
More than 475 community service events will take place this year – a 20 percent increase over participation in 2022 – and include a wide range of events such as constructing accessibility accommodations for disabled veterans, beautifying parks and streets, food drives and cookouts for veterans.
VFW Day of Service enables VFW and Auxiliary members to engage veterans, service members and community advocates across America to spend a day making a meaningful difference in their communities. The initiative was recently honored by the 21st Annual American Business Awards® and awarded the Gold Stevie® Award in the Corporate & Community – Community Engagement Event category for its inaugural year.
“Part of showing what the VFW is about … we’re about community. It inspires others. This is a day for them to realize what we’re about, that we are about community service. It’s so simple, and it’s fun!” said Lela Bremen, commander of VFW Post 5699.
It’s not too late to sign up. The VFW urges its members and all veterans interested in participating to visit VFWDayofService.org to register their event on the interactive Day of Service map. For individuals looking to participate in an event near you, access the full list of 2023 events.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is pleased to announce participating BURGER KING® franchise restaurants will kick off their annual fundraiser throughout the month of May to raise funds in support of the VFW’s Unmet Needs program. Now in its 17th year, the campaign encourages BURGER KING® guests to donate $1 or round up their purchase to help support grants to military and veteran families facing financial crises due to their military service.
“Our military and veteran families lay so much on the line in service to our country, and when they face mounting bills or even foreclosure or eviction, our Unmet Needs program steps up to help,” said VFW National Commander Tim Borland. “The continued generosity of BURGER KING® franchisees and their dedicated patrons helps to ensure that the vital assistance the VFW provides is there for our nation’s heroes when they need it most.”
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 deployment or other military-related activity or injury. The grants help with basic life necessities like rent, mortgage and utility payments, vehicle repair, medical expenses and food. Since its inception in 2004, Unmet Needs has awarded nearly $13 million in assistance to more than 11,400 service members, veterans and their families.
Since 2007, BURGER KING® Franchisees have raised more than $7.2 million in support of the Unmet Needs program. More than 1,360 BURGER KING® franchise restaurants are participating in this year’s campaign. Find a participating restaurant near you.
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to celebrate our nation’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander service members, veterans and their families throughout the month throughout May – Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
The month’s designation encompasses more than 50 ethnic or linguistic groups, living in the United States and its territories. Since the first Japanese immigrants arrived to mainland America on May 7, 1843, people from Asian countries, islands throughout the Pacific Ocean and around the Pacific Rim have made significant and lasting contributions to the nation. History records even show that there were Asian people serving in the U.S. military as early as the War of 1812.
In 1978, Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing and requesting the president to proclaim the first 10 days of May 1979 as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.” President Jimmy Carter signed the resolution Oct. 5, 1978, thus becoming Public Law 95-419 which calls upon the people of the United States to mark the observance with ceremonies and activities. Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week expanded to a monthlong observance in 1990, and finally to an annual observance in 1992. Every American president since President Carter, both Democrat and Republican, has issued proclamations for the commemoration. The 2023 White House proclamation on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month can be found here.
The 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary salute all Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander service members, veterans and their families for their indelible contributions to our freedom and our way of life.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) was named the winner of a Gold Stevie® Award in the Corporate & Community – Community Engagement Event category for its inaugural VFW Day of Service campaign in The 21st Annual American Business Awards® yesterday.
The American Business Awards (ABA) is the nation’s premier business awards program. All organizations operating in the U.S. are eligible to submit nominations – public and private, for-profit and nonprofit, large and small.
This is the first award for the VFW Day of Service campaign, which is part of the VFW’s #StillServing initiative. The VFW #StillServing campaign earned several prestigious awards to include: The Internal Business Awards 2022 Grand Stevie® Award for the Highest-rated Nomination of the Year and the 2022 Gold Stevie® Award for Communications or PR Campaign of the Year (Nonprofit/Charity); and the Kansas City’s Data-Driven Marketers Association’s 2022 Silver AMBIT Award for Response-driven Web Campaign, and the Public Relations Society of America Greater Kansas City Chapter’s 2022 PRISM Award for Best in Show.
More than 3,700 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Startup of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Thought Leader of the Year, and App of the Year, among others. The VFW was nominated in the Community Engagement Event category for Corporate & Community.
Among the judges’ feedback, one stated, “The everlasting effect on those who served, those they protected, and the togetherness of the community due to the VFW Day of Service is remarkable. Salute to a stellar submission and continued service to our great nation!”
“We already owe our veterans and servicemen and women a huge debt of gratitude – this initiative gives even more reason to appreciate their service and now contributions to our communities,” said another judge.
More than 230 professionals worldwide participated in the judging process to select this year’s Stevie Award winners.
“It is very gratifying for us to be able to recognize the achievements of such a wide variety of organizations, teams, and individuals in the 21st ABAs, and we look forward to bringing them together in New York on June 13 to celebrate with them,” said Maggie Miller, president of the Stevie Awards.
Details about The American Business Awards and the list of 2023 Stevie winners are available at StevieAwards.com/ABA.
About the VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With approximately 1.5 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in nearly 6,000 Posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans service organization is proud to proclaim “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS” than the VFW, which is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information, or to join, visit our website at vfw.org.
About the Stevie Awards: Stevie Awards are conferred in eight programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, the Middle East & North Africa Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards®, The International Business Awards®, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 12,000 entries each year from organizations in more than 70 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about the Stevie Awards at http://www.StevieAwards.com.
Sponsors of The 2023 American Business Awards include HCL America, Melissa Sones Consulting, and SoftPro.
Dear Speaker McCarthy:
On behalf of the 1.5 million members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and its Auxiliary, a significant number of whom rely on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and benefits, we write to express our grave concerns with the proposed reports of returning to Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) funding levels for the federal government and its potential effects on veterans’ programs. Congress has championed monumental advancements in veteran care and benefits in the past few years and we believe we need to continue pushing forward instead of taking steps backward in serving our veterans.
Plainly stated, the Honoring our PACT Act of 2022 did not exist when funding levels were set for FY 2022. The VFW is gravely concerned the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 missed the mark by not protecting the advances in care and benefits for toxic-exposed veterans. This could set our collective hard work back years and make veterans once again have to fight for the care and benefits they have earned.
Through PACT Act reforms, we believe we are on the cusp of resolving many issues that have plagued VA for decades, thanks to the years of hard work from veteran advocates around the country, as well as our faithful supporters in the past few Congresses and across multiple Presidential Administrations. Military Toxic Exposure claim denials, VA processing backlogs, hiring delays, and unacceptable appointment wait times will hopefully be a thing of the past, and we will once again be able to point to VA as a world-class provider of healthcare and benefits. These advancements will fade away if they are not resourced properly, which is why the VFW believes returning funding levels to FY22 would likely jeopardize the care and benefits our nation’s veterans have earned.
Bills aiming to return the budget to FY22 funding levels, without explicitly securing care and benefit programs for veterans are intolerable to our organization. The service members, veterans, and families we represent have seen the true cost of more than 20 years of war, and it is unacceptable to ask them to now pay the bill.
Mr. Speaker, the VFW understands your goal of fiscal responsibility, but we respectfully ask that in the context of Limit, Save, Grow, that you provide explicit assurances on how Congress will continue to properly invest in VA programming – specifically the reforms authorized through the PACT Act. The members of the VFW and our Auxiliary hope you will continue to honor the promise made to the men and women who served our country by reinforcing your long-standing support of those who stood in harm’s way. Returning VA to FY22 funding levels will negatively affect millions of Americans across the country and we look forward to working with you to make sure this does not happen.
VFW Washington Office
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, The Washington Post Editorial Board suggested America balance its budget on the backs of veterans. The VFW has heard these tired arguments before but was shocked to see them endorsed by an institution like the Washington Post.
According to their public bios, none of the 10 members of The Washington Post Editorial Board have spent a single minute serving this country in uniform unlike those who have earned the benefits the Board quickly dismisses as charity and essentially a waste of public money. The impudence with which these individuals enthusiastically signed their names to criticize the care and benefits our service members earn, while enjoying the very freedoms our service members defend, should bring shame upon them as both journalists for a once-revered institution like The Washington Post and as fellow Americans.
This lazy opinion piece from The Washington Post Editorial Board is a recycled compilation of anti-veteran talking points against which the VFW has fought for years. The VFW would have welcomed the opportunity to refute these unjustifiable points if approached to do so. Yet, those of us who represent millions of veterans are now forced to react to hatchet journalism. Had the elitist Editorial Board chosen to reach out to anyone who assists veterans in navigating these hard-earned benefits, they may have learned about the true hidden costs of more than 20 years of war, and why our nation’s commitment to care for both the visible and invisible wounds of war is crucial to our long-term national interest.
If The Post’s esteemed Editorial Board wants to take a shot at veteran benefits, they should at least provide original thoughts and ideas, and not the scraps of other writers or proposals that the VFW dismantles on a regular basis. Veterans’ benefits cost more than they did in years past. That is the price of war. It is also the price of peace and the price of defending misguided free speech – such a paradox for those of us who swore to defend the very Constitution that protects such vitriol.
However, this cost is not only a reflection of more Americans surviving the battlefield, but it is also our country recognizing the inherent danger of military service. Last year, the Honoring Our PACT Act rightfully expanded toxic exposure benefits to veterans who have suffered debilitating illnesses, some dating all the way back to the 1950s. Does The Washington Post Editorial Board prefer these veterans, their families and survivors continue to suffer in silence as they have for years? Should those who defend the very institution and profession that printed these words continue to suffer and die because it might be too expensive?
It is laughable that the employees of one of the richest individuals in the world have the audacity to suggest disabled veterans should be the persons responsible for balancing the federal budget – instead of their wealthy billionaire benefactors who notoriously skirt their tax liabilities.
You would think with all the collective Ivy League degrees held by The Washington Post Editorial Board they would understand basic economics. Instead, they recommend that veterans be subjected to means tests or outright forfeit their earned benefits if they manage to constructively cope with these life-altering disabilities.
Sadly, it seems those degrees only served to inspire the Editorial Board to take the easy way out and renege on promises made to veterans, their family members and survivors. If the Editorial Board is so worried about moral responsibility, maybe they should pick up a weapon and stand a post.
Ryan Gallucci is the executive director of the VFW Washington Office where he is responsible for the organization’s legislative advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and the VFW’s global network of benefits representatives who are accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to assist veterans, eligible family members, and survivors in the preparation, presentation, and prosecution of benefit claims before the agency.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – For the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and for our nation, National Vietnam War Veterans Day is an important one. Made official through the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, today, we honor the great service and sacrifice of our Vietnam War veterans through ceremonies and celebrations across the nation.
From February 1961 – May 1975, more than 3,400,000 Americans served in support of the U.S military operations in Vietnam and Southeast Asia; more than 58,000 gave their lives and nearly 1,600 remain unaccounted for according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Today, we must not only remain dedicated to honoring and recognizing a generation of veterans to which we owe so much, but we must remember those who never returned home. We honor and remember them for their sense of duty, unselfish devotion and courageous willingness to put their country first.
It is because of their service and tenacity that VFW senior leaders are currently in Southeast Asia continuing the VFW’s tradition to travel to Vietnam to help U.S. government efforts to account for whose missing and unaccounted, in hopes of finally bringing them home.
“It’s truly humbling to be here in Vietnam with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Detachment 2, especially on this day,” said VFW National Commander Tim Borland. “While National Vietnam War Veterans Day commemorates the departure of the last American troops leaving Vietnam 50 years ago, Detachment 2’s mission is a stark reminder that today there are 1,241 U.S. service members still missing from the war here in country. We owe it to the families of those missing in action and to every Vietnam veteran that we keep pressing to fund and support DPAA’s mission until every one of the 1,579 total MIAs from the war are all accounted for.”
“We are eternally grateful for the service and sacrifice of our Vietnam War veterans,” said VFW Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Duane Sarmiento, who is accompanying Borland on the visit. “They passed the torch of leadership of this great organization to us young generation of veterans. We will keep faith with them by honoring and understanding the legacy of the Vietnam War that effects not only them, but the country they departed 50 years ago.”
Though long overdue, today America recognizes each and every Vietnam veteran who did not receive the proper welcome home they earned and deserved. To all Vietnam veterans: Today and every day, on behalf of the approximately 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary, thank you for your service, and welcome home.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to announce it has selected the national top three teachers in its annual Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award contest.
Established in 1999 and named after former VFW National Commander John Smart and retired VFW Quartermaster General Larry Maher, 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.
Awarded annually, the VFW selects one teacher from the elementary (K-5), middle (6-8) and high school (9-12) levels to receive a $1,000 award for professional development, and $1,000 for their school.
Kelly Garey, a retired Navy veteran and second grade teacher at Van Buren Elementary School in Caldwell, Idaho, was named the elementary school winner for her dedication to fostering patriotism, passion for serving her country and local community, and for her continued efforts to organize field trips, activities and services to help her students learn about and recognize America’s veterans and their military service. Garey was sponsored by VFW Post 3886 in Caldwell, Idaho.
Selected to represent the middle school level, Susan Allgood, a seventh grade language arts and eighth grade ELA teacher at Stephens County Middle School in Toccoa, Georgia, was chosen for her dedication to ensuring her students understand their duty to our country while honoring the service and memory of America’s veterans. Allgood was sponsored by VFW Post 4346 in Toccoa, Georgia.
Javier Martinez, a Marine Corps veteran and high school history teacher at Kaneland High School in Maple Park, Illinois, was chosen to represent the high school level for the passion and innovation he brings to his classroom, his efforts toward the development and enrichment of his student’s character, and for his dedication to bringing history to life. Martinez was sponsored by VFW Post 5819 in Lemont, Illinois.
“Teachers are the foundation of a free and just society, and teachers like Kelly, Susan and Javier play a vital role in helping shape today’s youth into the strong and passionate leaders our country needs in the decades to come,” said VFW National Commander Tim Borland. “The VFW is proud to recognize these teachers, and those like them across our nation who help promote the importance of patriotism and civic responsibility.”
Each of the three national recipients will be presented with a $1,000 award for professional development and $1,000 for their school during the 124th VFW National Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, July 22-27, 2023.
Find out more information on the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.
BANGKOK – Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Commander-in-Chief Tim Borland and a VFW delegation arrived in Thailand for the first leg of their three-country diplomatic and fact-finding mission to Southeast Asia, the first of its kind since 2019.
“I am so proud to be a part of this very honorable mission back to Southeast Asia,” Borland said. “This is my first visit ever to the region, and in just the day and a half of being in Thailand, I have already gained some valuable knowledge I will take back with me and help educate our organization that every veteran counts, to include those living here.”
During the first 36 hours on the ground, the delegation, which also includes VFW Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Duane Sarmiento, VFW Executive Director Ryan Gallucci and VFW Washington Office Communications and Public Affairs Director Rob Couture, completed a robust schedule of engagements. On Monday, the delegation met members of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) Detachment 1 and received a mission briefing about their area of responsibility. They also had a chance to visit members of the Joint United States Military Advisory Group Thailand as well as had an office call with the U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Robert Godec.
“I’m looking forward to learning so much more in the coming days,” Borland said. “I’m so glad we can get back to business, especially after being held back due to the pandemic.”
For almost 30 years, the annual trip to Southeast Asia was intended to prepare VFW leadership for the advocacy work they would do during their year as the organization’s national commander. Then in early 2020, COVID restrictions kept the VFW from traveling abroad. Now with nearly all restrictions lifted, VFW delegates will again be able to observe and learn more about search and recovery operations in person.
“For the first time in four years, the VFW is meeting the challenge of seeing firsthand the critical humanitarian work that DPAA does in Southeast Asia,” said Sarmiento. “We are eager get out to DPAA field sites and to meet with the American service members, civilians, and host nation counterparts who make recovering our missing Americans a priority.”
Another opportunity the delegation was able to take advantage of was visiting with members of the VFW Department of Pacific Areas’ District 5. During a luncheon on Tuesday, local VFW Post members living in Thailand and Cambodia shared the challenges faced by the veteran community living there.
“It was great to connect with VFW comrades who are on the ground in Thailand and around the region,” said Gallucci, who is on his first Southeast Asia trip in his new role as executive director. “They are serving the thousands of veterans who live in this part of the world, many of whom support American interests abroad.
“Whether it’s VA disability claims, VA’s foreign medical program, or simply access to mail, we are eager to learn about the challenges our veterans face so that we can explore solutions on their behalf when we return stateside,” said Gallucci.
In partnership with the Departments of Defense and State, directors of the VFW Washington Office plan and coordinate VFW command visits so the organization can better advocate on behalf of veterans, service members and their families, serving as their voice to Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the DOD.
After their time in Thailand, the delegation will travel to Laos and Vietnam to visit DPAA Detachments 2 and 3, joint field activities and U.S. embassies as well as assigned American service members in each country.
In February, Borland and Gallucci traveled to Poznan, Poland, to visit with U.S. service members supporting the defense of NATO against Russian aggression, and to Italy to visit with American soldiers, airmen, veterans and their families in the Vicenza and Aviano military communities.
Photos of the VFW fact-finding mission to Southeast Asia can be found here. We’ll continue to add pictures as they complete their trip.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Marking its 13th consecutive year of support, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to announce it is the presenting sponsor of the 34th annual Bataan Memorial Death March at the United States Army’s White Sands Missile Range.
On April 9, 1942, approximately 75,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers surrendered after mounting a courageous months-long defense of the Bataan Peninsula. Tens of thousands of these soldiers became prisoners of war to the Japanese and were forced to endure a torturous march of more than 60 miles to prison camps throughout the Philippines. Thousands died, and those who survived faced the hardships of prisoner of war camps and the brutality of their Japanese captors. April 9, 2023, marks the 81st anniversary of the Bataan Death March.
Known for being one of the most challenging, grueling full-marathon expeditions, the annual memorial march through 26.2 miles of high desert terrain is conducted in honor of the heroic American and Filipino service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II.
Since its inception in 1989, the Bataan Memorial Death March’s participation has grown from 100 marchers to more than 9,600. The March 19 event is expected to attract thousands of military members and civilians from around the world to participate individually or as teams.
Each year, VFW and VFW Auxiliary members line the march route to demonstrate their support. Participants will have the opportunity to visit the VFW booth to meet members and learn more about the essential assistance and support programs the VFW offers.
Registration for the live in-person event closed on Monday, March 6, while the virtual event registration will close March 26 at 12:00 p.m. MST. To find out more about the Bataan Memorial Death March, visit bataanmarch.com.
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) presented its 2023 Congressional Award to Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) for his outstanding service and years of unwavering support to veterans, service members, their families and survivors.
“What an honor it is to present this award to such an honorable man,” said VFW Commander-in-Chief Tim Borland. “His devotion to reaching across the aisle and across chambers on behalf of veterans is unparalleled. He is a stalwart example of the ideals, traditions and values that we hold dear in the VFW.”
The VFW Congressional Award has been presented annually since 1964 to one member of the House or Senate for significant legislative contributions on behalf of veterans and military service personnel. Past recipients include strong national security and veterans’ advocates, such as Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders (I), South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson (R), and Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D), among many others. Last year’s award went to former chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA).
Boozman, the son of a U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant, has been a staunch supporter of veterans, service members and their families throughout his 10 years in the U.S. House of Representatives and now 12 years in the U.S. Senate. During his time in the House of Representatives, he chaired the Veterans’ Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee where he led the passage of multiple veterans bills surrounding veteran education and employment. Since being elected to the Senate, he continued his strong leadership for veterans by sponsoring the Dr. Kate Hendricks Thomas SERVICE Act and being a steadfast ally in the passage of the Honoring our PACT Act. Now in the 118th Congress, Boozman is a staunch proponent the GUARD VA Act which will protect veterans by eliminating predatory claims practices.
The senator is the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee, and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, where he is also the ranking member of the subcommittee that funds Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and related agencies, and a senior member on the Environment & Public Works Committee.
“Sen. Boozman is a consummate champion of the rights, benefits and quality of life of those who served and those who are still serving our great country,” said Borland. “I can’t think of any other elected representative who has done more in reminding congress that ‘Every Veteran Counts.'”
WASHINGTON – In a standing-room-only packed chamber in the Cannon House Office Building, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Commander Tim Borland delivered his message of “Every Veteran Counts” during in-person testimony before the 118th Congress during a special joint hearing of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs held today.
Backed by almost 400 VFW and VFW Auxiliary members in the audience and two overflow rooms, Borland recounted the VFW’s efforts in championing the Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022, or the PACT Act, which was passed into law in August of last year. He also talked about how the VFW is helping process VA claims as a result of the most comprehensive toxic exposure legislation in American history.
“All across the country VFW Service Officers are assisting veterans with their PACT Act claims and have already seen conditions approved and rated,” said Borland. “This service has already helped thousands of veterans free of charge.”
Borland bridged from the success of the PACT Act to Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) paid to the survivors of service members who died in the line of duty or veterans who died from service-connected injuries or illnesses. He said that while the PACT Act finally fulfills a critical promise to many survivors who now qualify for benefits, DIC is still not equal to other federal survivor programs.
“The VFW urges Congress to pass legislation that would finally increase DIC payments to survivors from 43% to 55%, reaching parity with other federal agencies,” said Borland.
One topic of heavy emphasis was the concerning predatory claims consultants which the VFW calls “claim sharks.” Borland testified that under VA regulations, fees charged for claims assistance are capped and usually apply only to a percentage of retroactive benefits. However, he pointed out, that many of these unaccredited consultants use contracts that include a commitment by the veteran to pay the “claim shark” all or a significant portion of their increased benefits.
“This is why we strongly urge the passage of the GUARD VA Benefits Act,” said Borland. “If VFW representatives charged for claims help, they would lose their accreditation and be subject to both fines and jail time. ‘Claim sharks’ should be treated the same way.”
“Companies that prey upon veterans and blatantly disregard congressional oversight authority should be held accountable. Period!” said Borland.
Veteran suicide prevention is a complex, multifaceted initiative requiring an approach informed by a multitude of upstream and protective factors. Borland implored committee members to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to look beyond mental health and to other contributing factors to the epidemic, such as economic opportunity.
“This is why the VFW believes VA’s Office of Suicide Prevention needs to be moved out of [Veterans Health Administration] over to the enterprise level of VA so it can report on and utilize information from across the agency to combat suicide,” said Borland. “Access to economic opportunity benefits from the point of transition is critical. We owe it to our veterans to understand every access point to VA and how it affects their well-being.”
A reoccurring issue Borland addressed is improving the military’s Transition Assistance Program. He said that service members have a very slim window in which they are eligible to file for VA disability benefits through the VFW’s Benefits Delivery at Discharge program, also called BDD. While the VFW’s BDD representatives are currently supporting transitioning service members at 20 military installations, there needs to be more access to more installations to help service members face fewer hurdles during transition.
“Senior military leaders understand this,” said Borland. “For example, retiring generals and senior non-commissioned officers frequently reach out to the VFW for more in-depth knowledge on the VA benefits process.
“If our military leaders see this as a priority, then VA should make it a priority for everyone leaving the military,” said Borland.
One of the long-standing legislative priorities of the VFW is ending the practice of offsetting DOD retirement and VA disability pay. Borland urged Congress to pass the bill which would end requiring veterans to forfeit all or part of one benefit, even though the benefits are earned for entirely different reasons.
“Though I recently called on the White House and Congress to push for full concurrent receipt for all military retirees, the VFW’s first priority is to solve this injustice for medical retirees through the Major Richard Star Act,” said Borland.
The bill, named after U.S. Army Maj. Richard Star, who was forced to medically retire after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and died in 2021, was introduced in the House of Representatives today.
The last issue Borland addressed was that of recognizing service members serving in eastern Europe to support NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He said that the global security situation demanded that U.S. service members be quickly sent to the defense of NATO allies, and recognizing those serving in a forward operational capacity with a medal is the right thing to do.
“The VFW calls on the DOD and Congress to properly recognize the immense contributions of those who served and are serving on the eastern flank of NATO by awarding them the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for deterring Russian aggression,” said Borland.
“I will conclude with my call to action and remind everybody that we must meet the challenge to take care of these critical issues for those we represent because ‘Every Veteran Counts’,” said Borland.
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has selected its new National Service Officer.
Mike Figlioli, deputy director of VFW National Veterans Service (NVS), has been promoted to director of the VFW’s premiere program for veterans. The 104-year-old NVS offers free service claims assistance to veterans, service members and their families. In fiscal year 2022 alone, the NVS recovered more than $11.2 billion for veterans, spouses and survivors.
“I am honored to have been chosen to lead this amazing team of dedicated professionals who every day help change the lives of veterans,” said Mike Figlioli.
As NVS director, Figlioli is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the program, which ensures veterans, service members and their families have access to their earned benefits through the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense and Labor. The scope of his role also includes overseeing the VFW’s network of more than 1,950 VFW Accredited Service Officers located around the world and on almost two dozen military installations, to ensure they have the necessary training and resources to provide the best possible service to their veteran clients.
Figlioli got his start serving veterans, service members and their families as a senior family program specialist at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, from 2005 to 2007, where he was responsible for the welfare of the families of soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the formation and training of family support groups assigned to the 94th Regional Readiness Command, which encompassed the entire Northeast Region. He was then appointed as VFW Service Officer for the VFW Department of Massachusetts in 2008. In 2011, he was hired by the Washington Office as a pre-discharge claims representative for the National Capital Region. Since then, he has served in various positions with NVS to include associate director for field operations and assistant director for veterans benefits policy. He became NVS deputy director in March 2016 and has helped guide the program for the last seven years.
“I look forward to what we will accomplish together. NVS staff are an incredibly dedicated team of professionals and innovators,” said Figlioli.
As the subject matter expert for veteran service claims, benefits and compensation, many have come to rely on Figlioli’s knowledge and professionalism. In December 2016, was appointed as a special advisor to Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert A. McDonald to serve on the Advisory Committee for Cemeteries and Memorials. He was reappointed by Secretary Robert Wilkie for a second term from 2018 to 2020. He has also testified numerous times before Congress – experiences Figlioli will continue to use as the conduit between the veterans advocacy and veterans’ compensation, health care and benefits.
“To stand on the shoulders of giants in veterans advocacy and succeed those who laid the groundwork for the GI Bill, the Agent Orange Act, the PACT Act and other landmark benefits programs is extraordinary,” said Figlioli.
Figlioli, a native of Dedham, Massachusetts, served in the Army from 1988 to 1996. After completing Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, was assigned to the 18th Field Artillery Regiment in Augsburg, Germany, as a cannon crewmember, and later, as a maintenance clerk. He would serve as a Training and Operations NCO with the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, and as the Division Ammunition NCO for the 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Casey, Republic of Korea. He returned to the United States in June 1995 to complete his Army career with the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia. His military decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, five Army Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean Defense Service Medal.
Not only is Figlioli a Life member of USS Jacob Jones VFW Post 2017, Dedham, Massachusetts, he was practically born into the VFW. His late father, Ralph, was a member with many years of service to the VFW Honor Guard and numerous committees. His mother, Margaret “Bella,” was a past president of the VFW Post 2017 Auxiliary chapter. Continuing the tradition, Figlioli was an active member within the same Post as his parents and the VFW Department of Massachusetts. Along with his appointment as Department service officer in 2008, he was also appointed Department legislative director and elected as VFW District 5 commander and VFW Post 2017 commander. He has served on numerous VFW committees at both state and national levels, to include Budget, Bylaws, Legislative, Veterans Service, National Security and Foreign Affairs, and POW/MIA.
Figlioli said he is ready for the challenges the future holds for the VFW Washington Office.
“I am excited to work with this devoted team of advocates to help continue to move our great organization forward and ensure our veterans, their family members and survivors always receive the benefits and entitlements they have earned,” said Figlioli.
Mike’s wife, Dawn Jirak, is a retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt., a veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and a past NVS deputy director. The two reside in Deale, Maryland.
WASHINGTON – Tonight, during the 76th annual Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Parade of Winners ceremony, the organization proudly presented more than $171,000 in scholarships and awards as it named the national winners of its 2023 Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen youth scholarship competitions.
Sponsored by Twisted X, the Parade of Winners event featured the 53 national VFW Department (state) winners, along with Twisted X CEO and president, Prasad Reddy.
VFW National Commander Tim Borland was joined by VFW Auxiliary President Jane Reape to present this year’s national Voice of Democracy first place winner, Scotland Stewart, with the top $35,000 T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship. Stewart, a sophomore at Franklin County High School in Winchester, Tennessee, was sponsored by VFW Post 1893 in Estill Springs, Tennessee. Watch as he delivered his winning essay during this evening’s ceremony on this year’s theme, “Why is the Veteran Important?”
Second place winner Siri Corson, a junior at Fillmore Central High School in Harmony, Minnesota, sponsored by VFW Post 6893 and its Auxiliary in Preston, Minnesota, was awarded the $21,000 Charles Kuralt Memorial Scholarship. Gina Wierzbowski, a senior at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Massachusetts, sponsored by VFW Post 620 located in Stoneham, Massachusetts, was named the third place winner and awarded the $15,000 VFW Scholarship. All other state winners received at least a $1,000 college scholarship. See the complete list of 2023 Voice of Democracy national winners.
Also featured during tonight’s awards ceremony was the 2023 Patriot’s Pen first place winner, Leighton Peters. Sponsored by VFW Post 2204 and its Auxiliary in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, Peters was awarded the top Patriot’s Pen prize of $5,000. Watch as she delivered her winning essay during this evening’s ceremony on this year’s theme, “My Pledge to Our Veterans.”
The Patriot’s Pen second place winner, Nolan Green, sponsored by VFW Post 8731 in Monticello, Minnesota, will receive a $4,000 award, while third place winner Makayla Cole, sponsored by VFW Post 5675 and its Auxiliary in Odessa, Missouri, will receive a $3,500 award. See the complete list of 2023 Patriot’s Pen national winners.
Learn more about the VFW Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen programs here.
WASHINGTON – More than 400 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and its Auxiliary converge on the nation’s capital this week, for the annual four-day Legislative Conference March 5 – 8. Delegates from all 50 states will meet with their respective members of Congress to press upon them the need to support veterans, service members and military families.
“It is great to be back in D.C. for a full in-person legislative conference,” said VFW National Commander Tim Borland. “After years of pandemic restrictions, we are finally able to walk the halls of Congress and deliver our petitions face-to-face with our elected officials.”
Also returning to Washington, D.C., is the VFW’s Voice of Democracy Parade of Winners. Each year, nearly 25,000 ninth through 12th grade students from across the country enter a democratic and patriotic-themed essay to win their share of more than $2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program. The national first place winner receives a $35,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school.
“I look forward to seeing all of those bright, young Americans and hearing their expressions of patriotism,” Borland said. “They give me faith that the future of our country is great hands.”
One of the culminating events of the conference is the commander-in-chief’s testimony set for March 8 at 10 a.m. (EST) before a special joint hearing of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs held at the Cannon House Office Building.
“Advocating for veterans rights is the most important thing that a commander-in-chief will do during their term,” Borland said. “Last August, we helped push the PACT Act into law that will help more than 3.5 million veterans who were exposed to toxics during their service. This year, I will continue to press forward our priorities for the rights and benefits of our veterans, service members and their family members.”
Borland is prepared to discuss the VFW’s top priorities for 2023. These key legislative priorities include:
- Concurrent Receipt/Passing the Major Richard Star Act.
- Predatory Claims/Passing the Governing Unaccredited Representatives Defrauding VA Benefits Act, known as the GUARD VA Benefits Act.
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) increase for surviving dependents.
- Economic opportunity’s role in preventing suicide.
- Improved transition of service members to civilian life.
- Recognition of NATO defense for service members deployed to eastern Europe.
Many of the priorities have carried over from the VFW’s previous year’s agenda. However, some are a direct result of Borland’s travels since becoming the VFW’s national commander, to include visits with service members in Europe.
“We must not forget we still have troops deployed around the world,” Borland said. “I recently made a trip out to Poznan, Poland, and visited with the senior leadership of U.S. military forces deployed to NATO’s eastern flank. Asking Congress to recognize them for this crucial mission to defend our NATO allies and deter aggression is the least we can do for our brave service men and women.”
Led by Borland, the VFW has made a concerted recruiting effort to increase membership numbers and motivate members to continue participating in the type of grass roots advocacy, such as Action Corps, that proved successful with the passing of the PACT Act.
“We have pushed hard to recruit more members into our organization over the past seven months,” Borland said. “It is because of our numbers that our voice stays strong, ensuring Congress hears us loud and clear that ‘Every Veteran Counts.'”
Read the VFW’s complete list of 2023 Priority Goals here.
The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will livestream this year’s testimony on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs YouTube channel here. Visit vfw.org/VFWDC2023 for all legislative conference updates.
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) made a historic move by selecting a post-9/11 veteran to head the VFW’s presence on Capitol Hill.
Ryan Gallucci is now the executive director of the VFW’s Washington Office. He is the first post-9/11 veteran to hold the position.
Gallucci, a member of VFW Post 3150 in Arlington, Virginia, started as a VFW employee in June 2011. His past roles with the organization were as deputy executive director to the former executive director, Bob Wallace; National Veterans Service (NVS) director; NVS deputy director; and National Legislative Service deputy director.
Gallucci, a native of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, served in the Army Reserve from June 1999 to June 2007. He served in the Iraq War from 2003 to 2004 as a civil affairs sergeant with the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion, where he received the Bronze Star for meritorious service and the Combat Action Badge. While still serving in the Army Reserves, he used his G.I. Bill benefits to attend college, interned as a public affairs specialist at the Naval War College, and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Rhode Island. He leveraged his education and experience to become deputy communications director at the American Veterans (AMVETS) National Headquarters, before landing at the VFW Washington Office.
Gallucci said he was “honored” to be selected by VFW Adjutant General Dan West, with the support of VFW Commander-in-Chief Tim Borland, for the position. Gallucci added that he knows he will play an important role in the organization and serve to “amplify” the voices of VFW members in Washington, D.C.
“With the historic signing of the Honoring Our PACT Act and the VFW’s legacy of professional veterans’ advocacy, the VFW has a unique opportunity to distinguish itself as the premier organization advocating for the interests of veterans, service members and military families in the years to come,” Gallucci said. “The VFW team in our nation’s capital will seize this momentum by pressing forward on veterans’ issues while continuing to cultivate our relationships with Congress, VA, the Department of Defense and the White House.”
During his time with the VFW, Gallucci was instrumental in the implementation of numerous veteran-focused initiatives. He has worked directly with Congress and federal agencies to craft and implement transition and education policies that benefited the veterans’ community, such as in-state tuition protections for veterans and the redesign of the military Transition Assistance Program. He served as advisor, and later chairman, on the Secretary of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Veterans Employment, Training, and Employer Outreach, providing feedback to the Department of Labor and Congress on the employment needs of veterans and the efficacy of federal employment programs for veterans. Gallucci also established the VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship program, which offers exemplary student veterans the opportunity to learn about veterans’ advocacy hands-on in Washington.
Gallucci said he is excited about what the future holds for the VFW.
“This is no small task for the VFW, and as the first post-9/11 veteran to take up this position, I intend to carry forward this responsibility in a way that honors the 123-year legacy of our great American institution,” Gallucci said.
He and his wife, Katie, reside in Annapolis, Maryland, with their daughters, Lily and Mia.
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to celebrate our nation’s women service members, veterans and countless other selfless contributors to the United States throughout the month of March, Women’s History Month.
With women being integral to every facet of American life, it’s surprising the nation has only been officially celebrating women’s history for 41 years. In 1981, Congress passed a joint resolution Public Law 97-28, designating “Women’s History Week” beginning March 7, 1982, to recognize and celebrate “American women of every race, class and ethnic background” whose roles and contributions had been “consistently overlooked and undervalued in the body of American History.” Authorized and requested by the law, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation declaring Women’s History Week and called on the people of the United States to mark the observance with ceremonies and activities.
Within a few years, 14 states had already expanded the week-long commemoration to the entire month of March. Finally in 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed the newly passed Public Law 100-9 designating the month of March as Women’s History Month. Since then, every American president, Democrat and Republican, has issued proclamations. The 2023 White House proclamation on Women’s History Month can be found here.
The VFW salutes all women service members, veterans and unsung heroes for their indelible contributions to our freedom and our way of life.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – With its 2023 Legislative Conference just weeks away, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has launched its updated mobile event app to give attendees the tools needed to make the most of their visit to the nation’s capital. As the official guide to the 2023 VFW Legislative Conference, the VFW Events mobile app is available for download now at both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. For assistance and instructions on how to download and update the app, view our VFW Events App Quick Start Guide.
The updated VFW Events app ensures attendees will receive important notifications and reminders throughout the conference, have instant access to the daily agenda, the opportunity to connect with other attendees and more. The app also offers a complete legislative directory to make locating and communicating with lawmakers easy.
If you are attending the conference, help promote the VFW’s veterans’ advocacy efforts by sharing pictures and videos to social media from your visits with members of Congress using #VFWDC2023.
If you are not able to attend the VFW Legislative Conference, you can still watch events from the conference live beginning with the Parade of Winners Monday, March 6, at 6:00 p.m. EST at vfw.org/VFWDC2023, and culminating with VFW National Commander Tim Borland’s testimony before a joint session of the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday, March 8, at 10:00 a.m.
WASHINGTON – Leading veterans service organizations the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) today released The Independent Budget Veterans’ Agenda for the 118th Congress: Budget for FY 2024-2025 and Critical Issues. The IB report provides funding estimates VA will require in order to adequately provide health care, benefits, and transition services to more than ten million veterans, their families and survivors. It also lists military-to-civilian transition, VA infrastructure, implementation of the PACT Act, long-term care, and mental health, among the many critical issues facing today’s veterans.
“All of the Independent Budget recommendations and critical issues are of utmost importance to today’s veterans, particularly PVA members with spinal cord injuries and disorders who rely on VA’s specialized care to live and work,” said Heather Ansley, PVA Associate Executive Director of Government Relations. “VA vacancies and staffing shortages, outdated infrastructure, limited specialized long-term care facilities, and inaccessible home and community-based services must be addressed now as they can make the difference between life and death for those with SCI/D.”
Included in this year’s IB are more than 30 key recommendations for both legislators and VA spread across five critical issues in three areas – to include health care, benefits, and employment & education.
“DAV has partnered with PVA and VFW to produce The Independent Budget for nearly 40 years,” said Joy Ilem, DAV National Legislative Director. “As an organization of veterans serving veterans, we know their issues, and we make it our mission to fight for them. This year, we recommended notable VA funding plus ups in two major areas – long-term care and construction – which are vital to both sustaining quality VA care and ensuring access to that care.”
For FY 2024, the IB recommends Congress appropriate $161.6 billion for all VA programs and services, a 10.5% increase over FY 2023 appropriation levels of $143.7 billion. Among the reasons for the rise in VA funding is a recommended $1 billion plus up in long-term care due to the increase in aging and disabled veterans, inflation, and expansion of assisted living centers for veterans living with traumatic brain injury and other disabilities. Another reason for the rise is a nearly four-fold increase over the FY 2023 enacted in the recommendation for major construction to begin or resume building VA infrastructure, as well as fund repairs and maintenance on existing VA structures. Yet another reason for the increase is a $50 million plus up for VA Call Centers to account for more full-time employees to cover VA claims which are expected to rise over one million in FY 2024 due to the PACT Act.
“Like all of our past reports, this year’s Independent Budget is a vital tool to help members of Congress and VA take the necessary steps to ensure that all veterans – regardless of branch, age, sex, and ethnicity – receive proper care and get the benefits they earned,” said Pat Murray, VFW National Legislative Service Director. “It all boils down to proper VA funding. We look forward to working alongside congressional leaders to address each of our critical issues.”
KEY FACTS, ISSUES, AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
While there are five critical issues and countless recommendations noted throughout this 40-page report, below are just a sample of them. To view the reports in full, visit IndependentBudget.org.
- **FACT – VA’s health care infrastructure includes more than 5,600 buildings and 34,000 acres, much of which was built more than 50 years ago.
Issue: For more than two decades, funding for construction, repairs, and maintenance of VA’s health care facilities has lagged behind even the most conservative estimates of the actual needs.
- IB Recommendation: Congress and VA work together to develop and implement a new comprehensive strategy to build, repair, and realign VA’s health care infrastructure to meet current and future demand. **See critical issue 1 on page 25.
- **FACT – The PACT Act added more than 20 presumptive conditions related to toxic exposures, expanded health care for toxic-exposed veterans, and created a process for VA to consider additional presumptive conditions for any toxic exposure.
Issue: Veterans may be vulnerable to companies that charge high fees to assist with claims, offering promises of increased disability ratings.
- IB Recommendation: Congress conduct oversight of all disability claims and pass legislation to reinstate penalties to crack down on bad actors that charge inappropriate fees for claims assistance. **See critical issue 3 on page 33.
- **FACT – One of the higher cohorts of veterans who die by suicide are veterans who have recently separated from service.
Issue: Veterans who engage with VA benefits are less likely to die by suicide than those who do not utilize these services. Ensuring transitioning service members have access to the benefits and care they earned is critically important.
- IB Recommendation: Congress ensure pre-separation briefings be mandated in TAP curriculum to help service members successfully transition into civilian life and mitigate suicide. ** See critical issue 5 on page 37.
The IB provides a comprehensive roadmap to help ensure VA is fully funded and capable of carrying out its mission of serving veterans and their families, both now and in the future. Throughout the year, the VSOs collaborate to promote their shared recommendations, while each organization also works independently to identify and address legislative and policy issues that affect their respective members and the broader veteran community.
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: keeping our promises to America’s veterans. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; linking veterans and their families to employment resources; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with more than one million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at DAV.org.
About Paralyzed Veterans of America
Paralyzed Veterans of America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or diseases. The organization ensures veterans receive the benefits earned through service to our nation; monitors their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funds research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.
As a life-long partner and advocate for veterans and all people with disabilities, PVA also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, and provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans of America serves veterans, their families, and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Learn more at PVA.org.
About Veterans of Foreign Wars of The United States
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With more than 1.5 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in over 6,000 Posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans service organization is proud to proclaim “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS” than the VFW, which is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information or to join, visit our website at VFW.org.
WASHINGTON – Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Commander Tim Borland traveled to Camp Kościuszko, Poznan, Poland, to visit with U.S. service members and learn about the American mission supporting NATO allies amid tensions with Russia.
Accompanied by VFW Washington Office Deputy Director Ryan Gallucci, Chief Borland was able to meet with the forward command element of the U.S. Army’s V Corps and the support team that makes up U.S. Army Garrison – Poland. The purpose of the visit was to get a better understanding of the U.S. military’s role in NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in eastern Europe, receive a tour of the facilities and check on the quality of life of troops serving there.
“This Corps is in great hands,” said Borland speaking of V Corps and USAG – Poland leadership, who provide services and support to deployed service members. “I am very impressed with the esprit de corps in this unit.”
As America’s forward deployed Corps in Europe, V Corps works alongside NATO allies and regional security partners to provide command and control for the more than 20,000 U.S. troops and equipment reinforcing the eastern flank across nine countries to deter further aggression in the European theater.
The VFW team also took the opportunity at various stops along their visit to engage V Corps soldiers and share information about the VFW, to include free pre-discharge VA claims assistance for those who are looking to transition back to civilian life upon their return from deployment.
“I think it meant a lot to the troops and it was an ideal opportunity to communicate with key partners in the VSO community,” said V Corps Public Affairs Senior Enlisted Advisor Sgt Maj. Michael Pintagro about the visit. “We appreciate your outreach, your engagement and your advocacy on behalf of our soldiers and vets across the United States Army.”
In partnership with the Departments of Defense and State, directors of the VFW Washington Office plan and coordinate VFW command visits so the organization can better advocate on behalf of veterans, service members and their families, serving as their voice to Congress, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the DoD.
After their time in Poland, the team will travel to Italy to visit with service members stationed in Vicenza and Aviano as well as VFW members and their families at local Posts.
Last year, Borland and Gallucci made their first trip to Europe together, visiting major NATO and U.S. military commands as well as service members and their families stationed at various installations throughout Belgium and Germany.
Photos of Commander Borland’s trip can found here. We’ll continue to add pictures as he completes his trip.
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to celebrate our nation’s African American service members, veterans and their families throughout the month of February, National Black History Month.
When Carter G. Woodson set out in 1926 to establish a time to promote and educate people about Black history and culture, he wanted to remind Americans that Black history is America’s history. While initially observed as a weeklong commemoration, it was President Gerald Ford who, in 1976, issued the first official observance and the establishment of Black History Month, a homage for which every American president, Democrat and Republican, has issued proclamations. The 2023 White House proclamation on National Black History Month can be found here.
Black history is American history. National Black History Month offers the opportunity to both celebrate and educate generations on the triumphs and success stories, as well as the disparities faced by a rich cultural heritage that has played such a vital role in making our country what it is today.
The VFW salutes all African American service members, veterans, comrades, and their families for their indelible contributions to our freedom and our way of life.
WASHINGTON – In a letter sent to the White House, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Commander Tim Borland urged President Biden to support the repeal of concurrent receipt policy, which denies veterans receiving both retirement pay and VA compensation if they were forced to retire early from military service because of battlefield injury or illness.
“I write to request your urgent support in ensuring our nation’s veterans receive the benefits they have earned by defending the ideals our nation holds sacred,” opened Borland in his letter addressing the policy. “This policy is nothing more than a way to save money on the backs of veterans.”
As it stands the current compensation rule imposes what is known as an offset, requiring veterans forfeit all or part of one benefit to pay for or pay back another. Congress justifies the policy as a way to prevent veterans from “double-dipping” from the federal government, a justification which Borland says is erroneous.
“Military retirement pay is earned for years of vested service, while VA disability compensation is awarded as supplementary income for reduced earning potential of disabled veterans who incur lifelong illnesses and injuries from their service,” wrote Borland. “These are two fundamentally different benefits earned for two entirely different reasons.”
The Major Richard Star Act (H. R. 1282/S. 344), which would provide total offset relief to veterans who suffered combat injuries or illnesses who were medically retired with less than 20 years of service, garnered overwhelming bipartisan and bicameral support from members of the 117th Congress. Despite this, the bill did not get enough votes to make it to the president’s desk.
“It has become clear that political will is lacking, warranting the White House’s leadership,” wrote Borland. “The VFW – and by extension the entire veteran community – is looking to you, President Biden, to lead from the front on this issue.”
The letter concluded by pressing the President to make repealing the concurrent receipt policy one of his legislative priorities in the fiscal year 2024 Department of Defense budget request.
“No veteran should question the value of their service to our country due to an unethical budget gimmick,” wrote Borland. “By repealing concurrent receipt, you will let them know that Every Veteran Counts.”
HOUSTON (Jan. 17, 2023) – Sport Clips Haircuts held an event at VFW Post 8790 today to offer free haircuts to veterans and present a check to the VFW Foundation for $1.5M toward veterans’ scholarships. This marks the sixth year in a row that Sport Clips has donated at least $1M to the Sport Clips VFW Help A Hero Scholarship program. Administered by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to provide scholarships for service members and veterans, the program has grown to become the largest of its kind. Through the program, VFW awarded 196 scholarships totaling $900,000 for the current 2023 spring semester today, bringing the total scholarships awarded to 2,600.
As the nation’s leading provider of men’s and boys’ haircare, veteran-founded Sport Clips began work with the VFW in 2013 to offer Help A Hero Scholarships to help military veterans prepare for civilian careers that often require additional college, graduate, and technical degrees and training. Since the creation of the program, Sport Clips has donated nearly $13 million to the “Help A Hero Scholarship” program.
“We owe our veterans and their families a debt of gratitude for their service. By helping ease the financial burden that often comes with reentering the civilian workforce, Sport Clips team members, clients, and product partners join us in saying ‘thank you’ to those who have served our country,” says Gordon Logan, Air Force veteran, VFW Life member, and founder and chairman of Sport Clips. “Over the past ten years, the Help A Hero program has become a real difference-maker in the lives of so many veterans who have benefited from these scholarships and who are now successfully engaged in their civilian careers.”
“The VFW is amazed at the generosity of Sport Clips clients, its team members and its partners,” said Dan West, VFW adjutant general. “It is their kindness and eagerness to support America’s veterans that makes this scholarship program possible. And it brings me great pride to announce that the spring 2023 semester will be our biggest awarded semester to date with $900,000 in scholarships being awarded to nearly 200 student veterans. We couldn’t have achieved this feat without Sport Clips and are excited to see the wide-reaching impact this has on the families of America’s best.”
More than $143,000 of the donation total this year came from Sport Clips franchisees, with nearly half of that coming directly from haircut proceeds on Veterans Day, while Sport Clips clients donated the most generous portion of money raised in stores and online. Sport Clips partners Direct Beauty Express, John Paul Mitchell Systems, Nioxin, Sexy Hair, Gibs Grooming, Actiiv, and American Crew also made substantial contributions.
The application period for fall 2023 Help A Hero Scholarships is open now through April 30 to receive up to $5,000 of assistance per semester, per family for service members and veterans in the rank of E-5 and below. To find out more, visit your local Sport Clips, SportClips.com/hero or VFW.org/Scholarship.
WASHINGTON – Today, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and its Auxiliary joins the millions of Americans in honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a pioneer who would ultimately lay down his life for the cause of civil rights.
Born on Jan. 15, 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister and activist who championed the cause of civil rights from 1955 until he was assassinated on April 4, 1968. The Civil Rights Act of 1968, passed just days after his death, solidified his life’s work in fighting for social justice and against discrimination.
Since passing into law as a federal holiday in 1983, the observance of Dr. King’s birthday on the third Monday each January has served as a day of service, ‘a day on, not a day off.’ In a salute to Dr. King, the VFW encourages its members, the Auxiliary, supporters and all Americans to honor his legacy through volunteerism in their communities across the country.
On behalf of the more than 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary, let us remember Dr. King and live lives that reflect his message of equality, justice, love and peace.
WASHINGTON – Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Duane Sarmiento joined Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro for the naming celebration of the USS Telesforo Trinidad, the Arleigh Burke-class Destroyer memorializing Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Navy Fireman Second Class Telesforo de la Crux Trinidad, on Capitol Hill, today.
“As Navy veteran, a VFW member and proud Filipino-American, I am so honored to be part of this celebration of true heroism,” said Sarmiento. “The VFW passed a resolution in 2021 to support this and made a concerted effort to push for the naming, to include sending a letter to Sec. Del Toro. Today’s ceremony is in great part due to our members determination to meet the challenge of having our voice heard here in our nation’s capital.”
Trinidad was awarded the Medal of Honor on April 1, 1915, for saving the lives of two of his fellow crewmembers three months earlier following a series of boiler room explosions aboard the USS San Diego. Trinidad is the only Filipino in the U.S. Navy to be awarded the Medal of Honor and is one of only two service members ever to receive the award in peacetime.
“We are grateful to the secretary that he would honor not just Telesforo Trinadad, but generations of Filipinos who, for the past 100 years, have faithfully and honorably served in the United States military,” said Sarmiento.
The USS Telesforo Trinidad (DDG 139) is the latest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer added to the surface fleet. It is the first U.S. Navy ship named in honor of a Filipino Medal of Honor recipient and the second ship named after a Medal of Honor recipient of Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander decent, following the commissioning of the USS Daniel Inouye (DDG 118), on Dec. 8, 2021.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) announced today the launch of its PACT Act Info initiative, an effort to educate toxic-exposed veterans on the expansion of benefits brought on by the passage of the PACT Act and streamline trusted access to securing those benefits.
Since the historic Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 was signed into law last August, an onslaught of phishing, vishing and social media scams have targeted veterans with the promise of help accessing PACT Act benefits, but for a fee.
PACT Act Info is the VFW’s latest effort to safeguard veterans, offering a tool to quickly and easily determine benefits eligibility and streamlining direct referrals to VFW Accredited Service Officers who provide free, expert assistance in filing for VA benefits.
“We want to ensure America’s veterans do not fall victim to predatory agents whose intentions are focused on monetary gain and not on what’s best for the veteran,” said VFW National Commander Tim Borland. “Veterans do NOT need to pay for consultations or any other assistance to secure PACT Act benefits.”
The VFW National Veterans Service trains and oversees a global network of more than 2,000 veterans service officers who are accredited by VA to file benefit claims on behalf of any veteran, regardless of VFW membership. VFW Accredited Service Officers walk the veteran through the entire process, from determining eligibility and the initial filing, to the decision and any additional appeal actions all free of charge, as required by law.
“The VFW was instrumental in the passage of the PACT Act to secure the life-changing legislation for veterans, but our mission does not end there,” said Borland. “Now comes the hard work of ensuring every veteran receives the care and benefits they have earned, without paying unnecessary fees.”
WASHINGTON – Five Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members were named today at the SVA National Conference in Orlando, Florida, for the 2023 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship.
“This is fantastic news, not only for these fellows, but also for veterans, service members and their families they will represent,” said VFW National Commander Tim Borland. “On behalf of the entire VFW and its Auxiliary, I’d like to congratulate the five student veterans selected for the Legislative Fellowship Class of 2023. We look forward to all the advocacy work they will do on Capitol Hill, ensuring Congress understands that Every Veteran Counts.”
The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is a semester-long academic experience that involves researching, coordinating, reporting and advocating on behalf of one of four veterans’ policy areas: student veteran success on campus and beyond, improving veteran’s health care and benefits, transitioning from military to civilian life, and challenges for service members and military families.
Each selected fellow submitted a policy proposal to address one of these issues through federal legislative action.
“Our alliance with the VFW focuses on strengthening the opportunities and outcomes available to veterans,” said SVA’s National President and CEO, Jared Lyon at the initial announcement of the opening of the 2023 program this past September. “This fellowship ensures Capitol Hill hears directly from those impacted by the programs and services we advocate for.”
“This important program cultivates the future of veteran advocacy and we look forward to welcoming the 2023 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellows to Washington,” said Lyon, who is also a member of VFW Post 3308 in Tallahassee, Florida.
The fellows will participate in the 2023 VFW Legislative Conference, March 5-9, during which they will be paired with their VFW Department delegation to participate in meetings with their members of Congress to advocate for their policy proposals.
Upon returning home, each of the fellows will also be responsible for executing a community action plan, to include delivering their individual research papers directly to their respective congressional delegations.
The five fellows selected for the 2023 class are:
- Chet Bennetts, Marine Corps veteran, Kansas State University
- Meghan Fitzgerald, Army veteran, University of Denver
- Harry Phillips, Army veteran, Tulane University
- Jordan Quinones, Army veteran, Arizona State University
- Gregory Sanchez, Navy veteran, University of California – Riverside
The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship program continues a legacy of collaboration between the two organizations that was formalized in 2013. To interview any of the selected fellows, contact VFW National Legislative Service Associate Director, Katherine Cassell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo cutline: (L-R) Chet Bennetts, VFW National Veterans Service Director Ryan Gallucci, Jordan Quinones, Greg Sanchez, Harry Phillips, VFW National Legislative Service Associate Director, Katherine Cassell, Meghan Fitzgerald, SVA National President and CEO, Jared Lyon.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is now accepting submissions for its 2023 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:
- Defined as being printed on newspaper stock.
- Best Feature Story
- All publications judged together in this category and 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 email.
- Defined by physical size and paper stock, or designed for online distribution as a PDF. Online/electronic magazines must be printed in color and submitted via USPS, not email.
- Overall Design and Content
Each category will be awarded three places: a grand award (first overall), silver (second overall) and bronze (third overall). Grand prize winners will receive a plaque, and the silver and bronze awards will take the form of a certificate suitable for framing.
The VFW Publication Department’s awards system conforms to that of professional societies within the association publishing industry: National Mature Media Awards, Association Trends, Society of National Association Publications, Society of Professional Journalists and Communications Concepts. In other words, the same types of awards for which VFW magazine competes.
All entries submitted must have been published sometime between Jan. 1, 2022, and Dec. 31, 2022.
Examples of eligible subjects for the Best Feature submissions include operations of state VA departments, National Guard/Reserve unit deployments overseas, troop-support activities, Department VFW programs, dedication of state memorials and state or local commemorative events for the 50th anniversary of Vietnam. Editorials or opinion articles WILL NOT be considered this year. Articles written by VFW magazine staff and reprinted in District, Post or Department publications will not be considered. Only one issue per publication will be reviewed by judges. DO NOT send multiple editions, as judges will not review all of them.
All entries should be sent directly to the VFW National Headquarters. Similar to last year, the competition will be open to any submission, not just the winning submissions from the Department level. This is to remove any bias at all levels. One copy of each submission should be postmarked by April 1, 2023, to:
406 W. 34th Street, Suite 523
Kansas City, MO 64111
All issues and articles published between Jan. 1, 2022, and Dec. 31, 2022, qualify. Download the 2023 Publication Contest entry form.
WASHINGTON – As 2022 comes to a close, I’d like to take this time to share some thoughts and my gratitude for the gift of life we have all been given. Since I took hold of the reigns as VFW commander-in-chief five months ago, I have been on the road and in the air traveling across the globe, engaging with veterans, service members and their families at every stop along the way. Their hospitality, humility, character and commitment have shone through on each visit and have truly made? my time leading and representing this organization a wonderful experience.
I want each and every one of you to consider these selfless individuals when you gather with family and friends, and reflect on the moments you have with one another. It is because of those who have served and sacrificed for this great nation that we have the freedom to celebrate this season and share our lives the way we chose, with whoever we chose and wherever we chose. Keep those struggling during this time of year in your thoughts and prayers – Gold Star families without their loved ones, veterans battling depression and despondency, military families trying to make ends meet and young service members alone and away from family. As always, “Remember Everyone Deployed.”
I’m excited to see what 2023 has in store for the VFW and the opportunities the new year will bring for us to show “No One Does More for Veterans” and that “Every Veteran Counts.”
On behalf of the leadership and staff of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, and the VFW Memorial Building in Washington, D.C., I wish you and yours “Happy Holidays,” and a safe and prosperous new year.
WASHINGTON – Today, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) joins in with our grateful nation in celebrating the third birthday of the newest branch of the Department of Defense, the U.S. Space Force.
Established on Dec. 20, 2019, when the National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law, the United States Space Force (USSF) became a separate and distinct branch of the armed services. Responsible for organizing, training and equipping its members to conduct global space operations, USSF is organized under the Department of the Air Force much like the Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy. Those who wear the Space Force uniform, dubbed “Guardians,” integrate with the rest of the joint force in worldwide operations, protect our nation’s satellites above and space capabilities below from any threat, and strive to gain superiority of earth’s orbit and beyond.
Please join the more than 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary in saying “thank you” and “happy birthday” to every American Guardian who defends the domain of space – freedom’s final frontier.
Semper Supra – “Always Above!”
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) joins a grateful nation in remembering the end of the Iraq War and honoring the service and sacrifice of the veterans of the conflict.
On this day 11 years ago, then – General Lloyd J. Austin III cased the colors of the U.S. Forces – Iraq, officially marking the end of Operation New Dawn. The ceremony was a significant milestone for America’s military operations in the Middle East, which, including Operation Iraqi Freedom, wrapped up 8 years, 8 months and 26 days of persistent conflict in the country of Iraq. The combined toll of casualties from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn far exceeded that of the much longer and more widespread Operation Enduring Freedom. More than 32,000 U.S. service members were wounded in action in Iraq and its surrounding area, and 4,486 made the ultimate sacrifice, a total almost double the number of lives lost worldwide in the Global War on Terrorism. On Dec. 18, 2011, the last convoy of American troops left Iraq and after more than 21 years since Saddam Hussein ordered his forces to invade Kuwait, it seemed as though our nation could finally shift our focus away from Iraq. However, it only took three years before we were sending the U.S. military back in country to combat the terror group ISIS, marking another milestone in Iraq – the beginning of Operation Inherent Resolve.
In a Dec. 10, 2022, press release, Combined Joint Task Force – Inherent Resolve marked the “fifth anniversary of Iraq’s liberation and victory over ISIS control.” Since the U.S. ended its combat role last December, American forces “Advises, Assists and Enables” the Iraqi military until they can independently defend themselves from ISIS and provide long-term, stability and security for the Iraqi people. Until that day comes, U.S. service men and women will continue with their mission in what has become a more than 32-year-overwatch of the nation of Iraq.
Please join the more than 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary in honoring the veterans of the Iraq War and remembering the ones still deployed to the region, as we wait to mark the final milestone when everyone finally comes home.
The Senate must pass this critically needed legislation before the end of the 117th Congress. The House has done its part, and now the Senate must finish the job.
H.R. 1361, the Advancing Uniform Transportation Opportunities for Veterans Act, also known as the AUTO for Veterans Act, would ease the financial burden of the most severely disabled veterans.
H.R. 1836, the Guard and Reserve GI Bill Parity Act of 2021, is a long overdue resolution to the countless members of the Guard and Reserve who serve on active duty orders for periods of time shorter than the ninety-day requirement to receive GI Bill eligibility.
H.R. 6411, the Support The Resiliency of Our Nation’s Great Veterans Act of 2022, or the STRONG Veterans Act of 2022, would authorize pilot programs, expanded mental health care, studies and research, outreach to veterans regarding mental health resources, and update training provided by VA for their workforce and Veterans Crisis Line staff.
S. 2513, the Brian Neuman Department of Veterans Affairs Clothing Allowance Improvement Act of 2021, would allow for the commonsense renewal of this allowance, easing the administrative burden on both VA and veterans in need.
The VFW urges the Senate to finish the job on veterans legislation this year. Our veterans cannot afford to wait any longer for these benefits.
Contact your senators today and tell them to pass H.R. 1361 / H.R. 1836 / H.R. 6411 / S. 2513.
WASHINGTON – Today is National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) encourages all Americans to pause and reflect on the attack 81 years ago that changed the course of history and brought together the nation to defend our sovereignty, confront tyranny and win back freedom around the world.
The Japanese attack resulted in more than 3,500 dead or wounded, and while it was a day of immense tragedy, it would also become a day which showcased America’s unbreakable spirit. The attack has come to stand as a testament to future generations that while our homeland may be attacked, our enemies will never defeat our republic or our way of life.
On this National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, the more than 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary ask everyone to take a moment to remember and be inspired by all who served and sacrificed.
WASHINGTON – As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I would like all of us to reflect with thankfulness in our hearts on the precious gifts of family, friends and comrades we have in our lives. Those of us who have seen conflicts around the world, know all too well just how fragile peace and security are, and can appreciate the sanctuary of our communities. It is the purpose of wartime service overseas – combating threats “over there” so our fellow Americans don’t have to see combat “over here.” So many of our brothers and sisters in arms sacrificed their lives so our citizens can live life freely. Heroes one and all.
Over this past week, peace and security was once again shattered as separate gunmen stepped into public places in two communities and tried to take as many lives as possible. As more information about these tragic mass shootings becomes available, a story of valor has emerged from the incident in Colorado Springs, Colorado. We have learned that former Army Maj. Richard Fierro, a combat veteran with 15 years of service to include tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James, a Navy Information Systems Technician, both rushed to intervene during the Club Q shooting, tackling the gunman to the ground and disarming him. James was wounded in the process, while Fierro was able to subdue the assailant until authorities arrived. These two heroes, who embody our military values and training, risked their lives to stop the threat to those around them, saving countless lives.
We salute Richard Fierro and Petty Officer 2nd Class Thomas James for their bravery and intrepidity in the face of certain danger and we are thankful that they acted when they did. I will personally seek to present the VFW Valor Award for Lifesaving, and if eligible, a free VFW life membership to both heroes for their selfless service in protecting America, yet another reminder that “Every Veteran Counts.” Our nation owes these gentlemen a tremendous debt of gratitude for their service, both in and out of uniform. It is because of them, and the many others who volunteer to wear our nation’s military cloth and fight to ensure our peace and security, that we may have a chance to enjoy the holidays with our loved ones.
On behalf of the more than 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary, may you have a blessed Thanksgiving celebration, and remember to give thanks for the heroes among us, those who are willing to lay everything on the line to defend our freedom and our way of life.
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is today announcing an agreement in which it is entrusting the experienced environmental litigation team at the law firm of Baird Mandalas Brockstedt Federico & Cardea (BMBFC Law) with guiding and assisting its members in navigating legal claims related to exposure to toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
The VFW continues to encourage its members and supporters to consult with a VFW-Accredited Service Officer to determine whether filing a lawsuit is the right step for them. This includes determining how the offset required by the law impacts their VA benefits and any possible award from a Camp Lejeune Justice Act claim.
“Ensuring veterans harmed in the line of duty are made whole has been a guiding principle for the VFW since our founding more than 123 years ago,” said VFW National Commander Tim Borland. “We are honored to entrust BMBFC with this vital mission to ensure veterans and their families who benefit from filing a lawsuit are represented by a team with relevant expertise and veterans’ best interest at heart.”
In August, the VFW-championed SFC Health Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 was signed into law. Along with the most significant expansion of health care and benefits in more than a century, Section 804 of the PACT Act, known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, authorizes veterans and military families who were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune from August 1953 to December 1987 to file a federal tort claim for harm caused by such exposure.
“Since the PACT Act added another recourse for veterans and their families suffering the effects of toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune, getting the right legal advice is crucial,” added Borland. “That’s why, given their deep experience in obtaining justice for communities affected by groundwater contamination and leadership role in this litigation, we turned to the team at BMBFC Law to provide the best counsel possible for those with claims related to Camp Lejeune.”
The VFW cautions its members and supporters to avoid predatory law firms advertising endlessly on television and other media. To assist those who wish to join the Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawsuit determine if a law firm has their best interest at heart, the VFW has established six guiding principles. BMBFC Law has emphatically agreed to (1) cap attorney fees at a reasonable rate, (2) no upfront costs, (3) work with the VFW to ensure veterans explore their earned Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, (4) counsel claimants on the impact of the offset included in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act before accepting an award, (5) encourage VFW membership to eligible veterans, and (6) provide resources to support the VFW Service Officer Program.
“Veterans and their families harmed by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune deserve representation from attorneys experienced in groundwater contamination litigation and fundamentally committed to representing their best interests,” said Iraq War veteran, Purple Heart recipient, and Chair of BMBFC Law’s Military Advisory Board, Jason E. Johns. “As a past state commander for the VFW Department of Wisconsin and a longtime VA-accredited attorney, I’ve chosen to partner with BMBFC Law because this prestigious group of attorneys with proven success in matters regarding toxic water shares my dedication to doing right by my brothers and sisters who have served our country, and as importantly, their families who supported them while they did.”
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act contains broad offset language and to date, there are differing opinions on the meaning of that language. The VA is expected to release regulations related to this in the coming months.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act potentially offers historic benefits to veterans and their families. However, these benefits need to be carefully evaluated by a firm that understands VA disability benefits. The VFW encourages anyone who served or lived at Camp Lejeune from Aug. 1, 1953, to Dec. 31, 1987, to visit Baird Mandalas Brockstedt Federico & Cardea or call 443.665.0375.
About the VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is the nation’s largest and oldest major war veterans organization. Founded in 1899, the congressionally chartered VFW is comprised entirely of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. With more than 1.5 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in nearly 6,000 Posts worldwide, the nonprofit veterans service organization is proud to proclaim “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS” than the VFW, which is dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs. For more information, or to join, visit our website at vfw.org.
WASHINGTON – On this Veterans Day, I want all veterans to know that “Every Veteran Counts.” That phrase is my guiding slogan during my year as VFW’s Commander-in-Chief, and that message is never more relevant on a day set aside for all Americans to reflect and be thankful for those who have worn the nation’s uniform.
The VFW exists, in essence, to make the phrase “Every Veteran Counts” a practical benefit for its members and, in the process, for all of America’s veterans. A vivid, recent example is our championing of the recently enacted PACT Act. Led by VFW’s Washington Office staff, we worked with legislators on the details of the bill, encouraged our members to contact their lawmakers, hosted media events and promoted the law’s passage through VFW magazine and our other communications tools.
The law is, quite simply, the most important legislation ever passed for veterans suffering from toxic exposure. It stands to help some 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic substances, as well as their families. It covers three generations of veterans: those from the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and those who served after Sept. 11, 2001, in Afghanistan and Iraq.
For more than 10 years, we have been fighting to get benefits and compensation for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans exposed to toxic burn pit fumes. For close to 30 years, we’ve advocated in Congress to help Gulf War veterans dealing with mysterious illnesses from their service. For Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange, the battle has gone on for nearly 50 years.
Because Every Veteran Counts, I encourage all who think they were exposed to toxic substances to register with VA’s Airborne Hazards and Open Burn Pit Registry (https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/burnpits/registry.asp).
It does not matter where or when you served, your gender or your race. If you’ve worn the nation’s uniform, the VFW offers you a chance to join a compassionate team that respects your service and exists to serve you. VFW also needs your help to assist your fellow brothers- and sisters-in-arms.
I know that when I stand before the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington, D.C., on Veterans Day tomorrow, I will think of all the hard work compiled by VFW members on behalf of their brothers and sisters, and I will be proud.
As I place a wreath on the Tomb, I’ll be proud of our great organization’s accomplishment in helping to get real assistance to the veterans who need it now. I am proud to be a member and the leader of the nation’s greatest veterans organization.
Passage of the PACT Act demonstrates in the best possible way who we are and what we do. I believe this new law is a perfect way to celebrate Veterans Day. Tell the world about it, and remember, Every Veteran Counts.
Commentary originally published in VFW Magazine, November/December 2022 issue.
WASHINGTON – We have all heard a lot about Camp Lejeune as of late, but what do we know about the man it is named for?
On this 247th Marine Corps birthday, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) salutes all Marines and pays tribute to the man who has been called the “greatest of all leathernecks,” the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Lieutenant General John Archer Lejeune.
Born in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana in 1867, Lejeune entered the US Naval Academy in 1884 and graduated second in his class in 1888. After completing his two-year cruise, he was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1890. From that point on, he would command Marines for the nearly forty years.
From the Spanish-American War to the Philippine-American War, to the Battle of Veracruz during the Mexican Revolution and conflicts in Central America and the Caribbean, Lejeune’s battle proven prowess and exemplary leadership would earn him numerous awards, promotions, elevated positions within the Corps. However, it was his success in World War I that would garner him renown.
Lejeune become the second Marine to ever command a US Army division, leading the 2nd Division to victory in many battles to include the Battle of St. Mihiel. For his accomplishments, Lejeune was awarded the Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre from the French, as well as the US Army and US Navy’s Distinguished Service Medals. Shortly after returning from the war, he was appointed Major General and Commandant of the Marine Corps.
During his time as Commandant, he is credited with founding the Marine Corps League, making marked improvements to training, equipping, education and organization, and transforming the Marine Corps into the amphibious fighting force that would dominate the Pacific theater of World War II.
It is also because of Lejeune that the celebration of the Marine Corps birthday would become such a time-honored formal tradition. Every year since he issued the order in November 1921, his words continue to honor the legacy of his beloved Marine Corps:
“MARINE CORPS ORDERS
No. 47 (Series 1921)
HEADQUARTERS U.S. MARINE CORPS
Washington, November 1, 1921
759. The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.
1. On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name “Marine”. In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.
2. The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.
3. In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.
4. This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as “Soldiers of the Sea” since the founding of the Corps.
John A. Lejeune,
Major General Commandant
Lejeune retired from the Marine Corps on November 10, 1929, fitting for a Marine who contributed so much to the Corps. After serving for eight years as the 5th superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute, he would finally retire from military service in 1937, and promoted to Lieutenant General on the Marine Corps retired list in 1942. Lejeune died on November 20, 1942, in Baltimore, Maryland and interred with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
On this 247th birthday of the USMC and just ahead of the 80th anniversary of Lejeune’s passing, please join the more than 1.5 million members of the VFW and it’s Auxiliary in honoring Lieutenant General John Lejeune by remembering his contributions to the Marine Corps and by saying “thank you” to every U.S. Marine both past and present, who are “Always Faithful” to our great nation.
Happy birthday Marines! Semper Fi!
WASHINGTON – For nearly a decade, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the law firm of Bergmann & Moore have worked together to provide effective legal representation for veterans with VA disability benefit appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Through a renewed agreement, the VFW is entrusting Bergmann & Moore with guiding and assisting its members in navigating the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA).
“Ensuring veterans harmed in the line of duty are made whole has been a guiding principle for the VFW since our founding more than 123 years ago,” said VFW National Commander Tim Borland. “We are honored to expand our association with Bergmann & Moore to ensure veterans and their families who benefit from filing a lawsuit are represented by someone who has their best interest at heart.”
In August, the VFW-championed SFC Health Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 was signed into law. Along with the most significant expansion of health care and benefits in more than a century, Section 804 of the PACT Act, known as the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, authorizes veterans and military families who were exposed to toxic water at Camp Lejeune from August 1953 to December 1987 to file a federal tort claim for harm caused by such exposure.
“Since the PACT Act added another recourse for veterans and their families suffering the effects of toxic exposure at Camp Lejeune, getting the right legal advice is crucial,” added Borland. “That’s why we turned to our long-trusted relationship with Bergmann & Moore to provide the best counsel possible for those we assist.”
The VFW cautions its members and supporters to avoid predatory law firms advertising endlessly on television and other media. To assist those who wish to join the Camp Lejeune Justice Act lawsuit determine if a law firm has their best interest at heart, the VFW has established six guiding principles. Bergmann & Moore has a proven track record of treating our members honestly and fairly and has agreed to (1) cap attorney fees at a reasonable rate, (2) no upfront costs, (3) work with the VFW to ensure veterans explore their earned Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, (4) counsel claimant on the impact of the offset included in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act before accepting an award, (5) encourage VFW membership to eligible veterans, and (6) provide resources to support the VFW Service Officer Program.
“The goal of the agreement between VFW and Bergmann & Moore is to ensure VFW members who file a Camp Lejeune claim receive the greatest benefit and understand what they may be giving up as a result of any offset,” said Glenn Bergmann, Bergmann & Moore’s Managing Partner. “The Camp Lejeune Justice Act contains broad offset language that no one is talking about. Understanding whether an award under the CLJA will result in an offset of VA care or benefits will allow VFW members to make an informed decision before they accept the one-time benefit.”
To date there are differing opinions on the meaning of the offset language. The VA is expected to release regulations related to this in the coming months. The VFW continues to encourage its members and supporters to consult with a VFW-Accredited Service Officer to determine whether filing a lawsuit is the right step for them. This includes determining how the offset required by the law impacts their VA benefits and any possible award from a Camp Lejeune Justice Act claim.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act potentially offers historic benefits to veterans and their families. However, these benefits need to be carefully evaluated by a firm that understands VA disability benefits. The VFW encourages anyone who served or lived at Camp Lejeune from Aug. 1, 1953, to Dec. 31, 1987, to visit vfw.org/CampLejeuneHelp or call 800.898.9450.
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) recognizes all service members, veterans, comrades, and their families of Indigenous heritage in commemorating the National Native American Heritage Month observance throughout November.
Since the American Revolution, Native Americans have fought and died in our nation’s wars. We would not be able to enjoy the freedoms bestowed upon us today if it were not for their many sacrifices. They have showed us just how important this land is, how we must preserve it, and how much it’s worth fighting for.
The first official month celebrating Native American heritage came about in 1990 when President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November of that same year as “National American Indian Heritage Month.” Similar proclamations, under variants on the name, including “Native American Heritage Month” and “National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month,” have been issued each year since 1994.
On behalf of the more than 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary, we proudly honor the heritage of our fellow Americans from the Tribal Nations and salute their immeasurable contributions to our United States.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is pleased to announce that today, TOMS King Services BURGER KING® franchisee’s Chief Operating Officer Erin Hasselgren traveled to Salem, Ohio, to present VFW Post 892 and District 6 Commander Douglas Brannon with a $75,000 donation to the VFW Unmet Needs program.
The donation, raised by 125 BURGER KING® franchise locations during their month-long July 2022 fundraising campaign, will help support military and veteran families experiencing financial difficulties. To date, TOMS King Services has raised more than $370,000 for the VFW Unmet Needs program.
“We’ve supported the VFW’s Unmet Needs program for many years, and are honored to help in any way we can to support the needs of our treasured veterans and military families,” said TOMS King Services Erin Hasselgren. “We can’t possibly do enough for these great men and women.”
The VFW Unmet Needs program provides financial grants of up to $1,500 to military and veteran families facing financial difficulties directly related to their military service. To date, the program has provided more than $12 million in financial grants. To find out more about the program or to apply, visit vfw.org/UnmetNeeds.
ABOUT TOMS King Services: TOMS King Services owns and operates over 125 BURGER KING® restaurants across Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia, with more than 3,000 team members, and has grown to become one of the largest BURGER KING® franchisees in North America. Visit https://www.tomsking.com.
WASHINGTON – The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) joins in with our grateful nation in celebrating the birthday of the U.S. Navy, who has protected and defended freedom both at home and around the globe for the past 247 years.
On Oct. 13, 1775, a resolution of the Continental Congress established what is now the United States Navy with “a swift sailing vessel, to carry ten carriage guns, and a proportionable number of swivels, with eighty men, be fitted, with all possible despatch, for a cruise of three months …” While disbanded for a short while after the end of the Revolutionary War, it was permanently established by the passing of the Naval Act, signed into law by President George Washington in 1794. This act authorized the construction of six frigates, which were the first ships of what eventually became the modern U.S. Navy.
Today, the U.S. Navy has a fleet of more than 460 ships, more than 3,650 aircraft and a combined force of more than 730,000 active duty, reserve and civilian personnel, with a mission to “deliver combat ready Naval forces to win conflicts and wars while maintaining security and deterrence through sustained forward presence.” With its near-futuristic technology, thoroughly trained and highly dedicated professional sailors, and an unmatched winning record “Forged by the Sea,” it is no wonder today’s American naval warfare service branch is touted as “the largest, most advanced and most lethal fighting force the world has ever known.”
Please join the more than 1.5 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary in saying ‘thank you’ to every American sailor, both past and present, and wishing them a happy 247th birthday!
The following is an Op-ed by VFW National Commander Tim Borland, published by Military Times.
WASHINGTON – When a recruit joins the U.S. military, they have a lot of tasks to complete – paperwork and ID cards, physicals, boot camp, and training for their military occupational specialty – all responsibilities they accept as part of wearing the uniform. In return for accepting these responsibilities, and the sacrifices that come with them, our service members are rightfully afforded special federal statutory legal protections.
However, these special protections afforded to service members are being undermined by a legal trap buried in the fine print of contracts and click-through agreements: forced arbitration. This legal trap means that active duty, Guard or reserve members and veterans are unable to take their case to court when big corporations break the law and violate their rights.
Two of the most important of these special protections provided by Congress are the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, or USERRA, and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA.
USERRA provides protection to service members from employment discrimination due to their military service. Under USERRA, the civilian jobs of deployed Guard and reservists are legally protected. Upon their return home, they are to be reemployed in a similar or comparable job and are entitled to any promotions and seniority benefits they would have received if not for their deployment.
SCRA provides financial and legal protections for active duty personnel and their families, as well as Guard and reservists while on active duty orders. Service members regularly confront challenging circumstances that civilians do not, such as limited access to internet or banking services while deployed, reduced household income and increased costs necessary to keep a one-parent home going. SCRA is meant to prevent predatory actions by unscrupulous banks, companies, and other financial institutions, such as arbitrarily raised interest rates, exorbitant late payment fees, and illegal foreclosures. Forced arbitration clauses buried in the fine print make it difficult to enforce this important law.
Forced arbitration has become so commonplace in employee and financial contracts that more and more service members find themselves unable to hold employers and corporations responsible for violating their rights. Forced arbitration requires nondisclosure of the details of the proceedings and is held at a location selected by the corporation with an arbitrator hired and paid for by the corporation whose decision is binding and unappealable to any impartial judge or jury. This lopsided “legal proceeding” unsurprisingly favors the defendant corporation most of the time and circumvents Congress’ intent for passing USERRA and SCRA in the first place.
Congress acted in February to end forced arbitration for survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault. These survivors now can choose if their claim is heard by a judge and jury or through arbitration. The Veterans of Foreign Wars firmly believes veterans and service members deserve the same choice, and 31 other veteran and military service organizations do too.
Thankfully, we have great allies in Congress who have joined us in this fight. In the House, Reps. David Cicilline, D-R.I.; Mark Takano, D-Calif.; Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa.; Jared Golden, D-Maine; Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.; and Conor Lamb, R-Pa.; sponsored the Justice for Servicemembers Act (HR 2196). This bill’s protections and language were included in the House passed version of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. We thank Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, for being steadfast champions on this issue and we hope the Senate maintains this language in its version of the NDAA.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars calls upon Congress to honor the intent of the laws they passed to protect service members – SCRA and USERRA – and give these laws back their enforcement power. To continue to ignore doing so only sets a bigger legal trap for our troops. Congress must act now to close this loophole in the law.
Timothy M. Borland currently serves as Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. Tim served in the U.S. Army from 1979 to 2007, last serving with the 101st Airborne Division. He earned his VFW eligibility serving in Korea and Iraq and currently maintains his Gold Legacy Life membership at VFW Post 9972 in Sierra Vista, Arizona, Tim is also a member of AMVETS, American Legion, and a life member of Disabled American Veterans.
GEORGETOWN, Texas – Sport Clips Haircuts kicks off an annual drive today that you can participate in to raise $1.7 million by November 12, in support of the VFW’s “Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship” program. You’ll join Sport Clips clients, team members, and franchisees to raise money via text and in stores over the next five weeks, and participating Sport Clips stores will donate $2 from every hair care service provided on Veterans Day, November 11, to the program. Many participating Sport Clips locations will also offer free Veterans Day haircuts for those with military I.D.
At the heart of the Help A Hero campaign is Sport Clips Founder and Chairman Gordon Logan, an Air Force veteran who flew C-130s in Southeast Asia. “Research shows most Americans understand there’s need for additional money to help veterans with education and training. Because G.I. Bill funds don’t always go the distance, we started the Help A Hero Scholarship program with the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 2013 to help out when veterans need to go back to school in order to pursue civilian careers. Our clients and product partners have made the program a ‘win’ for veterans by helping us donate more than $11.4 million to the program to date and funding 2,400 scholarships,” Logan says. “Help A Hero is now the largest scholarship program of its kind, and, with your help, we want to continue to make a positive difference for those who serve our country.”
“With college tuition inflation up 8% and veterans’ education benefits stretched thin, the Help A Hero scholarship gives veterans and their families the extra help they deserve to reach their educational goals,” said VFW National Commander Tim Borland. “Your support ensures we are able to continue to provide this vital lifeline to veterans and their families.”
This year Sport Clips is making it easy to donate to Help A Hero at the check-out kiosk following a haircut or even easier by texting “HERO” to 71777. These scholarships range up to $5,000 per semester and help cover the cost of tuition and fees for military and service members with the rank of E-5 and below. Help A Hero scholarships are awarded to qualified veterans across all branches of the military by sending the funds directly to the college or technical school of their choice. To apply and learn how these scholarships are impacting the lives of veterans, visit SportClips.com/Hero.
About Sport Clips Haircuts
Sport Clips Haircuts is headquartered in Georgetown, Texas. It was established in 1993 and began franchising in 1995. The sports-themed haircutting franchise, which specializes in haircuts for men and boys, offers online check in for clients, and ranks #24 in the Entrepreneur “Franchise 500” for 2022 and is listed in Franchise Direct’s 2021 “Top 100 Global Franchises”. There are almost 1,900 Sport Clips stores open in the U.S. and Canada. Sport Clips is the “Official Haircutter” of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), offers veterans preferential pricing on haircuts and franchises, and was named a 2021 Top Franchise for Veterans by Entrepreneur. Sport Clips provides “Haircuts with Heart” through its annual Help A Hero fundraiser that has contributed $11.4 million to the VFW; national partnership with St. Baldrick’s Foundation, the largest private funder of childhood cancer research grants; and other national and local philanthropic outreach. Sport Clips is a proud sponsor of NASCAR’s Joe Gibbs Racing team and SRX Racing, and partners with other NCAA and professional sports teams. To learn more about Sport Clips, visit sportclips.com.