Since 1899, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has been steadfast in its commitment to helping US military active servicemembers and veterans improve their quality of life, especially after service, by providing much-needed resources such as healthcare needs and pension benefits.
Among its most significant accomplishments is its contribution to establishing the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial in 2015 and its significant role in passing the GI Bill for the 21st Century in 2008. Moreover, VFW has been the “driving force behind the Veteran Access and Accountability Act (also known as the Veterans Choice Act) of 2014” and continues to fight for the improvement of Veteran Affairs (VA) healthcare services for women veterans.
Founded Through Camaraderie
A strong bond of camaraderie who fought side-by-side during their deployment overseas and shared sentiments upon returning home was the foundation of the VFW. Unfortunately, many veterans who fought in the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippines Insurrection (1899-1902) came home wounded or sick with no medical care nor pensions at their aid, leaving these former servicemen to fend for themselves.
Taking the matter into their own hands, some veterans banded together through shared experience and language, forming little groups which expanded into local societies that would eventually establish the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, the predecessor of VFW, based in Columbus, Ohio by Spanish‑American War veteran James C. Putnam on September 29, 1899. Other chapters followed, including the Colorado Society (Army of the Philippines) in December 1899 and Foreign Service Veterans in Pennsylvania shortly after that. These three organizations grew together, expanding scope and membership until finally merging in 1913. By 1936, the nonprofit organization obtained its congressional charter under the FDR administration. Today, the VFW has more than 1.5 million members and its Auxiliary.