What are the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) organizations? What do they offer to soldiers, both retired and active? Many people do not know what either of these organizations are, how they came to be, or what they can offer to their members. Below is some basic information about these organizations and what they can offer you as well as the difference between the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
The American Legion
The mission of the American Legion is to offer support programs to all soldiers. Some of these services include benefit centers, career centers, health and education and also family and youth support. Obviously troops support is their main objective and the focal point of their services. Their website, www.legion.org, can direct you to multiple services ranging from support for disabled veterans right down to financial assistance if need be. There are also resources for career and employment opportunities, and you can locate the American Legion Center closest to you.
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
Another organization that veterans of a war zone should consider joining is the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War founded local organizations that would later become the VFW. The VFW was instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration and creating G.I. bills for the 20th and 21st centuries. In fact, there currently are approximately 2,000,000 members.
The VFW National Headquarters is in Kansas City, MO. To become a member you can go online at www.vfw.org/Join/ to sign up. There are different types of memberships such as:
- Annual – $35 per year to be considered a Member-at-Large at a post in your state
- Life – the price is different based on age and offers you membership at any post worldwide as well as a few other perks
- Legacy Life – there are three levels available (gold, silver, bronze) that offer their own addition benefits as well as the benefits of a Life member
The VFW’s vision is “ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of our nation.” As with the American Legion, the VFW offers many services to our Veterans of Foreign Wars. Some of the services that are available at the various posts include filing a VA claim, securing separation benefits, explaining how to use education benefits, helping with applications for college scholarships, and financial assistance if need be. Also, if the need should arise, they also provide a veterans crisis line. The VFW offers multiple services geared towards all the needs of our veterans, including the mind, body and physical needs. Their website, www.vfw.org can direct you to the closest post in your area to assist you in any issue that you may have or just for a place to hang out with other military members, old and new.
According to Ramdi Law, VFW spokesman, VFW membership has dropped by approximately 400,000 soldiers. Their ranks simply are not being replenished. It is the general consensus that soldiers from recent wars now have so much technology available such as computers and cell phones that they choose to keep in touch with members of their former units or even boot camp. But they aren’t receiving all of the benefits that membership offers.
Not Just for “Old” Guys
There seems to be a mistaken perception that the American Legion and the VFW are for older retirees. In reality, the services offered can benefit any service member, young or old, who needs help in multitude of areas – or just to enjoy the camaraderie of fellow veterans. I am a member of both myself and I am not that old!
Are you a member? Why or why not?