VFW Mission & History



The  VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their   service: Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care  or  veterans' pension for them, and they were left to care for  themselves.

In  their misery, some of these veterans  banded together and formed  organizations with what would become known  as the Veterans of Foreign  Wars of the United States. After chapters  were formed in Ohio, Colorado  and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly  gained momentum. By 1915,  membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership  was almost 200,000.

Since  then, the VFW's voice had been  instrumental in establishing the  Veterans Administration, creating a GI  bill for the 20th century, the  development of the national cemetery  system and the fight for  compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent  Orange and for veterans  diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, VFW  won a long-fought victory  with the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st  Century, giving expanded  educational benefits to America's active-duty  service members, and  members of the Guard and Reserves, fighting in  Iraq and Afghanistan.

The  VFW also has fought for improving VA  medical centers services for women  veterans. Besides helping fund the  creation of the Vietnam, Korean War,  World War II and Women in Military  Service memorials, the VFW in 2005  became the first veterans'  organization to contribute to building the  new Disabled Veterans for  Life Memorial, which opened in November 2010.

Annually,  the nearly 2 million members of  the VFW and its Auxiliaries contribute  more than 8.6 million hours of  volunteerism in the community, including  participation in Make A  Difference Day and National Volunteer Week.

From  providing over $3 million in college  scholarships and savings bonds to  students every year, to encouraging  elevation of the Department of  Veterans Affairs to the president's  cabinet, the VFW is there.