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
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
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.