27. August 2015 · Comments Off on VFW Appoints First Female Assistant Quartermaster General · Categories: National VFW News

image003KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) has appointed a 13-year Army and Desert Storm veteran as the first female Assistant Quartermaster General for the nation’s largest combat veteran service organization.

Debra Anderson was sworn in on August 23, 2015, before the VFW’s National Council of Administration. The announcement comes just days after a historical change to extend VFW Auxiliary membership eligibility to male spouses and male family members, solidifying the VFW’s commitment to membership equality for all military families.

“Since coming to the VFW in 2006, Debra has been dedicated to furthering the VFW’s mission at Post, District and National levels. I have no doubt that she will continue to ensure the VFW remains the top veterans’ service organization FOR VETERANS,” said John Biedrzycki, VFW national commander.

Prior to her appointment, Anderson served as director of Human Resources and Investment Coordinator where she managed all aspects of human resources for the VFW National Headquarters.

Anderson earned her VFW eligibility for service with the U.S. Army during Desert Storm and left the Army in 1993 as a Major. Among her numerous military decorations, she has been awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal (2), Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal and Parachutist Badge.

She graduated cum laude with a degree in Economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia and earned a master’s degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California.

Anderson joined the VFW in 2006 at Post 7356 in Parkville, Mo., where she currently maintains her Gold Legacy Life membership. She has served as Voice of Democracy chair, junior vice commander, senior vice commander, All-American Post Commander, trustee and district adjutant.

(via VFW.org)

27. August 2015 · Comments Off on Action Alert: Veterans Choice Program and Access Survey · Categories: National VFW News

Background: Last year, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 (Choice Act) to improve access to health care for veterans and reduce VA appointment wait times. Since its enactment, the VFW has worked to ensure this important law serves the best interest of veterans. In the past year, the VFW has commissioned several surveys; compiled three reports; worked directly with VA officials and health care contractors; and testified before Congress multiple times on the state of the VA health care system and the implementation of the Choice Act, resulting in significant changes in the program to better serve veterans.

Action Needed: Take the VFW’s latest Veterans Choice Program and Access Survey to help the VFW hold VA accountable for delivering veterans timely access to high quality care. To take the survey, click here:

http://capwiz.com/vfw/utr/1/EUTAVCFUQO/LWFSVCFUYW/10968957876.

27. August 2015 · Comments Off on VFW Auxiliary Now Accepts Men · Categories: National VFW News

John A. Biedrzycki Jr., national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) [last week] added his official signature to the new congressional charter of its Auxiliary organization in a historical event solidifying the VFW’s commitment to membership equality for all military families.

The former Ladies Auxiliary VFW, founded in 1914, is the VFW’s highly regarded support organization and is considered its “Partner in Service.”

Under its former name Ladies Auxiliary VFW, membership within the organization was offered exclusively to female spouses and family members of any member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The gender-specific eligibility requirement remained for more than 100 years until July 20, 2015, when delegates to the VFW’s 116th National Convention in Pittsburgh voted to amend the dated by-law to extend the same membership opportunity to eligible males.

Appropriately, the Ladies Auxiliary VFW has changed its official name to the VFW Auxiliary.

“It’s an exciting time to be a member of the Auxiliary,” said National President Francisca Guilford. “Women comprise nearly twenty percent of our nation’s military, and this change allows all spouses, fathers, grandfathers, sons, grandsons and brothers to serve others in honor of their veteran.”

Currently, the Auxiliary has more than 465,000 members, a number that is now expected to sharply increase over the next year. Its members represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, several foreign locations including Germany, Guam and Panama, and have made an impact in local communities around the globe.

Last year alone, its members worked to provide $4.6 million dollars in monetary aid to veterans, active duty military and their families, and volunteered nearly 800,000 hours in VA Medical Centers, hospitals, nursing and veterans’ homes. Auxiliary members also contributed greatly to cancer research, youth activities, civic patriotism and much more.

For more information about the VFW Auxiliary, please visit www.vfwauxiliary.org.

(via VFW.org)

12. July 2015 · Comments Off on VFW: Sequestration Must End! · Categories: National VFW News

WASHINGTON (July 10, 2015) — There was nothing shocking about Thursday’s force reduction announcement by the Army. The Budget Control Act of 2011 had dictated the terms by which America’s largest military service would incrementally shrink from a wartime high of 570,000 active-duty soldiers to 450,000. Still to come, however, is the return of mandatory sequestration in fiscal year 2016, which would further shrink the active Army to 420,000 soldiers, as well as drastically slash the operating budgets of all four military services.

“Sequestration is the most significant military readiness and national security threat of the 21st century, and despite almost universal congressional opposition to it, no member of the House or Senate has yet introduced any legislation to end it,” said John W. Stroud, national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. “Our military can beat any military in the world, but they can’t fight a Congress that is essentially forcing them to operate for a decade on only eight years’ worth of funding.”

Though the Army’s announced two-year plan to reduce its end strength by 40,000 soldiers and 17,000 civilians was preordained four years ago, Stroud said what’s important now is for the new Congress to act.

“We need both political parties to finally say ‘enough,’ not because a continued sequester will hurt civilian economies in certain congressional districts, but because a continued sequester weakens America, worries our allies and emboldens our enemies,” he said. “Our brave men and women in uniform will continue to perform and excel at every mission, but overtasking with inadequate resourcing will cost lives — American lives — which is an impending disaster the VFW will not allow. Sequestration must end!”

(via VFW.org)

29. April 2015 · Comments Off on VFW Calls New VA Appropriations Bill ‘Bad for Veterans’ · Categories: National VFW News, VA News

WASHINGTON — The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States said the U.S. House of Representatives is set to penalize disabled veterans this week if it votes to reduce the Department of Veterans Affairs budget request by more than $1.5 billion.

“The nationwide crisis in care and confidence that erupted in the VA last year was caused in many ways by a lack of adequate resourcing that only Congress is authorized to provide,” said John W. Stroud, who leads the 1.9 million-member VFW and its Auxiliaries. “That’s why the VFW is demanding that the House amend this bill to appropriate a funding level that fully funds VA.”

In its current form, the fiscal year 2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill makes across-the-board cuts to all VA discretionary accounts, and drastically underfunds medical care, major construction and Information Technology accounts. Stroud said across-the-board cuts to discretionary spending is what Congress created back in 2011, but by another name, sequestration. Now the House wants to impose its own sequester on a federal department whose sole mission is to care for wounded, ill and injured veterans.

“The VA cannot fulfill its mission without proper funding, but the House for whatever reason now wants to ration care, eliminate infrastructure projects, and stop improving upon the programs and services that the VA was created to provide,” said the VFW national commander. “This bill is bad for veterans and any vote for it is unconscionable, which is why we want veterans and advocates everywhere to get involved by urging their elected officials to fully fund the VA.”

Make your voices heard here.

via VFW.org

During today’s [Wednesday’s] testimony before a joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees, the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW) expressed the organization’s deep concern over America’s disregard for veterans.

“What concerns the VFW and patriots everywhere is that America has forgotten that OUR NATION IS STILL AT WAR,” explained William A. Thien, commander-in-chief of the VFW. “We have 38,000 men and women stationed inside Afghanistan fighting to ensure the country doesn’t become a terrorist training ground again. We have another 30,000 stationed in South Korea helping to preserve a 61-year-old ceasefire that is looking more and more tenuous.  We have tens of thousands more service members stationed abroad helping to bring peace and stability, and humanitarian assistance when and where it’s needed.”

Thien went on to address the war now being waged on American soil as well, reminding lawmakers of the ongoing veterans’ fight to retain their promised benefits and Quality of Life programs. He noted the passage of the recent COLA penalty, an initiative that VFW was adamantly against since its introduction late last year. “Some believe the cost of war ends when the last troops leave Afghanistan. We know this is not true, and that is why we need a fully funded state-of-the-art VA health care system, benefits programs and cemetery system.”

He pledged that the more than 1.9 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries will fight to preserve the safety and security of America and the viability of its All-Volunteer Military. He also vowed to fight attempts to force veterans, service members and their families to shoulder an unfair share of the nation’s debt, and promised to continue the fight for adequate funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as for advance appropriations for its programs.

Thien explained to Congress that the VFW’s mission is to ensure that a nation that creates veterans fulfills its sacred duty to care for them when they return home. “The VFW exists to serve veterans, and that includes representing them in Washington where the voice of one veteran is often overlooked and the voice of servicemen and women is prohibited.

“Everything the VFW wants costs money, but everything the VFW wants is for someone else—someone from every city and town in every congressional district, and in every state and territory who swore an oath of allegiance to protect and defend our great country and its Constitution,” Thien stated.

Read the entire testimony.

Click here to see full testimony plus Q&A

The winners of the VFW and Ladies Auxiliary sponsored Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition and the Patriot’s Pen essay competition were announced yesterday[Monday] during the 2014 VFW Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Voice of Democracy program celebrated its 67th year with this year’s theme, “Why I’m Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.” The first-place winner, Madison Haley, sponsored by VFW Post 777 and Ladies Auxiliary in Mount Pulaski, Ill., received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she was presented with the T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship Award in the amount of $30,000. The second-place winner, Grace Speas, sponsored by VFW Post 10097 and Ladies Auxiliary in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., received the $16,000 Charles Kuralt Memorial Scholarship Award. The third-place winner, Luke Ball, sponsored by VFW Post 2573 and Ladies Auxiliary in Wilmington, N.C., received the $10,000 VFW Scholarship Award. All other state winners received at least a $1,000 college scholarship. More than 40,000 students participated in this year’s competition.

Read Madison Haley’s award-winning essay.

See the complete list of all winners.

The Patriot’s Pen program is designed to foster patriotism by allowing students the opportunity to express their opinions on democracy based on an annual theme, this year’s being, “What Patriotism Means to Me.” The first-place winner, Alexis Canen, sponsored by VFW Post 1125 and Ladies Auxiliary in Glendive, Mont., received an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., where she received a $5,000 award. The second-place winner, Noelle Nakaoka, sponsored by VFW Post 2875 in Ewa Beach, Hawaii, will receive a $4,000 award. The third-place winner, Olivia Leising, sponsored by VFW Post 9357 in Cambridge, Neb., will receive a $3,500 award. More than 111,000 students participated in this year’s competition.

Read Alexis Canen’s award-winning essay.

See list of all winners.

This year promises to be a momentous one for America’s veterans and its warriors. Issues affecting those in and out of uniform will be on the front burner on Capitol Hill.

Two events in 2014 will no doubt put veterans and the armed forces in the national limelight: congressional elections and withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan. The ending of a war is always a watershed in history, and this one should be no exception.

Achieving such a milestone will attract publicity that should be maximized to the benefit of the Afghanistan War’s veterans and their families. While the media is focused on the political ramifications of the combat disengagement, we should draw attention to the needs of the youngest generation of war vets.

Recently, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the 47,000 GIs remaining in Afghanistan: “I know more than occasionally you wonder if anybody’s paying attention, or if anybody cares, but we do.”

Hagel may have been speaking on behalf of the American people in general, but his words could have been our own. This is all part of our commitment to “fully support U.S. troops and their mission to prosecute the war on terrorism.”

VFW’s Priority Goals include a host of issues—health care, housing, education, employment, transition assistance and military quality-of-life as a whole—that are perfectly relevant to those on active duty today. Each and every one of these goals is being pursued with vigor by our Washington Office staff.

Continue reading…

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, America’s largest organization of combat veterans, has announced that its official charity, the VFW Foundation, is taking urgent action to help the families of fallen U.S. service members. Because of the federal government shutdown, the Pentagon is withholding a $100,000 death gratuity payment that is usually given to relatives of the deceased. Such payments stopped effective September 30, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.

William A. Thien, VFW Commander-in-Chief, called the delay “disgusting and shameful” and stated that, “It is absolutely appalling and nothing short of a travesty that elected officials continue to receive paychecks and benefits while not providing for those who deserve it most.” While imploring the Congress and the President to “immediately resolve this issue” he has directed financial resources be made available from the VFW’s Unmet Needs program which is funded through the VFW Foundation to help affected military families.

Established in 2004, Unmet Needs has granted over $4.7 million to military service personnel and their families for expenses due to rent, mortgage, utilities, vehicle repair, medical expenses and food/basic assistance.

Unmet Needs funds would be made directly available to the families of fallen service members to help with their bills, travel and other pressing financial concerns.

Families are encouraged to call the VFW’s Unmet Needs hotline at 1-866-789-6333, option 1 or visit www.unmetneeds.org.

See more from the VFW

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