Aug
13

PRESIDENT SIGNS CRITICAL VETERANS’ LEGISLATION INTO LAW

PRESIDENT SIGNS CRITICAL VETERANS’ LEGISLATION INTO LAW

VFW on hand for signing of Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act

“As early as 2002 the VFW has testified before Congress that veterans are waiting too long for care and that VA doesn’t have the doctors and space needed to provide timely care,” said VFW Commander-in-Chief John Stroud. “This legislation is a positive first step in putting VA back on track, but it will take decisive leadership within VA, as well as strong oversight from Congress and the veteran community to ensure our veterans receive the timely, quality care they have earned.”

The VFW membership then passed a stern resolution at the recent VFW National Convention, telling Congress to either pass the bill before recess, or pay the consequences back home. This message was quickly reinforced by the VFW’s grassroots Action Corps, which sent nearly 32,000 messages to every Congressional office on Capitol Hill, insisting legislators take action.

“VFW members were rightfully outraged over the recent controversy, and today the voices of our members resonated strongly in Washington,” said Stroud.

The Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 also includes critical provisions expanding traumatic brain injury care programs for veterans; improving education benefits for surviving spouses; critical funding for 27 new or expanded VA Community-based Outpatient Clinics; and a provision offering veterans in-state tuition at the public college or university of their choice within three years of leaving active duty.

The new law comes in the wake of a nationwide scandal in which veterans and whistleblowers called attention to veterans languishing on appointment waiting lists at VA facilities. The scandal has led to widespread criminal investigations and the resignation of many top VA officials. When news of the scandal broke, the VFW mobilized its health care help line, 1-800-VFW-1899, encouraging veterans to call and share their experiences, and intervening directly with VA on behalf of more than 200 veterans who were waiting for care.

Jul
25

Air Force Veteran Elected to Lead Veterans of Foreign Wars

Stroud speechKANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 24, 2014) — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States concluded its 115th national convention yesterday with the election of the new VFW National Commander, John W. Stroud.

Stroud served in the U.S. Air Force from 1976-1997, including a tour in Korea in 1992-1993 with the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base as a Flight Operations Superintendent. His decorations include four Meritorious Service Medals, three Air Force Commendation Medals, three Air Force Achievement Medals, the Korea Defense Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

He is a resident of Hawthorne, Nev., and a Gold Legacy Life Member of Post 2313, and has served the VFW in a number of leadership positions including Nevada Department Commander and Chairman of the National Veterans Service Committee.

During his acceptance speech, Stroud addressed the recent VA crisis stating, “the VA is a health care system worth saving that right now must identify and fix what’s broken … that needs to hold people appropriately accountable to the fullest extent of the law … and a system that must restore the faith of veterans in their VA. He added that he is confident Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson and nominee Bob McDonald—if confirmed—will not make the same mistake as the previous VA Secretary who simply trusted his employees to the point of his demise.

Stroud recounted his first experience with the VFW, stopping in Post 10047 in Las Vegas, Nev., after seeing a sign that read ‘Active Duty Military Welcome.’ Dressed in fatigues, he entered the Post and was immediately welcomed. Surrounded by his comrades, he learned of the organization’s many programs and services, and he knew he wanted in.

“Comrades, I share my story to encourage you to tell your own stories to others.  A great part of the VFW story involves the relevance between different generations, and the ability to educate others about who we are, what we do, and who we do it for,” he said.

Stroud had high praise for members’ work and VFW programs, citing several outstanding instances of disaster relief, troop support and veterans resource efforts. He commended those who worked with the U.S. European Command to operate a Visitor’s Center for hundreds of American D-Day veterans and thousands of visitors who were in Normandy for the 70th anniversary of the landing, and praised the Ladies Auxiliary for its donations to cancer research which now total $30 million.   

“One of the best things about being a National Officer is I get to brag about the VFW wherever I go … to the troops, to veterans, their families, nonveterans and politicians, too,” he said.

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Jun
04

Message from the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Message from the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs

‘VA’s first priority is to get all Veterans off waiting lists’

Not all Veterans are getting the timely access to the healthcare that they have earned. Systemic problems in scheduling processes have been exacerbated by leadership failures and ethical lapses. I will use all available authority to swiftly and decisively address issues of willful misconduct or mismanagement.

VA’s first priority is to get all Veterans off waiting lists and into clinics while we address the underlying issues that have been impeding Veterans’ access to healthcare. The President has made clear that this is his expectation.

Even as we implement these immediate actions, we will work with Veterans Service Organizations, members of Congress, academia, public and private organizations, and with all other agencies and institutions that can help us move forward.

We will also continue to depend on the faithful service of VA employees and leaders who place the interests of Veterans above their own, those who serve Veterans with dignity, compassion, and dedication, and who live by VA’s core values: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence.

Finally, as we accelerate our access to care, we will not lose sight of the fact that the quality of VA healthcare remains strong. Ten years of external validations have consistently shown that, on average, Veterans who use VA healthcare rate our hospitals and clinics as high or higher in customer satisfaction than patients give most of the Nation’s private sector hospitals.

On behalf of all Veterans, I express my appreciation to Secretary Shinseki for his leadership of VA. For decades to come, Veterans will benefit from the transformation begun in the past five years.

Thank you for your support and dedication to Veterans and our mission to serve them.

Sloan D. Gibson

Acting Secretary

Jun
04

VFW Urges Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi’s Release From Mexican Jail

VFW National Commander requests President Obama step in

VFW National Commander Bill Thien wrote President Obama today to urge his personal involvement to get Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi released from a Mexican jail. Read it here:

Dear Mr. President:

I write as the national commander of the 1.9 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliaries to urge your immediate action to secure the release of Andrew Tahmooressi from a Mexican jail.

The charges against Tahmooressi, a Marine Corps sergeant in the Individual Ready Reserve, appear to be a desperate attempt by a failing nation-state to project strength against the United States. What’s urgently needed is for Mexico to release him before irreparable damage is done to the goodwill between our two countries that today is at best tenuous.

A personal phone call from you to Mexican President Nieto can make this happen.

Respectfully,

William A. Thien
VFW Commander-in-Chief

Mar
07

VFW National Commander Testifies Before Congress

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

Mar
07

VFW Announces 2013-2014 National Youth Scholarship Contest Winners

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.
YouTube Preview Image
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.
YouTube Preview Image
See list of all winners.

Jan
24

2014: A Message from the VFW Commander-in-Chief

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.

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Jan
12

Welcome to My VFW Massachusetts

You are at the VFW Department Massachusetts syndicated network website.

Nov
26

Thanksgiving Thank You from the Veterans of Foreign Wars

The National Office of the Veterans of Foreign Wars has created a special Thanksgiving “Thank You” message for all VFW Service Officers, Members and supporters.

Nov
14

Meetinghouse Bank Supports VFW

Meetinghouse Bank

Meetinghouse Bank President Anthony Paciulli presents Past State Commander George Murray with a donation check for $242 to benefit the the Department of Massachusetts Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Dorchester Center VFW Post #1018.  Meetinghouse Bank generated the funds by having visitors “Like” their Facebook Fan Page from November 1-11th.

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