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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Watch the VFW National Convention Live From St. Louis

115th VFW National Convention set for July 19-23 in St. Louis

The VFW will stream its 115th National Convention on, live from the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis.

Live streaming is set to begin with the annual Memorial Service beginning at 8:30 a.m. (CDT) on July 20.  The stream will pick back up with the call to order of the VFW/VFW Ladies Auxiliary Joint Opening Session. Monday’s lineup includes the presentation of the VFW Armed Forces Award to the United States Navy Corpsmen, the VFW News Media Award to Stars & Stripes, and appearances by many notable guests, including acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan Gibson.

Live streaming of the daily VFW Business Sessions will continue for the duration of the convention beginning at 8:00 a.m. daily.

Don’t miss our exciting lineup of guests and presentations, the installation of the next VFW Commander-in-Chief John Stroud and much more!

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VFW Legislative Alert: Congress Must Pass VA Access and Accountability Bill Today!

Take Action!

Background:  As a result of the recent VA health care crisis, both Chambers of Congress passed legislation designed to improve timely access for veterans waiting for care. On June 24, a Conference Committee was formed to iron out differences between the two bills.

Today, the bill is stalled in a political discussion about cost. This is unacceptable and continues to put veterans at risk of not receiving timely care. Congress didn’t think twice to send service members to war, and they shouldn’t think twice about providing care for those they sent to war.

Action Needed:
  Congress leaves Washington in a few short weeks. We insist they reach a solution and pass a final access and accountability bill before they go home on vacation, so veterans can receive the care they have earned and desperately need. Contact your legislators today and demand they pass a compromised VA Access and Accountability bill today.

The time for talk is over – It is time for action!

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Vice President to speak Monday

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — More than 12,000 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and its Auxiliaries are rolling into the Show Me State this weekend to elect new leadership and to approve resolutions that will guide the national organization’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, and its veteran and military support programs across the country. Vice President Joe Biden has also accepted an invitation to address the delegates during their joint opening session on Monday.

“As the nation’s largest and oldest major combat veterans’ organization, we are governed by our members and their elected delegates to our annual convention,” said William A. Thien, the national commander of the 1.9 million-member VFW and its Auxiliaries.

“We expect a great deal from every delegate, because the decisions they make help to guide our lobbying efforts that directly benefit veterans, service members and their families, as well as all the wonderful support programs we provide to veterans free of charge, such as our VFW Service Officers, who over the past two years helped 205,000 veterans to recoup more than $5.9 billion in earned disability compensation and pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs,” he said.

“We are also honored to once again have the vice president, who as a proud Blue Star parent of an Iraq War veteran, completely understands the service, sacrifice and anxiety that all military families undergo while their loved ones are deployed in harm’s way, which is a relevancy the VFW and our Auxiliaries continue to have with every generation of American patriot.”

A number of national awards will also be presented at the VFW’s 115th National Convention, to include:

The VFW Dwight D. Eisenhower Award to former U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker

The VFW Armed Services Award to U.S. Navy Corpsmen

The VFW Americanism Award to “Gold Star Honor Roll” project creator Tom Clark

The VFW News Media Award to Stars & Stripes

VFW National Teacher Awards to Shirley Harmon Helton, Fairlawn Elementary School, Fort Pierce, Fla.; Jeff Gephart, Holloman Middle School, Alamogordo, N.M.; and Tom Clark, Lake Central High School, St. John, Ind.

VFW Citizenship Award to Burger King franchise owner Mike DeRosa

And a VFW Gold Medal of Merit to the Air Force Reserve’s 920th Rescue Wing from Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.

Invited guest speakers include Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, and U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt; Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson to provide a State of the VA update; Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michael Lumpkin to provide a POW/MIA accounting mission update; Student Veterans of America president and chief executive D. Wayne Robinson; the $30,000 VFW Voice of Democracy winner, Madison Haley, from Chestnut, Neb.; 13-year-old Grant Gentges, the 2014 VFW Buddy Poppy Child, from the VFW National Home for Children in Eaton Rapids, Mich.; and many others.

The VFW National Convention is not open to the public, but video feed will stream live at beginning at 8 a.m. (CDT), July 21-23. Only registered and credentialed media from bona fide news organizations will be approved to cover convention activities. Onsite registration begins July 19 in the VFW Communications Office in Hall 3 of the America’s Center Convention Complex, phones 314-342-5508 or 5509.

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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

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