Mebane, NC, Sep 2 – Ken Sellers reporting

Delegates cast three historic votes which fundamentally change the organization’s structure in terms of political activity, timing of dues payment and composition to VFW’s National Council of Administration.

After much debate, delegates voted by voice vote to abolish the VFW’s Political Action Committee.  It was felt the VFW’s National Legislative Service already effectively represents the needs of members in regard to influencing legislative outcomes.

By voice vote, delegates also approved Subscription dues.  Effective no later than January 2014, a member’s dues will be for a full 12 months based on the actual month that the member paid.

Delegates, by another voice vote, agreed to restructure the National Council of Administration so each state would have its own representative.  This effectively increases the Council from 28 to 54 members.  Even thought there will be an increase in members, the change will be revenue neutral, since travel for those council members who represented more than one state will be eliminated.

A proposed resolution to form a joint committee to study the logistics of creating a single Auxiliary formed from the Ladies and Men’s Auxiliaries was soundly defeated after lengthy debate.  The resolution was introduced by the West Virginia Department.  What many found interesting about this resolution was that it was introduced with no mention whatsoever about whether the Ladies Auxiliary or Men’s Auxiliary was supportive of it or if they even wanted this to happen.

The convention heard addresses by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison(R-Texas) and Texas Governor Rick Perry, who incidentally served as a C-130 pilot in the Air Force from 1972-77.  Governor Perry received thunderous applause when he stated, “A president should never send our sons and daughters into war without a plan to win, and the resources to make that possible.” He also announced a new program to be run by the Texas Veterans Commission called “Housing for Heroes”, which provides $3 million to help Texas veterans with rent, renovations, and home building.

Receiving a special award from the Ladies Auxiliary was Ricky Gilleland of Stafford, VA, a 17 year-old who created a website, www.preserveandhonor.com, to provide a virtual place for families to locate the graves of their fallen relatives.  His “Project Preserve” documented the gravesites online of 850 Afghanistan and Iraq vets buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  Gilleland, who hopes to attend the U.S. Naval Academy when he graduates from high school, was awarded a $10,000 scholarship by the Ladies Auxiliary.

Among other outstanding service awards, the Department of Arizona received recognition for 44 YEARS of consecutive membership growth!

The convention was also privileged to hear Kelsey Woo, the 2011 National Voice of Democracy winner, deliver her speech..