National Convention Wrap Up

America’s largest organization of combat veterans has elected a Vietnam War veteran to head the 1.5 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

Richard L. DeNoyer, a resident of Middleton, Massachusetts, was elected VFW Commander-in-Chief on September 1, 2011, during the 112th VFW National Convention, held August 27 – September 1, in San Antonio, Texas.

Click here to read DeNoyer’s acceptance speech.

Also elected were John Hamilton, Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief, of
St. Augustine, Florida, and William Thien, Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief, of Georgetown, Indiana.

Several major measures affecting the operation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars were also approved during the business sesssion.  Click here to read a summary by North Carolina VFW Member Ken Sellers.  For more information on convention events, visit the Summary page.

And finally, watch the slideshow below for some random photos from the convention.

VFW Chides White House, Texas Governor for No-Show

KANSAS CITY, Mo., August 22, 2011 – The White House will not be sending a representative to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 112th National Convention in San Antonio, Texas, drawing harsh criticism and a rebuke from the leadership of the nation's largest combat veteran's organization.

"The VFW has had a long-standing tradition of inviting the sitting president to address our convention.  We want to know where he stands on veterans' affairs, and we want those remarks made in public and on the record," said Richard L. Eubank, the national commander of the nearly 2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. and its Auxiliaries. 

"When the President is unable to attend, it has always been customary for the White House to choose a high-level administration official as an alternative speaker," Eubank continued. "It is an insult of the highest magnitude that for the first time in the history of the VFW, the White House has apparently decided that this great and iconic organization of combat veterans and all of its members are not worthy of its notice by not at least offering a first-tier speaker  from the administration."

Eubank, a Marine Corps retiree and Vietnam combat veteran from Eugene, Ore., was also critical of Texas Governor, Rick Perry; "The VFW also has a tradition of inviting the governor of the host state where its annual convention is being held to come and welcome and greet our convention delegates.  Although Governor Perry was similarly sent an invitation 3 months ago, apparently our invitation was deemed not important enough for the governor’s office to at least accept or decline the invitation.  Governor Perry's candidacy for president does not provide him an excuse for bad manners.  The White House and Governor Perry can rest assured that the 2 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries will remember this discourteous treatment for a very long time to come."

Annually, the VFW's National Convention plays host to a number of other speakers as well, including prominent members of the Cabinet, military and civic leaders, business leaders and a host of everyday people honored for their exemplary service.

Edwards' Call to Protest Dishonors Memorial Day

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2007–A website plea by presidential candidate John Edwards to encourage war protests at Memorial Day events across the country has drawn the anger of the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.

"Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to remember the service and sacrifice of more than one million American servicemen and women who gave their lives to create our nation, to save our Union, and to help free the world from tyranny," said Gary Kurpius, who leads the 2.4 million-member VFW, the nation’s oldest major veterans’ organization and its largest organization of combat veterans.
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What is the VFW?

Great article on the website on Why Join the VFW. It provides a great recruiting message!

What is the VFW?

By Dave Rowland

As I talk to some of my peers that are either still on active duty or recently separated from the Army and tell them I am volunteering at the VFW, they commonly respond by asking, “So what are you doing? Sitting around drinking beer?”

This is still a common misconception that many young veterans who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan have of the organization. I was also one of them until I became an active member. At one point in the VFW’s history, it was one of the few places where veterans could go and talk to other veterans about some of the experiences they had in Europe, the Pacific, Korea, Vietnam and a host of other countries scattered throughout the world. There weren’t any clinics, doctors or other official support networks established that focused on the mental trauma experienced by veterans.

The VFW is much more than a place for fellowship with other veterans or to connect with previous generations that have answered our Nation’s call to duty. Many veterans and members of the armed services don’t know how active and supportive the VFW is for those of us who have served or are serving our country overseas.

I’ve learned that the VFW was the main veteran’s service organization that ensured the passage of the new Post-9/11 GI Bill. This new GI Bill will benefit us veterans and our families for years to come. Veterans can now return from fighting in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with the ability to go back to school full-time, even with a family, and then re-enter the work force. I never knew about the tremendous amount of work and commitment it took the VFW to get the bill passed in Congress.
One of the most important components of the VFW is that it assists wounded and disabled veterans in receiving the VA benefits they deserve. I had no idea about the complexities involved when determining the category of a wounded or disabled veteran. I quickly learned that the VFW has an entire department dedicated to assisting veterans navigating the VA bureaucratic process, which might otherwise overwhelm a young returning soldier or even a hardened NCO. The VFW has Field Representatives throughout the country and scattered around the world specifically to assist veterans once they leave the military.

When I put one of the NCOs whom I used to work with in touch with one of the Field Representatives, he was shocked that the VFW had programs like this. I must admit, so was I.
The VFW makes sure that the veteran is never taken for granted and provides the assistance needed when he or she does not know where to turn.

Of course none of this would be possible without the grassroots membership of individual veterans that join their local VFW post. Many young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are reluctant to join the VFW for various reasons. I say to them, “Go and join!” There are many local posts that are active in their local communities and do a variety of community service and sponsor programs that promote further service to our Nation. Where else will you find a group of individuals welcoming you at 2 o’clock in the morning when your plane arrives at the airport in the States for R&R or as you are coming home from deployment?

If only older veterans compose the VFW, then who will change and evolve the VFW to meet the needs of our generation or future challenges? Who will greet the next generation when they come home from serving the United States overseas? We must take the torch from the older veterans and bear the responsibility to take care of our fellow veterans and continue community service.

Dave Rowland is a volunteer at the VFW National Headquarters Legislative Branch in Washington D.C. He is an active duty infantry officer with multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dave is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Georgetown University.