The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War
(1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local
organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service: Many
arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans'
pension for them,and they were left to care for themselves.
In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed
organizations with what would become known as the Veterans of Foreign
Wars of the United States. By 1915,
membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000.
Since then, the VFW's voice had been instrumental in establishing
the Veterans Administration, creating a GI bill for the 20th century,
the development of the national cemetery system and the fight for
compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans
diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome.
Annually, the nearly 2 million members of the VFW and its
Auxiliaries contribute more than 8.6 million hours of volunteerism in
the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and
National Volunteer Week.
From providing over $3 million in college scholarships and savings
bonds to students every year, to encouraging elevation of the Department
of Veterans Affairs to the president's cabinet, the VFW is there.