original name of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United
States was the American Veterans of Foreign Service ( AVFS ).
It was formed in 1899 by 13 veterans of the Spanish-American
war, mostly of the 17th infantry regiment. Key events that
1914: Veterans of Foreign Wars is formally
born from merger of the AVFS ( Ohio-Pennsylvania ) and army of
the Phillippines ( Denver ) at the Pittsburgh convention in
September. Ladies Auxillary also is formed. General order 10 had
changed the name on Aug 1 after a post vote.
Theodore Roosevelt becomes a member. The ex-president joins in
July in Pittsburgh. He is the first of eight U.S. Presidents to
eventually join the VFW. The others are: Harry S. Truman,
Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard
M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford & George H.W. Bush.
1925: VFW national home in Eaton Rapids, Mich. Begins its tradition of caring for families in need.
Veterans Administration ( VA ) is created after strong
advocacy by the VFW. VA incorporates the veterans bureau.
1931: VFW succeeds in its campaign to make the star-spangled banner the national anthem.
1938: Armistice Day ( Nov 11 ) becomes a legal holiday ( pl 510 ) after a 20 year campaign waged by the VFW.
GI bill of rights ( pl 346 ) provides unprecedented benefits
to WW2 veterans. The VFW is instrumental in its passage.
Membership in the VFW reaches more than 1.5 million in the
immediate aftermath of WW2, which boosted the ranks by 728 %
1950: Life membership is instituted - an innovation to attract and retain members.
Nov 11 is designated Veterans Day ( pl 380 ) to honor
veterans of WW2, Korea and subsequent wars.1978: Women are
formally admitted to the VFW.
1984: Membership passes the 2 million mark.
Patriot’s Pen, an essay writing contest is created for 7th
& 8th graders to express their views about democracy.
1998: Voice of democracy gives $2.6 million in college scholarships and prizes to students in every state.
1999: The VFW celebrates its 100th anniversary highlighted by the National Convention in Kansas City, MO.
2004: National World War 2 memorial is dedicated on may 29th. The VFW donated $ 6 million.
Post- 9 / 11 veterans educational assistance act ( pl 110-52 )
signed into law June 25, provides generous education benefits
for Iraq & Afghanistan veterans. Such a bill had been fought
for by the VFW for 10 years before passage.
2013: Stolen Valor Act ( pl 113-12 ) signed June 3, restores protection to military awards for valor.