Veterans of Foreign Wars continues to provide and honor veterans every day of the year
There was an onslaught of difficult news for veterans last week. From the dishonorable discharge of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to the actions of Deven Patrick Kelley, a former member of the US Air Force who was court-martialed in 2012 and received a bad conduct discharge.
“It can be disconcerting,” said Marcus Adams, 49, a veteran of the Iraq War and Operation Enduring Freedom. “But you have to remember that one person’s actions don’t represent the system or the people involved. Is there progress that can be made? Absolutely. But I believe firmly that the brother and sisterhood is stronger with veterans than with any other outfit in the country. One person’s actions can’t take that away.”
Press for veterans can often be bleak - last week’s news, as well as the Commander in Chief’s consistent criticism of the Department of Veterans Affairs are “case-in-point” examples - but there are agencies that strive to make the lives of veterans better, even if its under the radar.
“No one does more for veterans” is the slogan of the nonprofit veterans service organization Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. The organization’s mission statement is simple: advocate on behalf of all veterans “while ensuring that they are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country.”
Though the VFW can trace its roots back to the 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service, its presence today is more essential than ever.
“You need to know that there is someone looking out for you,” Adams said of organizations like VFW. “Someone who has been there, lived through what you lived through and seen what you’ve seen. If you don’t have that reassurance, that’s where things can go south.”
According to the VFW, volunteers contribute about 8.8 million hours in fulfilling the organization’s mission and vision. A lot of that help also comes from the approximately $52.1 million that the organization receives annually for its local community service projects put together by VFW members.
Currently member totals are nearing 1.7 million and they continue to assist veterans of foreign wars across a large spectrum from financial help, sorting VA claims, education and welcome home meals.
In terms of financial assistance alone, VFW has awarded $7.9 million to military families since 2004 to help cover basic needs in times of crisis. Of those funds, 49 percent were used to cover basic housing needs.
Currently there are 1,922 VA-accredited VFW representatives across America and abroad helping veterans fight for the VA benefits they have earned. To date they have assisted veterans in claiming a total of $7 billion in earned benefits - including $1.2 billion from claims in 2016.
According to the VFW, the organization “has been instrumental in virtually every major legislative victory for veterans in the 20th and 21st centuries.” Its members have testified before Congress 26 times in the last 12 months alone.
On the educational front the VFW has been instrumental as well, as they have awarded over $3.6 million to more than 825 veterans and service members through the “Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship” since January 2014.
Local VFW posts in Southern Colorado include the Minnequa Post #3641 on 201 E. Adams in Pueblo; the Mount Blanca Post #899 on 519 Main Street in Alamosa; the Las Animas Post #2411 on 318 3rd St in Las Animas; and the Ralph Frank Janousek Post #2788 on 402 Broadway in Penrose.
For more information on VFW visit vfwcolodept.org.