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Can anyone who served in the military during a time of war eligible for the VFW?
No. It’s through service to this country that all our membership earned their elite status. The fundamental difference between our organization and other veterans organizations, and one in which we take great pride, is our eligibility qualifications. If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you’re eligible to join our ranks.
VFW welcomes all who meet our eligibility criteria. Many of our youngest members earned their eligibility serving in Guard and Reserve units which were activated. Thousands of VFW members joined through their service in U.N. Peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Egypt and other countries. If you never left the U.S. or you deployed to a region not identified as eligible for the VFW, then you cannot join as a regular member. You may be able to join a Post as a social member.
How can I prove my eligibility?
You can use your DD 214, deployment orders, pay stub showing imminent danger or hostile fire pay, or official government documentation showing receipt of the above proof of eligibility. Lost separation documents can be replaced by completing and submitting GSA Standard Form 180, “Request Pertaining to Military Records” available on the National Archives web site.
Why should I join if I don’t want to go to my local Post?
While many of members enjoy the social aspects of their Post, the real value of VFW membership is defined by getting inexpensive meals and refreshments. Your membership supports a proven network of programs that support veterans, military personnel, their loved ones, and communities. Some our most active Posts are “paper Posts” that don’t own buildings, but their commitment to VFW programs and serving others is strong.
Simply put, we have your back. We’re in Washington and Harrisburg to speak on veterans’ behalf. We’re at military events to help send off our brave troops. You’ll see us at military funerals honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. VFW Posts provide community service that improves your neighborhood. We’re all of this and so much more—simple in words but complex and multi-faceted in action. For the cost of two large pizzas, your membership investment delivers great a return for you, your comrades, those defending freedom today and citizens on the home front.
We do hope, though, that you actively support your local VFW Post with your time and energy.
Is the VFW just for older veterans?
Veteran of all ages—even the nation’s newest generation of combat vets—benefit from VFW membership. There are just as many VFW programs and activities benefitting younger veterans as those helping veterans from earlier combat eras. The common bond that exists between our members, regardless of when they served, gives us shared values, common interests and unique needs. That’s why many of those leaving military service today or those just back from deployment quickly join the VFW.
You may not have the time today to be active in Post programs, but you still benefit by how we carry forward the VFW’s mission. You’ll appreciate how we help you transition into civilian life and the camaraderie of being around other combat veterans. Younger veterans are becoming VFW officers and they are making their Posts more family friendly. If you need to talk about your military experiences with someone who’s “been there”—when other people might not understand the issues you face—we here for you.
Isn’t the VFW just a bar?
No. Bars and taverns serve anyone who walks off the street and exist to make a profit. VFW Posts are chartered as non-profit, membership driven service organizations with a mission of “honoring the dead by helping the living.” We exist to serve and support veterans from all service eras, our troops, military families and communities through an array of activities. Elected VFW Post officers are charged with keeping the Post in full support of the VFW mission and in compliance with state and national VFW regulations and Commonwealth laws.
Monies earned through Post operation of canteens are not distributed as profits. Food and beverage sales revenue is invested back into the Post to cover the costs of staying open as a non-profit service organization.
Can a Social Club or its Officers run the VFW Post?
No. VFW Post By-Laws and operating procedures are designed to keep the Post in control of all operations. The Post Commander is in charge of all decisions, not the Club Manager. The Post Quartermaster is in charge of all funds. The VFW mission should drive all direction on the social side. That’s why VFW social club rules require that only VFW members serve on the social club board. There are no exceptions. Call the State Adjutant/Quartermaster for guidance when dealing with Post control issues.
Are VFW Posts Still Making a Positive Difference in PA?
The VFW mission has never been more important. Our ability to have a significant impact on veterans, troops and military families has never been greater. Through our legislative advocacy, the VFW protects the interests of those we serve. The VFW is credited with creating grassroots support for some of the nation’s most critical veterans’ legislation including the creation of the VA healthcare system and the GI Bills. We continue to rally behind legislation that gives our veterans, troops and their loved ones the service and assistance they deserve.
The VFW contributes millions of dollars and millions of volunteer hours every year. In Pennsylvania alone, VFW units donate approximately $3 million in scholarships, youth program support, charitable donations, public safety donations and other community support each year and volunteer more than $10 million worth of community service. VFW State Service Officers, who are trained to represent veterans in VA matters, connect veterans with more than $30 million in federal benefits every year.
The value of VFW support of military personnel and their families is immeasurable. We provide free phone calls to home, give grants to military families facing hardship due to deployment, adopt entire units and support families while their spouse is deployed. Our military duty and experiences of our families help today’s troops and their loved ones to endure deployments with less emptiness and anxiety.
The impact of our service is far reaching and life changing—and mission critical. That’s why the VFW continues to lead the way as the world’s most effective combat veterans organization. No other organization does more for veterans.