VFW – Veterans of Foreign Wars Organization Overview

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is a non-profit Veterans Service Organization committed to advocating for the betterment of all veterans. The VFW serves eligible veterans of active, guard, and reserve components.
Advertising Disclosure.

Advertiser Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone. This article may contain links from our advertisers. For more information, please see our Advertising Policy.

VFW Overview

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is an organization committed to advocating for the betterment of all veterans. This nonprofit veteran service organization includes eligible veterans of active, guard, and reserve components.

After the Spanish-American War ended in 1898 and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902), many veterans arrived back home, wounded and sick. There was no medical care or veteran pensions available for them. Some of these veterans banded together to form the early precursor of the organization that would later become the VFW. After chapters formed in Colorado, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, the movement gained momentum. Currently, there are more than 1.5 million members in the VFW and its auxiliary organizations.

How Does the VFW Support Our Military Community?

The VFW has helped fund the creation of several war memorial monuments, including the Vietnam, Korean War, WWII, and Women in the Military Service memorials.

In 2005, the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to contribute to building a Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in 2010. In 2015, the VFW answered the call for commemoration and became the first supporter of the National Desert Storm War Memorial.

VFW’s voice was instrumental in the early establishment of the Veterans Administration (VA) and helped with the development of the national cemetery system. VFW’s advocacy efforts have helped fight for Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome.

The continued fight for improved VA medical center services for veterans continues to be paramount to VFW’s mission. In particular, the VFW was the driving force for the Veterans Access and Accountability Act of 2014 and is currently advocating for legislation to support those who have experienced military sexual trauma.

Does VFW Help with Veterans Benefits Claims?

The VFW is the largest organization of combat veterans, so they completely understand and are well versed in the nuanced process of filing for separation and benefits claims. The process can be frustrating, so the VFW established the National Veterans Service (NVS) to help all veterans, servicemembers, and families navigate the steps.

NVS is a nationwide network of VA accredited service officers and pre-discharge representatives who are all experts in dealing with the VA. These individuals can help combat veterans get the care they need. VA reports show that veterans represented by the VFW have received more than $9 billion in earned benefits, with $1.4 billion in 2019 alone.

Understanding VA benefits and what to expect after filing a claim is just part of the process. The VFW will work with you every step to ensure once you’re ready to file a claim, you’ll have all of the resources you need.

Before transitioning from the military, the VFW recommends exploring pre-discharge options. The VFW pre-discharge program was established in 2001 to ensure separating and retiring active duty military personnel get the services they need. Pre-discharge offices are located at or near major military installations across the country. If you’re within 180 days from discharge, it’s important to start the process now. Find out what you need to bring and what to expect at your first meeting.

Other Guidance Offered

In addition to assisting veterans with benefits and claim information, the VFW offers financial grants, student veteran support, and a mental health wellness resource aimed at dismantling the stigma associated with PTSD.

The VWF also widely supports various advocacy causes, including improving legislative processes, national security and foreign affairs, advocacy relating to women veterans, and other grassroots efforts. The organization prides itself on being the watchdog of the VA and is quick to explore any allegations of mistreatment of veterans.

Who Is Eligible for VFW Services?

As established in the bylaws, there are three qualifiers to join the VFW:

  • You must be a US citizen or US national,
  • You must have received either an honorable or general under honorable discharge, or be currently serving in the military.
  • Your service must include service in a war, campaign, or expedition on foreign soil or in hostile waters.

The latter of these criteria can be authenticated with an authorized campaign medal, receipt of hostile fire pay or imminent danger day, or service in Korea for 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days.

More information can be found here.

How Does VFW Compare to Similar Organizations?

The VFW is not open to all veterans. To qualify for VFW membership, the servicemember needs to have been in a situation that warranted either hazardous pay or imminent danger pay, or must have been deployed.

That makes it a little difficult to compare with other veteran organizations accurately. The VFW currently has the highest proportion of combat veterans, as compared with the American Legion or AMVETS.

However, the VFW does a lot in terms of member advocacy and ensuring that every veteran receives the benefits they are entitled to. So, in this way, the services offered by the VFW stand to have a larger impact than direct services offered to individuals.

Get Instant Access
FREE Weekly Updates! Enter your information to join our mailing list.

Posted In:

About Jessica Evans

Jessica Evans is a Cincinnati native who gets the chance to reinvent home every few years. Most recently, she lived in a Bavarian forest. Now, she's on the way to establishing roots in Washington DC. Evans has an MFA from Spalding and has over a decade of professional writing experience. She mainly writes within the military and wellness communities. Evans is also a mentor for Veteran's Writing Project, a nonprofit organization that connects veterans with writers eager to tell their stories. Evans is a previous Pushcart nominee, a fiction reader for literary magazines, and hosts a monthly writing group. When she's not writing, she's training for competition. Connect with her on twitter @jesssica__evans.

Featured on: Jessica's writing has been featured in the following publications: We Are the Mighty, Reserve + National Guard Magazine, Military Families Magazine, Lincoln Military Housing, Hire GI, and many other publications.

Reader Interactions

Leave A Comment:


About the comments on this site:

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

The Military Wallet is a property of Three Creeks Media. Neither The Military Wallet nor Three Creeks Media are associated with or endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs. The content on The Military Wallet is produced by Three Creeks Media, its partners, affiliates and contractors, any opinions or statements on The Military Wallet should not be attributed to the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Dept. of Defense or any governmental entity. If you have questions about Veteran programs offered through or by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, please visit their website at va.gov. The content offered on The Military Wallet is for general informational purposes only and may not be relevant to any consumer’s specific situation, this content should not be construed as legal or financial advice. If you have questions of a specific nature consider consulting a financial professional, accountant or attorney to discuss. References to third-party products, rates and offers may change without notice.

Advertising Notice: The Military Wallet and Three Creeks Media, its parent and affiliate companies, may receive compensation through advertising placements on The Military Wallet; For any rankings or lists on this site, The Military Wallet may receive compensation from the companies being ranked and this compensation may affect how, where and in what order products and companies appear in the rankings and lists. If a ranking or list has a company noted to be a “partner” the indicated company is a corporate affiliate of The Military Wallet. No tables, rankings or lists are fully comprehensive and do not include all companies or available products.

Editorial Disclosure: Editorial content on The Military Wallet may include opinions. Any opinions are those of the author alone, and not those of an advertiser to the site nor of  The Military Wallet.