The Veterans of Foreign Wars is looking to grow its ranks. If you are a veteran who served in a combat area, in Korea for over 30 days, or on an expeditionary force or nuclear submarines, you are eligible to join the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Help us to continue to help veterans.

The VFW is the lead organization to lobby Congress for veterans' benefits. With the budget cuts of today, no benefits are safe. Without your help, many of our benefits may disappear. Membership of the VFW has a strong influence in Washington D.C. Just over the past 12 months the VFW has testified 21 times before Congress. The VFW has been instrumental in virtually every major legislative victory in the 20th and 21st centuries. If it wasn't for the VFW lobbying Congress, we wouldn't have many of the benefits we have today.

The VFW fought for and won many important benefits that our modern veterans take for granted, such as the Montgomery G.I. Bill which sent many of our World War II veterans to college and essentially increased the ranks of our American middle class. The VFW was one of the leaders lobbying Congress to compensate our Vietnam veterans who were exposed to chemicals such as Agent Orange. When Gulf War veterans returned sick with cancer, the VFW lobbied for the compensation they needed as well. When today’s veterans were facing astronomical increases in college tuition, the VFW lobbied hard to help deliver the post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which propelled countless Iraq, and Afghanistan veterans into some of the most elite universities in our nation. The VFW was instrumental to getting the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 passed in Congress just this past summer.

This is the reason why we need to build our membership. We need the younger veterans to help keep the pressure on Congress. The VFW has done a lot for all veterans.

It’s sad that many young veterans of our current wars have sharply criticized the VFW; for not modernizing, and for excluding women. I agree, change is what the VFW needs. All women combat veterans are welcome to join the VFW. Our VFW National Commander-in-Chief, John Stroud, is our biggest advocate for change. Many of our VFW chapters support and recognize our local police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians as well as many scouting programs.

Most of our VFW chapters are an essential part of our Montana communities. The VFW has great programs like the Voice of Democracy Scholarship Program for high school students, who can win as much as $30,000 in scholarships at the national level. We also have the Patriots Pin Essay Program for junior high students who can win as much as $5,000 at the national level. Many of our local chapters support a teacher of the year program in all three categories (high school, junior high and elementary). The local teacher of the year, and the local school can both win $1,000 each.

Some of our local VFW posts in Montana are a little run-down and are portrayed as dark, dingy drinking halls, but they are an essential part of the community. Posts that have canteens (or bars) are a minority in our organization. All of the post canteens in Montana are open to the public, and contribute to programs not only in our communities but also help fund many of the VFW’s local, state and our national programs as well. Our local VFW posts can better gauge the needs of their communities, and raise the money to support community causes.

Some of our VFW posts are more active in their communities than others. This is where we need to change. We need you, the men and women veterans of the past two wars, to help us make these changes. There are many women combat veterans throughout the state of Montana who just need to be asked to become members. You have an open invitation to become a member of the VFW, and be part of the “Greatest Veterans Organization” in the world. No one does more for veterans than the VFW. Please contact your local VFW; we need your help.

Dean House is state senior vice commander of the Montana Veterans of Foreign Wars. 

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