NEWS

CSCVC Press Release Coverage – Request to Governor to Reopen Veterans Posts

 

CSCVC Press Release Coverage – Request to Governor to Reopen Veterans Posts

KOVR-TV13/31 (CBS) Sacramento, November 11, 2020

https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2020/11/11/veteran-halls-open-coronavirus-closures/

Advocates Fight To Keep Veterans Halls Open Amid Another Round Of Coronavirus Closures – CBS Sacramento

By Laura Haefeli

 

STOCKTON (CBS13) — A new surge of coronavirus cases is forcing businesses in Northern California to once again close their doors. Places like VFW posts and American Legions, which are classified as bars, may have to close as coronavirus cases spike and counties move backward in the state’s tiers.

 

On the eve of Veterans Day, Retired Corporal Frank S. Wright, USMC, and Major William C. White, one of the oldest living Marines in the U.S., say it’s places like the American Legion that’s helped them cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

"That’s what the legion does for you, it gives you a place to discuss. You have to get it all out of your head,” Wright said.

 

But with COVID-19 cases spiking across California, veterans’ posts are at risk of having to close their doors to military members once again.

 

Bob Reeb is a lobbyist with the California State Commanders Veteran Council. He says the group sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office asking for posts to remain open regardless of coronavirus restrictions.

 

"Many of the veterans’ posts and halls have a small bar as part of the building,” Reeb said. "The bar does not have to be open in these posts and halls. These posts and halls serve very important roles in the lives of our veterans.”

 

Reeb says access to mental health resources tops the list of importance for veterans.

 

"The veterans’ service officer can meet with veterans and assist them in filing claims whether they be health-related or otherwise, to secure benefits from the vets’ administration in Washington D.C. Having the buildings themselves closed is creating real issues for veterans throughout California,” Reeb said.

 

Veterans halls are often used for group gatherings from city council meetings to weddings. Reeb tells CBS13 if they can’t start renting their halls out soon, the financial impact could be devastating.

 

KABC-TV7 (ABC) Los Angeles, November 11, 2020

https://abc7.com/veterans-day-american-legion/7871436/

American Legion Posts remain closed due to COVID, posing problems for Veterans around Southern California (*video)

By Sid Garcia

 

PANORAMA CITY (KABC) -- As we salute the men and women who have served in the military on this Veterans Day, one group that's honored vets for more than a century is facing some very tough times.

 

On a normal Veterans Day, this American Legion post in Panorama City would be filled with Veterans and their families enjoying the holiday. Like many other posts, it's now empty... closed for over eight months because of the pandemic. Andy Robledo has been a member of this post for 16 years.

 

"We have our WWII vets in their 90's now. Korean War vets are in their 80's, and most of the Vietnam vets are in their 70's. They're getting older and we miss them a lot," said Robledo. "And we just can't wait to be able to see them again. We give them hugs, that's what we usually do... and we don't know how much longer we have with them."

 

"I feel a connection to what our fathers and family members have died to protect. And couldn't more American than honoring these people," said Erik Rettebal.

 

Because of the Purple Tier Los Angeles County is in, the 17 American Legion posts in the county cannot open, which means they can't raise money to pay their bills: Pancake breakfasts, Friday night dinners, leasing their facility out for special occasions- that's how they usually raise money to keep their doors open.

 

"Elks, Moose lodge, American legion, VFW, we're all in the same boat together," said Post Commander Jere Romano. "And each one of these facilities still need electricity, upkeep, pay their taxes; so even though we're closed costs are still rising. And those costs need to be addressed. And if they're not addressed, that a lot of these facilities will need to sell their buildings."

 

The posts are asking Los Angeles County to list them as essential so they can at least open up to 25 percent capacity. One Veteran told me these posts are their second home. This is where they can go to be with others who understand what they've been through.

 

"These posts allow our veterans to sit down with like members. They don't even have to talk. They can sit in a corner and be silent and feel enveloped. We become a family here," said Ellen Mitchell, American Legion Post Commander U.S. Army Veteran.

 

The bottom line is this: if these posts aren't allowed to open up, their doors could be closed permanently.

 

KESQ-TV3 (ABC) Palm Springs, November 11, 2020

https://kesq.com/news/2020/11/11/veterans-council-pushes-gov-newsom-to-reopen-vfw-posts-for-essential-services-support/

Veterans council pushes Gov. Newsom to reopen VFW posts for essential services, support (*video)

 

A California state veterans council is pushing Governor Newsom to allow VFW posts and halls to reopen.

 

In a letter sent to the governor last week, the California

State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) claimed VFW posts are being wrongly categorized as bars, and keeping them shut down is preventing veterans from accessing critical services and support.

 

For online veterans resources in the valley, click here or here.

 

"They've helped me with my paperwork; now they're hard to access because of the virus and it's hurting everybody, veterans included," said Gary Caldwell, a valley veteran who served in the U.S. Navy in the 80s, spending five years aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Robinson off the coast of San Diego.

 

This Veterans Day he and his wife Becky Goebel set their van up to enjoy a drive-in movie at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

 

They said they've waited months to get assistance with a Veterans Affairs disability claim.

 

"Without the posts being open, it's hard to talk to anybody," Goebel said. "For 8 months, 9 months now, we've not been able to make contact and that's crucial in getting this done."

 

In La Quinta Wednesday, Daniel Prentice with VFW Post 3699 in Indio was giving out buddy poppies for donations, one of the only ways VFWs can fundraise in the pandemic.

 

Prentice said despite regular zoom meetings, veterans are missing out on important socialization due to posts being closed.

 

"That's so important for older people and veterans, especially those with PTSD," he said. And while some VFW services have been made available online, many veterans don't have that capability.

 

"If veterans aren't real internet savvy, that is an issue," Goebel said. "How do they make contact? They're used to being able to see a person, interact with a person."

 

Still, some veterans worry about getting back together in person as the pandemic continues to worsen.

 

"I'm in a high risk group," Prentice said. "At a meeting, we could have 25 to 75 members in the hall and there's not room for everybody to really get separate and some people aren't careful with their hands and their masks."

 

KXTV-TV10 (ABC) Sacramento, November 11, 2020

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/sacramento/bar-or-veterans-community-center-advocates-push-to-reopen-veterans-posts-and-halls/103-1431d222-9d6a-42c8-9552-7dc7ac94f808

Bar or community center? Advocates push to reopen veterans' posts, halls (*video)

By Van Tieu

 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Veterans Day amid a pandemic can be summed up in two words.

 

"It sucks," Retired US Army Lt. Col. Pete Conaty, a veterans advocate, said.

 

On a day where veterans would fill the post to celebrate and bond, he said Veterans of Foreign Affairs Posts and American Legion Halls are sitting dark and empty.

 

"We've been overlooked," Conaty said.

 

Under California's reopening guidelines, veteran halls and posts have been shut down because they're considered bars. The establishments hold membership-only veterans' liquor licenses.

 

"That's only a very small portion of what these posts and halls provide to veterans," Bob Reeb, a legislative advocate, said.

 

Reeb is assisting the California State Commanders Veterans Council in getting the state to change its pandemic blueprint. The advocates wrote a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom in early November arguing that the posts are community resource centers for veterans, where they connect with each other and get benefits.

 

Volunteers say its especially true for aging veterans who are not tech-savvy and need help navigating computers to connect to benefits and resources.

 

"This is their home. This is a veteran's community center for veterans, and they are suffering now that we've been closed for seven months," Conaty said.

 

According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), from March to September, its service department saw a drop of over 850 veterans' claims -- roughly $2.2 million owed to veterans and their families.

 

"This is pretty much their social life and we've taken that away from them," said Jeanne Harshbarger, Sacramento's American Legion Post 832 volunteer bar manager.

 

Harshbarger said the sense of community the post provides for veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other challenges stemming from service is like medicine to the men and women she serves.

 

"There's a tremendous amount of healing power," she said.

 

Without the posts and halls, advocates say California is failing its physically and emotionally disabled veterans and their families.

 

Advocates say they want to posts open with appropriate coronavirus restrictions, before the posts go under, financially, and create negative impacts on veteran communities for years to come. Conaty said he had a message for Newsom this Veterans Day.

 

"Governor, please help us. Open the veterans' posts and halls. We will work with you and we will follow all the rules, but we need you to help us open our post," he said.

 

ABC10 reached out to the Governor's office and have yet to hear a response. The California State Commanders Veterans Council said it is awaiting a response from the governor as well.

 

Modesto Bee, November 11, 2020

https://www.modbee.com/news/local/turlock/article247084327.html

Mouths are where the money is. How struggling veterans groups manage through pandemic

By Deke Farrow

 

As veterans groups appeal to the state to loosen restrictions on posts and halls during the COVID-19 pandemic, some local chapters have been leaning heavily on takeout and limited-seating meals to stay afloat.

 

Weekly breakfasts and dinners long have been a steady source of income for posts to maintain facilities and offer programs and services, but the loss of canteen revenue and facility rentals because of the outbreak has made them more crucial.

 

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5059 in Turlock has a fairly full calendar of meals for November, including taco nights every Monday and burger dinners every Friday. It also has Wednesday lunches that have included chicken plates or chicken sandwiches and chili and cornbread. A special Veterans Day dinner this week has steak and oysters on the menu.

 

The Monday and Friday dinners are the "die-hard ones that we always keep going,” post Commander Lyle Ducheneaux said in a phone interview Monday. The Wednesday meals have been thanks to community donations of food and volunteer labor.

 

Loss of facility rentals has cost the post somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000 — "a major hit,” he said. And the loss of the only fundraiser the VFW does (as opposed to fundraising by its auxiliary), which is working as servers at the county fair, was another $10,000 blow when the event was canceled last summer, Ducheneaux said.

 

"And of course when we were shut down altogether (during lockdown and when Stanislaus was in the purple tier), wow, I wouldn’t even want to guess,” he said. "Since this happened, it’s easy to say it cost our post easily in excess of $100,000.”

 

At a time when bills and other costs keeping coming even as revenue dwindles, the extra meals have been a big help, he said. "We’re trying our damnedest to keep things going and stay afloat,” Ducheneaux said, saying the post had one air-conditioning unit go belly up and another cost a lot to repair, had to replace a beer cooler, needs major roof repair and has to bring a restroom up to Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

 

Those expenses are on top of ongoing costs like property taxes and catering and Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control licenses. "We can’t let any of that lapse,” he said. "You would think that nonprofits for veterans would be cut a break on requirements, but no.”

 

POSTS ‘AT BACK OF LINE’ FOR REOPENING

In fact, ABC licensing to serve alcohol may have worked against posts during the pandemic. A news release issued Monday by the California State Commanders Veterans Council says it believes posts have been mistakenly categorized as bars under the state’s reopening guidelines because many of them "hold a restrictive, membership-only veterans’ liquor license. This classification puts veterans’ posts at the back of the line for reopening, and puts access to services further out of reach for many veterans.”

 

And in a letter to the editor received by The Modesto Bee, VFW state Commander John G. Lowe said the state is being asked to reclassify posts. He says posts’ work is being curtailed on top of the pandemic by unnecessary government regulations.

 

"VFW posts are community hubs providing many essential programs and services. We offer free professional help with VA disability claims. We assist veterans who are homeless or distraught.”

 

Thankfully at Post 5059, programs and services like helping vets pay for gas, rent and groceries are supported by a different account funded through contributions, Ducheneaux said. So the loss of revenue from COVID-19 restrictions "has not attacked our general fund yet because of our gracious community,” he said. "It is dwindling but it still there.”

 

American Legion Post 88 in Turlock also has upped its meal-service game, adding Monday dinners, and finds itself "in good shape” to weather the pandemic financially, Commander Carl Lasiter said by phone.

 

Though his post, too, lost its biggest fundraiser of the year — a beer booth at the county fair — "we’re very fortunate that we have enough in reserves to pull us through this crisis. Our people in the past have kind of given us that margin or edge that we have.”

 

Still, meals bring in needed revenue, and just as important, keep the post in the public’s mind, the commander said. Post 88 offers tri-tip sandwich meals on Monday nights and meals of either spaghetti, ribs or steak on Friday nights. The cook, John Haggstrom, posts on his Facebook page what the meals will be and takes reservations so he knows now much to prepare, Lasiter said.

 

"We’ve been very successful, selling out almost every Monday night and Friday,” the commander said. "So far, we’ve been doing all drive-through but we offer outside seating. But now that it’s gotten cold, people probably won’t be wanting to eat outdoors.”

 

A STRUGGLE FOR MODESTO’S VFW

At VFW Post 3199 of Modesto, loss of facility rentals for weddings, quinceaneras, work and retirement parties and more has cut deeply into everything from facilities upkeep to services offered to a scholarship fund, said Arlene Martinez, president of the post auxiliary.

 

Like its fellow Turlock post, the Hatch Road facility needs air conditioning and roof repairs, she said, and also has insurance, utilities and other ongoing costs.

 

Only in the few weeks that Stanislaus County has been in the red tier has the post been able to open at 25% capacity, she said, so revenue still is tight, there still are no rental bookings for limited use of the hall or the post’s park area.

 

"We haven’t had small-group gatherings here,” Martinez said, and turnout for meals has been light. At a breakfast, "you might get a family of four or five at a table over here, and you may get one or two at a table over there. And then there are some that go outside there with the sun shining and pretty nice weather.”

 

So the meal sales — Friday dinners, Saturday barbecued chicken sandwiches, Sunday breakfasts and a recent drive-through fried chicken dinner — "haven’t made much of a dent, but it’s a little bit coming in,” she said.

 

What veterans groups really need, Martinez said, is an exemption to restrictions "so we can carry on to do what we always have done.” Veterans, who have done so much for their country, deserve that, said the 73-year-old widow of veteran Daniel Martinez.

 

Her husband served more than 23 years in the military, from the Marines to the Army National Guard, she said. At age 56, he was deployed to Iraq.

 

He died two years ago, Martinez said, beginning to cry. Of him and his brothers and sisters in arms, she said, "I have this in my heart, because without them, where would we be?”

 

Patch Los Angeles, November 11, 2020

https://patch.com/california/los-angeles/ca-veterans-ask-newsom-reopen-posts-others-scramble-adjust

CA Veterans Fight To Reopen Posts: 'Not Just Halls With Bars’

By Kat Schuster

 

LOS ANGELES, CA — American Legion Posts used to be a place where veterans of all ages could gather and share stories of service. But as the coronavirus pandemic forced hundreds of veterans halls across the state to close, many aging veterans who did not adapt well to online socializing were severed from their communities.

 

Last week, veterans across the state collaborated to send Gov. Gavin Newsom a letter, urging him to reopen these historic posts and halls after months of closure. Authors of the letter allege that these veterans' posts have been falsely classified as "bars" under reopening guidelines, cutting veterans off from necessary support and health resources.

 

And while the classification of these posts as bars wasn't completely inaccurate, leaders of such halls maintain that these places can offer more than a place to grab a drink.

 

"I think there is absolutely a way to transform that space with the right resources, but just purely classifying an American Legion as a bar is incorrect," Jennifer Campbell, commander of the Hollywood American Legion Post 43, told Patch. "While they have a bar and it may be a social gathering point, it's not the backbone of what it is that we do for our members and for the community. "

 

Campbell is the second woman to be elected commander of the Hollywood American Legion Post 43, which open its doors at its current location in 1929 but was first established in 1919.

 

Some 275 posts have closed amid a wave of COVID-19 restrictions imposed earlier this year. Five posts have been permanently shuttered, and three others are pending closure, according to John G. Lowe, State Commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

 

Many of these California halls are ripe with history, with some over 100 years old. Post leaders like Campbell have been working to preserve their historical value and community engagement during the pandemic.

 

"A lot of people are scrambling, and I know a lot of posts have looked at closing their doors," Campbell said. "I think that the older population desperately feels it...I think a lot of time the highlight of their month was getting out to the American Legions for meetings."

 

Campbell says the Hollywood post has attempted to transition their members — all 1,300 of them — to become an online community. They have scraped together Zoom happy hours, and launched a state of the art drive-in theater.

 

"It's challenging...we obviously have a large demographic of aging veterans that are the most vulnerable to this virus and so we are very cognizant of that," Campbell said. "But there's also a lot of people that rely on these resources that the American Legion provides."

 

The Hollywood Legion Theater, which is the first and only drive-in theater in Hollywood, has done exceptionally well, she said, with attendance soaring and even selling out some shows. Celebrities Tyra Banks and Zoey Deschanel have also attended showings at the Hollywood drive-in.

 

"We ourselves rely on the income of our business model, which relies on our theatre and our events," Campbell said. "So we have had to quickly scramble and transition to this drive-in, which nowhere near covers the debt we've incurred."

 

Many posts across California generate their own funds through events, and they provide funding for scholarships and emergency financial relief.

 

"Members provide vital voluntary services to our communities," Lowe wrote in his letter to Newsom of the posts statewide. "This includes over 90 thousand hours last year, equating to roughly $2.8 million in donated time and money."

 

For the older members, the post launched a Buddy Check Outreach program to keep track of senior veterans who may be feeling increasingly more isolated.

 

"We're making sure they have the things they need, especially early on when you couldn't get toilet paper," Campbell said. "We're checking, do they have the essentials that they need? Do they have someone to check on them? Do they have transportation to their doctors appointments?"

 

Despite all of these efforts to transition, some members simply fell out of touch in the last several months.

 

"As much as we try to connect with our older members, a lot of time they're not on social media," she said, adding that the Hollywood post recently had many of its World War II veterans pass away. "We just have an aging population and it's been very sad not to be able to pay tribute to in the manner that we would hope to."

 

While many veterans have called for a complete reopening of these halls, Campbell says that could be a risky decision.

 

"I don't think the answer is necessarily just opening up altogether because what I would hate to see is exposing aging members to the virus who would have an even harder time fighting it," she said.

 

To transition to a safer space in which posts could reopen, Campbell says she hopes the state will consider offering more resources to the halls and veterans in the state.

 

"I think the bar element is important to a lot of posts, but it's not the only element," Campbell said.

 

While many of these posts did in fact hold liquor licenses, Lowe and veterans organizations across the state have maintained that the posts should not be classified as bars and that the closure of such posts and halls was causing "significant hardship on countless veterans, as well as threatening the long-term existence of these important places."

 

"Unfortunately, many of our posts have halls and possess liquor licenses," Lowe wrote in a September letter to Newsom. "...many of our posts are not just halls with bars, but rather hubs within our communities providing a wide range of essential programs..."

 

Newsom's office did not immediately respond to Patch for comment.

 

From March to September, the VFW Service Department recorded a drop of more than 850 veterans' claims, according to Lowe. And the lack of compensation received by veterans' families also decreased by $2.2 million, Lowe added.

 

These posts, according to Members of the California State Commanders Veterans Council, serve as a refuge for veterans who suffer from physical and emotional trauma. Before the closure, many posts had trained veteran service officers who could help veterans apply for benefits such as health care and mental health care, the letter states.

 

Lowe says that without these posts, veterans are forced to commute to larger urban centers to receive assistance, "whether this means free, professional help filing, or appealing a VA disability claim, providing a therapeutic place for our veterans, assistance with veterans who are homeless or contemplating suicide."

 

Posts also once offered assistance with education access and job training. As a result of the months-long closures, "thousands of veterans" were unable to access these resources, the letter states.

 

Lowe also says that these closures have impacted California's economy, adding that the VFW processed 3,400 claims in 2019 alone, which rewarded in $30 million of compensation and pension benefits to veterans and their families.

 

"While we understand and commend your efforts to protect Californians, we hope you will reconsider classifying our post home as 'bars' and allow us to open for important veteran-related activities while adhering to COVID-19 precautions," Lowe wrote to Newsom in September. "Our motto of 'No One Does More For Veterans' is being curtailed by the pandemic, but also from unnecessary regulations at all levels of government."

 

 

KCBS-TV2 (CBS) Los Angeles, November 9, 2020

https://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2020/11/09/veterans-posts-california-newsom-bars-coronavirus/

Veterans Groups Call On Newsom To Reopen Vet Posts, Halls Classified As Bars

 

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A statewide coalition of veterans organizations is urging California Governor Gavin Newsom to reopen the state’s veterans’ posts and halls that have been closed since March due to the pandemic.

 

In a letter sent to Newsom last week, members of the California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) said despite providing critical services to veterans such as processing claims for healthcare and disability benefits, veterans posts are still not eligible to open because they are classified as bars.

 

According to the CSCVC, veterans’ posts have been mistakenly categorized as bars under California’s reopening guidelines due to the fact many of the posts hold a restrictive, membership-only veterans’ liquor license.

 

The group says such as classification puts veterans’ posts at the back of the line for reopening, and could delay critical access to services for many veterans.

 

From March to September, the VFW Service Department saw a drop of over 850 veterans’ claims – a decrease of $2.2 million – owed to veterans and their families for their service, according to John G. Lowe, State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California.

 

"Our posts are not halls with bars, but rather hubs within our communities providing a wide range of essential programs and services to help veterans of every generation,” he said. "Posts’ closures have had devastating impacts on our ability to provide vital assistance to veterans, especially in rural and smaller communities.”

 

Bars that do not offer meals remain closed statewide under Newsom’s executive orders that date back to March.

 

The group is requesting that posts be allowed to reopen so long as they comply with ABC and county health restrictions, regardless of the status of the counties in which they are located.

 

KOVR-TV13/31 (CBS) Sacramento, November 9, 2020

https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2020/11/09/hall-post-open-covid-bar/

Veterans’ Group Asks Gov. Newsom To Reopen Posts And Halls In California

 

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A veterans’ organization is asking Governor Newsom to allow the state’s veterans’ posts and halls to reopen. It says the establishments help connect vets to essential services.

 

Post and halls up and down the state have been closed since March due to the pandemic. They have liquor licenses, and, as a result, have been classified as bars — something the California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) says is a mistake on the state’s part.

 

In a letter sent to the Governor last week, members of the Council argued the posts serve to connect vets to services and benefits like healthcare, mental health services, and job training.

 

"California’s veterans’ posts play a critical role in connecting our state’s veterans with the benefits and services they need. They also aid homeless veterans, connect veterans dealing with depression and PTSD to counseling, and provide meals for disabled and homebound veterans. The closure of our posts has had a direct and negative impact on the ability of veterans’ service officers to help our veterans,” said Ed Grimsley, State Commander, American Legion, Dept. of California.

 

Veterans’ posts reportedly help veterans navigate and apply for benefits. Since the posts have been shut down, there has been a decrease in claims for veteran disability and pension benefits, said John G. Lowe, State Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of California.

 

"From March to September, the VFW Service Department saw a drop of over 850 veterans’ claims – a decrease of $2.2 million owned to veterans and their families for their service,” said Lowe.

 

The state reports that the positivity rate for COVID-19 has increased .8% to 3.7% for the 14-day average.

 

Palm Springs Desert Sun, November 9, 2020

https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2020/11/09/covid-19-california-veterans-posts-ask-newsom-let-them-reopen/6229276002/

California veterans' posts ask Newsom to let them reopen amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Maria Sesito

 

Veterans organizations across the state have sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking him to reopen veterans' posts and halls. The facilities, classified as bars, closed along with other indoor operations amid COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year.

 

Members of the California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) say that these closures have resulted in a drop in services to veterans across the state.

 

"California’s veterans’ posts play a critical role in connecting our state’s veterans with the benefits and services they need," said Ed Grimsley, state commander of the American Legion's Department of California.

 

"They also aid homeless veterans, connect veterans dealing with depression and PTSD to counseling, and provide meals for disabled and homebound veterans," Grimsley said. "The closure of our posts has had a direct and negative impact on the ability of veterans’ service officers to help our veterans."

 

Veterans’ posts have been mistakenly categorized as bars under the state's reopening guidelines because many have liquor licenses, according to CSCVC.

 

"From March to September, the VFW Service Department saw a drop of over 850 veterans’ claims – a decrease of $2.2 million owned to veterans and their families for their service,"  said John G. Lowe, state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Department of California. "Our posts are not halls with bars, but rather hubs within our communities providing a wide range of essential programs and services to help veterans of every generation."

 

"Posts’ closures have had devastating impacts on our ability to provide vital assistance to veterans, especially in rural and smaller communities,” Lowe said.

 

CSCVC is requesting that posts, in compliance with Alcoholic Beverage Control and county health restrictions, be allowed to reopen regardless of the status of the counties in which they are located in the state's color-coded four-tier reopening framework.

 

Tom Swann Hernandez, founder of AMVETS Palm Springs Post 66, hasn't seen the letter, but said he agrees with the premise.

 

"Our meeting room is separate from the bar and restaurant," Swann Hernandez said Monday. Alcohol isn't allowed at meetings and members could socially distance, he said. Last month's meeting was held via Zoom, but, he said, that doesn't provide the kind of access to services available at in-person meetings.

 

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, he added, the AMVETS Express, which shuttles veterans from the desert to the VA hospital in Loma Linda, has had to reduce its service. It is now operating with two fewer drivers than usual and, due to social distancing requirements, can only transport three passengers at a time instead of its typical nine.  

 

"Because our posts aren’t having face-to-face meetings, veterans aren’t getting the help they need," Swann Hernandez said.

 

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) offices have also been closed since the start of the pandemic.

 

USA Today, November 9, 2020

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/11/09/state-sees-jump-covid-cases-election-parties-arent-helping/6225989002/

In California: State sees jump in COVID cases and election parties aren't helping (*excerpt)

By Winston Gieseke

 

Veterans ask Newsom to reopen vet posts

The California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC), a statewide coalition of veterans organizations, are calling upon Newsom to reopen California’s veterans’ halls and posts, which have been closed since March because of what they say is a mistaken categorization during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The CSCVC sent Newsom a letter last week saying that veterans' posts provide necessary services to veterans, such as processing claims for healthcare and disability benefits.

 

However, these important services have been denied to veterans, according to the organization, because several posts hold a restrictive, membership-only veterans’ liquor license and as a result have been unfairly placed in the same reopening limbo as bars.

 

"California’s veterans’ posts play a critical role in connecting our state’s veterans with the benefits and services they need," said Ed Grimsley, state commander of the American Legion's Department of California.

 

"They also aid homeless veterans, connect veterans dealing with depression and PTSD to counseling, and provide meals for disabled and homebound veterans," Grimsley said. "The closure of our posts has had a direct and negative impact on the ability of veterans’ service officers to help our veterans."

 

The CSCVC is asking that halls in all counties be allowed to reopen so long as they comply with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and county health restrictions.

 

So far, there has been no response from Newsom.

 

KNX-AM1070 Radio Los Angeles, November 9, 2020

Coverage(*click to listen)

 

Leading California Veterans Organizations Call on Governor Newsom to Reopen Veterans’ Posts

Groups say COVID-related closures are preventing posts from providing critical services to veterans such as processing claims for healthcare and disability benefits.


Veterans Day 2020: Deals and freebies on meals for veterans, active-duty

On Wednesday, the nation celebrates veterans and active-duty military members. Restaurants are offering deals and freebies to mark the day and honor those who have served their country. Below are a few of those deals.


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VFW Recouped More Than $9.7B in Benefits for Veterans Nationwide

WASHINGTON - Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) accredited service officers recovered more than $9.7 billion in Veterans Affairs disability compensation benefits for nearly 550,000 veterans this fiscal year exceeding last year's recovery of $9 billion.

VFW Service Officers were responsible for the recovery of a total of $9,712,328,079 for veterans, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Our VFW Service Officers remain the backbone of our organization dedicating their time and effort to helping America's veterans," said VFW National Commander Harold "Hal" Roesch II. "These selfless and hardworking men and women believe that every veteran deserves top-notch customer service and attention-to-detail and prove it daily with their impeccable record of...


Pandemic Won't Stop BK Support of Veteran Families

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is pleased to announce participating BURGER KING franchise restaurants will again raise funds throughout the month of November in support of the VFW's Unmet Needs program. The annual campaign is in its 14th year, and BURGER KING customers are encouraged to donate $1 or more to the program with their purchase.

Soldier hugs his wife Burger King raises money for VFW

"The pandemic's negative impact has been felt far and wide, and our service members, veterans and their families are struggling now more than ever," said VFW National...


Calling All Middle and High School Students

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For students looking for scholarships to help lessen the financial burden college brings, it's not too late to participate in the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen essay competitions.

Open to eligible high school students, the Voice of Democracy program is one of the top patriotic audio essay competitions in the nation, with more than $2.1 million in educational scholarships and incentives up for grabs, and a first place prize of $30,000. More than 64,400 students participate in the competition each year. This year's theme challenges students to answer the question, "Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?"

Open to eligible sixth through eighth grade students, more than 165,400 students compete in the Patriot's Pen essay competition each year to win their slice of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards. The top individual VFW Department (state...


Veterans Need Support Especially in a Pandemic

GEORGETOWN, Texas - Even in a pandemic, veterans are returning from active military duty to prepare for civilian careers that require them to return to school for additional education and training...often beyond what is covered financially by the GI Bill. To make educational expenses less of a burden on service members, anyone can "Help A Hero" by getting a haircut at participating Sport Clips Haircuts now through December 5.

New for this seventh year of the Help A Hero scholarship program is a "text to donate" option. By texting "HERO" to 71777, donors can donate directly to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Foundation that administers the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" program. Also new, t...


The VFW Podcast Debuts Today

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars began its next journey of communicating with veterans, service members and military families through The VFW Podcast, its newest communication platform today.

The VFW Podcast is the official podcast of the VFW, the oldest combat veterans service organization advocating for and serving our veterans, service members and military families worldwide.

You may download episode one of The VFW Podcast here.

"The VFW Podcast will feature one-of-a-kind perspectives and insightful conversations concerning veteran legislation, educational and financial assistance programs, national veterans' services, and critical initiatives from my lens," said VFW National Commander Harold "Hal" Roesch II.

The VFW Podcast will be...


VFW Sport Clips to Host Virtual Walk for Veterans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Sport Clips Haircuts are teaming up to host the first-ever virtual VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero Walk, offering supporters a new way to engage with Sport Clips' annual Help A Hero campaign.

The annual Help A Hero campaign, which kicks off in-store on Oct. 12, helps raise awareness and bolster funds to the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" program. The program provides student veterans with post-secondary scholarships so they are able to complete their educational goals without incurring excessive student loan debt. To date, $8 million in scholarships have been awarded.

Participants in the virtual walk may register and fundraise individually or as a team, and the walk offers the flexibility to participate where and when it is convenient. All participants are invited to join the VFW and Sport Clips for the Celebration Finale on the VFW's Facebook page on Dec. 5, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. CST.

The pandemic has presented many challenges, a...


Celebrate VFW Day

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Every Sept. 29, Veterans of Foreign Wars Day is celebrated at Posts and in communities around the world.

VFW Day is a day devoted to recognizing our amazing organization and its selfless and committed members worldwide who continue to serve.

The VFW has been unwavering in its devotion to veterans, service members and their families for 121 years. Whether it's fighting for health care, education or disability compensation, "No One Does More For Veterans!"

Show your support by honoring all members, Auxiliary and veterans in your community. Everyone is invited to celebrate the tradition of continuous service and steadfast devotion that defines the VFW on social media using the hashtag #VFWDay.

...


VFW National Commander Honors Two Louisiana Sheriff's Deputies for Heroic Actions

NEW ORLEANS - Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander Harold "Hal" Roesch II presented the VFW Life Saving Award to two St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office deputies today at St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Department.

St. Charles Parish Sheriff's Office deputies Alexis Agnelly and Paul Quick received the esteemed award for heroic life-saving actions in the line of duty.

During a routine dispatch to St. Rose, Agnelly and Quick encountered a man who had been acting erratically while walking on the levee. The deputies quickly accessed the situation noticing mental health concerns. The man tried to evade them entering the Mississippi River unclothed, however, Agnelly and Quick chased and restrained him in the shallow waters before he could have seriously injured or killed himself.

"Deputies Agnelly and Quick are living examples of who our nation's first responders truly must be in our communities today," said Roesch. "Their selflessness, heroism and valor displayed at a moment's notice to help sav...


2021 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship Application Period Now Open

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars and Student Veterans of America are now accepting applications from student veterans who are interested in participating in the upcoming 2021 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship Program.

The fellowship, now in its seventh year, will bring up to 10 student veterans - who must be VFW members - to Washington, D.C. early next March to meet face-to-face with their members of Congress and senior policy makers.

Student veterans interested in applying for the 2021 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship must complete an application package that includes a 400- to 600-word essay that proposes legislative improvements to one of the following four specific veterans' issues:

  • Student veteran success on campus and beyond;
  • Improving veteran's health care and benefits;
  • Transition from military to civilian life; or
  • Challenges for service members and military families.

The essay proposal should include a discussion of why the issue i...


VFW, Sport Clips Award Nearly $700,000 in Scholarships to Veterans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to announce 158 student veterans from around the country have been named recipients of the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" for the fall 2020 semester, totaling nearly $700,000 in assistance. See the full list of 2020 fall semester recipients.

"Transitioning veterans are often faced with stressful challenges when they return to civilian life, and attending school to finish a degree during a global pandemic has certainly amplified that stress ten-fold," said VFW National Commander Hal Roesch II. "With so much uncertainty surrounding the upcoming school year, the VFW, together with our great friends at Sport Clips Haircuts, is thrilled to be able to make fall semester a little less stressful for these military and veteran families."

"With the current envi...


Hal Roesch II Elected VFW's New National Commander

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Hal Roesch II, of Hampton, Virginia, was installed as the Veterans of Foreign Wars' 112th national commander today during a change of command ceremony at the VFW National Headquarters.

Roesch assumes command of the oldest combat veterans service organization boasting approximately 1.5 million members, including its Auxiliary.

"I stand before you, humbled, elated and ready to selflessly serve the 1.5 million members and its Auxiliary as we continue the tradition of serving America's veterans, service members and families worldwide," said Roesch.

Roesch is a 20-year U.S. Air Force retiree serving from 1982 to 2002. He earned his VFW eligibility during his combat service in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and overseas service as part of Southern Watch. Roesch is a recipient of three Meritorious Service Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals, two Air Force Achievement Medals, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with valor, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the S...


More Than 1 Million Meals Raised for Food Pantries in Need

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars is proud to announce its 2020 "Uniting to Combat Hunger" campaign has raised more than 1 million meals for veterans and military families in need, transcending its original goal of 500,000.

VFW Quartermaster General Debra Anderson and Ed Sandrick, director of Humana's Strategic Alliances and Veteran Channel, made the special announcement live Monday during the VFW's #StillServing Celebration, a virtual, weeklong event to bring awareness, respect and gratitude to veterans who remain committed to a life of service after their time in the military ends.

Originally established in March of 2018, "Uniting to Combat Hunger" is a collaborative campaign from the VFW and Humana designed to help to raise awareness and fight food insecurity in the veteran and military communities. Defined as the lack of access to enough nutritionally adequate foods to live an active, healthy life, food insecurity contributes to poor health, lower productivity and higher medical cost...


VFW to Host #StillServing Celebration July 20-24

KANSAS CITY, Mo.- The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) will present its first-ever #StillServing Celebration the week July 20-24. The virtual event, which culminates in the installation of incoming VFW National Commander Hal Roesch, will shine a spotlight on personal veteran stories that emerged as result of the #StillServing campaign which began in February of this year.

"When we launched the #StillServing campaign it was to bring attention to the unexpected ways veterans continue to serve their country after they leave active military," said William "Doc" Schmitz, VFW national commander. "The onset of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 multiplied the inspiring stories of veterans' continued dedication to giving of themselves, now to their local communities. It represents the heart of VFW."

The #StillServing Celebration will kick off Monday, July 20, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. and will include


Virginia VFW Post Receives National Community Service Award

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars is proud to announce SSG Jonathan Dozier Memorial Post 2894 in Chesapeake, Virginia, was selected to receive the prestigious VFW Fred C. Hall Memorial Outstanding Post Special Project Award, which recognizes VFW Posts for unique and outstanding community service projects.

VFW Post 2894 was selected for its home renovation project for Brandi Jones, a U.S. Navy veteran and single mother of two. After a traumatic home invasion forced her to move in 2011, Jones relocated only to discover her home would need more work than initially expected, but she didn't have the funds to address the growing list of concerns.

After a chance encounter during a VFW "Buddy" Poppy drive, members of Post 2894 immediately set to work planning the renovation project. With support from several local businesses and associations, more than 150 volunteers rallied together to help ensure Jones and her sons had a safe place to call home. Valued at nearly $25,000, the renova...


2020 VFW Scout of the Year Winners Named

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to announce the selection of the top three winners of its 2019 - 2020 Scout of the Year scholarship competition.

This year's first place winner, Jacqueline Abnos, was sponsored by VFW Post 1829 in Kansas City, Missouri. As a Venturing Summit Award and Gold Award recipient currently working toward her Eagle Scout, Abnos was selected for her leadership, dedication to scouting and her activism. As the first place 2020 Scout of the Year, Abnos will receive a $5,000 college scholarship.

Marius Schnell, sponsored by VFW Post 10557 in Hohenfels, Germany, was named second place winner for his notable work protecting endangered wildlife, his leadership skills and his patriotism toward our nation's veterans. Schnell will receive a $3,000 college scholarship.

Sponsored by VFW Post 4146 in Victoria, Texas, Justin Swize was selected as the third place winner for his personal drive, environmentally focused projects, and his positive leadership sk...


VFW Stands for Equality, Condemns Vandalism of WWII Memorial

WASHINGTON - In the wake of the nationwide protests centered around the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) stands in solidarity for equality, however, condemns the vandalism of the World War II Memorial and other memorials near the National Mall.

"Equality is the cornerstone of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and must be in our great nation," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "Bigotry and unequal treatment has zero place in this world."

Unfortunately, the "sacred" World War II Memorial was vandalized May 31 during protests in Washington.

"The VFW believes in peaceful, organized demonstrations. That is the right of every American," said Schmitz. "However, we are extremely saddened and angered to find that our sacred World War II Memorial was defaced. The veterans who fought for the very freedom to demonstrate deserve better and we condemn those who determined the memorial was worth vandalizing."

...


VFW Pays Its Respects to the Fallen During Memorial Day

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In recognition of Memorial Day, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) honors the legacy of the men and women who served in our nation's military and made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom.

While many Americans signal Memorial Day as the start of the summer, the less than one percent who have donned the uniform and military families worldwide understand the true meaning and significance of this sacred day.

"Comrades, many of you have walked the hallowed grounds of our national veterans' cemeteries solemnly laying eyes on the headstones of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen who honorably served and placed the freedom of their nation before their very own safety," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "We have lost hundreds of thousands of men and women since the founding of our nation in 1775, and unfortunately, as the global fight on terror continues today, we will lose more protectors of freedom."

This Memorial Day will be differe...


2020 National Publications Contest Winners Named

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (May 20, 2020) - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has announced the winners of the 2020 National Publications Contest.

Covering the 2019 calendar year, this year's publications contest garnered 39 entries, which fell 36 short of the 2019 contest

Entries for the contest derived from 24 Posts/Districts and six Departments. There were two submissions for the "Best Magazine" category and 12 submissions for "Best Feature Article." Of the 39 entries, 16 placed.

Two non-VFW-affiliated journalism professionals served as judges for the competition. This is designed to guarantee impartiality and objectivity in the judging.

The VFW congratulates all entrants for their hard work and service to their respective members. The pool of entries this year proved to be very competitive. Awards will be mailed in June to each Department for distribution.

If you have suggestions for how we can improve the National Publications Contest for 2021, write to us at...


Ace Hardware, VFW Honor Fallen Heroes with 1 Million American Flags

OAK BROOK, Ill. - In the true spirit of Memorial Day, Ace Hardware is again collaborating with the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Ace Hardware is pledging to give out 1 million American flags nationwide on Saturday, May 23.

As an essential business, Ace Hardware stores remain open to safely serve their neighbors and local communities. Consumers who visit a participating Ace store on May 23 will receive a free 8" x 12" American flag* while a second flag will be donated to a local VFW Post to be used for marking and honoring veteran graves this Memorial Day.

"Ace is grateful for the opportunity to once again support VFW Posts across the country to honor our fallen heroes," said John Surane, Executive Vice President and Chief Merchandising Officer for Ace Hardware. "This Memorial Day, Ace is proud to work with the VFW and our loyal customers to remember and pay tribute to the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for their co...


VFW Thanks White House Defense Department and VA for Weekly Briefs

"These are unprecedented times in our nation's history and I want to thank the White House and the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs for continually keeping the Veterans of Foreign Wars informed of the measures they are taking to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our veterans, service members and military families during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Secretaries Esper and Wilkie have been very instrumental in helping to lower the curve of this challenging virus while maintaining normal operations and assisting fellow Americans in mobile hospitals and VA facilities nationwide who are suffering from COVID-19.

"We truly applaud the all-hands on deck philosophy that our leadership, from top to bottom, has adopted and hope we can continue to work together to get our nation back healthy and stronger than before." - VFW Washington Officer Executive Director B.J. Lawrence

...


VFW Kicks Off Annual Youth Scholarship Competitions

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is now accepting entries for its 2020-21 Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen youth scholarship competitions. The announcement comes just weeks after the VFW's 2020 Legislative Conference concluded in Washington, D.C., where the top national winners of both contests were recognized.

Dedicated to encouraging a better understanding and appreciation of America, the VFW's Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen essay competitions help foster patriotism among today's youth. The programs also promote friendly competition and reward success with more than $3 million in scholarships.

The Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition, with the theme "Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?" is open to all students in grades 9-12. Each state...


VFW Cancels Reno National Convention

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars announced today its 121st VFW National Convention scheduled to be held in Reno, Nevada, this July has been officially cancelled.

Thousands of VFW and Auxiliary delegates were expected to gather to represent the organization's total membership of more than 1.6 million at the weeklong event.

The decision comes as public-health concerns and social-distancing mandates are expected to span into the summer months ahead. This year will mark the first in the organization's storied 121-year history where a national convention will not be held. The VFW Auxiliary has also cancelled its convention.

"We explored every effort to move forward with the convention in its current form, and the decision was not made lightly," explained William "Doc" Schmitz, national commander of the VFW. "But, the fact is the health and well-being of our members, partners and supporters remains our priority, and we will not put them at risk."

Pur...


VSOs Call on President to Uphold 48-Hour Review

VSO Logos

President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the millions of veterans, service members, families and survivors that our organizations represent, we call on you to instruct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to maintain the policy of permitting accredited service officers from Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) to review claims decisions for accuracy during the 48-hour period preceding final promulgation. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently informed our organizations of its intent to rescind the 48-hour review policy. This decision will unjustly prejudice veterans by causing avoidable delay in the ...


VFW Urges Congress to Pass the Major Richard Star Act to Ease the Financial Burden of Medically-Retired Veterans During COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars is urging Congress to pass the Major Richard Star Act during this challenging COVID-19 pandemic to help put money back in the pockets of veterans who were forced to retire early from military service because of battlefield injury or illness.

"Retirement pay and VA disability compensation are fundamentally different benefits, granted for different reasons," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "To deny earned retirement pay from veterans who were unfortunately medically retired early because of wounds or illnesses sustained on the battlefield is an absolute injustice that must end now."

The Major Richard Star Act would provide total offset relief to veterans who suffered combat injuries or illnesses who were medically retired with less than 20 years of service. The passage of the Major Richard Star Act would reduce the number of people still awaiting total concurrent receipt of their earned military retirement pay and VA disability compensation.


VFW Announces Top Teachers in National Contest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to announce it has selected the national top three teachers in its annual Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award contest.

Established in 1999 and named after former VFW National Commander John Smart and retired VFW Quartermaster General Larry Maher, the award recognizes our nation's top teachers for their exceptional commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students by promoting civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism in the classroom.

Awarded annually, the VFW selects one teacher from the elementary (K-5), middle (6-8) and high school (9-12) levels to receive a $1,000 award for professional development, and $1,000 for their school.

Megan Joy Rodgers, a fourth-grade teacher at Brookfield Elementary School in Brookfield, Ohio, was named the elementary school winner for her creative qualities, character and frequent efforts to organize field trips, activities and services to help her...


#StillServing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the lives of every citizen in the world.

In America, we know our veterans are #StillServing and rising to meet the challenges of this uncertain time.

If you - or a veteran you know - has stepped up to help others and your community in this unfolding situation, please take a moment to let us know what you're doing.

We want to share your stories and maybe even inspire others across the country to do the same.

Thank you for your service - and thank you for #StillServing!

...


Call Out for Post and Department Stories

COVID-19 is affecting the lives of every citizen in the world. In America, we know our veterans are #StillServing ... rising to meet the challenges of this uncertain time.

How is your Post, District or Department stepping up to help others and your community in this unfolding situation? Are you hosting a blood drive, doing buddy checks, acting as a drop-off location for food donations or something else to meet the needs of your membership and community?

We want to share your stories and inspire others across the country to take action.

Email VFW Communications (communications@vfw.org) with what your Post, District or Department is doing to help. Please attach any photos you have of your efforts.

...


VFW Opposes VA Decision to Eliminate Accredited Veterans Service Officers 48-Hour Review Period for Claims; Demands Answers from Leadership

WASHINGTON - Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz called it "despicable" and "inconceivable" that Department of Veterans Affairs Undersecretary for Benefits Dr. Paul Lawrence intends to eliminate the accredited veterans service officer (VSO) 48-hour review period for claims effective April 30.

"The VFW strongly opposes the repeal of the 48-hour review period in reviewing VA decisions for accuracy, as this is a final quality control check that we perform on behalf of our veterans to ensure that their rating decisions are correct the first time," said Schmitz.

VSOs have the opportunity and the responsibility to review proposed VA rating decisions to ensure that all claimed conditions have been addressed and properly adjudicated prior to VA finalizing its rating decision and sending notification to the veteran.

For decades, VA has allotted VSOs 48 hours to review the applicable laws and regulations that were applied to the claim. During this time, VSO ...


VFW Pays Tribute to the Service of Our Vietnam War Veterans

March 29 was officially designated National Vietnam War Veterans Day in 2017 as a way for Americans to honor and celebrate our Vietnam War veterans.

More than 58,000 U.S. service members died during the Vietnam War and approximately 1,587 remain missing, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

"As a Vietnam War veteran, I understand the impact and human toll this conflict had on my fellow comrades," said Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "We can, and will never forget those who died in defense of freedom and remain missing today."

VFW senior leaders have traveled back to Vietnam every year since 1991 to help U.S. government efforts to account for missing and unaccounted-for servicemen and civilians.

"As long as the VFW exists, we will continue our efforts to help account for every American missing from the Vietnam War," said Schmitz.

National Vietnam War Veterans Day was made official through the "Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017," and encou...


Scam Reminder

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - As a new wave of scams surface in an attempt to exploit coronavirus fears, the VFW would like to remind all of its members to exercise extreme caution in providing personal information during any unsolicited call. Most recently, a VFW member reported receiving a call from an individual identifying himself as a VFW representative and was asked to provide credit card information in exchange for a $100 gift card. This is a scam.

If you do receive a call from an individual claiming to be a VFW representative who is requesting personally identifiable information, ask that they confirm your VFW membership number. If they're unable to do so, hang up.

If you have worked with the VFW on a VA benefits claim, and you receive a suspicious call regarding your claim, ask the caller to verify your VA claim number before sharing any critical information.


VFW Mobilizing, Combating Effects of Invisible Enemy

KANSAS CITY, Mo.- The Veterans of Foreign Wars, America's largest organization of combat veterans, knows all too well the experience of fighting a sometimes invisible enemy. This unique understanding, and the situational readiness and dedication to country forged through military service is perpetuating the VFW and its members' commitment to service through the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the country. The VFW remains an organization of veterans #StillServing.

VFW members across the nation have mobilized to provide much-needed support to coronavirus-stricken communities. Among them:

VFW Remains Committed to Service and Country Amidst COVID-19

Kansas City, Mo.- As America's largest organization of combat veterans, the health and well-being of our members, partners, associates and communities is our top priority. For this reason and as our civic responsibility, we have implemented a number of measures to help combat the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

We have drastically expanded our flexibility of telework to employees of the VFW National Headquarters and Washington D.C. Office. Through this time, we will remain committed to providing our members and all those we assist with top-quality service as the current situation evolves.

VFW members can manage their Online Membership System (OMS) account any time by logging in at VFW Demands Congress Hold VA Accountable for Failure to Grant Benefits to Vietnam, Post 9/11 Veterans Suffering from Toxic Exposures

WASHINGTON - Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz called for "accountability for failure to grant benefits to Vietnam and Post-9/11 veterans suffering from toxic exposures" during a special joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees today.

The VFW expressed its frustration with the Department of Veterans Affairs' lack of urgency in providing benefits to individuals who suffer from conditions associated with toxic exposures, especially when there is science to back up veterans' claims.

"The VFW proposes a permanent, comprehensive, and evidence-based framework of granting presumptive benefits for toxic exposure," said Schmitz. "Veterans who were exposed to burn pits and now suffer from pulmonary conditions and rare cancers should not have to wait decades for benefits - like Vietnam veterans did."

The VFW proposed process of granting benefits would require VA to acknowledge the existing research linking these conditions...


VFW Awards National Youth Scholarship Winners

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) tonight proudly presented more than $200,000 in scholarships and awards as it named the national winners of its 2020 Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen youth scholarship competitions. The awards were presented during the Parade of Winners ceremony, sponsored by Twisted X, at the VFW's annual Legislative Conference held in Washington, D.C.

VFW 2020 Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen Youth Scholarship winners
(Top) VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz and VFW Auxiliary
President Peggy Haake present Voice of Democracy first place winner Shruthi Kumar (center)
with her $30,000 award; (right) VFW National Commander William "D...


VFW to Deliver 2020 Priority Goals to Congress

WASHINGTON - More than 500 members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and its Auxiliary will descend on the nation's capital March 1-4 to meet with their respective members of Congress to discuss ways to best serve our veterans, service members and military families.

VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz will testify March 4 at 10 a.m. (EST) before a special joint hearing of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans' Affairs.

"It's vital that the VFW is provided this platform to discuss our key priorities and explain how we can best achieve them with Congress' full support," Schmitz said. "My hope is that Congress hears me, but most-importantly, hears our members who will circle the halls of the Capitol this week fighting for critical veterans' issues in their states and communities."

Schmitz is prepared to discuss the VFW's top priorities for 2020. These key legislative priorities include:

  • Toxic Exposures and Other Environmental Hazards
  • VA Appeals Modernizat...


VFW Launches Campaign to Showcase Veterans #StillServing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to launch #StillServing, a campaign to bring attention to and honor the continued commitment and sacrifice of America's veterans.

The men and women who bravely defend our nation often continue to selflessly serve their communities and country in ways beyond their military service. This awareness campaign showcases how veterans continue a life of service and how their ongoing contributions are positively impacting our society.

"Veterans truly exemplify the best of America," said William "Doc" Schmitz, VFW national commander. "They are dedicated to giving of themselves, and the skills and values they develop in the military only deepen their desire to better themselves, their communities and their country through service. We are grateful for the millions of members who have made service a hallmark of the VFW and we're excited for the veterans who are joining now to carry this forward in new ways."

Building on a legacy of service that ...


Twisted X Signs on as Title Sponsor of VFW Youth Programs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to announce Twisted X has signed on to become the title sponsor of its annual Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen winners' trip. Twisted X, a longtime supporter of the VFW, initially announced its $130,000 multi-year commitment while presenting a $100,000 donation at the VFW's 120th National Convention in July 2019.

"Every year, the VFW Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen winners' trip honors the top tier of our nation's civically minded youth, and we're excited to bring Twisted X on board to help ensure this treasured tradition continues," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz.

Together, the VFW's Voice of Democracy and Patriot's Pen scholarship competitions have helped foster patriotism by challenging students to examine the role our military and veterans play, our nation's history, its democratic processes, and their own role in Americ...


CDW Presents 10000 Donation to the VFW

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Representatives from CDW presented a $10,000 donation on behalf of its CDW Gives program to VFW Quartermaster Debra Anderson today in support of the vital programs and services the VFW offers to our nation's service members, veterans and their families, free of charge.

"The VFW was thrilled to receive this donation, which will help us continue to serve countless military and veteran families during their times of need," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "It's encouraging to work with great companies like CDW, whose dedication to honoring and giving back to our nation's military and veteran families aligns so well with our own."

CDW is a leading multi-brand technology solutions provider to business, government, education and health care customers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. A Fortune 500 company and member of the S&P 500 Index, CDW was founded in 1984 and employs more than 9,800 workers. Its broad array of offerings range from hardware and so...


VFW Expects Apology From POTUS

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - "In light of today's announcement from the defense department that 34 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of Iran's retaliatory strike and President Trump's remarks which minimized these troops' injuries, the Veterans of Foreign Wars cannot stand idle on this matter.

TBI is a serious injury and one that cannot be taken lightly. TBI is known to cause depression, memory loss, severe headaches, dizziness and fatigue - all injuries that come with both short- and long-term effects.

The VFW expects an apology from the president to our service men and women for his misguided remarks. And, we ask that he and the White House join with us in our efforts to educate Americans of the dangers TBI has on these heroes as they protect our great nation in these trying times. Our warriors require our full support more than ever in this challenging environment." - William "Doc" Schmitz, VFW National Commander

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Lawrence, Gallucci, Eshenbaugh Named to HillVets 100 Class of 2019

WASHINGTON - Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Washington Office Executive Director B.J. Lawrence, National Veterans Service Director Ryan Gallucci and VFW Department of Texas Service Officer Terry Eshenbaugh were named to the HillVets 100 Class of 2019.

"I wouldn't expect anything less from B.J. Ryan and Terry, three dedicated and committed leaders who fight and advocate for our nation's veterans," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "These gentlemen are the epitome of what the VFW represents."

Lawrence and Gallucci were named to the HillVets 100 list in the Traditional Non-Profits category due to their dedication and commitment efforts to bring veterans and service members' interests to the forefront of the national dialogue.

"This is a great honor, not only for me but for the VFW and the exceptional work our employees and members do on a daily basis on Capitol Hill and in our local communities on behalf of our veterans, service members and military families," said Lawrence.

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VFW Awards 154 Student Veterans with Scholarships

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars is proud to announce more than 150 student veterans from around the country have been selected as 2020 spring semester recipients of the VFW's "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship."

"Too often I meet veterans whose GI Bill education benefits have been depleted. For more than five years, we've worked together with our long-time friends at Sport Clips Haircuts to ensure our veterans are set up for success," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "The VFW is proud to offer a scholarship program that keeps them from facing crippling student loan debt as their post-military life begins to take off."

Since the program's inception, the VFW and Sport Clips have awarded more than $7 million in scholarships to more than 1,600 student vete...


VFW, Stars and Stripes Work to Bring More News to More Veterans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is proud to announce it has teamed up with the renowned source for military and veteran news, Stars and Stripes, to offer VFW members a 50% discount on unlimited digital access to news and information on web and mobile.

"Stars and Stripes is certainly a trusted news source that VFW members know well," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "Our members are extremely busy. So we're pleased to be able to offer them quick and affordable access to news while on the go."

Stars and Stripes is the number one source of independent news and information for the U.S. military community, serving active-duty service members, veterans, DOD civilians, contractors and their families.

"From news coverage of veteran issues to informative online tools and publications, Stars and Stripes has always made our nation's veterans a top priority," said Max Lederer, Stars and Stripes publisher. "We recognize and respect the many contributions the VFW has ...


VFW, SVA Announce 2020 Student Veteran Fellowship Class

WASHINGTON - Ten Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members and Student Veterans of America (SVA) leaders were selected for the 2020 VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship Program Sunday at the SVA National Conference in Los Angeles, California.

The 10 fellows will now join more than 500 VFW members on Capitol Hill in early March to advocate on behalf of all veterans, service members and their families.

"The VFW prides itself on working with our student veterans nationwide to help build tomorrow's leaders," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz.

The VFW-SVA Legislative Fellowship is a semester-long academic experience that involves researching, coordinating, reporting and advocating on behalf of one of four veterans' policy areas: student veteran success on campus and beyond, improving veteran's health care and benefits, transitioning from military to civilian life, and challenges for service members and military families.

Each selected fellow submitted a policy proposal to address one o...


VFW Bids Congressman Roe Well Wishes on His Retirement

WASHINGTON - The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) bids Rep. Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) well wishes on his retirement at the conclusion of the 116th Congress.

"Congressman Roe has been a staunch supporter of our veterans, service members, military families, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars throughout his career as both a veteran and public servant," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "Today, we thank Congressman Roe and his wife, Clarinda, for their outstanding service to the state of Tennessee and our great nation. Without him, the MISSION Act, Forever GI Bill and other significant legislation may not have been achieved for our nation's heroes."...


VFW Announces Annual Publications Contest

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Veterans of Foreign Wars is now accepting submissions for its 2020 National Publications Contest. VFW publications published up to four times annually, or five or more times annually, will be judged in four categories.

The categories are:

Department-level publications:

  • Newspaper/Newsletter
    • Defined as being printed on newspaper stock.
  • Best Feature Story
    • All publications judged together in this category and submitted separately. The story must be a published article of at least 300 words. It can be originally written by your newspaper/magazine staff or by a freelance writer, or be reprinted from a newspaper within your state. Feature articles published in online/electronic newsletters, newspapers or magazines also are eligible, but must be printed in color and submitted via USPS, not email.
  • ...


VFW, Senate Leaders Key in Axing Widow's Tax in New NDAA

WASHINGTON - After a nearly half-century long fight, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and its veterans service and survivor organization partners claimed victory with the termination of the contentious and embattled Military Widow's Tax as part of the presidential signing of the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act today.

"This is a momentous victory for the more than 65,000 military spouses who endured the tragic loss of their husband or wife who paid the ultimate sacrifice," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "Without these extraordinary spouses fighting in the trenches with us, the termination of the Widow's Tax may not have been possible."

Prior to today's presidential signing of the NDAA that included the Military Widow's Tax Elimination Act of 2019, recipients of both the Department of Defense Survivors Benefits Plan (SBP) and the Department of Veterans Affairs Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) faced a reduction of $1,319 - the current payout for DIC benefits. F...


VFW Hosts 60 Wounded Warriors, Families for the Aleethia Foundation's Friday Night Dinner

WASHINGTON - Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) hosted 60 wounded warriors, their families and caregivers, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center staff Dec. 13 for the traditional Aleethia Foundation's Friday Night Dinner at The Capitol Hill Club.

"It is an honor to break bread, share stories, and be part of the healing process for these resilient service men and women," said VFW Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief Hal Roesch. "It was paramount that I attend tonight's dinner and show my appreciation and admiration that the VFW has for these amazing warriors."

VFW Post 2562 Life member Hal Koster, co-owner of a local restaurant that closed in 2006, started the weekly wounded warrior dinners in October 2003 to help support wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families though the early phases of the healing process.

The Friday Night Dinners range from $4,000 to $10,000 weekly based on number of attendees and venue. In order ...


Sport Clips Haircuts' $1.25M Donation to VFW Help A Hero Scholarships Will Support Veterans' Education for Civilian Careers

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Dec. 9, 2019) - A $1.25 million donation by Sport Clips Haircuts to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation will boost the impact of the Help A Hero Scholarship program that supports education for civilian careers. Sport Clips Founder and CEO Gordon Logan, who is a veteran and VFW Life member, presented the million-dollar-plus check to VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz today at the VFW National Headquarters.

"There's a common misconception that GI Bill benefits and military training are enough to secure education or training for civilian occupations, but that's often not the case. For many service members, additional degrees and certifications are needed to secure sought-after post-military work. There are 165 student veterans attending colleges and certification programs right now with the aid of Help A Hero Scholarships and more than 1,450 student veterans have benefited from these scholarships since 2014. This ye...


VFW Celebrates the Service, Sacrifice of All Veterans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - To the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Monday, November 11 means, and always will mean, more to the more than 1.6 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary.

Veterans Day is a day of deep significance and it provides every American with the unique opportunity to not only keep alive the memories and accomplishments of every man and woman who has answered when their nation called, but to truly appreciate and understand the service and sacrifices our veterans and their families have made, and continue to make every day.

Originally established in 1919 to honor our nation's fallen World War I veterans, today Veterans Day now means honoring all who have bravely fought to preserve the freedoms and way of life we frequently take for granted.

Our nation is like no other in history, founded not on tribalism or classism, but on the rare and unique opportunity to disagree, and to worship, express oneself and live without fear of reprisal of unjust incarceration or execution. However, this fr...


VFW Witnesses Landmark Presidential Signing of the POW MIA Flag Act

WASHINGTON - Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) stood in solidarity with fellow members of the Veterans Service Organization (VSO) community as President Donald Trump signed the National POW/MIA Flag Act into law today.

"This is a historic victory for every man and woman who courageously defended this nation and remain unaccounted for," said VFW National Commander William "Doc" Schmitz. "Today's presidential signing and the daily display of the POW/MIA flag at all prominent federal properties now serves as a daily reminder that these heroes, and their families, are forever etched in our DNA."

Law now requires the POW/MIA flag to be displayed whenever the American flag is displayed on prominent federal properties, including the White House, U.S. Capitol, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, every national cemetery, the buildings containing the official offices of the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, office of the Director of the Selective Service Syste...


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