Air Force Veteran Elected to Lead Veterans of Foreign Wars

Stroud speechKANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 24, 2014) — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States concluded its 115th national convention yesterday with the election of the new VFW National Commander, John W. Stroud.

Stroud served in the U.S. Air Force from 1976-1997, including a tour in Korea in 1992-1993 with the 51st Fighter Wing at Osan Air Base as a Flight Operations Superintendent. His decorations include four Meritorious Service Medals, three Air Force Commendation Medals, three Air Force Achievement Medals, the Korea Defense Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

He is a resident of Hawthorne, Nev., and a Gold Legacy Life Member of Post 2313, and has served the VFW in a number of leadership positions including Nevada Department Commander and Chairman of the National Veterans Service Committee.

During his acceptance speech, Stroud addressed the recent VA crisis stating, “the VA is a health care system worth saving that right now must identify and fix what’s broken … that needs to hold people appropriately accountable to the fullest extent of the law … and a system that must restore the faith of veterans in their VA. He added that he is confident Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson and nominee Bob McDonald—if confirmed—will not make the same mistake as the previous VA Secretary who simply trusted his employees to the point of his demise.

Stroud recounted his first experience with the VFW, stopping in Post 10047 in Las Vegas, Nev., after seeing a sign that read ‘Active Duty Military Welcome.’ Dressed in fatigues, he entered the Post and was immediately welcomed. Surrounded by his comrades, he learned of the organization’s many programs and services, and he knew he wanted in.

“Comrades, I share my story to encourage you to tell your own stories to others.  A great part of the VFW story involves the relevance between different generations, and the ability to educate others about who we are, what we do, and who we do it for,” he said.

Stroud had high praise for members’ work and VFW programs, citing several outstanding instances of disaster relief, troop support and veterans resource efforts. He commended those who worked with the U.S. European Command to operate a Visitor’s Center for hundreds of American D-Day veterans and thousands of visitors who were in Normandy for the 70th anniversary of the landing, and praised the Ladies Auxiliary for its donations to cancer research which now total $30 million.   

“One of the best things about being a National Officer is I get to brag about the VFW wherever I go … to the troops, to veterans, their families, nonveterans and politicians, too,” he said.

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Hillsville School of Instruction


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Veterans Survey

Thank you for completing the 2014 Veteran Survey sponsored by the Virginia Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Your response to this short survey will help us better provide the service and response our veterans deserve.  We appreciate your completing the survey at your earliest convenience and no later than June 30th.   Click this link to access the survey:  http://freeonlinesurveys.com/s.asp?sid=lqqbwpc34lbn6e0489989 .

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 KANSAS CITY, Mo. (May 30, 2014) — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States said today’s resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki is in the best interests of the nation’s veterans.

 “The VFW was the first major veterans organization to call for an independent investigation and, if warranted, for the dismissal and criminal prosecution of those employees involved with gaming the system,” said William A. Thien, the national commander of the 1.9 million-member VFW and its Auxiliaries. “Throughout the political firestorm of the past several weeks, the VFW remained steadfast in supporting an independent investigation and calling for full accountability in this matter — especially for those in Congress, who for years have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the concerns of America’s Veteran Service Organizations.

 “Change will not come easy to the VA, but change it must, and the VFW will absolutely be part of its evolution, just as we were in the years leading up to and after we helped to create it,” said Thien. “The new secretary will inherit a host of ongoing challenges, but he or she must immediately identify and fix what’s broken, to hold people accountable to the maximum extent of the law, and to do whatever is necessary to help restore the full faith and confidence of veterans in their VA,” he said. “Members of Congress have an equal responsibility to put their individual political agendas aside and do what they were elected to do. The VFW will never tolerate politics as usual when it comes to the proper care and treatment of our nation’s heroes.

 “Secretary Shinseki is an American patriot, an honorable man whose personal integrity and commitment to duty and to others is above reproach,” said the VFW national commander. “We support his decision to resign, because the outside calls for his resignation were overshadowing the crisis in healthcare issues veterans face, and that is what’s most important.”


 ABOUT THE VFW: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization comprised of combat veterans and eligible military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation’s largest organization of war veterans and its oldest major veterans’ organization. With more than 1.9 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in almost 7,000 Posts worldwide, “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS.” The VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs worldwide. For more information or to join, visit our website at www.vfw.org.

 Contact: Jerry Newberry, Assistant Adjutant General, (o) 816-968-1168, jnewberry@vfw.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/virginia/national-vfw-news/va-secretary-announces-resignation/


Salute American Pledges Support to VFW’s Unmet Needs Program

Salute American Pledges Support to VFW’s Unmet Needs Program


Premium Vodka Brand Reaffirms Commitment to Donate $1 to Veterans Charities for Every 750ml Bottle Sold

Kansas City, Mo., (May 1, 2014) – Better Brands Beverage Co., the parent company of Salute American Vodka, announced a national initiative geared to assist our nation’s veterans and military families who are in need of financial assistance.  Through a one-year licensing agreement beginning today, the American-made premium vodka will donate $1 to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Foundation for every 750ml bottle sold.

Funds donated by Salute American will be earmarked for the VFW Unmet Needs program, which supports struggling veterans and their families.  Salute American kicked off the initiative with an initial $10,000 donation and will be a presenting sponsor of the 115th VFW National Convention in St. Louis, Mo., from July 19-23, 2014.

“There are countless veterans who need some form of financial assistance,” said John Hamilton, VFW adjutant general.  “Each purchase of Salute American vodka will assist us in fulfilling our mandate of service to our nation’s veterans, service members and their families.  It’s a simple way for veterans and non-veterans to pay it forward.”

Salute American was started by CEO-founder Pete Kelly, a passionate entrepreneur who wanted to make a difference in people’s lives through the ‘pay-it-forward’ philosophy.  Pete couldn’t think of a more deserving group than U.S. veterans – a band of brothers and sisters with increasingly high unemployment and homelessness rates*.  Salute American became a practical way to help maintain and create jobs in the US for veterans, and to generate ongoing economic success and stronger communities.

“Salute American is more than a name – it’s our mission,” said Pete Kelly, CEO-founder, Better Brands Beverage Co.  “We prove our patriotism by giving back to U.S. veterans who have proudly served their country and paying it forward.”

Since the launch of Salute American, Better Brands Beverage Co. has donated more than $50,000 to veteran’s charities, including: Veteran’s Farm through Work Vessels for Veterans; Farmer Veteran Coalition; Homes for Our Troops; Wish for our Heroes; and Greater St. Louis Honor Flight.

Salute American is pure American from start to finish.  The vodka, which was approved for the USA Certified Seal, is made from corn and wheat grains straight from the heartland.  It’s then four times distilled for a smooth and sweet taste that works well mixed or neat.  The canteen-shaped bottle bearing the red, white and blue, was manufactured in Park Hills, Mo., and distilled and bottled in Rochester, NY.

Salute American is currently available in the following markets: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin.  The brand will also launch in Nebraska and North and South Dakota later in 2014.  The suggested retail price for a 750ml bottle is $19.99, which may vary by market.  Salute American Vodka is 80-proof and 40% alcohol by volume.  The brand received a Silver Medal and an 87-point “highly recommended” rating from the prestigious Beverage Testing Institute in the category of “Best Value Vodka $20 and under.”

For more information, please visit www.saluteamerican.com and “like” and “follow” Salute American on facebook www.facebook.com/SaluteAmericanVodka and twitter @SaluteAmerican – https://twitter.com/SaluteAmerican

* According to Labor Department Data, the unemployment rate among male veterans, ages 18-24, is nearly

27%.  There are currently more than 100,000 homeless vets in the US.

About Better Brands Beverage Co.

Privately owned and Midwest-based, Better Brands Beverage Co. is a for-profit company committed to investing in veterans charities that create jobs for veterans.  The Company was founded in 2012 by CEO-founder Pete Kelly who passionately believes in making a difference in people’s lives through the ‘pay-it-forward’ philosophy.

About VFW

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization comprised of combat veterans and eligible military service members from the active, Guard and Reserve forces.  Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation’s largest organization of war veterans and its oldest major veterans’ organization.  With more than 1.9 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in almost 7,000 Posts worldwide, “NO ONE DOES MORE FOR VETERANS.”  The VFW and its Auxiliaries are dedicated to veterans’ service, legislative advocacy, and military and community service programs worldwide.  For more information or to join, visit our website at www.vfw.org.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/virginia/national-vfw-news/salute-american-pledges-support-to-vfws-unmet-needs-program/


VFW Prepares for Annual Legislative Conference

VFW Prepares for Annual Legislative Conference

 VFW members around the country are preparing to rally in Washington, D.C., for the annual VFW Legislative Conference, March 2-6.

 The VFW takes the voices of America’s veterans directly to the nation’s elected lawmakers during the VFW Legislative Conference.

 Armed with the VFW’s Legislative Priority Goals for 2014, VFW members plan to visit with every congressional office, explaining in detail the VFW’s stance on a variety of veterans’ issues and stressing that our nation is still at war.

 The week culminates with the testimony of VFW Commander-in-Chief Bill Thien before a special joint hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees on March 5, where Thien will lay out the VFW’s legislative agenda for the year.

 VFW’s live stream of the conference will begin on March 3 at 6:00 p.m. (EST) with the annual Voice of Democracy Parade of Winners, followed by streaming video of VFW Commander-in-Chief Bill Thien’s testimony on March 5 at 2:00 p.m. (EST).

 Visit www.vfw.org/livestream to access the stream directly.  If you miss the live feed, you can catch the excitement through the “on-demand” feature at your leisure.

For regular updates on the conference, visit VFW’s Capitol Hill blog or like us on Facebook.

 VFW’s Legislative Conference helps amplify the voices of the nearly 2 million members of the VFW and our Auxiliaries on Capitol Hill, leading to meaningful reforms for our nation’s veterans. To learn more about the upcoming conference, VFW’s recent legislative victories and ways to share your stories, click here.

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New one-stop resource helps student veterans compare schools

WASHINGTON (February 4, 2014) — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is applauding today’s roll out of a new comparison tool to help student veterans compare GI Bill-eligible institutions from one online site. The comparison tool was the VFW’s second major education reform priority over the past two years to help provide better information to college-bound veterans.

“By offering student veterans better comparison information, we help them to choose the right schools and programs that match their goals,” said VFW National Commander William A. Thien. “In the past, veterans who wanted to use their GI Bill educational benefits would have to search through three different government agencies to find all of the information they can now find in a few simple clicks on the new Department of Veterans Affairs comparison tool.”

The new online comparison tool allows veterans to logon, enter a brief description of their military service, then choose among more than 6,000 GI Bill-eligible programs. The comparison tool then shows veterans what kind of reimbursement they can receive through the Post-9/11 GI Bill; how much they will receive in books and living stipends; how many GI Bill recipients currently attend the school; whether or not the school participates in VA’s Principles of Excellence or Yellow Ribbon Program; and how the school compares to similar institutions in graduation rates and financial assistance.

The new comparison tool is the second of two major consumer resources set into motion by a 2012 presidential executive order and codified through the Improving Transparency in Education for Veterans Act of 2012. Along with its partners from Student Veterans of America and the American Legion, the VFW worked closely with the White House and legislators to craft and implement both the executive order and the Transparency Act. Last week, the VFW applauded VA’s announcement of the first consumer resource, a secure, online complaint system to report fraud, waste and abuse.

Veterans looking to compare GI Bill-eligible schools can do so by clicking here or by logging onto to http://department-of-veterans-affairs.github.io/gi-bill-comparison-tool/.

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/virginia/national-vfw-news/vfw-applauds-new-gi-bill-comparison-tool/


VFW’s Unmet Needs Program

VFW’s Unmet Needs Program Provides Lifeline to Veterans, Military Families

 KANSAS CITY, Mo. (February 3, 2014) – The Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Unmet Needs program continues to provide financial assistance to veterans, service members and their families facing unexpected financial difficulties.

 The program awards emergency grants of up to $2,500 to help cover the cost of basic necessities, such as mortgage and rent, home and auto repairs, insurance, utilities, food and clothing. Recipients do not need to repay the grant.

 “Veterans and military families often face unique situations that can suddenly leave them in a bind financially. The VFW’s Unmet Needs program gives them a hand up when they need it the most. The program has truly been a godsend to many,” said VFW National Commander William Thien.

 The program launched in 2004, and thanks to generous supporters like BURGER KING® Franchises, has awarded more than 3,500 grants totaling more than $4.8 million. All grants are paid directly to the creditor (such as the electric company), and not to the individual.

 Participating BURGER KING® Franchises have held an Unmet Needs fundraiser each November since 2007, raising more than $2.3 million to date.

 “When you’re facing financial difficulties, you feel like you’re drowning, like you’re suffocating. The Unmet Needs program allows people to catch their breath. It gives them time to get back on their feet,” explained Thien.

 To learn more about the VFW’s Unmet Needs program, including eligibility information, click here.


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VFW Supports Sanders Bill to Expand VA Services and Eliminate COLA Penalty



VFW Supports Sanders Bill

S. 1950 expands VA services and eliminates COLA penalty

 WASHINGTON (January 23, 2014) — The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States has thrown its support behind a bill introduced by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee chairman because it fulfills a number of VFW legislative priorities that benefit all generations of veterans and their families, and it eliminates the cost-of-living adjustment penalty on military retirees.

 S. 1950, the “Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Restoration Act of 2014,” was introduced last week by Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and VFW National Commander William A. Thien is calling it “The most comprehensive veterans’ legislation to be introduced in decades.”

 In a letter of support, Thien said the bill expands the current caregiver law to include all generations of veterans, something the VFW has been advocating since the law was signed in 2010. It provides advance appropriations for all mandatory accounts, which ensures disabled veterans, survivors and GI Bill student-veterans will continue to receive their monthly payments regardless of future government shutdowns. S. 1950 improves and expands education and training programs to allow veterans to receive in-state tuition rates, extends the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program, improves mental healthcare access to veterans and families, expands military sexual trauma treatment services, authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to proceed with contracts to build community-based outpatient clinics that have been on hold, and mandates that VA provide a comprehensive assessment of its capital infrastructure and how it will address its deficiencies. The bill also eliminates the 1 percent COLA penalty on working age military retirees younger than age 62.

 The VFW national commander is now pledging to work with Senator Sanders to get other senators and congressmen from both sides of the aisle to support S. 1950. “Now is the time for every member of Congress to support those who have served and sacrificed the most for our nation,” he said.

 To urge your members of Congress to support S. 1950, and to read the VFW’s letter of support to Senator Sanders, click here or go to http://www.vfw.org/News-and-Events/Articles/2014-Articles/VFW-Legislative-Alert–Urge-Passage-of-Comprehensive-Veterans–and-Health-Benefits-Package-Today!/.

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Veterans Service Organizations Concerned About Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Veterans Service Organizations Concerned About Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Groups Call for Advance Appropriations for All VA Accounts

January 16, 2014 08:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, the co-authors of The Independent Budget—AMVETS, DAV, Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars—expressed concern with the funding provided for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill being considered in the House and Senate. The omnibus bill provides funding levels for FY 2014 and advance appropriations for VA medical care accounts for FY 2015 that virtually mirror the recommendations of the Administration made in April 2013.

“Unfortunately, this budget agreement contains the same inadequate funding levels proposed by the Administration for infrastructure and medical and prosthetic research. Congress needs to dramatically increase annual appropriations required to repair, renovate and replace essential VA medical facilities as well as boost funding for life-saving and life-changing biomedical research programs.”

AMVETS National Commander John Mitchell expressed the organization’s disappointment with the Omnibus bill: “It is very disappointing that we are fully three months into the new fiscal year and critical funding needed to maintain services in the VA has yet to be provided.”

While the veterans organizations doubt that the funding levels for medical care for FY 2014 and the advance appropriations for FY 2015 are sufficient to meet the continually growing demand on the VA, they expressed serious concerns with the reduction of funding particularly for Major Construction, as well as similar cuts in Medical Facilities. The Omnibus bill provides only $342 million for Major Construction, nearly $800 million less than what The Independent Budget for FY 2014 recommends, and billions less than the true need for construction funding. Additionally, the bill would slash funding for Medical Facilities, reducing that account by nearly $500 million.

DAV National Commander Joseph W. Johnston urged the following: “Unfortunately, this budget agreement contains the same inadequate funding levels proposed by the Administration for infrastructure and medical and prosthetic research. Congress needs to dramatically increase annual appropriations required to repair, renovate and replace essential VA medical facilities as well as boost funding for life-saving and life-changing biomedical research programs.”

While the veterans groups appreciate the modest increases provide Medical Services and the Veterans Benefits Administration, as well as Information Technology, they emphasized that more must be done. Specifically, the organizations have called for passage of legislation in the House and Senate (H.R. 813 and S. 932, respectively) that would make all of the accounts of the VA advance appropriations. Currently, only the medical care accounts are funded through advance appropriations.

Paralyzed Veterans’ National President Bill Lawson stated the following: “The last couple of years have clearly shown the benefits to the VA of having the health care system funded by advance appropriations. The VA health care system has been shielded from the severe negative consequences of political gridlock that ultimately led to a partial government shutdown last fall. It is time that the rest of the VA is afforded the same protection.”

The organizations will release the 28th edition of The Independent Budget—a comprehensive budget and policy document written by veterans for veterans—in February 2014. The document will once again call for sufficient, timely and predictable funding to be provided for all VA programs. Additionally, it will emphasize the need to end the partisan warfare that has jeopardized the health care and benefits of the men and women who have served and sacrificed for this country.

VFW National Commander William A. Thien expressed the following: “Our organizations and the millions of veterans we represent will no longer tolerate Congress leveraging veterans’ health and wellbeing to achieve unrelated political ends. It is time for Congress to put the interests of veterans and their families ahead of their own.”



AMVETS—a leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s Armed Forces—provides not only support for veterans and the active military in procuring receipt of their earned entitlements, but also community services that enhance the quality of life for this nation’s citizens. www.amvets.org

DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with 1.2 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at www.dav.org.

Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded by a group of seriously injured American heroes from the “Greatest Generation” of World War II. They created a non-profit organization to meet the challenges that they faced back in the 1940s — from a medical community not ready to treat them, to an inaccessible world. For more than 66 years, Paralyzed Veterans national office and 34 chapters across the nation have been making America a better place for all veterans and people with disabilities. www.pva.org

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is a nonprofit veterans’ service organization composed of combat veterans and eligible members from the active, Guard and Reserve force. Founded in 1899 and chartered by Congress in 1936, the VFW is the nation’s largest organization of war veterans and its oldest major veterans’ organization, with almost 2 million VFW and Auxiliary members located in 7,200 VFW Posts worldwide. For more information or to join, visit the organization’s Web site at www.vfw.org.


AMVETS: Andrew Keirn, 607-745-5499
DAV: David E. Autry, 202-314-5219
Paralyzed Veterans: Doug Larkin, 202-416-7686
VFW: Joe Davis, 202-608-8357

Permanent link to this article: http://myvfw.org/virginia/national-vfw-news/veterans-service-organizations-concerned-about-omnibus-appropriations-bill/

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