Permanent link to this article: http://vfwva.org/uncategorized/state-commander-homecoming-2015/
It’s Time For More Millennial Vets To Join The Ranks Of The VFW
A millennial veteran calls on his peers to help modernize and reform the VFW.
By Adrian Cole, December 9, 2014
Recent articles have proclaimed the oasis of modern veteran service to be millennial organizations. These organizations may offer grassroots support to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans; however, as a recent Army veteran, I found many did not reply when I asked to join or volunteer my services. More importantly, they do not have nearly a century of successful legislative efforts defending veterans’ rights in this nation.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars is an organization operating under congressional charter, recognized for its service in combat against the nation’s enemies, and will always fight for current service members and veterans. Join any of the secondary veteran service organizations you like, but these should not be in place of the VFW. We are already sitting at the table in Capitol Hill. However, if the modern veteran lets the VFW guidon fall, the encroachment on benefits will continue. Yes, modernization needs to happen within the organization, that can only come from our generation of leaders, those who have walked away discouraged and disillusioned. Not all posts are the same, and the VFW is ours to change.
The VFW as a whole is also working to improve some of its outdated policies. The national charter was recently changed to remove gender bias, a move long overdue. However, further progress requires more modern-era veterans within the voting body of the VFW. We can do this, but not if everyone gives up and walks away. Every generation of veterans faced similar challenges upon return, and stepped up to revamp the organization. It is our turn.
I’m the adjutant in my VFW post at the Bath Senior Center in Maine, serving under the command of Kenneth Lambert, a 20-year Army veteran with nine combat tours. People like Ken are why I’m involved. We are the new generation leading the post, with the top three officer positions being held by veterans of our wars.
In my post, there are six vets from Afghanistan or Iraq out of the 88 members; three serve in the top officer positions. We want to do more to combat certain local charities that are fleecing grant and donation monies that should go to needy veterans, but need to build more clout locally to spar with them politically. The first step comes back to increasing the active membership of millennial veterans who can help in this endeavor.
VFW National Commander John Stroud supports change within the VFW, stating in a November letter posted to the national website:
For those members and Posts who would rather serve themselves than the countless veterans who are in need, remind them that this organization exists for the benefit of all veterans rather than those of an entitled few. I want to make it clear that I will willingly provide my complete support to any of my Department Commanders who move to shut down any Post, or remove from our leadership rolls, anyone that is not committed to the goals of the organization.
While there are more than 40,000 registered organizations helping veterans, or at least claiming to help, our community still has a long way to go. In September, I attended a roundtable discussion hosted by the Mid-Coast Veterans Council, where Maine Sen. Angus King met with a group of local organizations and charities to debate challenges facing Maine veterans. In attendance was a homeless veteran who had just been released from a PTSD treatment facility. While representatives there wanted a photo opportunity with this veteran and the senator, he has yet to receive their assistance. To date, this man has only received support from my VFW post and Goodwill, even after his story was shared with the people who claim to be helping homeless vets. Like I said, support for veterans still has a long way to go.
Come help your comrades keep what we earned.
Adrian Cole is a former Army Captain. He served two combat tours as an artillery officer in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, and lives in Maine.
Permanent link to this article: http://vfwva.org/department-news/its-time-for-more-millennial-vets-to-join-the-ranks-of-the-vfw/
Permanent link to this article: http://vfwva.org/national-vfw-news/three-letters/
POST RECOGNITION AWARDS
A POST MEMBERSHIP BANNER will be awarded to each Post that meets their 2015 Membership by June 30, 2015.
100% plus Post Commander and Quartermaster pins to Posts exceeding 100% by May 8, 2015.
Post Commander and Post Quartermaster Ball Cap to Posts who are 100% in membership by May 8, 2015.
Post with the largest increase of new Legacy Life Members by the day prior to judging will receive a check in the amount of $200.00
2014-2015 ALL STATE TEAM
There can be a maximum of 30 Posts on The All-State Team.
The 30 All State Posts will receive an All State Post Banner.
For a Post to be eligible, it must have reached 101% of their Membership Quota by June 30, 2015
The Post Quartermaster must be bonded.
The Post must have been inspected by October 31, 2014.
The Post Commander must attend each District Meeting or have an authorized member attend.
The Post Commander or designated Post Officer must attend a Department or District School of Instruction.
All Audit Reports must be turned into State Headquarters as required by Section 218 of the National By-Laws and Manual of Procedure.
Posts with less than 50 members are not eligible for the All State Team. To be eligible the Post must increase their membership to 50 members. The Post will then be classified as 100%.
The Post must participate in the following programs.
Buddy Poppy Program purchase minimum of 5 poppies per member
Voice of Democracy Program (must submit a student to the District level for District judging)
Patriot’s Pen Program (must submit a student to the District level for District judging)
Teacher of the Year Program (must submit at least one Teacher to the District Level for District judging)
National Military Services (must make a $100.00 donation to National Military Services)
Have a Post Service Officer appointed.
The Post must have submitted the following reports at least once during the first half of the year (May 1 thru October 31) and once during the second half (November 1 thru April 30)
Community Activities Report
Youth Activities Report
Post must submit a Community Service Record Book for judging by 5pm on May 8, 2015.
Post will receive points for membership – When the Post has completed all the above programs, reports, and submitted Community Service Record Book, one fifth (1/5) of one (1) point will be assigned for each additional member above 101%.
Posts reported in 3 categories of Community Activities to include 1 report in support of homeless veterans, 4 categories of Safety, 8 categories of Americanism and 4 categories of Youth Activities during the reporting period of May 1, 2014 through April 30, 2015 will receive a State Citation.
Posts submitting Hospital Reports for 1st and 2nd reporting periods will receive a State Citation.
ALL STATE TEAM AWARDS
The All State Post Commanders that have met all the criteria including membership by May 8, 2015 will receive: A Citation; an All State cap; and an All State pin. A check in the amount of $300.00, to assist in payment of expenses while attending and participating at the State Convention, will be presented. Time of payment will be at the discretion of the Department Commander. The All State Commanders that met the criteria except for membership by May 8. 2015 and meets the membership criteria by June 30, 2015 will receive: A Citation; an All State cap; and an All State pin.
The All State Post Quartermasters that have met all the criteria including membership by May 8, 2015 will receive: A Citation; an All State cap; and an All State pin. A check in the amount of $300.00 to assist in payment of expenses while attending and participating at the State Convention will be presented. Time of payment will be at the discretion of the Department Commander. The All State Quartermasters that met the criteria except for membership by May 8. 2015 and meets the membership criteria by June 30, 2015 will receive: A Citation; an All State cap; and an All State pin.
The All State Commanders and All State Quartermasters that achieved All State status by May 8, 2015 will be individually recognized at the Awards Program during the State Convention. The Remaining All State Commanders and All State Quartermasters will be recognized at their next District Meeting.
From the All State Team, the Post with the highest points in the All State Judging on May 9th will be designated as the Outstanding Post of the Year 2014-2015. The Commander and Quartermaster of this Post will be the Captains of the All State Team.
The Awards and Citation Committee will break all ties and their decision will be final.
2014-2015 ALL STATE DISTRICT COMMANDERS
For a District Commander to qualify, the Commander must meet the following All State District Commanders criteria:
For a District to be eligible it must increase its membership by meeting its assigned membership quota by June 30, 2015
Membership Quota: minimum 101%
All Posts in the District must be inspected by 31 October, 2014.
Post Quartermasters, for all Posts in the District, must be properly bonded.
District Quartermaster must be properly bonded.
All Audit Reports, for the District and all Posts in the District, must be turned in to State Headquarters as required by the National By-Laws and Manual of Procedure.
All Posts in the District must report in these categories: Americanism, Community Activities, Safety, Youth Activities, and Hospital.
All Posts must have purchased Buddy Poppies.
District Commander must attend or have a designated elected district officer attend a State School of Instruction.
District must conduct a District School of Instruction prior or during its first District Meeting. State representative to the first District Meeting must report SOI on the District meeting report.
District must make a donation of at least $250 to National Military Services.
ALL STATE DISTRICT COMMANDERS AWARDS
Each All State District Commander will receive a Citation and an All State District Commander’s cap.
The All State District Commanders that achieved All State status by May 8, 2015 will be individually recognized at the Awards Program during the State Convention. The Remaining All State District Commanders will be recognized at their next District Meeting.
Each All State District Commander will receive a VFW Jacket if all Posts within the District are 100% or more in membership.
Permanent link to this article: http://vfwva.org/uncategorized/all-state-program-update/
September 24, 2014
New Process Will Reduce Processing Times and Improve Quality
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today announced that it is introducing a uniformed disability claims form to better serve Veterans, families and survivors. Standardizing the process by which Veterans file claims and initiate appeals will make it easier for Veterans and their survivors to clearly state what benefits they are seeking from VA and provide information that is necessary to process their claims and appeals. The new forms eliminate applicant guesswork, which often leads to delays in decisions and ultimately delays in receiving benefits. The new regulations go into effect in late March 2015.
“We must do everything that we can to make it as fast and easy as possible for Veterans and their survivors to file for and receive an accurate decision on their claim,” said VA Secretary Robert McDonald. “Our Veterans and survivors will know, at the outset of the claims process, what is needed, which removes subjective interpretation from the process. We want to eliminate any barriers that make it difficult for our Veterans or survivors to receive benefits to which they are entitled.”
In the past, a Veteran or survivor did not have to use a certain form to seek compensation or other benefits from VA. Claims or appeals (Notice of Disagreement) could be submitted on any piece of paper which caused delays due to missing information.
By using standard forms for all disability claims, VA can more quickly and accurately identify what the Veteran is claiming or appealing. This will allow VA to immediately move on to next steps in the evidence-gathering and decision-making process, which saves administrative processing time and speeds the delivery of earned benefits. The existing process is also inconsistent with most, if not all, other government and non-government application processes, such as applying for social security, applying for a driver’s license, applying for a job or filing for an income tax refund.
“These days, government agencies and private businesses rely on standard forms to deliver faster and more accurate customer service,” said Under Secretary for Benefits Allison A. Hickey. “VA’s ability to deliver better customer service requires the use of standard forms as well. That is why we worked extensively with our partners in the Veterans community to streamline the way we process claims while preserving the effective date rules concerning informal claims through the creation of a new intent to file a claim process.”
The updated process also includes standardizing the traditional informal claims process by employing a new “Intent to File a Claim” process which affords the Veteran or survivor one year to compile the necessary documentation or evidence to support the claim while preserving an effective date of claim.
Permanent link to this article: http://vfwva.org/va-news/va-updates-disability-claims-application/
Permanent link to this article: http://vfwva.org/national-vfw-news/new-message-from-commander-in-chief-and-ladies-auxiliary-president/
VFW to Update Congressional Charter
WASHINGTON (September 12, 2014) — With the support of two key members of Congress, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States may soon be updating its congressional charter to adhere to a national resolution approved by delegates attending the 115th VFW National Convention in St. Louis.
The VFW’s congressional charter was signed in 1936 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt when the military was comprised almost entirely of men. The update consists of two wording changes — replacing men with veterans, and widows with surviving spouses — and is supported by two companion bills, S. 2782 and H.R. 5441, which were introduced by Senate VA Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and House VA Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), respectively.
“We are not changing our congressional charter because it’s politically correct,” said VFW National Commander John W. Stroud, “we’re changing it because being an eligible veteran is what’s important to our great organization, not one’s gender, and changing widows to surviving spouses is more representative of today’s military. I salute every delegate for their support of Resolution 301, and thank the Senate and House VA Committee chairmen for their sponsorships.”
Permanent link to this article: http://vfwva.org/national-vfw-news/vfw-to-update-congressional-charter/
VFW Applauds New Military Discharge Upgrade Decision
WASHINGTON (September 3, 2014) — The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is applauding a new Department of Defense decision that will enable Vietnam veterans and others to request upgrades to their less than honorable military discharges due to an extenuating factor not known at the time of their separation: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“This decision will not be a blanket approval for every upgrade request, but it does open an avenue for those veterans who may have been diagnosed with PTSD years after separation to submit new evidence and hopefully correct an injustice from the past,” said VFW National Commander John W. Stroud, a retired Air Force first sergeant from Hawthorne, Nev.
“PTSD is a normal human reaction to an abnormal traumatic event, but similar experiences can affect people differently, from virtually no impact to extremely debilitating,” he said. “You can learn to cope with PTSD by avoiding stressors, but one thing that’s very difficult to live with is a Bad Conduct Discharge, which back in the day the military was more apt to give instead of delving into why this super troop all of a sudden isn’t.
“This is a good decision, and the VFW joins with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in calling it the right thing to do for our veterans.”
Permanent link to this article: http://vfwva.org/national-vfw-news/vfw-applauds-new-military-discharge-upgrade-decision/
Defense Mobile and the VFW to Connect and Improve the Lives of Veterans and U.S. Service Members
The VFW supports Defense Mobile Corporation’s launch of ARMYmobile, NAVYmobile, AIRFORCEmobile, MARINESmobile, and COASTGUARDmobile during the 115th VFW National Convention.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (September 3, 2014) – Defense Mobile Corporation (DMC) and the VFW announce an affinity relationship to deliver miliSOURCE, a new mobile application and service designed to provide users with profile driven information regarding their specific eligibility for benefits from the VA, state veterans’ departments and veterans’ service organizations. miliSOURCE is provided free with Defense Mobile’s nationwide 4G mobile services being offered exclusively to those actively serving, veterans and their families. The application will be pre-loaded on most Defense Mobile smartphones and will be made available as a free download in iTunes and the Google Play Store.
“We’re on a mission to connect and improve the lives of veterans; the VFW has been on this mission since 1899 and is an exceptional partner,” stated Brendan Reilly, the CEO of Defense Mobile Corporation. “Our ability to connect and reward veterans through mobile devices is unparalleled. We are honored and frankly humbled to serve those who have served us.”
Defense Mobile will launch its nationwide 4G mobile services this fall through its branch specific brands; ARMYmobile, NAVYmobile, AIRFORCEmobile, MARINESmobile and COASTGUARDmobile.
John W. Stroud, Commander-in-Chief of the VFW said he is excited about the partnership: “Joining forces with Defense Mobile is a great way to further our mission to honor and reward our veterans for their service to our country. Having military benefits and discounts accessible through their mobile devices will significantly improve the lives of our veterans.”
Ed Walters, Chief Marketing Officer of Defense Mobile, a West Point graduate and Army veteran, said, “Veterans who sign up for our service are more than customers, they’re members of our collective military family. We connect with our members because most of our executives have served and 100% of our member care representatives have served. We understand and that’s why we want to help, miliSOURCE is an amazing app that can truly improve the lives of many of our veteran customers.”
About Defense Mobile Corporation
Defense Mobile Corporation (DMC) provides mobile services, smartphones, and apps for active duty military, veterans and their families. Defense Mobile is a new nationwide 4G mobile service, built by veterans, supported exclusively by veterans and designed to improve the lives of those who have served. Defense Mobile offers the most popular smartphones, no annual contract plans, meaningful “military and veteran only” cash back rewards, and applications that help veterans manage the benefits they have earned. Defense Mobile has secured agreements to run on the largest mobile network operators so that veterans and military families receive superior coverage.
After an in-store validation of military service, the real value Defense Mobile provides is in the form of value added applications delivered directly to the mobile device and its Members. The pre-loaded or downloadable applications available will be: miliCASH, miliSOURCE and miliMAIL. miliCASH is a robust mobile banking application with a pre-approved prepaid MasterCard® that delivers military-and-veteran-only cash back rewards at participating merchants nationwide. miliSOURCE is a powerful application that helps veteran families discover and obtain valuable veteran benefits and services from the VA, States, and Veteran Service Organizations. Additionally, Members receive miliMAIL, which is a free email service that provides transitioning military personnel and Defense Mobile Members with a unique email that proudly confirms their affiliation to the branch of service they served.
You can learn more about Defense Mobile Corporation at http://www.defensemobile.com or the service brands at armymobile.com, navymobile.com, airforcemobile.com, marinesmobile.com, and coastguardmobile.com.
Permanent link to this article: http://vfwva.org/national-vfw-news/defense-mobile-and-the-vfw-to-connect-and-improve-the-lives-of-veterans-and-u-s-service-members/
KANSAS 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.
Permanent link to this article: http://vfwva.org/uncategorized/air-force-veteran-elected-to-lead-veterans-of-foreign-wars-2/