Programs are often the first impression that the public has of the
VFW. Therefore it’s extremely important to be prepared and more
importantly have the right persons appointed as the program chairman. VFW
programs are defined under two categories; Community Service, Youth
Scholarships and Activities and Veterans & Military Support.
Within the Community Service, Youth Scholarships and Activities category we often refer
to several program elements as our core programs. These are programs that
are executed by the largest number of Posts and have the greatest impact on
our organization, our communities and our veterans. Typically, these core
programs are mandated for every Post as part of your Department All State
Program and are heavily encouraged and supported by the VFW National
organization. These core programs within the Community Service, Youth
Scholarships and Activities include our scholarship programs; Voice of
Democracy and Patriot’s Pen, the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship
Education Teacher of the Year program, Scouting, and “Buddy”® Poppy.
The second group of programs under the Community Service, Youth
Scholarships and Activities umbrella, is called Special Projects and
Activities, which cover Americanism, volunteer recognition, community
service, awards and recognition and other miscellaneous youth activities.
These programs are highly encouraged for all Posts and Departments and will
be supported by the national organization upon request. As a VFW member, you
should be able to speak intelligently and authoritatively about all aspects
of our great organization.
Community Service, Youth Scholarships and Activities
created as the Youth Essay Contest, Patriot’s Pen
asks junior high and middle school students to write a 300–400 word essay
on a new patriotic theme each year. Winners receive scholarships and
begin by competing at the Post level. Winners proceed to District,
Department and finally to the National level where they compete for the
$5,000 first place scholarship. The themes and additional information
concerning program execution can be found at www.vfw.org, behind the
login within the VFW Training and Support hub, under Community
Service, Youth Scholarships and Activities.
Voice of Democracy
Similar to Patriot’s Pen, is the Voice of Democracy
Audio/Essay Contest. Since 1947, the VFW has asked high school
students to write and record a 3 – 5 minute essay, again on a patriotic
theme selected by the VFW each year. Students may record on an audio
CD or flash drive. Like Patriot’s Pen, Voice of Democracy winners receive
scholarships and other incentives at the Post, District, and Department and
finally to the National level where they will compete for the $30,000 first
place scholarship. The Voice of Democracy theme and additional
information concerning the execution of the program can be found at
www.vfw.org, behind the login within the VFW Training and Support hub,
under Community Service, Youth Scholarships and Activities.
Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teachers Award
While you’re visiting a school, don’t miss the opportunity to
mention the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teachers
Award. The VFW wants to identify and recognize America’s best educators
who instill a sense of national pride in students. Teachers who promote
civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism are prime candidates. It
offers cash awards, commemorative plaques and all-expense paid trips to
the VFW National Conventions for those worthy teachers. That honor can
establish a great relationship that opens the door for all of the VFW and
Auxiliary programs. Additional information concerning the execution
of the program can be found at www.vfw.org, behind the login within the
VFW Training and Support hub, under Community Service, Youth
Scholarships and Activities.
Scout of the Year
When you visit schools and other youth oriented programs, don’t forget to
mention our Scouting involvement that includes our Scout of the Year
Scholarship Program. The Scout of the Year program is open to Eagle
Scouts, Girl Scout Gold Award, Venture Summit Award recipients and Sea
Scout Quartermaster recipients. VFW’s Scout of the Year offers a first
place $5,000 scholarship, a second place $3,000 scholarship and a $1,000
third place scholarship each year. The VFW has a long relationship with
Scouting. VFW Posts need to consider providing leaders, sponsor units,
offer their facility for meetings and encourage their involvement in service
projects. Posts can benefit from Scouting by having a unit do a flag
retirement ceremony, help distribute Buddy Poppies, or help with clean up
after events. These are just a few that would provide a benefit and
generally can serve your post. Additional information concerning the
execution of the program can be found at www.vfw.org, behind the login
within the VFW Training and Support hub, under Community Service,
Youth Scholarships and Activities.
Our oldest and perhaps most historically significant
program is the VFW “Buddy”® Poppy program. It is important that you
realize that although Memorial and Veterans Days are particularly
important “Buddy”® Poppy events, you should have poppies at every event
that involves your Post and the public. Poppies can and should be
distributed year-round. I’m sure you know that we never “sell” poppies.
We give them away and receive donations. If someone cannot make a
donation, don’t deny them a poppy. Seeing the red poppy on a lapel or
dress brings honor to those we have lost and recognition to the VFW.
Additionally, section 219 of the National By-Laws and Manual of Procedure,
mandates that the net proceeds from the distribution of Buddy Poppies
must be credited to the Post Relief Fund. Also listed in section 219 are the
purposes which funds can be disbursed from the Post Relief Fund. All officers at all levels of the organization,
as well as all members, to familiarize themselves with this section. Additional information concerning the execution of the
program can be found at www.vfw.org, behind the login within the VFW
Training and Support hub, under Community Service, Youth Scholarships and Activities.
VFW Recognition Programs
The purpose of the VFW Recognition Program is twofold. First and
foremost, as an organization of wartime veterans and their spouses, the
VFW and its Auxiliary understand the need to recognize and honor those
individuals who have performed above and beyond their peers. Of
particular significance are those who, like our members and veterans, have
placed the safety and welfare of others above and beyond their own.
Secondly, the VFW and its Auxiliary realize the value of these awards to
the Post, District, Department and National organization.
It’s important that VFW and its Auxiliary leaders, at every level, take
advantage of every opportunity to honor worthy individuals and sometimes
organizations. With that in mind, the VFW has established a number of
suggested awards. The following are suggested awards:
National Citation of Recognition
These citations are available to recognize Posts or individual Post
chairmen who have demonstrated an exceptionally high level of service to
their community. The Department Chairmen are given sole responsibility
for identifying those Posts and individuals.
Each year, the Veterans of Foreign Wars selects emergency medical
technicians (services), law enforcement, and firefighter personnel to
receive VFW Public Servant Awards. Posts are encouraged to submit a
candidate for these awards to their Department Headquarters by January
1. The Department then selects a single candidate for each of the three
awards and submits those to VFW National Headquarters by February 1.
Life Saving Award
The Safety Chairman at Posts, Districts and Departments are encouraged
to regularly identify and honor individuals throughout the year in their
geographic area who have saved a life. The VFW programs department
provides the three different life saving citations (Regular, Line of duty and
Valor), free of charge, for local presentation.
VFW Special Projects & Youth Activities
Our next level of programs is our special projects. These include
Americanism, volunteer recognition, community service, awards and
recognition and other youth activities. Equally important among our special
projects is community service. Any activity done by a Post or Auxiliary that
benefits the community falls under this broad banner and is supported by
the VFW National Organization and encouraged for all Posts, Districts and
Departments. Recognizing these exceptional efforts is provided in three
ways - our volunteer recognition programs, Outstanding Community
Service Posts Awards, and the Outstanding Post Special Project Award.
Posts are encouraged to seek out ways in which they can benefit their
community. The VFW encourages any activity that benefits the community,
brings recognition to the Post and honors America’s veterans and those in
uniform. Every program, done by your Post, results in relationships that
produce good will. This good will increases public interest in your events,
often enhances your fundraising efforts and can produce new members. A
Post that has been identified as a community asset through its programs
will seldom have a shortage of members or lack of community support. Use
your VFW Programs to establish your Post as a respected community
asset. The VFW will then become the organization of choice for all
veterans and will reap the rewards of public favor that cannot be
Oustanding Community Service Post Awards
The Outstanding Community Service Post Awards are given to Posts
identified by their Departments for their exceptional response to VFW
community service programs. Each Department determines the actual
criteria for their Posts. Posts selected for this honor are invited to send a
representative to the VFW National Convention for a reception with the
VFW Commander-in-Chief. There they will receive a national plaque and a
recognition street sign for their community. Deadline for entries in the
Outstanding Community Service Post Award is April 30th, each year.
Oustanding Post Special Projects Awards
Outstanding Post Special Project Awards are given each year to Posts that
do a special project outside their normal VFW activities. Posts should
submit their entries to their Department for review and endorsement before
going to VFW National Headquarters. All submissions receive a certificate,
Award of Merit plaque or an Award of Excellence plaque. Those receiving an
Award of Excellence will compete to win a $5,000 Community Service Grant.
A maximum of eight (8) Posts per conference who receive the Award of
Excellence may receive a $5,000 Community Service Grant and go on to
compete for the Fred C. Hall Memorial Post Special Project Award. The Post
receiving the Fred C. Hall Award receives a commemorative plaque, an
additional $5,000 Community Service grant, and the Post Commander and his
or her guest receive round-trip airfare, accommodations and per diem to
attend the VFW National Convention to accept the award.
VFW Veterans in the Classroom
Lastly, another special project is VFW Veterans in the Classroom. In recent
years, many teachers have contacted VFW Posts seeking veterans to
come into the classroom and share their military experiences. VFW
members may also choose to contact local youth groups and schools and
express their willingness to share their experiences. VFW National
Headquarters has materials available to support this activity. Many
veterans have found this to be enjoyable and therapeutic. Few youth
programs provide a greater benefit to a Post than involvement with
Scouting, Civil Air Patrol, Naval Sea Cadet or JROTC units. These
programs annually produce individuals with an appreciation of patriotism,
civic responsibility and the likelihood of future military service. As was
mentioned earlier with the Scout of the Year, VFW Posts need to consider
providing leaders, sponsoring units, offering their facility for meetings and
encouraging their involvement in service projects. Posts can benefit from
Scouting by having a unit do a flag retirement ceremony, helping distribute
Buddy Poppies, or helping with clean up after events. In the case of
JROTC the same applies. Your place may serve as a location for the JROTC Drill team to
practice and, just like scouting, they are an excellent resource for
volunteers for Post-sponsored activities.
& Military Support Programs
To continue to detail the core programs, as mentioned earlier, Veterans
Military Support is part of the VFW’s never-ending obligation to assist
members of the active-duty military, National Guard and Reserves, as well
as their families. These programs were established to keep the Veterans
of Foreign Wars in the forefront of patriotism as the organization and its
members find innovative way to show support for America and her armed
The programs under the Veterans & Military Support umbrella consist of: Operation Uplink, Unmet Needs, Military Assistance Program (MAP) and
the VFW "Sport Clips Help a Hero Scholarship" program. Through these
programs, the Veterans of Foreign Wars provided assistance and guidance
to our subordinate units in their efforts to support our military and their
families. From hosting morale boosting events, sponsoring free phone time,
providing financial assistance, to providing scholarships to veterans
returning to school.
VFW Operation Uplink
Through the generosity of the VFW
members and supporters to include Sport Clips, Operation Uplink has
provided millions of connections since 1996. In 2006, Operation Uplink
working with MWR SPAWAR internet cafes, created Free Call Days
using voice over IP calls for service men and women for 24-hour periods
three times a month, including all major holidays.
However, as a result of the troop drawdowns these internet cafes have
reduced and consequently so have our connections and talk time. With the
reduced internet connections, Operation Uplink still has the ability to
provide virtual pin numbers (calling Time) for deployment ceremonies, VA
hospitals and service members in countries without MWR cafes. You can
contact my office to learn more on how to access these virtual pin numbers.
Additional information concerning the execution of the program and the
application for the virtual PINS can be found at
www.vfw.org, behind the
login within the VFW Training and Support hub, under Veterans
VFW Unmet Needs
Unmet Needs provides financial assistance to service
members, veterans, and their families. Created in 2004 Unmet Needs
assists military service members, veterans, and their families who are
experiencing a financial hardship directly related to their military service.
The financial assistance is in the form of a one time grant in an amount
up to $5,000. All grants are paid directly to the “creditor” companies (such
as the electric company, mortgage company, landlord, etc.) and not to the
individual. The funds can be used for rent, car repairs, medical expenses,
infant-care items and many other necessities. Each case is reviewed
individually and acceptance determined by a committee.
Working with a Family Support Center Coordinator, Family Readiness
Director or your Department Veterans & Military Support Chairman, you
can help get our service members and fellow veterans the assistance they
deserve. An important note about this program is the scholarship
application is only available on-line at www.vfw.org and must also be
submitted online using the form at our website. Applications submitted by
U.S. mail, email and fax will not be accepted. Additional information
concerning the execution of the program and the application can be found
at www.vfw.org, behind the login within the VFW Training and Support
hub, under Veterans & Military Support.
VFW Military Assistance Program
The Military Assistance Program is designed to encourage the link between the VFW and the Military community.
This program promotes VFW member interaction with the local military and opens avenues for National Sponsorships and local level involvement with all branches
of service. Within this program are two unique services to help foster the relationship between the Post and the local
military community, the Military Assistance Program Grant process and the Adopt-A-Unit program. The Military
Assistance Grant process is intended as financial assistance for Posts, Districts, and Departments to sponsor events for
active duty military units, National Guard, and Reserves. These events are most successful when local Posts interact
directly with the military unit, involving the Veterans & Military Support Chairmen, National Certified Recruiters,
Veterans Service Officers, and your local and department chain of command. A Military Assistance Grant application
must be submitted to VFW National Headquarters a minimum of two weeks prior to the event. The application must be filled
out completely, including a breakdown of the event budget and the VFW involvement with the event. Additional
information concerning the execution of the program and the grant application can be found at www.vfw.org,
behind the login within the VFW Training and Support hub, under Veterans & Military Support.
Another opportunity for Posts to interact with their local military community available within the Military Assistance program is the Adopt-A-Unit
program. This program was developed as a means to pledge support of the Post to the service members and families of a
unit from the local military community. When a Post “adopts” a unit, you make a commitment to the service members and
their families to provide moral and emotional support before, during and after deployment. Sponsoring a military
unit is a great opportunity to get other community activity projects started, such as coordinating with teachers or
schools to co-sponsor the unit. Additional information concerning the execution of the Adopt-A-Unit program and the application can be found at
www.vfw.org, behind the login within the VFW Training and Support hub, under Veterans & Military Support.
Please remember that the objective of all Military Assistance Program initiatives is increasing the awareness of the VFW and it does not end when the troops
re-deploy home. They and their families continue to need our support and assistance.
VFW "Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship" Program
The last program and the newest program under the Veterans & Military Support umbrella is the VFW "Sport Clips Help A
Hero Scholarship" program. As mentioned earlier, Sport Clips continues to support the Free Call days through Operation Uplink and the company
expanded its Help A Hero initiative to support veterans as they return home through the gift of scholarships. The VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero
Scholarship will help service members get the education and training needed to begin the next chapter of their life. Each scholarship will
provide recipients with up to $5,000 for tuition and fees to apply toward their education at an accredited post-secondary institution,
including universities, colleges, trade schools and apprenticeship and certification programs.
An important note about this program is the scholarship application is only available on-line at www.vfw.org
and must also be submitted online using the form at our website. Applications submitted by U.S. mail, email, and fax will not be accepted.
They’ll need to go to http://www.vfw.org/assistance/student-veterans-support