Founded in the late 1800s, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is the oldest veterans group in the country. It has about 2.4 million members nationally, working with a mission to help support veterans and their families.
In the Lone Star State, the Texas VFW has been active for almost 100 years. The Texas VFW started on April 21, 1921 and today has just over 69,000 members.
With so many involved in a state as big as Texas, it’s easy to lose track of all the good this group is doing. So, we sat down with Texas VFW’s Dan W. this week to get a better idea of the scope of things this group is involved in.
In the Last Year
In 2017, Dan said, the Texas VFW:
- Provided claims assistance to 2,424 veterans, helping them get more than $48 million in benefits
- Provided 9,763 students with almost $317,000 in scholarships
- Gave more than $748,000 to veterans in need
- Donated $78,000 to veterans affected by Hurricane Harvey
- Donated $3,149,820 and 439,479 volunteer hours to communities throughout Texas
Funding and Allocation
Most of the Texas VFW’s funding comes from membership dues, donations and investment income, according to Dan. And that money (along with volunteer hours) has, for the last several years, been focused into three categories: helping veterans find work, reducing veteran suicide and finding permanent solutions to veteran homelessness.
And most of that money stays in the Lone Star State.
“Every dollar we raise is used exclusively here in Texas, to help support National VFW Programs or for a Texas veterans and Texans serving overseas in harm’s way,” Dan said, adding that there’s only one exception: the Texas House at the VFW National Home for Children located in Michigan. “The VFW home provides a safe place for orphans and widows of our service members. And we consider it a sacred honor to assist them through our sponsorship of the Texas VFW House.”
Obstacles Along the Way
One of the biggest challenges for the VFW, statewide and nationally, is the ever-declining population of World War II veterans, Dan said. The group, traditionally, has played a huge role with the VFW.
“As our membership decreases, so does our clout in Washington D.C.,” he said. “We need eligible veterans to join the VFW and family members of eligible veterans to join the Auxiliary.”
This is one of the best ways to help ensure against the decline of veteran benefits, Dan said. “There will come a time when they’ll need those benefits. And it would be a shame if they no longer existed because they didn’t have professional representation.”
And, Dan added, joining the VFW gives veterans a sense of comradery. It’s something “bigger than themselves that has meaningful purpose.”
“Texas VFW has a proven track record over the last 98 years of serving the veterans of Texas no matter the issue or challenges,” he said. “Those who know about the VFW see more than a rundown building and a group of old guys telling war stories. They see the heroes of this nation whom they can get a firsthand account of American history. They see members of their community who have seen and done things others cannot or refuse to do. They see a living example of an American patriot who serves as a prominent reminder that freedom is not free and that every generation must defend it. And who better to represent the values and opportunities of America than its own veterans who have paid that price for freedom.”
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