Sunday, December 26, 2010

Difference Between the American Legion and the VFW


Merci (Thank You) Train

Horse head hitching posts

That darn sun...will go for a better photo on a cloudy day!

I was out taking photos today, hoping that on a Sunday I'd be able to take photos of various businesses without a lot of cars in front of them. And for the most part it was true, but as usual after 15 minutes of taking photos I got bored and had to do something else.

So I drove into downtown Cheyenne to buy some stuff at Barnes and Noble, with my gift card I got yesterday. However, since I was going to downtown Cheyenne I took a side trip onto East Lincolnway. On the right side of this road, at exactly a mile, is the Cheyenne Motel and the Firebird Motel.

After the Firebird Motel is a gigantic complex, American Legion Post #6. To one side of the parking lot is a fenced in box car, a Merci Train box car, one of which was sent by France in 1949 to every state then in the Union.

There's a VFW out by where I live, in what is South Cheyenne or Orchid Valley (why Orchid Valley I have no idea, since I have yet to see any orchids), but it's a teeny tiny least 3 of it could fit into this American Legion Post #6.

So what's the difference between the American Legion and the American Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)?

The American Legion
The American Legion is a congressionally chartered mutual-aid veterans organization of the United States armed forces founded to benefit those veterans who served during a wartime period as defined by the United States Congress. The American Legion was founded in 1919 by veterans returning from Europe after World War I, and was later chartered under Title 36 of the United States Code. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana and also has offices in Washington D.C. The group has nearly 3 million members in over 14,000 Posts worldwide.

In addition to organizing commemorative events and volunteer veteran support activities, the American Legion is active in U.S. politics. While its primary political activity is lobbying on behalf of the interests of veterans and service members, including support for veterans benefits such as pensions and the Veterans Affairs hospital system, it has also been involved in more general political issues.

At the state level, the American Legion is organized into "departments", which run annual civic training events for high school juniors called Boys State. Two members from each Boys State are selected for Boys Nation. The American Legion Auxiliary runs Girls State and Girls Nation. The American Legion also hosts many social events.

General Douglas MacArthur, Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush were all members of The American Legion.

Organizational structure

The Post is the basic unit of the Legion and usually represents a small geographic area such as a single town or part of a county. There are roughly 14,900 posts in the United States. The Post is used for formal business such as meetings and a coordination point for community service projects. Often the Post will host community events such as bingo, Hunter breakfasts, holiday celebrations, and available to the community, churches in time of need. It is also not uncommon for the Post to contain a bar open during limited hours. A Post member is distinguished by a navy blue garrison cap with gold piping.

Each U.S. county comprises several Posts and oversees their operations, led by a County Council of elected officers. The County Commander performs annual inspections of the Posts within their jurisdiction and reports the findings to both the District and the Department level. A County Commander is distinguished by a navy blue garrison cap with white piping.

Each Department is divided into Divisions and/or Districts. Each District oversees several Posts, generally about 20, to help each smaller group have a larger voice. Divisions are even larger groups of about four or more Districts. The main purpose of these "larger" groups (Districts — Divisions) are to allow one or two delegates to represent an area at conferences, conventions, and other gatherings, where large numbers of Legionnaires may not be able to attend. A District Commander is distinguished by a navy blue garrison cap with a white crown and gold piping.

The Posts are grouped together into a state level organization known as a Department for the purposes of coordination and administration. There is a total of 55 Departments; one for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico, and the Philippines. Canada was merged into Department of New York several years ago. The three Departments located overseas are intended to allow active duty military stationed and veterans living overseas to be actively involved with the American Legion similar to as if they were back in the states. The Department of France consists of 29 Posts located in 10 European counties, the Department of Mexico consists of 22 Posts located in Central America, and the Department of Philippines covers Asia and the Pacific Islands. A Department Officer or Department Executive Committee Representative is distinguished by a white garrison cap with gold piping.

National headquarters
The main American Legion Headquarters is located on the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis. It is the primary office for the National Commander and also houses the historical archives, library, Membership, Internal Affairs, Public Relations, and the Magazine editorial offices. The Legion also owns a building in Washington D.C. that contains many of the operation offices such as Economics, Legislative, Veterans Affairs, Foreign Relations, National Security, and Media Relations, and etc. A National Officer or National Executive Committee Representative is distinguished by a red garrison cap with gold piping.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) is a congressionally chartered war veterans organization in the United States. Headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, VFW currently has 1.5 million members belonging to 7,644 posts, and is the largest American organization of combat veterans.

Members must be a US citizen or national with an honorable discharge from the US Armed Forces or currently serving in the United States Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, or Navy. Membership also requires military service overseas during an operation or conflict and decoration with an expeditionary medal, a campaign medal or ribbon. A Leave and Earnings Statement showing receipt of Hostile Fire or Imminent Danger Pay is also acceptable proof for membership eligibility.

Historic marker commemorating the founding of the VFW in Pittsburgh.The VFW became a government-chartered non-profit organization by an act of the United States Congress on May 28, 1936;[3] as such, it receives no funding from United States tax receipts and is supported by charitable donations.

The first VFW was founded in Denver, Colorado in 1899 and officially "VFW Post 1, John S. Stewart Post". There are two other Post, which try to claim being Post 1, however the VFW National organization recognizes VFW Post 1 ( in Denver, CO as the first VFW Post. The current VFW was first formed in 1914 from the merger of two prior veterans organizations which both arose in 1899: the American Veterans of Foreign Service and the National Society of the Army of the Philippines. The former was formed for veterans of the Spanish–American War, while the latter was formed for veterans of the Philippine–American War.

VFW works on behalf of American veterans by lobbying Congress for better veterans' health care and benefits. The VFW also maintains a nationwide organization of employees and volunteers to assist veterans with their VA disability claims.[5]

VFW also donates millions of dollars and millions of hours for community service.[6] One of their most popular programs, Operation Uplink, provides free phone cards to overseas service members.

The current Commander of the VFW is Richard L. Eubank.

Direct community involvement is a VFW priority, extending beyond the realm of veterans helping veterans.

Annually, VFW and the Men's and Ladies Auxiliaries donate more than 13 million volunteer hours of community service.[8] VFW members mentor youth groups, help in community food kitchens, volunteer in blood drives and visit hospitalized veterans. Others help veterans file compensation claims.

VFW's Community Service programs are designed to encourage community service and increase civic pride, which ultimately enhances education, improves the environment and ensures the availability of health services for our nations veterans.

VFW's Citizenship Education program is designed to stimulate interest in America's history and traditions and to promote citizenship, civic responsibility and patriotism.

VFW's Youth Scholarship programs provide more than $3.5 million in scholarships to our nation's youth. They include Voice of Democracy, Patriot's Pen youth essay contest and Scout of the Year.

The VFW's partnership with the Boy Scouts of America includes the sponsoring of more than 1,200 Scouting units with 40,000 members across the nation.

VFW's Safety Program encourages VFW Posts and Auxiliaries to conduct programs in home, auto and bicycle safety, as well as programs dealing with drug awareness and substance abuse.

The VFW National Home for Children is a community development in a family-like environment that is home to orphaned or single parent children of VFW or Ladies Auxiliary members. The home, which was established in 1925 on 160 acres in Eaton Rapids, Mich., emphasizes the values of education, good work habits and sound moral character.

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