The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States traces its roots back to 1899 when a group of veterans met and realized that the time had come for the nation’s leaders to recognize the contributions and sacrifices of its veterans. At the time, leaders of our county denied its heroes medical care, pensions and assistance to the widows and orphans of veterans killed while serving their country.

The veterans who rallied together for that meeting helped to arouse a new awareness and national consciousness in the country and forged an organization that would demand culpability. VFW’s founders were determined to fashion a world better than they had known. But it hasn’t been easy: the VFW has had to fight every inch of the way to make sure the government lived up to its obligation to care for those who put their lives on the line in defense of our nation.

Yes, the VFW has made a difference, and, thanks to the fortitude of our founders, there is a system in place today that ensures our nation’s veterans receive the benefits and healthcare that they are entitled.

VFW’s wide and varied programs are models for others to emulate: National Veterans and Legislative Services, Community Service, Youth Activities, Scouting, Voice of Democracy, Military Assistance. The VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary raise and contribute millions of dollars and donate millions of volunteer hours.

But the importance of what we do and what we have done as an organization becomes even more important today. This is a defining moment for the VFW. It’s times like these when we can we look back at what the founders of the VFW accomplished and demand more than we expect of ourselves. It’s up to us, as members of the VFW, to unite and lead our nation in spirit and action. The time is now to show our citizens how important the VFW is to them and more importantly, to America.