The oldest Veterans Organization:
Jewish War Veterans of the USA, (JWV), founded in 1896 by Civil War veterans, matured as a dynamic organization as our nation was involved in several wars during the twentieth century and has developed strategy for its continuance in the twenty-first century. JWV’s accomplishments these past more than one hundred years are unmatched in the American Jewish community. As described in the book by the same name, our record is one of “A Century of Patriotic Service to the American People.” Among the highlights of JWV’s diverse activities: Standing tall in the veterans’ community to affirm the long history of Jewish Military Service
• Defending our nation in time of war
• Confronting antisemitism at home and abroad
• Support the people of Israel
• Representing veterans of all faiths to secure benefits
under current law
• Visiting disabled veterans of all faiths
• Sponsoring Boy Scouts of America programs
maintaining the graves of deceased Jewish military personnel
in local and national cemeteries
• preserving the records of Jewish military personnel
• Testifying annually to Congress on behalf of veterans and
Supporting those currently serving in defense of our
The Second oldest Organization:
The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service: Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans’ pension for them,and they were left to care for themselves.
In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations with what would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum. By 1915, membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000.
Since then, the VFW’s voice had been instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, creating a GI bill for the 20th century, the development of the national cemetery system and the fight for compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, VFW won a long-fought victory with the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st Century, giving expanded educational benefits to America’s active-duty service members, and members of the Guard and Reserves, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.
Besides helping fund the creation of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service memorials, the VFW in 2005 became the first veterans’ organization to contribute to building the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in November 2010.
Annually, the 2.1 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary contribute more than 11 million hours of volunteerism in the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week.
From providing over $3 million in college scholarships and savings bonds to students every year, to encouraging elevation of the Department of Veterans Affairs to the president’s cabinet, the VFW is there.
Third oldest Veteran Organization
The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans.
- History of The American Legion
- The American Legion Emblem
- Preamble to the Constitution
- Constitution and By-laws
Hundreds of local American Legion programs and activities strengthen the nation one community at a time. American Legion Baseball is one of the nation’s most successful amateur athletic programs, educating young people about the importance of sportsmanship, citizenship and fitness. The Heroes to Hometowns program connects local Legionnaires with recovering wounded warriors and their families, providing a variety of support activities. The Legion raises millions of dollars in donations at the local, state and national levels to help veterans and their families and to provide college scholarship opportunities.
The American Legion is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization with great political influence perpetuated by its grass-roots involvement in the legislation process from local districts to Capitol Hill. Legionnaires’ sense of obligation to community, state and nation drives an honest advocacy for veterans in Washington. The Legion stands behind the issues most important to the nation’s veterans community, backed by resolutions passed by volunteer leadership.
The American Legion’s success depends entirely on active membership, participation and volunteerism. The organization belongs to the people it serves and the communities in which it thrives.