Monday, April 18, 2016

Legislative: Guidelines for Contacting Your Legislators

Lois Callahan

2015-2016 National Legislative Ambassador

As reports come in, I can see that many of you have promoted and worked the Legislative Program.  As we approach the election of officers and the appointment of new chairmen, our work within this program should not cease. Instead, we should continue to visit with and contact our legislators as the advocates and voices of our veterans. 

The VFW Washington Office has provided guidelines for contacting your legislators. I have summarized some of those guidelines below and hope they will help you in your continued efforts. 

  • State the purpose for writing in the first sentence of your correspondence. 
  • If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify and address it correctly:   
    • House bills are H.R. _____.
    • Senate bills are designated as S. _____.
  • Always be courteous and polite.
  • You may include personal information about why this legislation is important to you.
  • When corresponding with the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, address them as follows: 

                        Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman
                        Dear Mr. Speaker or Madam Speaker

As always, I thank you for all you have done and all you will continue to do for this program, our organization and our veterans.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Hospital: Plan a "Spring Fling" for Hospitalized Veterans

Grace Matz
2015-2016 National Hospital Ambassador

Spring has finally arrived! While many (myself included) are still bundled up and see that white stuff fall from the sky (in April!), we know (and hope!) that warmer weather is right around the corner.

Plan a “Spring Fling” to boost the morale of those who have been confined in a facility all winter. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to brighten someone’s life or hospital room. Dollar stores have lots of artificial flowers that would bring color and the feeling of spring to a room.

When the weather allows, many of our members volunteer to help take patients outside for a breath of fresh air. It’s the perfect time to recruit a new volunteer to join in the fun. And many facilities have a small garden, pathways, or a park-like setting. Some even have a barbecue area. Check to see what’s available and plan a small social gathering. You’ll find yourself reaping as many rewards as the patients!

As we near the end of this program year, let’s review what we’ve done:

1. Recruited a new volunteer
2. Planned an activity in a hospital
3. Recognized your volunteers
4. Participated in Veterans Voices
5. Distributed information about Veteran and Military Suicide Awareness

If you’ve done any or all of the above – Thank You! 

Our volunteers are the best and I’m so proud of everything you’re doing for this program and our veterans. Our work will continue because there are still needs to be met. It’s through all your selfless hours of giving that allows us to make a difference in the lives of so many veterans.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Chief of Staff: It's April - Time for Auxiliary Elections!

Barbara Melnick
2015-2016 National Chief of Staff/Extension

Five Essential Requirements to Maintain Status as a VFW Auxiliary:

1.      Elect and install officers for the current year in accordance with Sec. 806A.
2.      Hold at least ten (10) business meetings per year and a quorum (five) members in good standing) shall be present. (See Section 210 and 212)
3.      Bond the offices of President and Treasurer not later than August 31 of the current year. (See Section 814)
4.      Quarterly audits shall be completed in compliance with Section 814.
5.      Dues shall be transmitted on at least 10 members by February 1 of the current year. (See Section 207).

April is a very important month for all Auxiliaries. Be familiar on voting procedures; see the Booklet of Instructions – Election of Officers or the Ritual.

1.      Auxiliary Officers shall be elected by written ballot, if more than one candidate.

This is the time of year to inform new members on how an Auxiliary works. Hopefully you will get your VFW Post members involved as well. We can work wonders by working together!

Remember – A member shall not be in good standing until their dues have been paid by June 30 to remain a continuous member.
·         Prior year’s dues may not be paid after July 1.
·         Any member who has not maintained continuous membership shall submit an application and be accepted in the same manner as a new member.
·         Continuous membership begins again upon payment of dues.

Also, remember that when you institute an Auxiliary, it does not stop there! You or someone that you designate should follow up with those Auxiliary members and ask if they have any questions. Mentoring is not an overnight project; it is something that you stick with and nurture, and watch those Auxiliaries and members grow.

Every month at your meetings, read a few sections of the Bylaws to familiarize the new members and some of your longtime members. Go over the areas of:
·         How to Drape the Charter
·         Bringing a guest into the Auxiliary room
·         How to proceed in opening and closing the Bible
·         Different floor plans

Make it fun for all members attending; have a member not holding an office role play in the Chaplain duties. Maybe that will be their niche and show them how easy it is to take an office. That is mentoring - keeping your members interested and involved.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Membership: Keep it Up, America! You're Doing Great!

Joyce Bilyeu
2015-2016 National Membership Ambassador

WAY TO GO AMERICA:  We are less than three percent (3%) away from breaking a 22 year membership record of being 100%. We still have 3 months to go and I know with your continued dedication to the growth of this organization we will go beyond that goal. You have clearly sent the message to the world that our organization, and especially our veterans, matter; that our veterans did not give up on us and we DO NOT intend to give up on them. Just keep moving forward and remember that there is “No Excuse…….Just Recruit for “Our Veterans Now and Forever.”

NATIONAL MEMBERSHIP WEEK IS APRIL 10-16: You should have plans in place on what your Department will be doing to promote membership during this special week. Make sure to go to the National VFW Auxiliary website to print out all the UPDATED membership materials and resources that you might need to help with your recruiting and retention efforts.  Work with your Department’s National Certified Recruiter Trainer to assist with your recruitment efforts.

CONGRATULATIONS:  To each Department who has reached the 95% or greater milestone. Your Department will receive $500 for your recruitment efforts.

I personally thank you for your commitment to keeping your pledge in growing our organization.  In addition, congratulations go out to ALL Departments. You are all doing amazing and I know that we are all going to cross that (100% in membership) finish line together, united, as one team, working to grow our organization in order to serve our veterans and their families.

Our next milestone is to be 100+% by May 31, 2016 in order to receive $1,000 for your Department. I know all 51 Departments will earn this award.

100+% in Membership by May 31, 2016               Award = $1,000
101+ % in Membership by June 30, 2016                 $500 Bonus Award

MALE MEMBERSHIP:  So far you have all recruited nearly 16,000 males into our organization. The Department of Pennsylvania is leading the way with a total of 2,502 male members recruited. I am confident that by June 30th, you will have recruited more than 20,000 men into our organization. 

IMPORTANT REMINDER:  If continuous members’ dues are NOT paid in full by June 30th they are no longer a member of our organization. They will need to reapply and will lose any prior years of membership that they had with the VFW Auxiliary. This is something we DO NOT want to happen. Please call those members and see what can be done to keep them current. We need all the members we can to help support our veterans and their families.

·         Membership Week Promotion Award:  Remember that there is an award to the Department Membership Chairman in each membership group for the best promotion of National Membership Week. Please send me your information in order to receive recognition.
·         Symbol of Service Award:  One person will receive this very special award for the most new members recruited by May 31, 2016. Don’t forget to send in the necessary forms stating how many members you have recruited. The award will be presented at the 2016 VFW Auxiliary National Convention.
·         National Membership Achievement Award:  This is for the recruitment of 20 or more NEW members by April 30, 2016. Forms are due to National Headquarters by May 31, 2016.
·         “No Excuse…I Recruit Pin”: This for the recruitment of 5 or more NEW members. Forms are due at National Headquarters by May 31, 2016.

GREATEST AWARD OF ALL:  This award is about having the satisfaction of knowing that you are a part of something much greater than money or material things. It is about the satisfaction of knowing that YOU are making a difference in the lives of veterans and their families. It’s about being a part of an organization nearly 500,000 members strong who share a common goal of serving veterans, their families and our communities.

Remember: No Excuse…..Just Recruit!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Celebrating 70 Years with Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services

Cara Day
Director of Programs & Communications
National Headquarters

This year the VA is celebrating the chartering of the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services (VAVS), the formal system for volunteers to serve veterans in VA facilities. The VFW Auxiliary is a charter member of the VAVS and one of the largest providers of volunteers, hours and donations in the country. Hundreds of organizations participate in VAVS, but our members are a key partner with the VA in filling in the gaps to serve veterans.

May 4-6, 2016, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the National Advisory Committee (NAC), which is the voting body of the VAVS, will come together for its annual meeting. In addition to the wonderful sessions and workshops for volunteers, Representatives and Deputy Representatives and VA staff, VAVS will commemorate the 70 years that have fulfilled the needs of veterans nationwide in VA facilities.

I will attend that event as your National Representative along with National President Francisca Guilford and our Certifying Official Connie Wahlen. It is truly a wonderful learning experience every year. We hear from great speakers, attend informative workshops and get to know the other great organizations and volunteers.

This conference is open to anyone who is a part of the VAVS system. If you are a volunteer, Representative or Deputy Representative, you should consider coming. I promise you will learn a lot and be inspired in a hundred ways to go back and continue this wonderful part of who we are as an organization.

Learn about the conference here:

When I get back, I’ll be sure to put together a review of my time there. Thank you to all our amazing hospital volunteers! You are making a HUGE difference in the lives of veterans!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Youth Activities: Youth Go Above and Beyond For Our Veterans

Joan Penney
2015-2016 National Youth Activities Ambassador

I know I say the same thing every month: that I am blown away with how our youth go above and beyond working for our veterans! And every time I think I can’t be more impressed another future leader is brought to my attention. I have got to share my latest finds with you! 

This information comes from Youth Trumpets and Taps Corps:
When Katie Prior learned that at many veterans’ funerals a tape recording of Taps is played, instead of a live performance, she decided a change was needed so veterans could get the distinguished tribute they deserve. She recruited her fellow trumpet players in her homeschool band, local high schools, and the Oklahoma Youth Orchestras to use their gifts to serve others. Katie is addressing the shortage of military buglers as her leadership project for the Gold Award, the highest recognition for achievement that a Girl Scout can receive. For more information please click here:

I know there are countless examples of youth working for veterans, but sometimes we need a gentle reminder of the importance of veterans, which is exactly what Buzz Williams, the Virginia Tech men's basketball coach opted to do for his players. He brought in a group of military veterans to teach his team the importance of standing at attention for the national anthem. The coach had his players stand behind the sideline chairs with the veterans standing in front of the chairs while delivering this message:
“These guys, when they were your age, interrupted their life, they paused their education, they changed their career, they gave their life for those chairs. So when the anthem is played, we’re going to stand like grown men and we’re going to honor men like this that gave their life so we can have a chair to sit in.”  
Watch the video here:

Thank you for sharing all the wonderful things youth are doing for our nation's veterans! Don't forget to thank them for their support of veterand and their families with the Youth Groups Supporting Our Veterans Citation. Click here to request the citation from National Headquarters.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Veterans & Family Support: Clip Campbell's Labels for Education® and Help the VFW National Home Earn a Minivan!

Laurie Dale 
2015-2016 National Veterans & Family Support Ambassador

Clip Campbell's Labels for Education® and Help the VFW National Home Earn a Minivan!

The VFW National Home for Children has 14 weeks to collect the last 184,485 Campbell’s Labels for Education® UPC’s needed to earn their seventh (yes, seventh!) minivan. In order to earn a minivan, they must turn in 1.6 million UPC points by July 31, 2016. At the time this blog was posted, they had turned in just over 1.4 UPC million points.

Why do they only have 14 weeks to collect the points? Because on August 1, 2016 the Campbell’s Labels for Education program as we know it will end.

As of August 1, 2016 only the items with a LFE logo will be accepted as points into a registered school’s account. Schools may continue to submit UPCs and Beverage/Sauce Caps of any participating product through July 31, 2016. During the 2016-2017 school year and beyond, Campbell’s will continue to honor labels only from schools currently registered with the program. They will remove the Labels for Education logo mid-2016 (below) and expect there will be a limited number of products that contain these labels in stores through 2017.

For the past 42 years, the Campbell’s Labels for Education has contributed more than $110 million in school supplies to tens of thousands of schools across the U.S. By saving and redeeming product UPCs and Beverage/Sauce Caps from participating products, schools could earn FREE educational merchandise such as computers, software, sports equipment, musical instruments, library books and even a minivan! Since 2004, the National Home has collected nearly 8 million (yes, 8 MILLION!!!) UPC points and earned six minivans through this generous program.

Your help is needed in order for them to earn a seventh minivan! The families at the National Home know they can count on our VFW and VFW Auxiliary members to help them reach their goal! Keep clipping and sending your Labels for Education to:

VFW National Home for Children
3573 S. Waverly Road
Eaton Rapids, MI 48827

They will be grateful to receive any and all support!!

Click here for a list of participating products: