I have talked to thousands of veterans during the course of writing this column for the past 26 years. And is amazing to me personally to learn that many of our veterans are unaware of the good that the nation's two largest veterans organizations -- the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion -- represent a combined membership of more than 5 million veterans.
For the men and women who served their country with honor, I feel it is necessary, and encourage them to check out the excellent work these two groups do on their behalf.
Both groups have national legislative offices in Washington, D.C. where they keep track of proposed legislation of concern to veterans.
This week we will examine the VFW. The Washington office staff monitors all legislation affecting veterans, alerts VFW membership to key legislation under consideration and to actively lobby Congress and the administration on veterans issues.
With VFW's own priority goals in mind, combined with the support of 2.1 million members of VFW and its auxiliaries, its voice on "the Hill" cannot be ignored.
The national VFW continuously advocates on veterans behalf. By testifying at committee hearings and interacting with congressional members, the VFW has played an instrumental role in nearly every piece of veterans legislation passed in the 20th Century, as well as bills developed in the 21st Century.
Most recently, VFW efforts halted the Department of Veterans Affairs proposal to re-review more than 70,000 cases it had already decided for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The review's sole purpose was to revoke awards for disability compensation under the guise of fraud review.
One of VFW's most successful legislative pushes was making college education affordable for military service members with the signing of the 1944 GI Bill of Rights, the signing of the Montgomery GI Bill in 1984, and the signing of a new 21st Century GI Bill in 2008.
The VFW's legislative initiatives center on quality of life and health initiatives for all the nation's veterans, past and present. VFW's 2013 legislative priority goals cover such topics as VA Health Care, Suicides and Homelessness, VA Benefits and Compensation, Seamless Transition, Military Quality of Life, Education and Employment, Defense and Homeland Security, POW/MIA and VFW Talking Points.
As your humble professor of veterans' studies, I encourage all veterans to read about and get familiar with the amazing efforts both the VFW and the American Legion pursue on their behalf.
There are numerous other veterans organizations, such as the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps League, Vietnam Veterans of America, and others, that perform services for a specific area of interest to those affected by their wartime service.
And, as your homework, I ask you to go online and type in VFW.org. Actually, whatever combination of letters that include VFW will get you to the place you need to go to make yourself smarter about the VFW. Also, check around in your area where the individual posts of the VFW, American Legion, and others are located, and call the post (numbers in the local phone book). Tell them you are interested in attending one of their meetings. They, most assuredly, will welcome you with open arms.
We'll look at the American Legion's mission and programs next week.
Free Seminar on Veterans' Benefits: Nordonia Hills American Legion Post 801 and VFW Post 6768 will host a seminar on VA non-serice connected disability pensions. The seminar is sponsored by U.S. Senior Vets from Mentor.
The seminar will start at 8 p.m. April 10 at VFW Post 6768, located at 8584 Olde Eight Road in Northfield Center. Veterans and friends with questions can call U.S. Senior Veterans at 440-205-0057, or email Tim Garth from both posts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flag Retirement Ceremony: Members of VFW Twinsburg Post 4929 will conduct their annual flag disposal ceremony Apr. 27 at noon at Glen Chamberlin Park. American flags that need to be retired because of their physical condition can be dropped off at Twinsburg Public Library, Twinsburg City Hall, or Richner Hardware.
Remember to say a prayer for our men and women serving America in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and at other dangerous assignments around the globe. A letter from home with a package of goodies would certainly make their day.
Items for this column an be mailed to Ron Seman, 7065 West 130th St., Apt. 120E, Parma Heights, 44130-7805, or email: seman.Ronald@att.net. Thanks.