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
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
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
The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.
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.
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.
providing $2.5 million in college scholarships and savings bonds to
students every year, to encouraging elevation of the Veterans
Administration to the President's Cabinet. The VFW is there.
HISTORY OF THE CROSS OF MALTA
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States adopted for its symbol
the Cross of Malta, which has a heritage of honor, duty, sacrifice and
courage that dates back to the 11th Century.
Cross has its origin in the Knights of St. John, a strict order of
crusaders, originally founded to maintain a hospital for pilgrims
journeying to the Holy Land. From this order evolved two divisions, the
Knights of Templar, famed for their ability to fight, and the Knights
Hospitaler, humanitarians who provided for the sick and distressed.
Knights established branches throughout Europe and moved their
headquarters to Cyprus. From Cyprus the headquarters was eventually
moved to Rhodes in the 14th century and was transferred from there to
the island of Malta in the 16th century. There they became known as the
Knights of Malta.
insignia of the Knights of Malta is basically the same as the one used
today by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. It is an 8-point cross formed by
four arrowheads meeting at the points. Each represents one of the
Beatitudes taken from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. The arrowheads
indicate the knights were willing to fight for the principles of
justice and truth although their order was basically a peaceful one.