American Legion, VFW serving veterans
Following the Spanish – American and Philippine-American wars, disabled veterans were discharged with two months’ pay as their only benefit. There were no other benefits available for these veterans who had been wounded or otherwise disabled in the service of their country.
Something needed to be done. Two organizations had been started to lobby for relief in the form of pension and medical benefits. These two organizations, one for Spanish-American War Veterans and the other for veterans of the Philippine-American War were combined when the Veterans of Foreign Wars was formed. The VFW name was created on Sept. 17, 1914. The first Post was VFW Post Number 1, John S. Stewart, located in Denver, Colo.
Following World War I, veterans of that conflict became eligible to join along with the veterans of the earlier conflicts. On May 28, 1936 the formal charter was granted by congress.
Since those early days the VFW has continually lobbied for increases and improvements in veterans benefits.
Better health care for veterans is a constant concern of the VFW. They have a nationwide network of employees and volunteers to assist veterans in the filing of disability claims.
In 1919, after the end of World War I, the American Legion was founded with the same basic goals. The first American Legion Post was the General John Joseph Pershing Post Number 1, located in Washington D.C.
In the 1920s, the American Legion was instrumental in creating the United States Veteran’s Bureau, now the Department of Veterans Affairs.
While both organizations actively pursue better health and welfare care for veterans they are also involved in community service in several areas.
In 1935, the American Legion created the first Boy’s State Program. The program continues in the form of Boy’s State, promoted by the Legion and Girl’s State promoted by the Ladies Auxiliary. The top two qualifiers from each state in the programs advance to the Boy’s National and Girl’s National competitions.
The National High School Oratorical Contest, started by the Legion in 1938 follows the same democratic, civic, and patriotic guidelines at the Boys and Girls State competitions.
The VFW sponsors several citizenship education programs that include the Voice of Democracy, Patriot’s Pen, Youth Essays, and the Scout of the Year programs. These programs provide about $3.5 million to deserving youth each year.
Beginning in 1996, the VFW’s Operation Uplink provides free phone calls to overseas active duty personnel. In 2004, Free Call Days began. Free Call Days provide the opportunity for overseas service personnel to call home for free twice each month. About four million calls have been made under this program.
Lloyd Grubbs American Legion Post 49 was started in Orange in 1920 with W.F. VanArsdale as the first commander. The Post was named for Lloyd Grubbs, a 1914 graduate of Orange High School. Grubbs was assigned to an artillery unit in France and was killed when a German artillery shell hit the dugout he was in.
After being in several locations around Orange, the Post now has a home on Green Avenue.
Post 49 is active in community service. The Post also provides veterans support programs, the most recent being the Blue Star Banner Program to recognize both the family and the veteran in active service.
On the web site of Post 49 is found the following quote: “Help us to continue sponsoring scholarships for our children, and give aid and assistance to our local needy veterans and their families.”
VFW Post 2775 began in Orange in April, 1941 and has been located on the same property since that date. The original Post Home was a large two story house. When the decision was made to build a larger, modern building, it was located behind that house.
The present building was built by the Post members and was paid off in five years.
Post 2775 has been named an All-American Post and has received numerous other awards and honors in its years of service.
The local VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary have been conducting the Patriotic Essay programs for years and providing the winners of the contest with scholarships. They have also promoted Americanism and flag programs in different venues.
Both organizations have the health and welfare of veterans as their main focus and both continue to lobby for improvements in benefits.
They both are active in community service and patriotic education. Each post hosts fundraising events throughout the year to benefit both individuals and organizations. Both posts are filled with dedicated members who are willing to serve in any capacity they may be asked to serve in.
Membership requirements are slightly different.
To become a member of the American Legion, one only needs to have served a minimum of one day active service in any branch of the armed forces during any period of conflict since World War I.
To apply for membership in the VFW, the veteran may be either a discharged or currently serving member of the armed forces. They must have served overseas during a period of conflict and have been decorated with an expeditionary medal, a campaign medal or a campaign ribbon.
For more information on the American Legion Post 49, please call 409-886-1241; for information on the VFW Post 2775, please call 409-886-9738.