The Veterans of Foreign Wars is an organization that has its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War in 1898 and the Philippine Insurrection in 1899-1902 returned from these wars wounded or sick. Some decided to found local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service. There was no medical care or veterans' pension for them, and they were left to care for themselves. 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.
During the Depression the VFW struggled to provide for veterans who were hit hard by the economic downturn. The organization began to petition the government during this period, trying to secure federal funding for starving veterans across the nation. Unfortunately the government decided to instead cut veteran's benefits in order to save money. Fortunately President Roosevelt sided with the veteran's organizations and in the end money was awarded to help alleviate the suffering.
One thing that has always been a constant with the VFW is community service. During the 1930's the veteran's organizations of the United States jumped into action to help out in their local communities. As the 30's came to a close and war loomed in Europe the VFW officially opposed all war by the United States, and preached American neutrality in international affairs. The veterans knew the costs of war and did not want to put Americans in a position where they would be forced to fight for their country. But when war seemed unavoidable and World War II became a reality the VFW did not hesitate to fully back the soldiers going off to fight.
Since World War II the VFW has been the premiere organization for helping veterans gain the rights and benefits they deserve. From the Korean War to the current conflict in Iraq, the VFW has always and will always continue to be there for returning servicemen and women after their tours are finished. Today the VFW faces government budget cuts that threaten to further weaken the benefits that veterans are entitled to. Veteran's Associatian hospitals are threatened with closure all over the United States. The VFW firmly believes we need to provide for our veterans for the service they provided. That is our mission.
Our membership includes veterans from four wars and active-duty service members who have been involved in expeditionary campaigns. Historically, our membership has included notable veterans like Alvin York, Audie Murphy, Carl Sandburg and John Glenn and eight U.S. presidents including Theodore Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and George Bush.
Truman saw VFW membership as a "source of pride and personal satisfaction because of the high ideals that have been exemplified throughout the lifetime of the VFW." John F. Kennedy equated VFW with America's freedom and security. Whether on the battlefield or in the classroom, our members are there, ever-ready to help those in need.
Our Post's Namesakes: The Smalley Brothers
Cpl. Francis E. Smalley and Pvt. Edward F. Smalley were brothers from Windsor Locks who served with great distinction in WWII. They were both killed in action in 1944 in France during the Normandy Campaign.