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 themselves!
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 almost 200,000.
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 and Afghanistan.
The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.
Besides 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.
Annually, the nearly 2 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries contribute more than 8.6 million hours of volunteerism in the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week.
An Early History of the Department of Hawaii
The Department of Hawaii came into existence on June 10, 1939 when it was chartered as a Provisional Department by National Headquarters. Prior to this time there had existed in ·Honolulu a County Council which had been active for about two years but which was dissolved with the creation of Department. There were 225 members in the four V.F.W. Posts then in being in Hawaii. These were Honolulu Post 1540 chartered on June 15, 1928 and still active, Commander JohnRodgers Ship 2432 chartered on June 10, 1932 and still active, William H. Kenyon Post 287S chartered on September 22, 1932 and declared defunct on December 29, 1952·and General Amnion Luna Post 2915 chartered on November 15, 1933 and declared defunct on July 5, 1945. Four and ·a half months after the chartering of the Provisional Department a fifth Post was added. This was General Frederick FunstonPost 94 chartered on October 27, 1939 and still active. These five Posts constituted the Provisional Department of Hawaii until the years of World War ll.
Let is of historic interestto note at this point that thepresent General Frederick Funston Post 94 was preceded by a Postknown as Frederick Funston Post 94 which was chartered on November 15, 1915 and whose charter was withdrawn on May 10, 1927. This was the only V.F.W. Post in Hawaii history prior to the chartering of Honolulu Post 1540 thirteen months later.
With the advent of World War II and the subsequent increase in the Armed Forces the Department membership skyrocketed. Whileexact figures are not available this membership during the 1943-1944 period has been estimated at upwards of twenty thousand and at one time in 1944 there were nineteen active Posts in the Department. These were 94, 970, 1540, 2432, 2875, 2915, 3824, 3830, 3840, 3845, 385'0, 3855, 3860, 3865, 3870, 3875, 3880, 3885 and 3927. Due to the terrific administrative problems involved in sucha sudden influx of members National Headquarters withdrew the Provisional Charter from the Department on March ·31, 1944 and directly administeredV.F.W. Affairs in Hawaii for a period of seven months. On November 4, 1944 Hawaii was granted full Department status and become the 52nd such department in the national organization, the others being the 48 states, the District of Columbia, Alaska and Panama.
With the cessation of hostilities, demobilization and the return of thousands of servicemen: to their homes the Department membership rapidly ·dropped to its present approximately one thousand members divided among the twelve current Posts. These are Posts 94, 1540 and 2432, described earlier, and Post 3824 chartered May 30, 1942, Post 3850 chartered November 1, 1942, Post 3865 dated ·back' to 1942, Post 3845 chartered in 1945, Post 4951 which goes back to 1947, Post 3860 dating from 1950, Post 3875 chartered in 1951 and Posts 2875 and 3870 which came into existence in 1958 and 1959..
These statistics were gleaned from the records compiled and presented to the Department of Hawaii by Earl J.
Stephenson ,Department Historian,1956-1957.