Navy Veteran Elected to Lead the VFW
William A. Thien will serve as VFW Commander-in-Chief
July 25, 2013
Members of the nation’s largest organization of combat
veterans have elected U.S. Navy and Vietnam veteran, William A. “Bill” Thien to
lead the 1.6 million member organization.
A. “Bill” Thien, a resident of Georgetown, Ind., was elected VFW National
Commander on July 24, 2013, in Louisville, Ky., during the 114th VFW
Thien served in the U.S. Navy from
1969-1974 and served five years in the Indiana National Guard. His decorations
include the Vietnam Service Medal with 3 stars, Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960
Bar, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Korea), National Defense Service Medal
and several from the National Guard.
acceptance speech, he praised the hard work of VFW members and encouraged
them not to be overly modest in spreading the word about the organization’s
“We have far too many military
people and veterans who believe that it’s the Pentagon or the President or the
Congress who are responsible for their military and disability pay increases or
other Quality of Life improvements. We have to tell our story. You tell them
that every new program, pay or benefit that they now enjoy is due to the
lobbying we do to create them.
“What makes the
Veterans of Foreign Wars great is the quality of our people who unselfishly dare
to make a personal difference in the lives of fellow comrades, communities and
nation. Caring for others, comrades, is what makes the VFW so great … and I hope
you continue to spread the word to everyone,” he explained.
He also discussed the recent, successful expansion of the VFW’s National
Veterans Service program, noting that the VFW now has service officers available
at more than 18 of the military’s largest installations and regions who stand
ready to directly assist transitioning service members in filing VA claims. The
program further expanded through the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment and
Student Veterans of America.
“The VFW Washington
Office also trains and oversees our nationwide network of more than 1,200
VA-accredited service representatives, who last year helped 125,000 veterans to
recoup an organizational record of $3.7 billion in compensation and pension from
the federal government,” he explained. “Plus our win rate at the Board of
Veterans Appeals that is the highest among all major VSOs, and exceeds
Thien, who joined the VFW
more than 40 years ago posed an important question to the VFW membership, asking
them how the VFW can change in order to better accommodate a new generation of
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. “Comrades, Vietnam veterans have a tight hold on
the operation of this organization at every level. If we don’t
loosen our grip and give the younger folks free rein, we are going to choke off
their participation … and we all know where that ship is headed,” he
Thien joined the VFW in 1971 at Post 3281 in
New Albany, Ind., where he maintains his Gold Legacy Life Membership. He has
served the VFW in many leadership positions including All American Post
Commander, All State District Commander and All American State Commander. He has
also held positions on numerous National committees, including Vice Chairman of
Citizenship Education and Community Service and as Chairman of National
Scholarship and Recognition.
He attended Indiana
University Southeast. He worked as a Team Leader/Shift Supervisor at Duke Energy
and is now retired.
He is a member of the American Legion,
Veterans of Vietnam War Post 1, National Rifle Association, Patriot Guard
Riders, Military Order of the Cootie Pup Tent 51 and VFW National
During his year-long term, Thien will log
thousands of miles within the U.S. and internationally to promote the VFW,
veterans’ issues and quality of life initiatives for active-duty, Reserve and
Also elected were John
Stroud, Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief, of Hawthorne, Nev., and John Biedrzycki,
Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief, of Coraopolis, Pa.
Watch Bill Thien’s installation into
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