VFW Membership Eligibility Requirements

The fundamental differences between our organization and other veterans organizations, and one in which we take great pride, are our eligibility qualifications. There are three primary requisites for membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States: (1) U.S. Citizen or U.S. National (2) Honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States (3) Service entitling the applicant to the award of a recognized campaign medal or as set forth in the Congressional Charter and By-Laws and Manual of Procedure and Ritual.

Sec. 103 -- ELECTION:

Applications. After the applicant has filled out the application card, it should be provided to the post adjutant or quartermaster, together with the dues (and admission fee, if applicable). A receipt shall be given to the applicant. An applicant may be recommended after eligibility has been fully determined by the post reviewing committee. With respect to a department member-at-large, the department headquarters is responsible for the eligibility determination. The original application of every member will be retained on file with the adjutant.

Balloting on Applications. Before voting on the application during a post meeting, the commander shall allow the members present an opportunity to state their objections, if any, to the admission of the applicant. Unless one member present shall request a written ballot, a vote shall be taken and a majority of the votes cast shall decide acceptance or rejection of the application.

Rejection of Applicant. Should an applicant be rejected by the post, the admission fee and dues shall be returned. After one year (12 months), he may again make application, but a person shall not be proposed for membership more than twice in one post. An applicant rejected in one post may apply to another post or become a department member-at-large.

Notification. The member shall be notified of his acceptance and that he is in good standing, subject to the by-laws governing the organization. The member shall receive a membership card and will be eligible to receive a lapel pin.

Obligation. New post members may receive the obligation according to the ritual.

CHECKING ELIGIBILITY: Proof of service to establish eligibility for membership rests with the applicant. The post is responsible for assuring the eligibility of every member accepted to membership. A careful check of eligibility at the time a person joins will save a great deal of trouble and embarrassment later. A veteran who is not accepted for membership because of ineligibility at the time of application is only disappointed. A member who is removed for ineligibility after having paid dues for several years is justifiably angry.

Assuming that a person is a United States citizen or United States national and has an honorable discharge from the U.S. armed forces, it only remains to be proven that the person has earned a recognized campaign medal or badge; served in Korea between June 30, 1949, until present; or earned Hostile Fire or Imminent Danger Pay eligibility. Those people in the armed forces of the United States shall become eligible for membership immediately upon arrival on hostile soil, in hostile waters or the airspace above in the performance of service.

Discharges issued during and immediately after World War II have a section on the back listing the medals and decorations that have been earned. Persons discharged later received a DD-214, "Report of Separation" form, which lists the medals and decorations on the front. Lost separation documents can be replaced by completing and submitting GSA Standard Form 180, "Request Pertaining to Military Records."

There is always a possibility of an omission on the separation documents. If an applicant claims entitlement to a medal, which is not shown on the individual's separation papers, that person may request verification and correction of records by submitting a GSA Standard Form 180.

The GSA Standard Form 180 is available from any office of the Veterans’ Affairs or state veterans’ departments. The form must be completed and signed by the veteran in order to receive the information requested or authorize the release of the information to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Request for records can also be obtained through the National Personnel Records Center at www.archives.gov/veterans.

For subsequent service, refer to Sec. 101 of the Manual of Procedure.

ELIGIBILITY REGULATIONS: The following is to be used as a guide in determining eligibility for membership. Campaign medals and the periods issued have been authorized by the United States of America, and the holder of any such medal or medals is recognized as possessing the campaign medal requisite of eligibility.