The VFW Auxiliary (formerly known as the Ladies Auxiliary), which was founded in 1914 to help veterans and their families, is the backbone of VFW volunteer efforts. Promoting patriotism and helping veterans in need are just two of the many ways that the Auxiliary serves America’s communities. The Ladies Auxiliary also has its own volunteer programs directed at VA, State, and Community Hospitals.
For as long as men have been going into battle, women have been nursing sick and wounded warriors back to health. Until recently, this was a necessity because governments did not provide adequate medical facilities for their servicemen. In fact, medical care was often so abysmal that more men died of disease and food poisoning than of wounds.
Today, the VFW Auxiliary is involved in a kaleidoscopic range of activities. While continuing to support the VFW and its causes, the VFW Auxiliary has developed a social conscience of its own. With the paramount goal of helping families in distress, its members perform community service, fund cancer research, fight drug abuse and illiteracy, advocate for the rights of the elderly, and support the VFW National Home, Special Olympics, and other worthy causes.
Membership has been broadened to include not only spouses of VFW members, but also other family members. Foster family members are also eligible, provided their relationship with the VFW member predates the member’s military service. With their inexhaustible supply of goals and members, there is no doubt that the VFW Auxiliary is here to stay.
Our Bylaws calls for our members to: "… maintain true allegiance to the Government of the United States of America, and fidelity to its Constitution and laws; to foster true patriotism, and to preserve and defend the United States from all her enemies, whomsoever.”
Promoting patriotism and helping veterans in need are just two of the many ways that the Auxiliary serves their Posts and America’s communities. The VFW Auxiliary also has its own volunteer programs directed at VA, state, and community.
Early History December 1st, 1899, a local society called the Army of the Philippines was formed in Denver, Colorado and became a national organization in 1900. (The John S. Stewart VFW is a continuation of that first local unit.) In 1905, in Kansas City, Missouri, an Auxiliary was formed to the Louis A. Craig Post No.18. One or two more other such Auxiliaries were formed later.
At the 7th annual reunion of the Army of the Philippines held in Des Moines, Iowa in August 13-15, 1906, Mrs. Conkling asked on behalf of the women accompanying their husbands to the reunion, that a National Auxiliary be authorized. A committee consisting of Comrade Karling, Metcalf, and Hale was appointed and it reported favorably. A vote was taken and the National Executive Committee of the organization was directed to grant a charter to the Auxiliary.
Meanwhile, in the East, the American Veterans of Foreign Service established new Posts; when its National Encampment met in Jamestown, Virginia, September 11-13,1907, a new Constitution was adopted, which authorized the chartering of a National Auxiliary. The local Auxiliaries continued to exist as such, but the parent Auxiliary in Columbus disbanded after Mrs. White left for the Pacific Coast. Nothing more was done about this until the Encampment in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 10th, 1909, at which time Mrs. Weidemyer of Reading, PA. announced that the ladies in Reading had formed a local Auxiliary to Willetts Post and now wished to become part of the National Auxiliary. The Encampment approved the proposition and the Commander-in-Chief was instructed to issue a new National Charter.
In August, 1913, in Denver, the American Veterans of Foreign Service and the National Society of the Philippines amalgamated; early in 1914 the name VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES was chosen by plebiscite. Following the amalgamation of these two military organizations, Captain Robert Hansbury, a past Commander-in-Chief, called a meeting of Auxiliary members of nearby Posts to discuss organizing a Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Florence E. Stark of Camden, New Jersey, was elected by the members present to act as Chairman and presided over the meeting, assistance by Captain Hansbury as advisor. The plans laid out for the National Organization were not immediately successful, although several meetings were held and new members added. The following year, 1914, prior to the VFW National Encampment, in Pittsburgh in September, Commander-in-Chief Rice W. Means sent a call to all Posts that had Auxiliaries, notifying them to have a representative in Pittsburgh. Auxiliaries to the following Posts answered this call: Stewart#1, Denver Co., McKinley #4, Pittsburgh, PA, Carleton #5, St. Paul, MN., Camden #6, Camden, NJ, Havanna #15, Buffalo, NY, Capron #22, Philadelphia, PA, Coghlan #36, Albany NY.
Representatives from the following Posts: Malate #12, Pittsburgh, PA, Cushing #14, Newark NJ, Ward #19, McKeesport, PA, Phillips #28, Denver, CO., Connell #35, Providence, RI, Schley #36, Baltimore, MD., Shipp #42, Philadelphia, PA. Carney #46, Pittsburgh, PA., Eddy #66, East Liverpool, OH.
Commander-in-Chief Rice W. Means organized and obligated the ladies into a National Organization. A temporary chairman, Mrs. Means and a temporary secretary, Mrs. Margaret Armstrong, were chosen. All delegates paid their personal per capita tax in order that a treasury might be started at once.
When they met in Detroit, 1915, thirteen auxiliaries had been formed and with all debts paid, a small balance remained in the treasury. The minutes of the Encampment in 1915 bear testimony to the earnest efforts the National Officers put forth to firmly establish the organization.
At the 1916 encampment in Chicago, the chair was turned over to a newly elected National President. The delegates were greatly elated at the progress that had been made and the approval expressed by the VFW at their Encampment.
During the 2015 Annual VFW convention, a resolution was passed, changing the name from the Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW Auxiliary. This change was made to reflect the ever changing face of the Military. During the past decades, Women have joined the ranks of our Military services. Today the VFW Auxiliary membership allows men and women to join.