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 Ladies Auxiliary is involved in a kaleidoscopic range of activities. While continuing to support the VFW and its causes, the Ladies 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 wives of VFW members, but also their mothers, widows, sisters, half-sisters, daughters, grandmothers, and granddaughters. Foster mothers and foster daughters are also eligible, provided their relationship with the VFW member predates his military service. With their inexhaustible supply of goals and members, there is no doubt that the Ladies 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 Ladies Auxiliary also has its own volunteer programs directed at VA, state, and community.
Early Historical Facts About the Ladies Auxiliary The American Veterans of Foreign Service was organized and became a national society in Columbus, Ohio on September 29th, 1899. It was chartered on October 11th of the same year. It was the parent unit to what is now called the Veterans of Foreign Wars or VFW of the United States. The eligibility requirements for it was similar to those of the current organization.
In the fall of 1903, and auxiliary of this national society was formed as an Auxiliary to Camp Lawton Post No. 1, Columbus, Ohio, and the parent unit. Approximately, there were 50 chartered members. Elected, as President was Mrs. Will S. White, wife of Major Will S. White, who served as Commander-in-Chief from 1900 to 1901. Mrs. Blake was the first Vice- President, Mrs. Grace Twaddel, Secretary, Mrs. Grace Shearer, Senior Chaplain, and Mrs. Buck; she was in charge of flags. Other members held minor offices.
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 Kanas 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 1914the 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, assisting 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:
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.
Eligibility Wives, widows, mothers, foster and stepmothers (who have performed the duties of parent), grandmothers, daughters, granddaughters, foster and stepdaughters (who attained that status prior to the age of sixteen and for whom the duties of parent were performed), sisters, half sisters, foster and stepsisters (who attained that status prior to age sixteen) of persons who were or are eligible for membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Members must be citizens of the United States and not less than sixteen years old.
Women eligible for membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States shall be eligible for dual membership in the Ladies Auxiliary.
Many of our Post members do not realize that all of these members of their families can join. Some believe that is just their wives. So, please encourage members that you know who have sisters, mothers, etc. who are not already members to join. They do not have to live within the same state as your membership to join the Ladies Auxiliary. We already have many out of state members within our own Ladies Auxiliary. Some joined here, then moved, and some were signed up by one of their family members here.
As part of a National Organization, there are several different levels to the Ladies Auxiliary. These same levels are used in our Parent Organization (the VFW) as well.
Local Auxiliaries are established as a subordinate organization to the local VFW Post. One business meeting must be held each month (some Auxiliaries hold more than one). Local officers are elected every April, and are installed later on (usually in May). The new officers assume their duties after the installation of the State (Department) President at the Department Convention (usually in June).
The National Bylaws allow for a level called the County Council, made up of all Auxiliaries within the County. Alaska does not have any County Councils, although some states do.
Each state may be broken up into Districts. Most States have Districts (but not all). Districts meet once each quarter, with the location rotating to different Posts in the District.
Districts are formed to act as a school of instruction to members. The District President acts as the liaison between the State Officers and the Local members. She visits each Auxiliary in her District each year, and insures that they carry out the business in a proper manner. But she also brings information from State, and carries the concerns of the members to the attention of the State Officers
Each District President is also considered a State Officer, since she represents her District on the State level. She sits on the State Council of Administration, which votes on the business of the State.
Any member in good standing of any Auxiliary in the District may attend the District meetings and may be a District Officer. District officers are elected at a District Convention at the spring meeting each year. The District Officers are installed at that same meeting, and assume office when the State President is installed.
State (Department) The Department holds three meetings each year, a Fall Council meeting, a Winter Council Meeting, and the State Convention in June, where the State Officers are elected and installed.
The Department Convention is the governing body of the State organization. However, between the Conventions, the
Council of Administration conducts the business of the State. Members of the Council of Administration are the State Officers, the District Presidents, and the four most recent Past Department Presidents.
Any member in good standing of any Auxiliary in the State may attend the State meetings and may run for Department Officer.
Conference The National Organization is broken down into four different Conferences. Each Conference holds two meetings per year, one in the Fall (location rotates to each state in order within that specific Conference) and one held in conjunction with the National Convention each summer one held within the National Convention. Conference Officers are elected and installed at the summer meeting.
Elected Officers of the Conference are the President, Vice President, Chaplain and Treasurer. The President appoints all other officers. The President of the Conference rotates to each state in order, so each state in that Conference has a Conference President only once in 14 years.
National To ensure that National Officers are not all from the same part of the country, each year, a Conference takes a turn in submitting candidates for National office. Therefore, once each 4 years, the National Guard will be selected from candidates from that Conference. Any member in good standing of an Auxiliary in that Conference may run for National Guard. Once elected as Guard, it is customary that they proceed up through the chairs until they serve as National President. However, according to the Bylaws, any member in good standing of an Auxiliary may run for any elected office.
Twice each year, members from all over the nation gather. Just like at the State level, the delegates to the National organization meet to promote programs, give awards and elect National officers. But in addition, they vote on proposed changes to the National Bylaws, and see special people being honored as outstanding achievers. The National President holds the Mid Year Conference in the spring each year in a location selected. The Auxiliary National Convention is held in August each year, in conjunction with the VFW National Convention, with the location being selected by the VFW Headquarters.
The National Convention is the governing body of the National organization. However, between the Conventions, the National Council of Administration conducts the business of the organization. Members of the Council of Administration are the National Officers, the National Council Members that represent each National District, and the most recent four Past National Presidents.
The VFW National Headquarters is located in Kansas City, MO, in the same building as the VFW National Headquarters. The Auxiliary National Secretary-Treasurer is located in that Headquarters office, along with a support staff and the Auxiliary Supply Department.
The VFW and Auxiliary sponsor many National and State programs which further the aims of the organization. There are awards for outstanding participation in these programs, and judging is based on reporting what we do in the programs to our State Chairman.
Many members feel that we do the work for the sake of our communities and our veterans. They are not interested in receiving awards for their efforts. However, reporting our work is an important function, since information from all units are combined into the annual Auxiliary Fact sheets which are used as a membership tool.
The following are the current National and State programs:
Americanism – This program is all about promoting patriotism. Members foster lover of America, by teaching young people, and new citizens about our heritage. Each year, Auxiliary members present flags to schools and civic clubs, hold essay contests in schools, participate in parades and other hold essay contests, hold POW / MIA awareness ceremonies, get out the vote programs, citizenship classes, etc.
Buddy Poppy – Sine 1918, this small red, inspired by the poem In Flanders Field has been adopted by veteran’s organizations around the world as reminder of what our veterans have sacrificed. Donations raised from the distribution of these flowers are used solely for the purpose of helping veterans in need.
Cancer Aid and Research – Auxiliaries raise funds for this program in many different ways. The funds raised are mostly used to pay grants to members stricken with Cancer. As a member, you are eligible for these cancer grants, in the event that Cancer strikes you. A portion of the funds raised is also awarded to research facilities, to help find a cure this dreaded disease.
Community Service – There are many ways in which our members perform community service. We make donations to other civic organizations, assist them in their programs, work with schools, local police Departments and rescue squads, Centers for the Developmentally Disabled, etc. The possibilities are endless, and new ideas are always welcome for more.
Extension – The Extension program is set up to extend our membership. It consists of starting new Auxiliaries and in working to strengthen weak ones.
Hospital – The VFW and Auxiliary supports hospitalized veterans, by visiting them at the VA Medical Centers, as well as local community hospitals and nursing homes.
Junior Girl Units – Junior Girl units are opened to Daughters and Granddaughters of members, who are between ages 5 and 16. As Junior Girls, these young ladies prepare to become the elders of tomorrow, by helping Auxiliaries in all their programs. Junior Girls are eligible for Scholarships each year, based on their participation in the organization.
Legislative – This purpose of the program is to urge our legislators to preserve veterans rights and to advocate a strong national defense.
Membership – This is where we grow our numbers. Awards are offered to Auxiliaries and to members for signing up new members each year.
Mentoring – Mentoring to new members (or newly active members) has always been done, but now it is an official program. Any member who works to teach others about the workings of the organization is a Mentor. Members are needed at all levels, to share the information we have learned over the years.
Rehabilitation - This program includes assistance to veterans who are not in hospitals or nursing homes, and to Military families. It includes financial assistance, bringing meals to shut-ins, and providing support during times of illness and bereavement. It can involve driving people to the doctor’s office or to church, mowing their lawn, helping with shopping, or any type of assistance. It also includes support for the Military, such as funding or distributing Operation Uplink cards, adopting a Unit, or providing assistance to Military families.
Scholarships – Auxiliaries offer scholarships each year to High School seniors who are children or grandchildren of members. Applications are made by February 15th each year.
Special Project – Each year, the State President designates something as her special project. This is usually something, which is especially meaningful to her.
VFW National Home for Children – This home, located in Eaton Rapids, Michigan, is the home of approximately 100 families of veterans who need a place to stay and rebuild their lives. The children attend local schools, while the parents are taught to be self-sufficient.
VFW Political Action Committee (PAC) – The VFW PAC studies the voting record of members of Congress, and publishes a list of how each voted on veteran’s issues. They don’t tell members how to vote. Their only function is to keep us informed, so that we can make informed choices based on their record.
Youth Activities - There are a variety of local and nationwide competitions where students can win scholarship money for college. These competitions include:
Voice of Democracy (VOD) – a speech writing competition, where 9th through 12th grade students write and deliver their speech on a cassette tape. A different theme is selected every year.
Patriotic Pen – where 7th through 8th grade students submit a 300 to 400 word essay.
Patriotic Art – where High School students submit original artwork.
Young Outstanding Volunteer – where young citizens who volunteer in their communities compete for national awards.
Our Post and Auxiliary holds an annual Veterans Day Essay contest, where 6th grade students are asked to write what America means to them.
As you can see, there are many ways in which we serve our community. And for each member who joins, there can be hundreds of new ideas, which can foster new programs! So please come and join us. You’re sure to find something that suites your talents.
PROGRAMS – WHY SO MANY? The VFW and Auxiliary have so many programs to keep track of. Why do we get involved in so many different programs?
The VFW and Auxiliary are made up of Veterans helping veterans, for if we don’t – who will? There are two types of assistance for veterans.
Organizations, which do positive things in the community and publicize them – grow. That’s because everyone wants to be associated with an active team, which is doing positive things.
Bust as you recruit new members; remember that the type of activities you publicize has an effect on the type of members you attract. If you want to attract members who will work in the community, you must start by being visible in the community. Let your city or town know that the VFW and Auxiliary are interested in helping those around them. When they associate you with parades, blood drives, scholarships, voter registrations, anti-drug campaigns, etc, they will think of the VFW as a place to join, and not just a place to socialize. And that builds membership!
Direct Assistance Direct assistance is provided to veterans and their families through the following programs:
VFW National Home
Legislative Assistance Legislative assistance is provided for veteran’s issues through the following programs:
POW / MIA
Membership and Extension (because a strong membership gives a strong voice when we approach our legislators)
Community Service Activities in your community is worked through the following programs:
Publicize these activities and you’ll find new members coming to you!
Tips for New Members
Each member is expected to respond to any call for relief or assistance of any member of the Auxiliary or any member of the Post who may be in need.
One rap of the gavel means stand or sit at ATTENTION (straight like a one), two raps means RISE (on your two feet). And three raps means BE SEATED (make a three point landing).
As roll call is taken, each officer should rise as his or her name is called and remain standing until the roll is complete. Then the President gives 2 raps of the gavel to seat the officers.
During a meeting, you will always rise and receive recognition before speaking, should you wish to address the President, or take part in any debate.
You are not to pass between the Altar and the President, except as the Ritual directs.
When salute is used, Heart Salute shall be used at all times. Members salute the flag by placing the palm of the right hand flat over the heart when the flag passes.
When the flag is displayed, and the National Anthem is played and / or sung, all present should face the flag and salute.
PARADE REST: This is a Military Parade Rest, where the left foot is moved to the side while bringing the arms to the small of the back. Clasp the left thumb in the right hand. The head is bowed slightly during prayer.
PROPER WAY TO RECITE THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE: (Emphasis is given to the words in capital letters) I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE to the flag of the United States of America and to the REPUBLIC for which it stands, (pause) one nation under GOD (pause), INDIVISIBLE (pause) with LIBERTY and JUSTICE FOR ALL.
No smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages during an Auxiliary meeting.
Membership dues should be paid no later than December 31st of each year in order to not jeopardize your possible need for a Cancer Grant or Cancer Insurance. However, in our Auxiliary, we encourage all members to pay their dues early, so that we can take them to the State Convention in June, and participate in the Parade of Transmittals, where Auxiliaries transmit their first dues for the new fiscal year.
All new members are urged to familiarize themselves with the National Bylaws and Ritual.
The Ladies Auxiliary VFW has an official uniform. It is a skirt, blouse, jacket, and hate made of royal blue. There is a removable pocket emblem, which can be worn on the jacket pocket or the blouse pocket. Slacks are also available in the same fabric and two different types of scarves are available with the Auxiliary emblem. Uniforms are orderable directly from the manufacturer, using the provided order forms, except for the scarves, which is available from the National Auxiliary Supply Department. Uniforms can also be ordered from the manufacturer through the National Ladies Auxiliary VFW website at: http://www.ladiesauxvfw.com
Some Auxiliaries have chosen to mix portions of the uniform, with different accessories. For example, the Auxiliary slacks. With the blouse, and a red, white, and blue vest. Or they wear the Auxiliary skirt with the white blouse, and the Auxiliary scarf. Other combinations are also used.
Members are not required to purchase or wear this uniform. Even when members purchase the uniform, there are a limited number of times and places were it is used. Here are some rules about wearing the uniform:
At Department and National Conventions – it is required if you are on the “floor team” or a line officer. Others are encouraged to wear if it is desired.
When the National President visits, and she is brought through the “Aisle of Honor”, all members of the Aisle of Honor must be in uniform.
Any time you represent the Auxiliary in the community, it is appropriate to wear, but not required.
Uniform hats should only be worn for outside events.
A WORD ABOUT
What are the Cooties?
The Military Order of the Cootie (MOC) is the Honor Degree of the VFW. The Ladies Auxiliary unit is known as the Women’s Auxiliary to the Military Order of the Cooties (MOCA). They were founded in 1920 to promote social and reunion features among the members of the order, and to keep alive the spirit of optimism and humor, so characteristic of the American servicemen and women. Today, it’s objectives of clean fun, harmless frolic, and good comradeship is the hallmarks of the Cooties.
But they’re not all fun and frolic! They have a serious side too. For example:
The Cootie’s slogan of “Keep ‘Em Smilin’ in Beds of White” refers to bringing cheer to the hospitalized veterans, whether in VA Medical Centers, community hospitals, or nursing homes. Often the Cooties visit as a Clown or other costumed character, designed to put a smile on the faces of our veterans.
The Blood Program is supported by many Cooties, where life-giving blood is donated to blood banks and hospitals nationwide.
The VFW National Home for Children was started by the Cooties in 1923, and support continues today. Each year, a Cootie Christmas Party is given under the sponsorship of the Grand of Michigan, where each child receives a personal gift. In recent years, a fire truck; a fire station and equipment have been donated to the National Home by the Cooties.
The Cooties have gathered annually for over 60 years, to pay tribute to those who answered the call of our nation at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. This event known as the “Tomb Trek”, is where the Cootie units throughout the world present wreaths.
The local organization is called the Pup Tent and the Auxiliary is the Pup Tent Auxiliary. The state level is called the Grand Auxiliary, the next level is the Supreme District Auxiliary, and the National organization is called the Supreme Auxiliary.
Only members of the Ladies Auxiliary VFW for at least six (6) months (and are at least 18 years of age) are eligible for the MOCA. This is because you should concentrate on understanding the workings of the VFW, before moving on to the Cooties.
A rule in the Cooties, which says, “We pick our company” is intended to mean that you must be invited to join the Cooties. Many Cootie units only invite members after discussion of the candidate’s worthiness with their local unit members. We find that this not only limits the new ideas brought by new members, but it also causes bad feelings of potential members. Therefore, our Auxiliary feels that any eligible Auxiliary member from our VFW Auxiliary, or from area Auxiliaries are welcome to join our local Pup Tent Auxiliary. So once you get your feet wet in the VFW, if
you would like to join our Cooties, just ask!
Membership in the Cooties Auxiliary means that you are joining another organization, and are expected not to neglect your duties as a member of the Ladies Auxiliary VFW.
WHERE CAN I
LEARN MORE? Local Post & Auxiliary Publications: Our Post maintains a web site with information about programs, our upcoming events, and us. Visit us at: http://www.vfw9785.org. Our monthly newsletter also contains information about upcoming events. Read yours and come join us for the activities.
Ritual and By-Law Book: Order a copy of the National Ritual and By-Laws book for yourself and read it through. It contains much valuable information. But remember, when you read it the first time, you may not understand all you read. Don’t worry, that’s natural. But after you’re in the Auxiliary for a while, try reading it again. You’ll understand more each time you do.
Auxiliary Meetings: Attend your Auxiliary meetings. Your President and Chairmen should be sharing information on each of the programs each month. Listen to what goes on, ask questions, and participate in a few of the activities. You’ll find that you learn by doing. And remember, every member, regardless of the length of time that they have been a member, has the same voice and the same vote in the Auxiliary.
District Meetings: At District meetings, each program is promoted. And you’ll meet sisters from other Auxiliaries who will share new ideas from their Auxiliaries. Each District meeting also has a Department (State) representative who will keep you informed about what is going on at the State and National levels.
State (Department) Meetings: Twice each year, members from around the state meet to promote programs, and share ideas. Then, in June at the State Convention, they meet again to elect officers and to give awards to Auxiliaries to recognize their participation in each of the programs. The Convention can be very inspiring to officers and members, and encourages them to reach further and do more.
National Meetings: Because of the distance involved not everyone can take the opportunity to attend the National meetings. But if you ever do have the opportunity, it would be well worth it. You’ll be caught up in the excitement, have a great time, and learn a lot about the workings of the Auxiliary.
VFW Auxiliary Magazine: As a member of the Auxiliary, you will automatically receive the VFW Auxiliary Magazine from National Headquarters. The magazine, issued six (6) times per year, contains articles, and suggestions for projects, as well as logo’d items for sale. Take the time to read each issue.
WELCOME TO OUR AUXILIARY.
THIS COMPLETES YOUR NEW MEMBER EDUCATION – BUT YOU SHOULD NEVER STOP LEARNING.