VFW Pelican Post 1383
Klamath Falls, Oregon

515 Klamath Ave., Klamath Falls, OR 97601
(541) 882-0054

The History of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) of the United States

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States came into existence in 1913 as a result of amalgamations over a period of years since 1899 of five separate foreign service organizations that had the same ideals and similar requirements for membership. These organizations came into being entirely independent of one another and without the knowledge of one another at the time of their origin. A brief resume of these unites is as follows:

In September 1899, the ‘American Veterans of Foreign Service’ organized as a national body in Columbus, Ohio. They were chartered by the State of Ohio on October 10, 1899 and elected J. C. Putnam as their first Commander-in-Chief. They were organized through the efforts of James Romanis.

In December 1899, the ‘Colorado Society of the Army of the Philippines’ was organized in Denver, Colorado by General Irving Hale. It became the ‘National Society of the Army of the Philippines’, on August 13, 1900 with Francis V. Greene as their first Commander-in-Chief. At their Encampment in August 1909 they changed the name to ‘Army of the Philippines’ On July 7, 1901, H.O. Kelley organized the ‘Philippine War Veterans’ in Altoona, Pennsylvania. In July 1902 reorganized with C.O. Knighton as President.

In October 1901, the ‘Philippine War Veterans’ was organized at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with G.H. Smith being elected Commander. On April 27, 1902 they reorganized as ‘Foreign Service Veterans’ with Jacques La Belle as Commander. On July 24, 1902, the ‘American Veterans of Philippine and China Wars’ organized in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Captain Robert S. Hansbury.

The ‘Philippine War Veterans’-Altoona, ‘Philippine War Veterans’-Pittsburgh, and ‘American Veterans of Philippine and China Wars’-Philadelphia met together on September 10-12, 1903 in Altoona, Pennsylvania and formed the Eastern society of the ‘American Veterans of the Philippines, Cuba, Puerto Rican and China Wars’ organization. In 1903 the name was changed by plebiscite to ‘American Veterans of Foreign Service’-Eastern Branch.

During the period of September 13-15, 1905, at Altoona, Pennsylvania, the Eastern Branch of the ‘American Veterans of Foreign Service’, which was formed in 1903 at Altoona, Pennsylvania, amalgamated with the original ‘American Veterans of Foreign Service’ of Columbus, Ohio to become one society known as the ‘American Veterans of Foreign Service’. Herbert O. Kelley, of Altoona, was elected Commander.

In August, 1913, at Denver, Colorado, the ‘Army of the Philippines’ and the ‘American Veterans of Foreign Service’ united under the temporary name of ‘Army of the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico’ with Rice W. Means as the first Commander-in Chief. During the year the organization's name was changed by plebiscite and General Order No. 1 to the present day ‘Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States’.

At the Encampment in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1914, the name ‘Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States’ and a constitution were formally adopted.

On May 28, 1936, Congressional Charter incorporated the ‘Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States’.

On May 28, 1936, by an act of the United States Congress, the ‘Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States’ became a government-chartered non-profit organization.  As such, it receives no funding from United States tax receipts and is supported by charitable donations.

John S. Stewart VFW Post 1 of Denver, Colorado is the first and oldest VFW Post in existence. It was founded in 1899 by members of the First Colorado Volunteers returning from the Philippines during the Spanish American War and commanded by General Irving Hale.  The first meeting took place in the Colorado State Capitol on Dec. 1, 1899 and the organization has been meeting every month since then.
The Mission of the VFW

The Mission is to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts.  To serve our veterans, the military, and our communities. To advocate on behalf of all veterans.
The Vision of the VFW

OUR VISION: Ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country
The VFW Core Values

  • Always put the interests of our members first
  • Treat donors as partners in our cause
  • Promote patriotism
  • Honor military service
  • Ensure the care of veterans and their families
  • Serve our communities
  • Promote a positive image of the VFW
  • Respect the diversity of veteran opinions