Monday, September 29, 2014

Membership: How to Reach Our Goal

Tami Elliott
Membership Ambassador

Fall is here, and we have lots to accomplish. Our goal is challenging, but we can get there if we work smart. Over the last three years, we have lost close to 50,000 members. We can make up that loss if only 10,000 members recruit five (5) new members each – yes, just five (5) new members from a dedicated core of 10,000! This is not that hard! We have to show others that it can be done and how to do it. Make no mistake - we are in the sales business. We have a service, and the public is not beating our doors down to buy what we have. If we don’t go out there and make a pitch, nothing is going to happen.

How do we do it?

Know who you are going to talk to
•    Make a list of all the people you know who might be eligible and then work your list.
•    Attend functions that may have eligible prospects and compile their contact info.
•    Network with friends, family, co-workers, and church members. Ask everyone if they know any potential members.

Know what you are going to say
•    Practice your "elevator speech." In 30 seconds, you should be able to concisely give someone an overview of what we do and why it is so important. A sample elevator speech is below:

The Ladies Auxiliary VFW is the nation’s oldest veterans’ service organization and our members are the female relatives of those who have served in overseas combat. We have 475,000 members representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia who volunteer millions of hours and give thousands of dollars to support veterans, military service personnel and their families.

Some of the ways members offer support are by assembling and mailing care packages to active-duty troops, holding send-off and welcome-home events for troops, spreading the word about PTSD, visiting veterans in VA Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Veterans Homes, offering youth scholarships and educating youth about the American Flag. The Ladies Auxiliary VFW also funds cancer research. With more than 4,000 Auxiliaries, there is likely one in your area working to improve the lives of America’s uncommon heroes.

Know what we are offering
•    How do our efforts affect the veterans?
•    What difference do we make?
•    What is in it for a new member? Be SPECIFIC.
(Check out the Member Benefits Brochure from National Headquarters for specific benefits).
•    Give concrete examples.
•    Make it real for the prospect.

Close the sale
•    Always ASK them to join. If you don’t ask, you have lost a golden opportunity.
•    Get them to sign on the dotted line.
•    Put the application out on the table, chair, purse, window ledge, etc.
•    Say to them, “Just sign here.” Have a pen ready.

Ask for referrals
•    “Do you know any of your friends or family who could benefit from our services? Great, can I get their number?”


•    Send a handwritten thank-you. (This is really important!)
•    Call and ask if they have any questions prior to their first meeting.
•    Sit with them at their first meeting and introduce them to Auxiliary members.
•    Answer any questions that they may have following their first meeting.
•    Deliver what you promise - more if possible!

Do not forget to send in your National Membership Achievement awards!!! 
The first award will be given in October 2014!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Legislative: November 4 - Who's on the Ballot?

Kathy Schreiber
Legislative Ambassador

United States Senate:
33 of 100 seats; 3 midterm vacancies

United States House of Representatives: 
All 435 seats representing the 50 U.S. states;
Non-voting delegates from the District of Columbia;
Four U.S. territories: Guam, American Samoa, U.S. Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

36 states and three territories

Local Elections:
Mayors, city councilmen, superintendents, county executives, comptrollers, and many more local positions. 

In this Midterm election year all elections matter.

National political parties and the national media devote a large portion of advertising on the House and Senate candidates. This is partly a question of resources: it's a lot easier for a news organization to cover national politics than local politics. This midterm election includes 36 six states who are choosing who will be their next governor and that matters for state politics; decisions around infrastructure, education, and criminal justice policy. The decisions around zoning, occupational licensing, and the management of many public services are made at the local level.

My point? State and local elections are important! Decisions made at the State and local levels can be as consequential as the federal government. Historically, turnout is low in state and local elections, so take time to learn about the candidates and what office they are running for in your state and city. Encourage members to remember…all elections matter.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hospital Program: Change of Weather means Change of Need

Grace Matz
Hospital Ambassador

The weather is changing, which means the needs of our hospitalized veterans are also changing. Most will spend more time inside, so they could probably use some activities to help pass the time. Some good ideas are:
  • Puzzles
  • Books
  • Crafts
  • Card/Board Games
Please check with the medical facility as to the needs of their patients/residents. Do they need hats, gloves, and warmer clothes? 

A great way to get the word out to your members is to create an “e-mail tree." Remember when we used a “phone tree” to spread information? With technology, we can get the job done even faster. You won’t have to wait for that promotion – you can collect e-mail addresses and let everyone know with the push of a button.

I hope you have checked out to get more information about the Hospitalized Veteran’s Writing Program.
Remember to check with your Chief of Voluntary Services to make sure you follow the guidelines. Also, any article submitted must have a release form signed by the veteran.

The holidays will be here before we know it! Now is the time to start planning and scheduling your events. I’m sure there’s at least one person you know who has lots of creative ideas. Start working now on making holiday decorations – Halloween, Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are right around the corner. Even something as simple as a tray favor when their meal is served would be a treat for that veteran. Need some inspiration? Check out our Pinterest page for ideas!

Our program includes ALL medical facilities, so let’s remember we have veterans and their family members in nursing homes, too.
I encourage you to contact your local nursing home and ask how you could volunteer there. Even an hour or two a week could make a big difference. I’m sure you will find veterans and family members of veterans who would be so grateful to know they have not been forgotten or overlooked.

And last but not least, let’s remember to thank our veterans for their service and sacrifice. Because of them, we enjoy the many freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Americanism: Get Your Auxiliary Involved in Fall Causes

Joyce Bilyeu
Americanism Ambassador

I hope you’re all enjoying spreading patriotism throughout our wonderful country. America needs us now more than ever to unite together as one voice in promoting the Americanism Program. There are several opportunities this fall to get involved and spread patriotism.

Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month
Remember that we are to recognize the entire month of September as Military Suicide Awareness Month. To show those in our communities that we care and to promote awareness, members are to wear a teardrop sticker every day of the month to represent the millions of tears shed for every service member lost to suicide. The teardrop sticker template is available for download on the National Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars website. NOTE: If you are concerned for a veteran please refer them to the Veterans Crisis Line at: 1-800-273-8255.

Gold Star Mother’s Day

September is also the month to honor our Gold Star Mothers. On June 23, 1936, a joint congressional resolution was designated to have the last Sunday in September as Gold Star Mothers' Day. A gold star symbolizes a family member who died in the line of duty while serving the United States Armed Forces.

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month  

There is so much in the news lately regarding the NFL and Domestic Violence & Child Abuse. Domestic Violence is wide spread and does not only touch the NFL. When our troops return home, some of the most difficult battles are just beginning. This is why it is so important to provide continued assistance to veterans and their families. Be proactive, and spread awareness of these potential struggles. Be aware of the resources that are available to assist veterans and their families such as:

Smart/Maher National Citizenship Education Teacher Award

The VFW annually recognizes the nation’s top classroom elementary, junior high and high school teachers who teach citizenship education topics regularly and promote America’s history and traditions effectively. Teachers who are prime candidates for this award promote civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism.

Examples of Activities from Award-Winning Teachers:

  • Field trips to city hall
  • Community volunteer projects
  • Visits by veterans to discuss their military experiences
  • Special projects that foster the development of democratic values and beliefs.
How the Contest Works:
Based on the nominees submitted, VFW Posts and Auxiliaries will recognize one outstanding teacher in grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Posts then submit their winning names to their District-level judging. From there, the selected winners are forwarded to the Department level. Once they are judged on a Department level, the winners are passed along to VFW National Headquarters for the national contest. For more information, instructions for nomination and nomination forms, visit:

Keep up the good work and remember “Patriotism Begins at Home”.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cancer Aid & Research: Working Together to Get the Job Done

Patricia Kemp
Cancer Aid & Research Ambassador

"The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have." - Unknown

That describes most of our VFW Ladies Auxiliaries. Working with fewer members, less funds and more requirements, but they work together and get the job done. That is why we can achieve extraordinary heights!

Speaking of achieving heights…the winners of the Cancer bracelets are:

  • Hawaii
  • Arkansas
  • Maryland
Congratulations! They were given out at Madam National President Ann’s Homecoming.    
The fall weather gives us renewed energy and refreshes our thought process. We can focus on raising funds for cancer and meeting the $2 per/member goal. Don’t forget that each Department will receive 15% of all funds (sent to National) if they meet the $2 per/member goal.

Getting the word out about our Postdoctoral Fellowship is a must.
This is a two-year $100,000 Postdoctoral Cancer Research Fellowship. My dream is that the 2014-2015 Research Fellowship winner will be the one to find a cure, for one of the many types of cancer. Click here to review the requirements and application.

There are great plans being made for Cancer Free Celebrations, by Departments and Auxiliaries. What better way to show our love for our members, our Veteran's families, and our communities, than through a Celebration of Life?

Department Chairman – Please review page 25 of the “Patriotism Begins at Home” Program Book. Have you reviewed the awards?

Auxiliaries – Have you given or shown your members the danger signs of cancer? Teaching the proper way of self examination and the importance of doctor visits just may save a life. Each Auxiliary member is very valuable and precious.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chief of Staff/Extension: Marketing & Mentoring

Vivian Bernotas
Chief of Staff/Extension

  • Marketing – every successful business must market their product – that includes publicity, newspaper ads, posters, business cards, emails, etc. Do you have your marketing plan in place? Individual members and Auxiliaries on all levels should have a plan. Not sure where to start? Check out the Publicity Guide from National Headquarters for assistance.
  • Establishing new Auxiliaries does not simply mean submitting the necessary paperwork. It also includes nurturing these Auxiliaries and assisting the members as they build a solid foundation for their Auxiliary. With guidance and leadership – early on – our new Auxiliaries will flourish and grow! “Be the reason someone smiles today!”
  • Mentor“an experienced and trusted advisor; to advise or train someone.” Each one of us is a mentor and we may not even realize it. Team mentoring can be fun – utilize the talents and knowledge in your Departments; don’t forget Past Department Presidents and others that have served on the National Level. Look to members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars - they are mentors also.  

Don't Forget...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Veterans & Family Support: Operation Changing Lives

Leona McDermott
Veterans & Family Support Ambassador


VFW Commander-in-Chief John Stroud and Ladies Auxiliary VFW National President Ann Panteleakos are joining forces during the 2014-2015 year to support the VFW’s premier program: National Veterans Service (NVS).

The goal? To raise $1 million for the program.

Here are updated details on how the funds will be used:
Operating Changing Lives is the joint program conceived by National Commander- in- Chief John Stroud and National President Ann Panteleakos.  Both national leaders are focused on doing everything possible to help not just recently discharged veterans but deserving veterans of every generation. As the military begins to dramatically downsize our military forces, we need to shift our focus and resources exponentially to assist the increasing number of separating service members.

The Veterans Service Office program is the foundation that the VFW and its Auxiliary was built upon and defines us most as advocacy organizations.  The effort to support Operation Changing Lives is vital to expanding and maintaining a program that reaches virtually every generation of veteran as well as their families. The dollars raised will be used exclusively for the training or hiring of veterans to work in a BDD or other Service Officer Capacity for the purpose of providing essential services, as well as helping with expanding Benefits Delivery at Discharge sites (BDD sites), located on select U.S. military bases around the country. BDD educates service members regarding VA or other entitlements they are eligible for upon transitioning to civilian life. BDD Service Officers also assist in initiating VA claims. The information and/or assistance service members receive at BDD sites could help immediately upon discharge, or conceivably many years into the future, whenever the need may arise.

Rest assured, your efforts in supporting this important initiative will help provide veterans and their families a path toward securing educational benefits, VA compensation, medical care and family services and ultimately helping those who deserve it most live a full and productive life-something that our veterans have earned and deserve.
Please consider donating to Operation Changing Lives because that's what we do, change the lives of our veterans and their families in a positive way.              
Donations may be sent to:
VFW National Headquarters
Attn: Operation Changing Lives
406 W. 34th St., Kansas City, MO 64111