The VFW 'Leadership' Tries To Avoid Responsibility for the Endorsement Scandal That Threatens the Organization's Future

In the wake of the tsunami of protests from its members over the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) endorsement of a slew of anti-military incumbents, the VFW’s “leadership” has issued a new statement trying to calm the furor and, in doing so, has further embarrassed itself. You see, to them, the problem isn’t that the VFW allowed its good name to be tarred by supporting candidates like the one who literally partied with Hanoi Jane Fonda.

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No, the problem is that you, the veterans, are just too stupid to understand how it’s not the leadership’s fault that this happened on their watch:


The angry tone and tenor of the telephone calls and messages being received at national headquarters make it clear that many of our members are not cognizant of the fact that VFW National By-Laws clearly stipulate that the VFW Commander-in-Chief is not authorized to direct or otherwise attempt to introduce his control over the VFW PAC. Furthermore, no membership dues or donations made to the VFW or VFW Foundation are used for the VFW PAC.

As you know, the recent endorsements by the PAC are the subject of much controversy. Unfortunately, many questions have been raised regarding VFW’s involvement in the endorsement process and the integrity of the organization as a whole. Regrettably, many of our members and supporters are disappointed and have misdirected their anger toward the VFW as having lost its purpose.

Comrades, we cannot sit idly by while a great organization is being disparaged and maligned, even unintentionally. It is vitally important that you take a direct role in alleviating this current flood of criticism by reminding members and supporters that:

— The VFW PAC was created by the VFW members and not by VFW national leaders. 2/3 of the delegates of the 80th VFW National Convention (1979) voted to establish PAC as a standing committee.

— VFW By-Laws stipulate that VFW leadership does not direct PAC activities and that the VFW convention is the governing body of the organization. As such, it is only the delegates at the convention that can determine the continuation of the PAC.

— Encourage VFW members to get involved in their VFW Posts and to exercise and further direct their concerns to convention delegates so that there can be an informed debate on the existence of the PAC.

If I know my vets, they are plenty “cognizant” of when they are being fed a bunch of crap.

As a civilian lawyer, I make a living dealing with people trying to dodge responsibility, and this lame attempt at shifting the blame away from the VFW leadership is so inept and transparent that I’m professionally embarrassed. Frankly, the lowliest ambulance chaser pushing a whiplash case can formulate a more convincing story.

But as a veteran who commanded an Army cavalry squadron, the notion that anyone purporting to be in a position of command (and they call themselves “commanders”) would ever figuratively shrug his shoulders and say “Well, it’s not my fault” disgusts me to the core of my being.

A commander is responsible for everything his or her command does or fails to do – period, end of story. Maybe these “leaders” have been out of the Service so long that they have forgotten this sacred principle, but I doubt it – the vets they purport to lead sure haven’t.

At best, the leadership was derelict in performing its duty to police the use of the VFW’s good name. If the “By-Laws stipulate that VFW leadership does not direct PAC activities,” then the leadership failed to amend the by-laws to ensure they could protect the organization from an embarrassment that, frankly, threatens the VFW’s future viability. That’s unforgivable – the VFW does tremendous work in our communities supporting veterans new and old, and to put that at risk as part of a Washington, D.C., power ploy is inexcusable.

They continue the tap dance, having miraculously (and conveniently) discovered an ability to affect the situation after all:

That is a future process. But, as indicated, we also have an immediate necessity on the recent PAC endorsements. VFW’s values and guiding principles aren’t grounded in a desire to participate in partisan policies in political activities. As veterans of foreign wars, we gave substantially more of ourselves than most to ensure the viability and the integrity of our great democratic process. However, our recent endorsement process unintentionally provided favoritism to the incumbents. It is now evident it was unfairly skewed and actually subverted that process.

As determined in the VFW By-Laws, as the national officers, we have specific responsibilities to take definitive action when events can have a detrimental impact on the organization. It is clear to us that the current situation now demands direct action; therefore, we are requesting the chairman and the directors of the Political Action Committee immediately rescind their endorsement actions.

We also want to stress this request means no endorsement for any Congressional candidate.

So, not only have they failed at their most basic task – leading the organization – but they have demonstrated a contempt for the members with their sorry excuses while showing no sign that they understand the nature of the problem.

The vets are not mad because “our recent endorsement process unintentionally provided favoritism to the incumbents.” They aren’t even mad because some of the endorsees are Democrats. While I would never vote for a Democrat except at gunpoint – and even then I’d take the caliber into consideration first – there are Democrats who have served with honor and support our troops who may deserve an endorsement. The vets are furious because candidates with a proven track record of contempt for our military are waving the members’ VFW symbol and using it to inoculate themselves from accountability for their anti-troop votes.

Once again, a woman who let Hanoi Jane raise funds for her is carrying around the VFW’s endorsement. Think about that. What is the thought process that allowed the VFW’s endorsement end up in her ads?

VFW Flack A: “Hey, what says ‘friend of the troops’ better than ‘friend of Jane Fonda?”

VFW Flack B: “Nothing – except maybe if Code Pink called her ‘our beloved Barbara Boxer!'”

VFW Flack A: “Oh, that would be sweet! Now we definitely need to make sure she’s got the VFW’s stamp of approval. After all, nothing shows support for the troops better than hanging out with folks who want to see them defeated!” (Disclosure: I am listed as a “Veteran for Carly Fiornia” but I have taken no active part in the campaign)

So, what is your excuse, VFW leadership?

Of course, that’s a trick question. Military men and women neither make nor accept excuses. And there is none for this travesty.

So, now their damage control plan is to politely request that the organization that they allowed to use the VFW name “immediately rescind their endorsement actions.” That’s a good start – gee, I guess they do have some control after all when they want to. But they need to do more. They need to resign.

Feel free to tell them yourself.


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