For attendees at the 124th VFW National Convention held in Phoenix July 22-27, the daily activities focused on recognizing members for community accomplishments, hearing guest speakers address the membership, and reviewing the business operations of the one-million strong organization.
“The convention allowed us to support VFW and Veterans, and also provided the opportunity to interact and hear about Veterans’ experiences with TriWest.” – Glenn Gray, TriWest Director of Customer Care & Community Relations
More than 10,000 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) members and VFW Auxiliary members participated in sessions and meetings, and explored the health fair and exhibitor stands in the convention hall.
VFW National Commander Tim Borland set the tone for the convention, citing VFW’s “remembrance and commemoration of the duty and responsibility to past and living warriors, the camaraderie and goals of expanding the membership, and the deep reverence for the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.”
Borland guided the sessions through the daily agendas, introducing presenters and announcing recognitions and awards for accomplishments by numerous VFW members and posts.
During a memorial service for Gold Star Families of Service Members who paid the ultimate sacrifice, Borland observed, “The highest tribute this organization can render them is the most profound respect, and all of us can demonstrate and apply to our own lives their strong faith and undaunted courage.”
Understanding VA Priorities
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough, during his keynote address, highlighted the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) priorities. He emphasized VA’s efforts to partner with VFW in helping to make Veterans aware of the Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022 and encouraging applications for screenings and benefits.
“We have processed more than 10,000 claims through the PACT Act website,” McDonough noted. “VFW is an awesome advocate for Veterans,” he told the gathering.
VA staffed a walk-in PACT Act Claims Clinic during the convention for the membership that included on-site intake and processing staff.
An additional key VA initiative is suicide prevention – whereby one million calls, texts and messages have been received by the Veterans Crisis Line, McDonough explained.
Other VA initiatives McDonough outlined during his presentation included advancing the program to end Veteran homelessness. In 2022 VA helped 40,401 Veterans to become permanently housed. “This year we will have another 38,000 Veterans housed,” he reported.
TriWest’s VFW Partnership
Triwest Healthcare Alliance (TriWest) was a corporate sponsor of the VFW National Convention as well as an exhibitor. Rear Admiral Terry Moulton (USN Ret.), TriWest Senior Advisor to the President and CEO, also addressed the membership in the main convention hall.
Moulton recounted TriWest’s long partnership with VFW as a company committed to supporting Veterans.
“Our connection with VFW over the years and interaction with your members and leadership has ensured we remain focused on the needs of the Veterans we serve through our partnership with VA.”
Moulton presented a corporate contribution made to the VFW Unmet Needs program and National Veterans Service mission.
He discussed TriWest’s role in building and maintaining the network of community care medical providers and facilities in 14 states and three U.S. Territories in the Pacific that make up VA Community Care Network (CCN) Regions 4 and 5.
Glenn Gray, TriWest Director of Customer Care & Community Relations, managed TriWest’s exhibit and met with Veterans throughout the convention. “The convention allowed us to support VFW and Veterans, and also provided the opportunity to interact and hear about Veterans’ experiences with TriWest,” Glenn said. “That helps us provide better service and support.”
VFW Mission and Role
In addition to the many speakers during the convention, awards, including the Distinguished Service and VFW Gold Medal of Merit, were presented honoring the Veterans.
VFW is a congressionally chartered Veteran service organization of eligible combat Veterans and military service members from all six branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. Its mission is to foster camaraderie among Veterans of overseas conflicts, advocate on behalf of them and help recognize Veterans for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made.
VFW helps Veterans receive VA benefits, assists military families in crisis, connects Veterans and service members with scholarships, and much more. There are more than 5,000 VFW posts worldwide.
The VFW Foundation works in tandem to support Service Members, Veterans and families. During the convention, its new leader, Lisa Moronio, Executive Director, discussed the foundation’s work to serve Veterans and their families, enhancing life outcomes and empowering them to reach their potential, through scholarships.