An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
The VFWtraces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations to secure rights and benefits for their service: Many arrived home wounded or sick. There was no medical care or veterans' pension for them,and they were left to care for themselves.
In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formed organizations with what would become known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movement quickly gained momentum. By 1915, membership grew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000.
Since then, the VFW's voice had been instrumental in establishing the Veterans Administration, creating a GI bill for the 20th century, the development of the national cemetery system and the fight for compensation for Vietnam vets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, VFW won a long-fought victory with the passing of a GI Bill for the 21st Century, giving expanded educational benefits to America's active-duty service members, and members of the Guard and Reserves, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical centers services for women veterans.
Besides helping fund the creation of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service memorials, the VFW in 2005 became the first veterans' organization to contribute to building the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in November 2010.
Annually, the nearly 2 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliaries contribute more than 8.6 million hours of volunteerism in the community, including participation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week.
From providing over $3 million in college scholarships and savings bonds to students every year, to encouraging elevation of the Department of Veterans Affairs to the president's cabinet, the VFW is there.
"That the purpose of this Corporation shall be fraternal, patriotic, historical, charitable, and educational: to preserve and strengthen comradeship among its members; to assist worthy comrades; to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead; and to assist their widows and orphans; to maintain true allegiance to the Government of the United States of America, and fidelity to its Constitution and laws; to foster true patriotism; to maintain and extend the institutions of American freedom, and to preserve and defend the United States from all her enemies."
Post: 8834 Hartford
Mike earned his eligibility for the VFW as a Combat Engineer in Vietnam. He has been a VFW member since 1989 and has held all line officer positions on Post level; Served as State Loyalty Day Chairmen, State Scholarship Chairmen, State Jr. Vice Commander, State Senior Vice Commander and in June of this year was sworn in as State Commander.
Mike's extensive post-military experience in the insurance industry, combined with an entrepreneurial venture as a small businessman, has helped him hone a sharp sense of organization and leadership. He never asks anyone to do anything he wouldn't do, and motivates in the most positive way possible.
In addition to his VFW activities, Commander Eggleston is also a life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, The Cooties, United Vietnam Veterans and the American Legion. He also serves on the Washington County Veterans Service Officers Advisory Committee and the Town of Erin Veterans Monument Committee.
Mike Eggleston likes to get things done in a positive, upbeat manner. We can all take a lesson from that attitude!
"Trapper" John, is a 28 year, US Army Veteran, with 25 months Service in Viet Nam with the 5th Special Forces Group, Central Highlands and was attached to the 1st Cav and the 1st Signal Brigade. He retired from active duty in December 2000 as a Senior Logistic NCO.
John joined Plover Post 10262 in 2005, and served as Post Commander for five years, earning All State Team status for five years, two of them as All State Team Captain. The post also earned National Outstanding Community Service Award two years in a row. He was the 7th District Commander for three years and a National Aide De Camp, National Deputy Chief of Staff, and served on the VFW's National Securities and National Defense Committee, and was the Dept Community Service Committee Chair.
Today he is our Assistant Department Service Officer and Office Manager for the VFW Service Office in Milwaukee. You will also find him in our National Award winning State Honor Guard.
John is a dedicated Officer of the VFW who stands for equality and honesty for all our Veterans, young and old, male and female, and believes that all Posts, Auxiliaries and brother Veterans Service Organizations should "Stand Together" and work together to serve our Communities and all the Veterans of our great Nation while promoting the best programs of Americanism we can.
Post: 1318 Madison
State Jr Vice Commander
Gundel Metz was a Chemical Operations NCO in Korea, 1988-89, where she earned her eligibility for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which she joined in 1997. Since becoming a VFW Member, Gundel has taken on leadership roles with ease and determination. She was an All-State and All-American Post Commander, served with distinction as a County Council and District Commander, was our State Surgeon for five years, State Awards Chair, State Recorder, State Employment Chair, State Homeless Veteran Chair, held various District chairmanships and has served her Post as Quartermaster for seven years!
The bulk of these prestigious successes occurred while Gundel held down a full-time administrative position with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA)! When Gundel Metz takes on a task she is single-minded in her goal-orientation. As she moves through the ranks toward Commandership, Gundel is focused on the things that will make our VFW the organization it was born to be. "I want", she says, "to identify and put into practice those things that allow us to best merge the interests of our established members with those that have earned their eligibility in the last 15 years. I want us to diversify those interests to include all generations." The best way to do this, she believes, is to "Bring the VFW back to the basics of working in our communities and taking care of our veterans and their families."
Post: 1621 Janesville
Tom Heath's eligibility for the VFW is the Korean Defense Medal, awarded for his service with the Military Police. He joined the VFW in 2007 and is a Past Post Commander and Past Pup Tent 9 Seam Squirrel.
In civilian life Tom has broad business experience as a banker and club manager. He is detail-oriented, a good communicator and dedicated to the job of keeping our Department on budget and on time in all we do. He is there to serve the needs of the organization and help Posts stay on track.
Ask Tom what we can do to make the VFW better, and the answer comes back in a typical short, sweet answer: "Step Up and Serve!"
Post: 1318 Madison
Joe Hines, a Life Member of Post 1318, Madison, earned his VFW eligibility serving in Iraq in his capacity as a Chemical Corps Officer (2003-04). That tour was just one duty station over a 24-year career as a US Army Officer. (Before that career, Joe had also spent 2 years as a Marine Infantryman.)
He retired from the Army and moved back to his home state of Wisconsin, settling in Madison and joining Lt. Marion C Cranefield Post 1318 in 2011. He is currently his Post's Jr Vice Commander, Legislative Chair, and Director of Post Public Affairs.
Joe is a credit to his Post, and brings to his State Adjutant position great administrative experience and a reputation for clear and helpful communications with his comrades. "My goal", he states, "is to further Veterans Programs and to keep our Military strong and capable by supporting their families here at home."
Post: 7308 Pleasant Prairie
A Lifetime, Charter member of Pleasant Prairie VFW Post 7308 and also member of Cootie Pup Tent 23, Phil Allen is a U.S. Navy Veteran who gained VFW eligibility by serving in Chu-lai, Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. He served as State Chief of Staff for the 2014-15 year under State Commander John Giese, before fulfilling a longtime interest in serving as State Chaplain.
On the personal side, Phil is a member of First Christian Church in Bristol, WI where he serves as Chairman of the Buildings and Grounds team and actively assists in worship services.
Phil Allen is dedicated in his service. As he says, "My faith in God, country, family and the VFW are my priorities." He has served as Chaplain on many occasions.
Post: 1866 Marshfield
State Judge Advocate
Bill "Knoot" Knudson earned his place in the VFW in Vietnam in 1965-66 with the 41st and 39th Signal Battalions in Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau.
After service, Knoot had a successful career in broadcast sales, management and ownership from New York to California and New England. He and his wife, Marla Morgan, moved back to her home state of Wisconsin in 1992, settling in Marshfield where he became a Life Member of Mueller-Hintz VFW Post 1866.
Bill has been a Post Commander and Quartermaster, ran the District offices, including two terms as Commander (All-State in 2006-07.) He has helmed the Department's Web operations since 2007, edited the WI VFW News for several years, was Chief of Staff for Gary Erickson 2008-09, and elected Judge Advocate in 2009, a position he loves and has held since.
"My brief time in service taught me a lot, and changed me a lot... for the better!", he says. "I am grateful that the VFW gives me a chance to put my experience and skills to work for great Comrades." He is still motivated by Past CiC Jim Mueller's admonition to dedicate your time in the VFW to a Comrade who never came home. "That's a powerful, personal, motivation for me. I believe to my core that we truly Honor the Dead by Helping The Living."
"Of course", he adds, "it doesn't hurt if we can do that with a smile and a laugh from time to time. Lord knows we need the humor and camaraderie!"
Post: 1879 Ft Atkinson
Ken Kleman was an Army Combat Medic deployed to Iraq, making him eligible for the VFW. He joined Fort Atkinson Post 1879 in 2012, quickly taking on responsibilities there. He is his Post's Junior Vice Commander and serves on the Bar Committee. He is also a member of the State VFW News Committee.
He is also active in his Community, teaching motorcycle rider training courses as an example. Ken has a passion for his work in the medical community and loves being involved with the VFW. "Being State Surgeon", he says "gives me the opportunity to be involved in all the things I love, and with the people I caremost about. It's the best of all worlds!"
Post: 1904 Fond du Lac
State Chief of Staff
Steve is an Army Veteran where he served in the Military Police, Supply & Logistics, and the Infantry. His eligibility comes from his deployments in Desert Storm ('90-'91) and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003-'04 and again in 2009-'10. He is a retired Army Reservist.
His VFW resume is long and noteworthy: Member (now Colonel of) our State Honor Guard; Student Veterans Liaison; Department Quartermaster; Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans National Committee Member; Post Commander; Military Assistance Program National Committee Member; and State Recruiter.
Steve's loyalty, attention to detail, ability to deal with all manner of situations, willingness to help his comrades and calm demeanor are all big assets as he helps Commander Eggleston guide our Department through the year.
Post: 6352 Stratford
Norbert Lee earned his VFW eligibility serving in Vietnam as an Army as an Aircraft Rotor & Prop Repairman. He joined Stratford VFW Post 6352 as a Life Member in 2002, and has been an active participant ever since, serving as his Post's Adjutant, Quartermaster, Commander and Trustee. He was an excellent 7th District Commander, and currently serves the District as Judge Advocate.
Because he is exceptionally diligent in keeping track of the details in everything he does, he was appointed State Inspector in 2015 and continues doing a great job today.
Norbert has always been a hard worker, and that shines through in everything he does in the VFW. He dedicates many hours to various VFW projects at his Post, District and as Inspector. He's a remarkable resource for Quartermasters and Commanders when they have problems in Post Operations. As Norbert says, "We set our goals high to help us be the best we can be."
Post: 2778 Appleton
Past State Commander
Our immediate Past State Commander, Mike Borg, joined Appleton Post 2778 just two years after returning from his 1967-68 tour of duty with the USAF in Vietnam as a Missile Guidance Technician.
Since joining, Mike has accumulated a prestigious resume of VFW offices and chairmanships at his Post, District and Department level, including 9 years as State Judge Advocate, and even a run through the chairs of the MOC Grand of Wisconsin, which he served as Grand Commander in 2012. Mike won All-State Honors as both a Post and District Commander, and was instrumental in starting our Officer Training program in Wisconsin.
Mike believes strongly in the mission of the VFW and his invaluable experience as Past Commander and his other posts within the organization allow him to contribute his ideas and suggestions to the Department's leadership team.
Post: 7308 Pleasant Prairie
District 1 Commander
Randolph Strickland, Sr, is a life member of Pleasant Prairie VFW Post 7308 and a Navy Veteran. His Navy rating was Machinists Mate. He joined the VFW in 1984.
Randy gained his eligibility for the VFW by way of service in Vietnam, Beirut, Lebanon and the Persian Gulf.
He been Commander VFW Post 7308 2 Years; All State Post Commander (twice); All American Post Commander, District 1 Commander (twice); Men's Auxiliary State Chairman; State Buddy Poppy Chairman; State Membership Chairman; and twice named a National Aide de Camp.
His love of the VFW reflects his strong motivation to serve his comrades. As he says, "My efforts on behalf of the VFW are my way to continue to serve my fellow Veterans."
Post: 7591 Madison
District 2 Commander
Ken Cammer is an Air Force Viet Nam Vet & Thailand (1975) Veteran who served as an Aircraft maintenance specialist F4E Crew Chief, and worked in Maintenance Control, Plans & Scheduling. He joined the VFW in 1975, and is currently a Life Member of Madison-Day Post 7591. Ken is the Post's Sr Vice Commander and serves on the House Committee. He served all three years as a Post Trustee and has been Post Judge Advocate.
He is presently serving his third term as District Commander, and was named an All-State District Commander last year. Also at District, Ken has been Chief of Staff, Inspector, National Home Chair. He is also active in the Military Order of the Cootie, and was formerly the Dane County Council's Quartermaster.
It's fair to say Ken Cammer puts a lot of energy into his duties in the VFW.
Post: 10533 Shullsburg
District 3 Commander
John's eligibility was earned during his deployment as a Combat Support and Equipment Engineer with the Army during the Gulf War. He joined theVFW in 1991 and is a Life Member of Schullsburg Post 10533.
John is a Past Post Commander, VOD and Patriots Pen Chair, and Post Chief of Staff. He is a hard-working District Commander and wants to help his Posts achieve their potential and grow.
John Walker is an exemplary leader. He has the best interests of his Comrades in mind, encourages all to try new things and do their best, and can be firm when the situation calls for it. Above all, he is an optimist!
District 4 Commander
Bob Bolz was a Sonar Operator (Anti Submarine Warfare) in the US Navy and earned his eligibility for the VFW when he served in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In 1976 he joined the VFW and is a Life Member of Post 1691, Milwaukee. He has been both a Post Commander and a Quartermaster, served as 5th District Commander, Competitions Committee Chair, Co-Chair of the State Resolutions Committee, News Committee Chair, served on the Finance Committee, was a long-time Voice of Democracy Chairman, was National Aide de Camp several times, a National Deputy Chief of Staff, and State Chief of Staff for Commander Renee Simpson. He has also served as a member of the National VFW Programs Committee. He is also an active member of the Military Order of the Cootie.
Bob holds a Bachelors Degree from the Milwaukee School of Engineering and has traveled extensively internationally in his capacity as Purchasing Executive for major Milwaukee Heavy Equipment Manufacturers. His experience is very valuable on our State Council of Administration and he brings a professional touch to his dealings with Posts.
Post: 9156 Sheboygan
District 6 Commander
Ken Hemenway was an Electronics technician in the US Navy and earned his eligibilty in the Dominican Republic campaign. He joined the VFW in 2002 and is a Life Member of Post 9156, Sheboygan,where he has been Post Jr. Vice and Commander.
He has held numerous appointments in the District and is active at Department level as well. Ken is very approachable and enjoys working with his Comrades at all levels.
Post: 1638 Merrill
District 7 Commander
Bio in Process
District 8 Commander
Bio in Process
District 9 Commander
Rolland Shearer joined the VFW in 2011 but brought plenty of life experience with him to the organization. He's a life member of Post 8514, Osseo.
Rolland earned his eligibility for the VFW through his Army service in Vietnam as a Vietnamese Linguist / Interpreter assigned to combat patrol with the First Infantry Division (Big Red One). Here is someone who honed listening and language skills under intense pressure. These are valuable skills to carry through life.
Rolland is completing a stint as a Post Trustee, and took on the task of District Commander this year when it mattered most and has already demonstrated that he listens, thinks and follows-through like a champion.
District 10 Commander
Steve Rhode is a US Army Veteran trained in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare. He has served in Korea, Germany and Iraq (Desert Storm), earning his eligibility for the VFW, which he joined in 1985. He is a Life Member of Post 8637, Eagle River, where he has done an outstanding job as Post Commander and long-time Post Quartermaster. He has also been a District Trustee and Vice Commander.
Steve enjoys his work in the VFW at all levels, and looks forward to one day move on to a Department office. He is intent on continuing to serve Veterans in any way he can.
District 11 Commnder
Wayne Woodman is a Life Member of General R. B. McCoy Post 2112, Sparta, since 1994.
He is a US Army Food Service specialist and earned his VFW Eligibility serving in both Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. He's held Post Junior and Senior Vice Commander posts, is now District Commander, and has done a great job as Post, District and Department VOD/Patriots Pen Chair for several years.
Wayne is also very active in the Military Order of the Cootie and is on his way up the chairs of Wisconsin Grand leadership.