Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Post 4403, honored the 111th birthday of the VFW, Sunday, September29.

Members of the VFW and their families gathered at the post to celebrate the birthday and the history of the United States oldest veterans’ organization.

Jack Magaluzzo, the District Commander of VFW Post 4403, spoke to the Port Lavaca Wave Wednesday, Sept. 25, about the celebration and the history of the VFW.

According to the official VFW website, the origins of the group trace back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection founded the organization to help secure rights and benefits.

Magaluzzo said he watched the video of the history and added when the WWI veterans came back, they were given a 35 dollar “out pay.”

“They started forming these groups. There were about six veterans that got together...and they thought to get anything they had to start an association group,” Magaluzzo said.

Magaluzzo added the VFW started with 30,000 members and grew over time.

Today, according to the VFW Fact Sheet provided by Magaluzzo, there are 1.6 million VFW and VFW Auxiliary members and 6,160 posts worldwide.

“Through the membership, we’re able to go to Congress and tell them that these vets out there are hurt and disabled, and they should be taken care of,” Magaluzzo said.

VFW continues to help veterans and their families, serve the surrounding communities, and inform veterans about the benefits they can receive.

“Those who have been in Afghanistan and Iraq, we try to get into contact with them and tell them about the benefits that they get,” Magaluzzo said.

Magaluzzo talked about Veterans Affairs benefits ranging from medical care to educational opportunities. He said the VFW went to congress and fought to get these benefits, and added he added today they [The VFW] continue to fight for those benefits for veterans.

The VFW Fact Sheet states members contribute more than 9.4 million volunteer hours annually, and an additional $44.1 million is donated to local community projects by members.