National VFW Auxiliary President Visits Rexburg

See the following newspaper article website regarding the VFW Auxiliary President Francisca Guilford visit to Idaho.

Rexburg couple represents Idaho at VFW convention

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — A Rexburg couple traveled recently to Philadelphia and heard President Barack Obama speak at a national convention.

Bob Jones, the past state commander and legislative committee member of the Department of Idaho of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and his wife, Carmelita, department president of the Ladies Auxiliary, recently represented Idaho at the 116th National Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Pittsburgh.

This convention was especially noteworthy, as it was the convention’s first return to Pittsburgh since the VFW’s inception. While the VFW traces its roots back to 1899, it convened in Pittsburgh in 1914 to formally organize, adopt the name of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and lay the groundwork for what is today the nation’s largest organization of combat veterans.

More than 10,000 members of the VFW of the United States and its Auxiliaries gathered in the Keystone State to elect new leadership and approve resolutions that will guide the national organization’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and its veterans and military support programs across the country.

Pittsburgh native John A. Biedrzycki Jr. was elected the new national commander-in-chief of the VFW. In his acceptance speech, he called on the organization’s nearly 1.4 million members to recommit themselves in service to others.

He also urged everyone to consider how much poorer the country would have been had the VFW never existed.

“If not for the VFW, who in our communities will help organize and participate in patriotic salutes to our nation and remember those who served or fell?” he asked. “If not for the VFW, who will help America’s veterans and troops navigate the complex VA claims system, or ensure their individual needs are properly taken care of? And, if not for the VFW, who will give a collective voice on Capitol Hill against all the noise generated by 30,000 registered lobbyists who, other than lip service, don’t have the best interest of veterans, service members and families first on their agendas?”

President Obama was the featured speaker at the convention. His remarks included the following:

“When I first took office, you were the first veterans organization I visited. For too long there had been a mindset that the first instinct to face a challenge in the world was to send in our military. We have the greatest military in human history — but we learned painfully where that kind of thinking can lead.

“When rushing into war without thinking through the consequences, going it alone without broad international support, being drawn into unnecessary conflicts and spreading our military too thin, too often would play into the hands of our enemies. That’s what they wanted us to do. And who paid the price? Our men and women in uniform, our wounded warriors, our fallen heroes who never came home and their families who would carry that loss forever. And so I said then that our brave troops and their families deserve better. We cannot expect our military to bear the entire load of our national security alone. Everybody has to support our national security.

And so today, we are pursing a new kind of leadership. A smarter, broader vision of American strength. One that not only relies on our outstanding military, but on all elements of our national power. And that starts with the recognition that our strength in the world depends on our economic strength here at home.

“Real leadership also means using our power wisely, especially our military. That’s why we refocused our fight in Afghanistan, pushing back the Taliban and training up the Afghan forces so they could take the lead for their own security.

“Today we can say,that our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. We brought Americans’ longest war to a responsible end, and we salute every member of the 9/11 generation who has sacrificed to keep us safe.”

In his closing remarks, Biedrzycki had high praise for the work being done by VFW members in communities all across America. He cited several examples of projects and programs that well illustrated the VFW’s mission to stand up for veterans, service members, and their families.

Biedrzycki also stressed that “freedom isn’t free” — something America tends to forget.

“The success of America was built on the service and sacrifice of many Americans, but our continued freedom falls squarely on the shoulders of those who wear the uniform. Everyone in the VFW understands that,” he remarked.

Those veterans who have received a campaign medal for overseas service, have served 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days in Korea or have received hostile or imminent danger pay are eligible and invited to join the VFW.

Madison County VFW Post 3012 and its Ladies Auxiliary meet in the Veterans Memorial Hall in Rexburg the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m.