Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., Veterans of Foreign Wars commander-in-chief, came to Okinawa, April 27, to visit the VFW station here as well as see Marine Corps training.
While touring several locations on island, Tradewell visited Marines on Camp Schwab firing a combat marksmanship program as part of their pre-deployment training. He said he wanted to talk to the Marines about ways the VFW can benefit them.
"The VFW are all veterans who served in combat zones, so we have an idea of what it takes to train people and what we should be doing to make sure our military remains strong," Tradewell said.
While on the range, Tradewell discussed programs Marines on Okinawa can take advantage of, but he also delivered a personnel message to all Marines stationed here.
"The Veterans of Foreign Wars will be there for the troops and their families," he said. "Many of the units that are adopted while in Iraq or Afghanistan are adopted by the VFW. We send care packages, we send mail to the troops, but while they're gone we also take care of their families."
In the past five years the VFW has spent more than $3 million on the Unmet Needs program, a program created to care for the needs of the families of service members.
"If a family of a person in Iraq or Afghanistan has a problem with a leaky roof, a leaky water heater, a car that won't start, trouble paying their mortgage or their bills, the VFW will step in and give them a grant," Tradewell said.
According to the VFW's official Web site, a grant of up to $2,500 can be given to a family in need without repayment.
Other programs the VFW offer for service members are the Military Assistance Program which helps fund farewell and welcome home gatherings for military units worldwide and Operation Uplink which provides pre-paid phone cards to deployed service members.
For more information on the VFW or to become a member, visit http://www.vfw.org.