In a rare foray into the economic policy realm, the national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is telling the group's 2.2 million members to contact their members of Congress and "urge them to help America's businesses stay in business." The appeal is aimed at drumming up support for the Big 3 carmakers and the expected economic stimulus package, a VFW spokesman said.
VFW National Commander Glen M. Gardner Jr. said Monday in a statement: "America became a superpower in the last century because of an economic engine that enabled our military to win its wars. We absolutely cannot allow our industrial capacity to diminish to the point that we are dependent upon other nations to arm our military, employ our workers, or outright own us." Gardner, a Vietnam veteran and longtime VFW official from Round Rock, Texas, said members should tell the lawmakers to work with the administration in a bipartisan manner to help America get working again.
The VFW, with 1.6 million members and 600,000 members in its auxiliaries, is the nation's largest organization of war veterans . It has 7,900 posts worldwide. According to Joe Davis, director of public affairs for the VFW's Washington office, the country has 2.2 million men and women in uniform and 23.5 million veterans and, when their family members are counted, these groups exceed 50 million in number.
"It's fair to say it's rare for the largest organization of combat veterans to weigh in on a what would appear to be a non-military-related issue, but we view the economy as an element of national security, and that makes the economy an issue that is important to veterans and military families," said Davis. "The business of America is business. The government simply cannot allow large employers to go under without first trying to save them."