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VFW magazine: voice of the veteran for a century.

VFW magazine has reached a milestone few other publications can claim: It celebrates 100 years of publishing this month. For a century, it has been the voice of the overseas veteran.

Today, VFW is counted among the top 50 magazines (in terms of circulation) in the nation. Starting as a 4-page newsletter in November 1904, The American Veteran of Foreign Service was produced in Columbus, Ohio, and edited by James Romanis. One of VFW's founding fathers, he personally financed the publication until 1905 and also copyrighted it with the Office of the Register of Copyrights on Jan. 14, 1905.

Undergoing several transformations over the next decade, Foreign Service emerged as the organization's official organ in October 1914. This was shortly after the merger creating VFW. That title lasted for the next 36 years.

VFW magazine has been the title since January 1951. Peaking at a circulation of 2.1 million in 1992, the magazine reflects membership growth. On this, our 100th anniversary, VFW has 1.7 million readers and has earned 22 awards since 1998.

1900s The first publication, The American Veteran of Foreign Service, was entirely edited and financed by VFW co-founder James Romanis. It appeared in November 1904,

1910s The publication changed its appearance and title during the years of consolidation between the founding groups. After the final merger in 1914 when the name Veterans of Foreign Wars became official, Foreign Service emerged as the publication of record.

1920s Foreign Service, with about 64,000 readers and published out of New York City and then Kansas City, Kan., during the "Roaring '20s," naturally focused on issues vital to World War I vets. Creation of the Buddy Poppy program and crusading for hospital care were among its top priorities.

A small seal (below) appeared on magazine covers from August 1925 to March 1928.

1930s (Left) By the peak of the Depression in 1936, Foreign Service had hit 200,000 subscribers. A bonus for WWI vets was by far the decade's biggest issue. Editorializing for creation of VA, pension acts and Armistice Day headed the agenda, too.

1940s (Right) World War II, of course, captured much of the magazine's coverage. Circulation skyrocketed from 201,170 in 1940 to more than 1.5 million readers in 1946. Calls for the GI Bill, disability benefits and re-employment rights commonly appeared on the magazine's pages.

1950s The January 1951 issue marked the debut of VFW magazine. Both the Korean and Cold wars were common themes. VFW programs, in demand by young vets with families, also emerged as a topic of attention. Youth activities ed with world affairs for coverage. Circulation averaged about 1.1 million.

1960s War raged in Vietnam throughout the decade, necessitating a new editorial focus. Besides covering troops in the field, advocating an equitable GI Bill and other benefits required magazine space. Circulation continued to climb, hitting 1.5 million in 1969.

1990s VFW magazine reached the pinnacle of its circulation with 2,167,788 subscribers in 1992. The Persian Gulf War catapulted VFW back into home-front support activities.

Subsequent military missions in Somalia, Haiti end the Balkans heralds the advent of a new generation of overseas veterans. The fight for an adequate VA medical budget became an annual battle with the magazine communicating the message to Congress.

19705s Campaigning for legislation and rights for Vietnam vets was prominent in this decade. Reviving and promoting patriotic traditions also came to the forefront. Articles for retaining the panama Canal in the latter '70s occupied a significant amount of space. Circulation steadily grew to 1,875,000 in 1979.

1980s A circulation landmark was reached in 1984 when readership surpassed 2 million. communism and terrorism centered editorial on foreign affairs. Vietnam vets got a memorial; Agent Orange and atomic vets qualified for benefits; and VA became a Cabinet department.

2000s VFW's second century opens with war on two fronts--Afghanistan and Iraq. Veterans of those campaigns increasingly demand and deserve magazine pages. Half of covers and one-third of feature articles target younger veterans and those still on active duty. Perennial issues again allow VFW to take up the causes for which it was created, including fighting for the rights of National Guard and Reserve members. Ebbing membership drops circulation to 1.7 million but does not diminish the magazine's role as the voice of the war vet.
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Publication:VFW Magazine
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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