In 1966, Commander-in-Chief Leslie M. Fry pointed out the need for dynamic programs. "The morale of any organization is based on its achievements," he proclaimed. "Without worthwhile programs, we have no reason to exist."
Taking Fry at his word, the National Council of Administration approved an increase in the budget and then founded the VFW Safety Program. To bring home its message that each individual must do his share in promoting safety, the committee quickly adopted the slogan, "SAFETY BEGINS WITH ME."
This committee's first undertaking was to encourage the posts to sponsor a National Safety Council course in driver improvement for licensed drivers. By 1968, twenty-five departments were offering the course to both VFW and Ladies Auxiliary members.
To assist younger drivers (the bicycle pedaling crowd), the Safety Committee took over the popular "Lite a Bike" program established by the Youth Activities program. The 3M Company furnished free reflective tape to posts who conducted Lite a Bike rodeos and roundups during which bicycles were given safety inspections. By 1968, well over 16 million bicycles had been marked with reflective safety tape. As more manufacturers began offering bicycles with reflective paint and reflective disks on the spokes, this program began shifting its emphasis to teaching safe riding habits to bicyclists. The program then became known as the "Veterans of Foreign Wars Bicycle Safety Program."
In 1968, the Ladies Auxiliary adopted the Safety Program as one of its major projects. With their help, that year the VFW supported the nationwide drive for reflective license plates. State police, county sheriffs, city police, and concerned citizens from all over the nation also joined in the campaign. Eventually, some state legislatures adopted the idea, while others did not.
In 1970 the Defensive Driving Course was replaced by the "Drive to Survive" program. In addition, the Safety Program developed citations to be presented to law enforcement agencies and officers for outstanding service to their communities in safeguarding the lives and property of citizens. A special award to recognize individuals who have helped law enforcement officers maintain law and order was also established. By 1971, forty-seven departments were participating in the commendation program.
In 1973, the Safety Program started a new program titled "Veterans of Foreign Wars Drug Abuse Program." This program, which was renamed "Veterans Fight Drugs Program" in the 1989 to 1990 year, encourages posts and auxiliaries to sponsor seminars and distribute anti-drug literature.
In 1982, the National Convention added a new program - Hunter Safety. The purpose of the Hunter Education Program is to promote responsible, ethical hunter conduct; to emphasize the importance of wildlife management, laws, and regulations; and to provide instruction in the safe handling of hunting equipment. Hunters who successfully complete the course have a better understanding of their outdoor obligations to landowners, to natural resources, to other hunters, and to themselves.
The Home Protection Program became part of the Safety package in 1985. The Home Protection package consists of two parts: fire safety and home safety. Through education in home safety, the VFW helps homeowners reduce their vulnerability to burglars and other intruders. Participants in the program learn about the use of safer locks, window stops that do not allow windows to be raised high enough to permit entry, and proper lighting for the grounds surrounding the house. Participants in the fire safety program learn about the proper type and placement of fire extinguishers, the importance of pre-planning escape routes, how to seal off a room if escape is not practical, and how to avoid fire hazards around the home.
Also in 1985, Bicycle Safety and Lite a Bike were combined into a single program. That left the Safety Program with the six programs that it sponsors to this day: Fire Prevention and Home Security, Drive to Survive, Bicycle Safety, Recognition and Public Commendation Certificates, Veterans Fight Drugs, and Hunter Safety.
Making the world a better place in which to live has long been the dream of our nation's veterans. The VFW Safety Program is just another extension of those dreams.
© VFW 1998 . Created by Lynn - Last Updated 29 Dec 2001