IOWA VETERANS' ORGANIZATIONS
The American Legion in Iowa
The American Legion was started in Paris, France on March 15, 1919. It was launched formally in St. Louis on May 8, 1919, by world war veterans from nearly every state in the union. They were selected by temporary secretaries and named at the request of Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., acting under instructions from the Paris caucus.
The first Iowa State convention was held in Des Moines on September 4, 1919. The first national convention of delegates from the newly-organized state departments was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Armistice Day, 1919.
The American Legion Auxiliary, mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and granddaughters of Legionnaires, was organized in 1921.
The Iowa headquarters are located at 720 Lyon St., Des Moines. There are nine districts in Iowa with 643 local posts and an approximate annual membership of 79,000.
The Iowa department stresses a national program of Americanism, national security, child welfare, and rehabilitation, in addition to many youth programs to develop good citizenship.
Iowa has contributed leadership to the national organization with four national commanders: Gen. Hanford McNider of Mason City, J. Ray Murphy, formerly of Ida Grove, Donald E. Johnson of West Branch, and Dale Renaud of Bondurant.
American Veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam
The American Veterans of World War II, commonly known as the AMVETS, were granted a national charter by an act of congress, and President Harry S. Truman signed the measure on July 28, 1947. AMVETS is the only nationally chartered World War II veterans' organization.
The AMVETS principles are (1) to promote world peace, (2) to perpetuate the American way of life, and (3) to help the veteran help himself.
The AMVETS have a national and state auxiliary comprised of wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam veterans.
For the Iowa Department of AMVETS, Robert O. Steben is the Executive Director and National Service Officer.
Any person who served actively and honorably in the armed forces any length of time after September 16, 1940 is eligible to become a member.
China-Burma-India Veterans Association
The China-Burma-India Veterans' Association (CBIVA) is a nonprofit organization, formed in 1948 for World War II veterans who served in the China-Burma-India Theater. National offices are located in the War Memorial Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Chapters (known as Bashas, which is an Eastern Indian name for house or hut) are scattered throughout the United States, and national reunions are held annually.
The Carl F. Moershel Basha of Iowa was organized in Des Moines in November, 1952. It is named after the late Col. Moershel of the Amana Colonies who was a charter member. Meetings of the group are held twice a year in different cities.
In addition, Iowa has been host to the national reunion three times: Cedar Rapids in 1960 and 1981 and Des Moines in 1968.
Two Iowans, Ray Alderson of Dubuque and Dr. Victor Tamashunas of Ames, have served as national commander. A number of other Iowans have held national offices in the CBIVA. Neil Maurer of Laurens and Alderson are two of the 24 recipients of the CBIVA Award of Merit, given at the national reunion each year.
The Disabled American Veterans in Iowa
The Disabled American Veterans, commonly known as the DAV, was organized nationally in 1920 by groups of disabled veterans then undergoing vocational training courses and chartered by Congress in 1932, to render service to, for, and by disabled war veterans. The DAV has, ever since its inception, been the mouthpiece for the disabled war veterans of America, in Congress and before its various committees, as well as before the Veterans Administration and its local regional offices and facilities.
During 1920 and 1921, the first three chapters of the Iowa department were organized in the vocational training centers at Des Moines, Iowa City and Ames.
The Department of Iowa DAV held its first state convention in 1922 in Iowa City.
The DAV in Iowa has grown to 24 chapters and over 10,000 members. The National Service Office is located at 1033B Federal Building, 210 Walnut, Des Moines. Supervisor is Larry J. Jatho.
The Marine Corps League in Iowa
The League is a veterans organization incorporated by an act of Congress in 1937. It is composed of marines and former Marines with honorable service. It aims to perpetuate the traditions and spirit of the U.S. Marine Corps through the continuous association of Marines who served under the Globe and Anchor at any time, in war or peace.
There are league detachments all across the country. Regular meetings are conducted under a unified ritual, with the Marine Corp spirit and atmosphere predominating.
The one and only membership qualification is honorable service in excess of 90 days in the Marines. This means that, regardless of rank served, regardless of when or where a Marine served, regardless of what division or wing he may or may not have served with, if he is a Marine, male or female, he is welcome in the Marine Corps League.
A common trait of league members is the spirit of Semper Fidelis, the spirit of being "always faithful" to the country, the Corps, and to their fellow Marines, in service and out. So deep is this ingrained in the members that long after most have hung up the uniform for the last time, they still dare to call each other "Marine." Each seems to hold the league slogan as a personal truth, that of "Once a Marine - always a Marine."
Iowa Veterans of Foreign Wars
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Department of Iowa, was granted its charter by the national organization on May 26, 1921. Its objectives, fraternal, patriotic, historical and educational are: to preserve and strengthen comradeship among its members and to assist comrades; to perpetuate the memory and history of its dead and to assist their widows and orphans; to maintain allegiance to the government of the United States and fidelity to its Constitution and laws; to foster patriotism; to maintain and extend institutions of American freedom and to preserve and defend the United States from its enemies. VFW is comprised of American men and women who served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States in hostile waters or on foreign soil during any foreign war, insurrection, or expedition.
The Iowa Department Headquarters are located at 3601 Beaver Ave., Des Moines 50310.
Paralyzed Veterans of America
The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the United States Congress and is dedicated to serving the many needs of its members. The PVA is at the forefront of improving the access to and quality of appropriate health-care, identifying and securing benefits to veterans, promoting medical research, educating society about attitudinal and physical barriers, and providing information and opportunities for better health, recreation, employment, sports, service and camaraderie for spinal cord impaired veterans and others as appropriate. Membership is open to any veteran of military service who has a spinal cord injury or disease.
Military Order of Purple Heart
The Military Order of the Purple Heart is the only Congressionally chartered veterans organization exclusively for combat wounded veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart by the Government of the United States.