Jewish War Veterans of America
About Jewish War Veterans of America
The JWV affirms that Jewish men and women serve honorably and heroically in the military forces of the United States of America during peacetime and war. The JWV defends the rights and benefits of all service members and veterans, fights anti-Semitism, and supports the State of Israel.
The Jewish War Veterans will continue to be a leading Veterans Service Organization in the United States, supporting and advocating for all uniformed service members, veterans, and their families.
What We Do
Serving Veterans and Military
As our veterans return from America’s current conflicts, JWV stands ready, as it has since 1896, to ensure that those who have fought our nation’s battles receive the treatment and the respect that they deserve from a grateful nation.
For as long as soldiers have been serving away from their homes and loved ones, a package from home has always been an important reminder from those for whom the soldier is serving that shows their love and caring for the well-being of the troops. Those who are fighting in distant lands especially need the support and care of those who remain on the home front.
The ringing phrase from World War II, “Send a Salami to a Boy in the Army,” is just one example of how a taste of home has been important throughout history to those who leave their homes in order to defend them.
The JWV SOS (Support Our Servicemembers) program is the latest recognition of this desire to let those who are currently serving know that we on the home front are thinking of them and supporting them. Through this program the JWV sends packages, generally of toiletries and kosher food items to those who are serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places of conflict throughout the globe. We also supply special foods and ritual items for those celebrating the Jewish holidays on the battlefield. The JWV can also customize packages to specific requests, such as those we have filled for coffee, packaged kosher meals, or items customized for special needs, such as an Oneg Shabbat.
Since 9/11, new rules have been put into effect to protect the security of our troops. Because of this heightened security, packages can be sent only to a specifically named service person with a specific APO or FPO address. No package will be delivered to “Any Soldier,” for example. JWV will send the packages to specific servicemembers, ensuring that your package will get delivered.
Therefore, the JWV actively requests that members who know of soldiers who are currently serving send their names and APO addresses with or without specific package requests to JWV National Headquarters, 1811 R St., NW, Washington, DC 20009. We will send packages to all whose names we receive, regardless of religion. All are fighting to protect and serve us.
If you would like to help support this program, you can donate online, over the phone or by mail. To ensure that your support goes to this program, note that the donation is for the “SOS Program”. We rely on the generous donations from our members and other supporters to sustain the acts of loving-kindness and tzedakah that are the basis of our SOS program.
What should I send?
- Grape Juice
- Kosher Wine & Snacks
- Gefilte Fish
- Dried Fruit
- Protein Bars
- Bagel Chips
- Individual packets of:
- hot sauce
- Instant Coffee
- Powdered Drink Mix
- Local Newspapers
- Decks of Playing Cards
- Hand Sanitizer
- Baby Wipes
- Batteries (no lithium-ion)Especially AA and D
Please note that anything which can melt or spill should be placed in a sealed zip-lock bag.
Most soldiers are given MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) when deployed or training in the field. If you have ever seen or eaten an MRE, you know that they are not especially “delicious” flavors – which is why snacks and other ready to go foods are appreciated by the troops.
There is a lot of down time while in training or on deployment. Things like decks of cards or books can really help our servicemembers stay motivated to complete their missions.
Some soldiers can be stationed in geographically isolated areas where kosher foods and items are difficult to come by. It is important to send troops these items so that we can keep their Jewish traditions and faith strong.
Burial and Flagging Services
1. The 18 Gun Salute: The traditional military salute is a 21 gun salute. The tradition dates back to England were they would fire off cannons from a Naval ship. Americans have adopted this tradition with an honor guard of 7 members, who will fire off 3 rounds each – making a 21 gun salute.
There is a tradition within the Jewish American Military Community to fire off 18 rounds to signify “chai,” the Jewish symbol for life. This small change can have an extreme significance to families with a Jewish background. If you need help discussing this change with the Honor Guard, please contact JWV National Headquarters.
Need to Request an Honor Guard or JWV members at a Veteran’s Funeral?
Depending on availability, JWV members can attend your loved one’s funeral as well as their Yarzheit. Please contact your local JWV Post or National Headquarters to request an Honor Guard or JWV contingent at your loved one’s funeral.
If you are interested in a Yarzheit remembrance, please check with the National Museum of American Jewish Military History’s Yarzheit Program.
2. Planning Your Veteran Funeral
As uncomfortable as the subject may seem, researching and documenting how you would like to be laid to rest is as much a benefit to yourself as it is to your loved ones. Do you wish to have military funeral honors? Would you like a military marker on your headstone? These are questions that your family must answer for you, if you do not plan now. Here’s how VA’s burial and memorial benefits can honor your legacy.
3. Flagging Services
As we continue serving the American veteran as well as our active duty servicemembers, it is important that we do not forget those who came before us. Their tenacity and sacrifices laid the foundation for our country’s freedoms and allowed us to enjoy what so many take for granted. This is the foundation of JWV’s Flagging program, where veterans visit the grave sites of the fallen, keeping them clean and placing American flags upon them. Through their efforts, these heroes will never be forgotten.
4. L’dor V’dor
Our members often bring their families and friends, and coordinate with Boy and Girl scout troops when they go flagging, instilling a sense of community and perspective within them. This is an important part of L’dor V’dor, or passing out the values we cherish from one generation to the next.
5. Need to Request a Flagging Service?
We occasionally field requests from family members who are unable to visit their loved one’s grave. Depending on the location and availability of our members, our posts may be able to visit the grave of your hero and plant an American flag at their grave. If you have a loved one that needs remembering, please contact your local post or National Headquarters.
Our VAVS volunteers donated more than 30,000 hours to local VAs in 2016! Founded in 1946 by the Federal Government, the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS) program assists veteran patients through volunteer work in community-based volunteer programs, hospital wards, nursing homes, VA Medical Centers, and veteran outreach centers.
VAVS is the organizing force that brings compassionate Americans into veterans’ health facilities to improve veterans’ lives.
JWV’s first National Representative was officially certified in 1946 to the National VAVS Advisory Committee, which meets annually to coordinate and discuss obstacles like getting more volunteers. Volunteering offers an opportunity and a challenge to the Jewish War Veteran to put into practice the admonition, “I am my brother’s keeper.”
Purpose: To fulfill our mission to help all veterans by volunteering at VA facilities.
How to Get Involved:
Contact the VAVS office at your local VA facility: https://www.volunteer.va.gov
Contact the VAVS Chairman in your Post or Department. If you do not know the individual, email HQ at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Program Point of Contact:
VAVS Chair Ken Ashworth (TALO), email@example.com
Programs Department Cara Rinkoff, firstname.lastname@example.org
JWV’s Leadership Committees bring together JWV’s future leaders from around the country to innovate and create new programs, legislative priorities and so much more! Our Leadership Committees are the real makers of change in JWV. If you are interested in being on a JWV Leadership Committee, please email us at email@example.com.
- Vietnam Veterans Committee
- Gulf War Veterans Committee
- Jewish Women in the Military Committee
- Post 9/11 Veterans Committee
Engaging Young Leaders
One of our goals at JWV is to teach young leaders about Americanism and what it means to serve something greater than themselves. We offer several programs that are specifically targeted toward engaging young leaders and providing them with opportunities to support veterans’ rights, spread Americanism and promote community.
- Bar and Bat Mitzvah Projects
- JROTC Program
- Scouting Program
- Kiddush Cup Program
- Grant Program
- Nationwide Jewish Youth Organizations
How We Can Help
JWV offers a wide range of assistance programs aimed at helping veterans of every generation. Whether that means providing free, professional help filing or appealing a VA claim, offering scholarships for post-secondary education or providing emergency financial relief when times get tough, the JWV is there for our veterans.
- Helping You Access Your VA Benefits
- Fighting Anti-Semitism in the Military and VA
- Disaster Relief Program
- Transition Resources
- Transitioning You Back Into the Jewish Community
- Financial Resources By USAA
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