The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War(1898) and the Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902) founded local organizations tosecure rights and benefits for their service: Many arrived home woundedor sick. There was no medical care or veterans' pension for them,and they were left to care for themselves. In their misery, some of these veterans banded together and formedorganizations with what would become known as theVeterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.After chapters were formed in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania, the movementquickly gained momentum. By 1915, membershipgrew to 5,000; by 1936, membership was almost 200,000. Since then, the VFW's voice had been instrumental in establishing theVeterans Administration, creating a GI bill for the 20th century, the developmentof the national cemetery system and the fight for compensation or Vietnamvets exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans diagnosed withGulf War Syndrome. In 2008, VFW won a long-fought victory with the passingof a GI Bill for the 21st Century, giving expanded educational benefitsto America's active-duty service members, and members of theGuard and Reserves, fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VFW also has fought for improving VA medical centers services for womenveterans.Besides helping fund the creation of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War IIand Women in Military Service memorials, the VFW in 2005 became the firstveteran’s organization to contribute to buildingthe new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in November 2010.Annually, the 2.1 million members of the VFW and its Auxiliary contributemore than 11 million hours of volunteerism in the community, includingparticipation in Make A Difference Day and National Volunteer Week. From providing over $3 million in college scholarships and savingsbonds to students every year, to encouraging elevation of theDepartment of Veterans Affairsto the president's cabinet, the VFW is there.