Of all the groups I thought I’d get in trouble with, I never expected it to be the Veterans of Foreign Wars!
I’ve been a member of the VFW for many years, but yesterday I got a certified letter from Robert B. Greene, Quartermaster General of the national headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, rather rudely informing me that by using the name Veterans of Foreign Wars or the letters VFW in our website or on our RV parking guide for VFW members, I have violated their copyright. They have ordered me to cease and desist using their name or distributing anything with their name or initials, and want any profits we have received from the guide.
I must say that as a long time member of VFW Post 8813 in Peshtigo, Wisconsin and a third generation VFW member, I am surprised. I never for a minute believed I was doing anything wrong. In fact, it was the commander of a VFW post who suggested I create the guide in the first place.
The various VFW posts are always excited to see members from other posts stop in, and have all been grateful for their listing, which is free. It helps traveling VFW members find a safe place to park overnight, and they usually give the local post a few dollars for their hospitality, plus money they spend for a dinner or drinks. To me, it was a win-win situation for both traveling VFW members and for the VFW posts listed. Apparently the VFW national office is more concerned with dollars in its pockets rather than the veterans it is supposed to serve. We sell very few of the guides, but I give them to just about every RVer who is a VFW member I meet. In fact, I have given away many more copies of the VFW guide than I have sold, because up until now I have always believed in the VFW.
Since we have actually sold very few of the guides, and we charge just about enough to cover our printing and mailing costs, the “profit” the VFW demands I turn over to them amounts to about $12.50 over the last four years (not counting the money I lost in the copies I have given to VFW members). That does not include my time to drive to the post office and mail them out, or the cost of my calls to the various VFW posts to check every year if their status or address has changed. It also doesn’t count the copies I have given to VFW posts I have visited. $12.50 won’t break us, but it’s pretty offensive to me that a longtime VFW member gets slammed like this.
So, effective immediately, we can no longer publish or give away our VFW guides. I’m sorry that my fellow veterans cannot use this information to find a safe place to park overnight, and that the posts they visit will lose out on the money they spend there in drinks, dinner, and donations. I will miss being a member of the VFW, but when I send them their $12.50 check, it will be the last check I ever do, as I will not renew my membership.
Somebody asked me if this means that a telephone yellow pages can’t use the name VFW? I have no idea. You’d have to ask Mr. Greene at their national headquarters that. Hell, for all I know I’ll get another nasty letter for using their name in this blog.
Thought For The Day – America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms it will be because we destroyed ourselves. – Abraham Lincoln
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Sorry to hear this but not surprising. I gave them the ol’ “up yours” several years ago.
Nick, I’m one of the veterans you gave a VFW guide to and I have stayed at several of the posts listed. I always make a donation and have a drink or two. Its too bad the lunkhead bean counters at National have forgotten that their first job is to serve veterans. So they get their twelve bucks and hundreds of veterans to come will not get the info in your guidebook. Yeah that’s service all right!
When I came home from Nam I went to the local VFW post and was treated like dirt. I never went back. I did join Vietnam Veterans of America because they cared about Vietnam era vets and weren’t just a private drinking club.
Letter being written right now and I will call headquarters today. I am a life member of the VFW and I’ll be informing them that I will not patronize another Post. I don’t think I’ll resign but I for sure will let them know that I am not happy.
Way to go, Nick. You managed to use the prohibited name Veterans of Foreign Wars and the initials VFW over 20 times in only 7 paragraphs! They will probably send you another bill.
Narrow minded official that is way too big for his pants. Hope it bites him in the rear!
Folks have gotten way too proprietary on name ownership. Pretty soon we won’t be able to say a word or even sign it without copyright infringement.
Sounds like members of the V** need to kick his (in my opinion) uppity hiney to the curb. Sometimes folks, including politicians, forget they work for the members/people and need to be reminded. Vote ’em out.
Nick,your thought for the day says it all,
Well put Nick as usual. There loss for sure. As everyone else says they just keep stepping on other people and forget the real reason they are where they are!!
Keep the thought of the day coming as Joe said it says it all today!!
I am just about to join the American Legion that has helped me immensely. Hope they don’t do this!!
Nick, if you happen to have a free copy I don’t want to get you in anymore trouble withe the VFW, but I would gladly pay you a nice shipping fee. to receive, contact me if you desire, at my Private E-mail, I too bis the VFW goodbye several years ago.
What about the guides that use the names of WalMarts you can park at, or CG names, or Elks or Moose or you get the picture? This guy just wants some money and is threatening you. But it’s not worth the lawyer to fight it. I am a VFW ladies auxiliary member and I have a great post. I will still be a member but Greene is a BUTT. He should be thanking you for helping to keep the posts financially viable rather than attacking you. Many posts are in trouble financially and Greene is not helping.
Why not just re-name it the “VFU” guide?
SHAMEFUL, SHAMEFUL, SHAMEFUL!!!!!!
And they call themselves a service organization!
Nick you probably dont remember me but I live in Show Low and always appreciated your newspaper here because you told it like it is and didn’t pull any punches or worry about stepping on toes. I remember all of the support you gave the VFW posts in Show Low Lakeside and surrounding areas and I am appalled that this yayhoo from the national office acted like this. And I am disgusted to learn that like almost everything these days the VFW has shown themselves to be just another greedy money hungry sham.
For anyone interested you can write Robert Greene, Quartermaster General c/o VFW, 406 West 34th Street, Kansas City MO 64111 and tell him what you think of this. We plan to and Bob is also going to point this out to our post commander. We just had an RV couple in here over the weekend who spent over $100 with us.
Sounds like things are pretty slow around the office to go after someone for something like this..you would think they would be in DC trying to watch out for our interest there..
Nick and Nick’s Friends – I get your message and I do understand. That does not relieve me of my responsibilities to enfore our By-Laws. Section 803 of our By-Laws states in part, “No member or other person shall use or wear any seal, emblem, badge, insignia or uniform of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States while engaged in any commercial or politicial activity in such a manner as likely to falsely convey that such activity is approved or endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States”. These By-laws are originated by VFW members and approved by VFW members. There is no gray area here. As a matter of fact, I approve more requests to use VFW marks than disapprove. I regret that Nick’s worthwhile project runs afoul of our By-Laws but our members have made the rules and I am the individual charged with enforcing the rules. Nick, please contact me and let’s see if this can be worked out. Thank you.
VFW of the U.S.
I spoke to Mr. Greene after he posted his comment above, and explained our project. He asked me to send him an e-mail describing our VFW guide and that we do not produce it to make a profit. I have done so and am awaiting his response.
We are waiting to hear what Mr Greene decides before we make the choice to continue being associated with the VFW.
Knowing more than most of you do about my cousin Nicks military service and what he went through for America I can assure you this won’t be dropped!
I hope Mr Greene takes a harder look at their by-laws. These are created for the purpose of keeping people from profiting on their behave. We all understand that. In my years working at Whirlpool Corp. I know the pitfalls that can occur when using a corporate name, log, etc. I am sure his legal advisors are pushing him some on this as well (part of the problem?). What companies fail to recognize is something called “intent”. What was the intent of using VFW? If one were to go by his assessment, they should go after every news agency and magazine that ever published those 3 letters!
To me that is a total misguided attempt at leadership on his behalf for stopping you from doing something that was intended to help those who fought and bled for this country.
Seems to me that they should be paying you for advertising costs and a commission on the money brought in by your efforts!
Let’s look at the math. Nick pays the _______ (I don’t want to pay royalities)$12.50.
_____ Loses all the nationwide exsposure to _______ and it’s posts. Posts lose revenue.
Who loses the most?
______ should be paying NIck!!!!!!
Bob have you heard the saying “you can’t fix stupid”.
I’m happy to report that after hearing from many of my veteran friends, Mr. Greene asked me to call him, and after we talked he reversed his decision and we will still be able to publish our VFW camping guide. Thank you all for your support. And if any of you who are VFW members would like a copy of the guide e-mailed to you, please message me with your e-mail address and I’ll send one to you.
Glad that it ended well because Mr. Greene kept an open mind. Bravo, Nick!
Nick, another great job you have done.
I look forward to reading your blog everyday and your news paper everyother month. If you don’t mind, I am a Veteran of the Vietnam War, would like to have a copy of the VFW locations you are great and may our paths cross soon. Cyndy says hi Terri!!!!
Nick, Glad Mr.Green got the message, not to make knee jerk decisions before you get ALL the details!!