In honor of Veterans’ Day, Jewish Treats presents a brief history of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, which is more commonly referred to by its acronym JWV.
Originally formed in 1896 as the Hebrew Union Veterans Organization by Jewish veterans of the Civil War, it assumed its current name (after several variations) in 1929. In its early days, the headquarters of the JWV was located in New York City, but moved to Washington, D.C. in 1954.
The JWV has two primary missions - to uphold the American values of democracy and to support Jewish life in America. Thus, the JWV’s national constitution states that the JWV seeks to “...uphold the fair name of the Jew and fight his or her battles wherever unjustly assailed...”
To be an active member of the JWV, one must be a U.S. citizen, of the Jewish faith, of “good character,” have seen active service in a military campaign and received an honorable discharge. (An associate membership can be obtained by those who served in the military but not in wartime). The organization itself is made up of a hierarchy of national, regional and local posts. A national convention is held once a year.
JWV posts strive to advance religious freedom in the armed forces, promote community-oriented programs and to offer special benefits (insurance, discounts, etc,) to its member veterans.
One influential role of the JWV is maintaining and running the National Museum of American Jewish Military History located in Washington, D.C.