American G.I. Forum History
I would like to introduce our organization, Heroes Lodge Project, Inc., a 501(C)3 Veterans Services and Outreach Organization. A programs supported project of the American G.I. Form (AGIF), a National Veterans Services Organization (VSO) Chartered by Congress and Educational Scholarship Foundation.
Please view our AGIF/NVOP model video: This is the model we are modernizing in Austin Texas.
Our historic Veterans organization has made strides for all Veterans that most history books do not record. The American G.I. Forum was organized in 1948, sixty-eight years ago; and our organization was spawned by civil rights violations by the government and states during WWI and WWII. After WWII ended, our returning Hispanic Veterans were being treated unfairly and denied benefits, much like today. Our Veterans were returning in body bags with Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, honorable and with valor; but were turned away for burials in prominently white cemeteries in the 1940’s. We had a lot of support, and then-US Senator Lyndon B. Johnson and Congressman Benson of Texas help champion our cause and history was made to correct the injustice. Civil rights violations were our first push for civil equality for our Veterans and Hispanic Veterans returning from US wars and conflicts. During our long history, we have had several briefs before the US Supreme Court to insure that our equality and rights continue to be protected. Our second major push for equality was being recognized in the US Census as a separate ethnicity; because, Hispanics were considered white but separate on US Census before 1980. Not being properly counted in the US Census caused our organization serious funding problems when we applied for VA and DOL grants before and after the Vietnam War. No head count – no grant money! Our National Veterans Outreach Program (NVOP) in San Antonio, Texas; now considered the model for Texas and the VA was in jeopardy of never becoming a reality. Too slow for Congress to make changes to the census; then-President, Richard Nixon came to our rescue with an Executive Order for funding of the American GI Forum/National Veterans Outreach Program. This one compassionate act to reach out to Hispanic Veterans by a US President, enabled our organization to flourish to one of the largest Veterans homeless housing and vital services network in Texas, and a model for other states and cities. Throughout our long history, and push for civil rights, our Veterans organization caught the attention of then President-Ronald Reagan, and he bestowed the highest civilian honor to our founder and organization the President’s Medal of Freedom; well deserved. After all this recognition from past Presidents’, our then-President, Bill Clinton honored the American G.I. Forum with a Congressional Charter. Our Veterans organization is truly the gold standard in the US and often emulated.