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Veterans of Foreign Wars commander visits RAF Mildenhall

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brandon Esau
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The National Commander-in-Chief for Veterans of Foreign Wars, William J. “Doc” Schmitz, and Deputy Director of the National Veterans Service, Mike Figlioli, visited RAF Mildenhall Dec. 18, 2019.

As part of the tour, Schmitz and Figlioli received a 100th Air Refueling Wing mission brief and toured the Airmen Family and Readiness Center, air traffic control tower and the Dewey R. Christopher Professional Development Center.

Schmitz and Figlioli also visited a KC-135 Stratotanker static display, the RAF Mildenhall Center for Character and Culture and had the chance to have lunch with Team Mildenhall Airmen.

“This was such a great opportunity to sit down with these great men and women and discuss how they get after the mission every day,” Schmitz said. “I’m able to take back what I see from these hard working men and women and bring that to Congress and the American public, and get members the benefits and help they need.”

Schmitz served in the United States Navy from 1966 to 1970 and saw action in Vietnam as a corpsman attached to the United States Marine Corps infantry and artillery. He was awarded the National Defense Service, Vietnam Service and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

“Most military members don’t think they are veterans until they are out of uniform, and that just isn’t the truth,” Schmitz conveyed. “My team and I help provide the necessary care and information so our service members know what is available to them from the day they join to way into their later years. We always take care of our own.”

Schmitz represents more than 1.6 million VFW members and acts as the spokesperson for the organization. There are more than 6,200 posts worldwide and comprise 52 VFW departments, which include the 50 states and two overseas branches.

Colonel Troy Pananon, 100th Air Refueling Wing commander, spoke about how important visits like this are to ensuring Airmen at RAF Mildenhall get what they need.

“I never knew how much good Mr. Schmitz and his organization can do for all of us Airmen until they came for a visit,” Pananon said. “Anytime we can have someone of his stature come and provide vital knowledge for what the VFW can do in regards to taking care of us in and out of uniform will always be time well spent.”

The mission of the VFW is to create a trusted community amongst veterans of conflicts the United States has engaged in all over the globe and ensure veterans are treated with respect as well as lobbying for increases in military pay and benefits. In addition to veteran’s benefits programs, the VFW has several programs geared towards financial assistance for service members and their families, from scholarships to emergency financial relief.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re an Airman, sailor, marine or soldier, we have all chosen to make sacrifices in defense of our great country,” Schmitz said. ”So when the time comes, it’s the VFW’s responsibility to defend and lobby for you not only in Congress, but help spread the news of the great work you do to the American public and we will always have your back.”