Denair student to be honored by VFW

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Veterans of Foreign Wars said it will present its VFW Commander-in-Chief’s Medallion and U.S. Flag to Cody Alicea, who challenged Denair Middle School for the right to fly the American Flag on the back of his bicycle.

Special guest speakers at the opening session include VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki and Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

More than 600 VFW members from across the country, as well as from Europe, the Pacific and Latin America/Caribbean, will arrive over the weekend to begin meeting with their congressional members on issues important to veterans, servicemembers and their families.

Many of those key issues and concerns will be covered by the VFW national commander when he testifies Tuesday before a joint hearing of the House and Senate VA Committees. Leading the list will be the slow implementation of the caregiver bill, a growing backlog of 1.5 million VA claims, and veterans’ unemployment rates that exceeds the national average.

VFW officials also met this week with Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael P. Leavitt, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton W. Kent, to further extend the VFW’s numerous troop support programs to all uniformed personnel and their families.

The VFW will host this evening’s Wounded Warrior Dinner at the National Press Club for about 100 troops recuperating from their injuries —and their families — at nearby Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Medical Center.

On Sunday evening, a $30,000 scholarship will be awarded to the winner of the annual VFW Voice of Democracy program, a patriotic-themed contest that judged almost 80,000 high school student entries this year.

He or she will be joined onstage by Julia Ann Funk, a seventh-grader at Oakbrook Preparatory School in Spartanburg, S.C., who won a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond by beating 125,000 other middle school entries in the annual VFW Patriot’s Pen contest.

The VFW will stream live video of the 2011 VFW Legislative Conference, beginning Sunday with the Voice of Democracy and Patriot’s Pen Parade of Winners at 6 p.m., and on Monday at 8 a.m. The streaming video will be on the VFW website at