Lynn Rolf III is the Kansas VFW State Commander.
1. Lynn, you were recently elected and installed as the State Commander of the VFW in Kansas. You are also the youngest person to ever lead this organization. What did you think when you first heard that you had been elected to this prestigious position?
I was extremely humbled and excited that the day had finally come. I wanted to hit the ground running and laid my vision for the organization of the future. That concept had not been done before.
Live up to our Motto of " No One does More for Veterans" through our posts being the pillar in every community
Be Open to new ideas for the new leaders
VFW Legislative Strong make our voices count
Be family oriented
2. Can you tell us a little about the Veterans of Foreign Wars and how the organization came about?
Our misson:To foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. To serve our veterans, the military, and our communities. To advocate on behalf of all veterans.
Our vision: Ensure that veterans are respected for their service, always receive their earned entitlements, and are recognized for the sacrifices they and their loved ones have made on behalf of this great country.
Our core values:
Always put the interests of our members first
Treat donors as partners in our cause
Honor military service
Ensure the care of veterans and their families
Serve our communities
Promote a positive image of the VFW
Respect the diversity of veteran opinions
3. As a 1992 graduate of Leavenworth High School, did you take R.O.T.C. and if so, how did it prepare you for your service? Where did your military service take you and how did it best help you to identify with the experiences and needs of the thousands of members of the VFW who you will now be representing in Kansas?
I did not take ROTC at Leavenworth High School due to being on the wrestling team. My wrestling expereince really through Coach Dave Schmidt taught me the value of hard work. I then attended Pittsburg State and received a Commission in the U.S. Army as a Military Police 2LT. My first duty assignment was in Korea. What an eye-opening experiecnce to lead troops in a far-away land. Responidning to natural disasters, I spent some time at Fort Leonard Wood then took command of Military Company at Fort Riley. I led the Company to Iraq at the begining of the war. Was respsonsible for over 270+ and eventually had two other platoons assgined from other units. Organized and trained the first Iraqi Highway Patrol and conducted offensive patrolling and security for Iraq's most dangerous roads and secured thousands of convoys as they entered Baghdad. My expereince in the military really helped me bring a new way of thought. Our antiquated ways of doing business needed to change with the times. I brought my exereince of being a Northrop Grumman Program Manager and built efficiencies and transitioned our organization. In addition just being able to relate to the new generation of current war veterans and their families. They know I have been in their same position. I have also been able to relate to our collegiate veterans across Kansas by myself returning to school and achieveing my Masters from Websters on the 21st GI Bill that the VFW fought for.
Page 2 of 2 - 4. As the State Commander what are the most important issues that you plan to tackle and do you have any specific plans that you would like to introduce for the betterment of the organization?
I need to change the perception of our organization. brand marketing is key. We do so much but most think we are old white men drinking/smoking club. We could not be further from that. Our combat veterans demographic has significantly changed. We have an ever increasing amount of women combat veterans. I have engaged our federal and state legislators on numeorus occasions to force the change in culture on how we deal with women veterans. Nothing tears your heart out more than seeing a woman veteran on the side of the road or under a bridge with her son/daughter and homeless. Or to have a woman go to the VA clinic and be asked where is your husband. We will fix that and must fix that. We offer support and assistance to the military community in so many ways. Whether it's helping service members weather long deployments or cope with rough financial times, we're the program that puts the military first. The VFW provides assistance and guidance to VFW Posts and Auxiliaries in their efforts to support our military and their families. From providing free phone time and emergency financial assistance to farewell and welcome home ceremonies, the VFW is there showing support for our troops day in and day out. We've been there. We understand. And we're here to help.
5. As a veteran, what does the VFW mean to you, and how important is it for you to keep this organization strong and thriving for future veterans?
I owe the VFW my life. When I left the service I had a really hard time. Found myself drowning my sorrows and going downhill very fast. I got involved by pure luck and have been hooked since. Helping others has helped me get back to my old self. It helped me stay focused and my new career has benefited. I will show others in the same postion that the VFW and giving back will help you through the tough times and we are there for them. We are not a social club but an organization there to take care of all veterans' needs and their families.
— Rimsie McConiga