In 1654, Asher Levy, one of the original twenty-three Jewish settlers in New Amsterdam, demanded and secured for himself and fellow Jews the right to stand guard at the stockade. From Colonial time to the present, Jews have played an important role in the defense of the United States of America. On July 31, 1776, Frances Salvador, a plantation owner from South Carolina, was killed in a British incited Indian skirmish. He was the first Jew killed in the Revolutionary War. One hundred and twenty years later, in 1896, a group of Jewish Civil War veterans organized the Hebrew Union Veterans, an organization that was later to become the Jewish War Veterans of the USA. The Hebrew Union Veterans was founded as a direct result of slander that Jews had not participated in the military during the War Between States.
What concerned Jewish veterans then, and throughout America's history, concerns Jewish veterans today. Jews must still defend themselves against the canards of anti-Semites who continue to declare that Jews have not served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Thousands of Jews have died in combat for their country and thousands more have been wounded. Thousands of Jews have been awarded combat medals for performing their duty in time of war. Despite this record, the bigots continue to spread their lies.
A study of Jewish participation in the military during World War II clearly indicates Jews served in the Armed Forces beyond their numerical proportion to the general population. They received more than 52,000 awards, including the coveted Congressional Medal of Honor. Jews participated in the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf War, and continue to serve in today's conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Today, the Jewish War Veterans of the USA combats anti-Semitism and bigotry. JWV assists the Office of Special Investigation in pursuing Nazi war criminals. JWV supports American youth through scouting, scholarships and anti-drug programs. JWV assists oppressed Jews worldwide. The organization supports strong U.S.-Israeli relations by sponsoring two Allied Veterans' Missions to Israel each year.
JWV is dedicated to America's veterans. Through its hospital, rehabilitation and veterans' service programs, JWV assists the Veterans' Service Offices in major cities throughout the country. JWV supports the underprivileged, homeless, and handicapped of our nation through a variety of civic betterment projects, including low-cost, federally subsidized senior citizens housing.
The Jewish War Veterans of the USA represents a proud tradition of patriotism and service to America. JWV is known as the "Patriotic Voice of American Jewry".