About Veterans & Military Families for Progress

Mission Statement

Veterans and Military Families for Progress is a 21st Century grassroots organization dedicated to ensuring that the rights and needs of veterans, military service members (including active-duty, Guard and Reserve) - and their families - are understood by the American public, endorsed by our elected officials, and protected by legislation, regulation, and public policy initiatives.

Statement of Purpose

Veterans and Military Families for Progress is organized primarily to:
  • Advocate for progressive legislation and initiatives on behalf of veterans, military service members and their families
  • Endorse candidates for national office who pledge to support veterans and military families
  • Educate the media and the public-at-large as to the rights and needs of veterans, military service members and their families
  • Develop programs to reach out to veterans, military service members and their families that reflect their needs and concerns

VMFP Governance

Our Board of Directors of up to 15 members is elected for two-year terms at each biennial meeting. Members also elect our President; Executive Vice-President, Administrative Vice-President, Treasurer, & Secretary. The President appoints National Committee Chairpersons, Board Liaisons to those committees, and other committee liaisons. Committee Chairs appoint committee members with the review of the President. To read the By-Laws in their entirety click Here.


Veterans, military service members (including active-duty, Guard and Reserve) and family members of active-duty, Guard and Reserve personnel can join the national organization. Annual dues are $35; three-year membership dues are $100. A minimum of 10 members is required to begin a state or local chapter. Chapters may adopt their own by-laws so long as they are in concert with the National VMFP Mission Statement, Statement of Purpose and By-Laws. Chartered affiliates may not endorse federal issues or candidates in conflict with the national positions of the organization. Chapters, however, may adopt or endorse local issues and local or statewide candidates based on the will of their membership.

You can join online using PayPal with any credit card, or you can join by printing and filling out this form and mailing it with your dues to the address on the form.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is Veterans & Military Families for Progress a partisan group?
  2. Why did VMFP start?
  3. Is VMFP a Congressionally Chartered Veterans' Service Organization?
  4. If you are veterans, why do you have military families in your name?
  5. Do you have a board?
  6. What kind of organization are you and how are you different from other veterans organizations?
  7. How do I reach VMFP?

  1. Is Veterans & Military Families for Progress a partisan group?

    No, we are non-partisan.

  2. Why did VMFP start?

    We are filling a need in the veterans community for active involvement in politics. We will educate voters, politicians and the general public, and advocate for veteran and military family issues.

  3. Is VMFP a Congressionally Chartered Veterans' Service Organization?

    No. We are a VA-Recognized organization, chartered to be of service to veterans, service members and their families - by working for their benefits and rights through politics from the grassroots level up to the national level.

  4. If you are veterans, why do you have military families in your name?

    We recognize that no veteran becomes a veteran alone. There is always some family member supporting us somewhere. We also recognize that the active duty military cannot advocate for themselves, so we wish to recognize and welcome the family members of active-duty, Guard and Reserve personnel to speak for them.

  5. Do you have a board?

    We have a Board of Directors elected by the general membership to govern and guide this organization in its formation and its mission. Board members - women and men - are from many states, coast to coast.

  6. What kind of organization are you and how are you different from other veterans organizations?

    VMFP is a legally filed 501(c)(4) not-for-profit corporation in the District of Columbia. We are different from other veterans organizations in that this allows us to educate, advocate, and engage in the political process. The only thing we can't do as an organization is give money to a candidate as an organization. Other veterans organizations are 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(19), so they are restricted from being actively involved in the political process - such as endorsing and campaigning for a candidate. Our legal structure is very similar to most unions. And unlike with most traditional VSOs, family members can and do take on leadership roles in the organization.

  7. How do I reach VMFP?

    See our Contacts page; you can also mail us us at:
    Veterans and Military Families for Progress
    PO Box 66353
    Washington, DC 20035

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National President Tom Howe, served as United States Marine combat veteran, Vietnam.  VMFP National board/committee participation includes, among others, President, Director, Media/Public Relations Committee, Chair, National Business Plan Committee.  Tom served as Iowa chair of the Democratic Veterans’ Caucus Platform Committee, and as a member of National Security Network and Dubuque Area Council on Foreign Relations.  In 2009 Tom was a vital force in planning and bringing to fruition the first annual All the Way Home conference in Dubuque. As a public speaker Tom shares stories of the ongoing and current coming home issues, elevating awareness, movement to action, and information about the “All The Way Home” conference. Tom says, “For nearly 40 years, I have been living the process of coming home from combat. By listening to the stories of others, I continue to learn about the complexity, similarity, and changing nature of the coming home issues. The passion of my volunteer life for nearly 30 years is to speak out to raise America’s awareness and to move a caring America to action. During the presidential campaign of 2003-2004, I was aware that there was something much bigger than the presidential election going on among veterans. Others were similarly aware. In February of 2005, I was lucky enough to be present at a gathering of those in uniform, veterans, and members of military families, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Those gathered were aware that because America was at war, we were being called to a new duty, a second call to duty. VMFP was born on that weekend. As I drove home in a terrible snow storm that Sunday night, I was warmed by the selfless sense of service present at that gathering. I had finally found a home for taking the passion about the coming home issues to a national level. I am the luckiest Marine who served in Vietnam.”

Executive Vice President Jan Donatelli was one of the first generation of female Navy pilots (1985-1991) flying a Strategic communications mission over the Pacific. Long an advocate for veterans, Jan is a member of the American Legion, and was on the national policy committee for Veterans for Obama. She was also a Delta pilot, and has been active in labor affairs for the last 15 years as an activist, an AFL-CIO trained communications specialist, and as an organizer. A proud member of the Airline Pilots Association, International, she sits on the national steering committee for the Union Veterans Council and heads the new Illinois State Council. Jan ran for Congress, IL-5th, to highlight "coming home" issues, and in September she was recognized at the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention as a "Hero of the Labor Political Movement." Jan is a member of the Executive Board of Bright Future Jobs, a non-profit established to end the abuse of foreign worker guest VISA's. President of KITD Consulting, Jan has worked for various transportation issues, primarily with aviation policy and legislation, and the transformation of America's outmoded transportation networks. Jan is also a member of VETPAC and Council for a Livable World.

Administrative Vice President Jim "Van" Van Doren served in the US Army from 1964 to 1967, including an extended tour as a volunteer Dustoff medic in Viet Nam. After his service Van worked as an auto mechanic, service manager and ultimately store manager for a major tire company in Southern California. During a visit with his father back in Texas, who augmented his retirement income doing home repairs for neighbors and friends, Van decided to leave the corporate world and start his own "Handyvan" business in SoCal. When modest success finally allowed a vacation to Oregon in 1979, Van and his family decided to make Portland their home. Van worked in building maintenance for a private college and a university, which led to a position as a Plant Maintenance Engineer at Multnomah County in 1992. Van developed and now leads the Facilities Dispatch program for the County. In 2004 Van created and maintained the Oregon Veterans for Kerry website, and more recently was active in the Veterans for Obama movement.

National Secretary/Treasurer Shawn Van Doren has thirty-four years experience in finance and accounting management, serving as financial controller, human resource manager, and network administrator in the corporate and non-profit sectors. She has been self-employed for the last fifteen years, providing consultant and accounting expertise for clients in manufacturing, service, art galleries, member-benefit organizations, social-welfare, and advocacy groups. In addition to working with Veterans and Military Families for Progress she is currently on the board of BIRRDsong (Brain Injury Information, Referral, and Resource Development), a survivor-led support group for the survivors and family members of brain injury, is a certified victim service advocate with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and works with other non-profit organizations in the Oregon area. Shawn Van Doren is the proud wife of Viet Nam veteran Jim Van Doren, sister of an Air Force medic who served in Desert Storm, adopted daughter of WWII SeaBee Jack Miller and natural daughter of Army soldier John W. Gallaugher.

National Executive Director  Matthew Cary, U.S. Army Reserves (1969-1975) is a founding member of Veterans and Military Families for Progress (VMFP). Mr. Cary was the first elected President of the national organization in 2005 and was re-elected to a second term in 2007. He is a Vietnam Veteran and served in a Combat Engineer Unit and the 354th Civil Affairs Unit. Professionally, he is the President of Cary & Associates, a Washington, D.C. based Government Relations and International Marketing Consulting Firm since 1986. The Firm represents state and local governments and non-profit organizations on policy, legislative and programmatic issues with the Congress and Federal Agencies. Matt has over 39 years experience in government relations and advocacy with the Federal government as the owner of a small business, and as a former employee of a New York Governor, seven City Mayors, a Trade Association, and a U.S. Congressman. He holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from American University and a BA Degree from St. Bonaventure University. He has authored two major policy documents to help veterans and their families with the "Coming Home Issues " and started his veterans advocacy as a volunteer for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.