Dec 1, 2018

Cooties

The Military Order of the Cootie of the United States is a non-profit Veterans Service Organization. It is known as "The Honor Degree of the VFW" and members are comprised of the officers and leadership of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.

The Military Order of the Cootie was established on September 17, 1920, in Washington, D.C., by Fred Madden and F. L. Gransbury. The organization was modeled after the Imperial Order of the Dragon, an auxiliary to the Spanish American War Veterans.


The name "cootie" is a reference to the lice that plagued soldiers in World War I. Cooties were credited with keeping soldiers' heads down in the trenches. A meeting of cooties is called a "scratch", the local chapter a "Pup Tent", the state affiliate a "Grand", and national headquarters at Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, "The Supreme".

In the years after its founding, it took on several special projects designed to bring smiles to the faces of two special groups of people - hospitalized veterans and residents of the VFW National Home.

The official uniform of the VFW's Military Order of the Cootie is red pants with a white stripe running down each side; ruffled white shirt; lace-trimmed red vest emblazoned on the back with a gold-outlined, bug-like creature with flashing light bulb eyes; red, overseas-style cap worn sideways so that the tassels dangle beside the wearer's ears.



There are about 37,000 Cooties in 1,000 Pup tents. Membership is open to members in good standing in the VFW who have displayed their willingness to work for the parent organization.

The Military Order of the Cootie Auxiliary draws its membership from the ranks of women eighteen and older who have been active members of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary for at least six months and who are the wife, widow, sister, half-sister, daughter, foster daughter, or granddaughter of an active VFW member in good standing. Today there are approximately 17,000 auxiliary members contained in 597 Pup Tents.