OLATHE, Kan. — Kansas City, Missouri, leaders adopted a resolution proclaiming February, 27, 2021, as VFW Foundation Day. The Kansas City-based foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
As the charitable arm of the Veterans of Foreign War, the VFW Foundation provides scholarships for veterans, grants for VFW Posts and sponsors send-off and welcome-home events before and after military deployments.
Abdurahim Sharif knows the foundation’s impact first hand. The Army veteran is a graduate student at University of Missouri – Kansas City thanks to a Sports Clips Help a Hero Scholarship from the foundation.
“It made me proud [to receive the scholarship], to want to prove them right,” the 34-year-old combat veteran said. “[Prove] they did not waste anything and I was going to put my best foot forward.”
Sharif’s story begins well before he enrolled in class at UMKC. He was born in Somalia. His family fled the East African country during a civil war, landing at a United Nations refugee camp in Kenya. Eventually, they made it to Massachusetts and later, Maine. Sharif vowed to give back to his new country and joined the Army in 2006.
“We have a big family and America is amazing,” Sharif said. “I feel blessed. Grateful for the opportunities, grateful for saving our lives. It’s the least I can do.”
The Army deployed Sharif to Kuwait, Iraq and Germany. While in Iraq, he became a U.S. citizen.
In 2013, he moved to the Kansas City area, left the Army and joined the Missouri Army National Guard.
He graduated from UMKC with a political science degree — The first person in his family to graduate from college.
“Education is the cornerstone,” he said. “Work hard, pay your dues, serve your community and accomplish what you wish to accomplish in life.”
The scholarship from the VFW Foundation gave him the motivation to continue school and earn his Master of Business Administration (MBA), also at UMKC.
“With the right people around you, they can propel you forward,” Sharif said. “Organizations like the VFW are exactly like that.”
He plans to graduate in December and work in politics where he can make a difference and continue paying back the community to which he feels he owes everything.
More information about the VFW Foundation and its scholarship opportunities for veterans can be found on the VFW National Headquarters website.