From its inception, the Buddy Poppy Program has helped the VFW live up to its motto, "to honor the dead by helping the living." The Buddy Poppy, a small red flower symbolic of the blood shed in World War I by millions of Allied soldiers in defense of freedom, was originally distributed to provide relief for the people of war devastated France. Later, its distribution directly benefited thousands of disabled and down-and-out American veterans. 

National by-laws require that the profits from these distributions be placed in the post's Relief Fund to be used locally only for the following purposes: 
• For the aid, assistance, relief, and comfort of needy or disabled veterans or members of the Armed Forces and their dependents, and the widows and orphans of deceased veterans. 
• For the maintenance and expansion of the VFW National Home and other facilities devoted exclusively to the benefit and welfare of the dependents, widows, and orphans of disabled, needy, or deceased veterans or members of the Armed Forces. 
• For necessary expenses in providing entertainment, care, and assistance to hospitalized veterans or members of the Armed Forces. 
• For veterans' rehabilitation, welfare, and service work. 
• To perpetuate the memory of deceased veterans and members of the Armed Forces, and to comfort survivors. 
With help from the VFW, the "Little Red Flower" continues to benefit the needy. In 1989, for example, 17,894,684 poppies were distributed for an average donation of 55 cents. To date, the VFW has distributed over three quarters of a billion Buddy Poppies. As long as Americans continue to spill their blood in defense of freedom, we will continue to distribute the blood-red poppies.