VVAW describes itself as a national veterans' organization, and continues to campaign for peace, justice, and the rights of all United States military veterans. It publishes a twice-yearly newsletter The Veteran, previously published more frequently as 1st Casualty (1971-2) and then as Winter Soldier (1973-5).
VVAW was founded in New York City in 1967 after six Vietnam veterans marched together in an anti-war demonstration. As opposition to the war grew, membership in the VVAW grew from 600 members in 1970 to 7,000 in 1971. This was however a very small proportion of returning combatants. At this time, VVAW is said to have received significant financial support from Jane Fonda.
In January 1971, VVAW sponsored The Winter Soldier Investigation to gather testimony from GI's on political and military leaders' misconduct of the war. Intended as a public event, the investigation was boycotted by all mainstream media. All testimony was however read into the congressional record in April 1971, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee enquiry into the conduct of the war.
This enquiry took place amid a week of VVAW-led demonstrations in Washington, DC. John Kerry, as VVAW spokesman, testified against the war during hearings. Meanwhile, veterans and mothers of soldiers killed in Vietnam marched to Arlington Cemetery, and veterans camped out in protest on The Mall. There was also a medal-returning demonstration on the steps of the Capitol.
In 1972, VVAW continued antiwar protests, and released Winter Soldier, a 16mm black and white documentary movie showing witnesses giving testimony to the 1971 investigation.
By 1973, US involvement in Vietnam ended, and VVAW changed its emphasis, to advocate amnesty for draft resisters and deserters. President Jimmy Carter eventually granted an amnesty in 1980.
Similarly-named different group
The relatively small group Vietnam Veterans Against the War Anti-Imperialist (VVAW-AI) is not a faction, caucus or part of VVAW. The VVAW web site describes VVAW-AI as "the creation of an obscure, ultra-left sect called the Revolutionary Communist Party ... designed to pimp off of VVAW's history of struggle."