Military Order of the Cootie

Lakeview Cemetery, South Haven, Michigan. This marker is a replica of the Military Order of the Cootie insignia.

The Military Order of the Cootie (MOC) is the Honor Degree from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The origin of the order dates back to the Spanish American War and the Imperial Order of the Dragon.  Founded in 1920 after World War I, the “Cooties” have to be members in good standing of the VFW who have displayed a willingness to work hard for the parent organization.  They have an offbeat humor and apply that to their problem-solving and the services that they deliver.

Since their founding, the MOC have taken on among others, several special projects:

  • Visits hospitalized veterans and residents and entertain them to “Keep ’em Smiling in Beds of White.”  
  • Support of the VFW National Home
  • Fund scholarships for VFW members’ children

Reflective of the sense of humor of this service organization, the cooties take their name from the lice that were found in many of thebattle encampments during World War I.  Today there are 37,000 Cooties organized into 1,000 units which they call “Pup tents”.

The official brightly-colored uniform of the VFW’s Military Order of the Cootie is comprised of 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.

Lakeview Cemetery, South Haven, Michigan

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