Posted on Jan 11, 2016
TSgt Chuck Mankin
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Should Veteran’s Organizations Merge?

With 0.5 percent of American’s serving in the military that leaves only about 1.6 million people who have served that are alive today. The three big Veteran’s organizations which come to mind, at least in my area in the NE US are the American Legion, the Marine Corps League, and the Veterans’ of Foreign War. Each has their own membership requirements with the Legion seeming to be the organization that is most inclusive of all vets in the American Legion. The common thread that all veterans organizations share is declining membership and wondering why so many young vets are not joining.

While I don’t have an answer for that other than the possibility that many young vets see the various organizations as retirement homes where old Vietnam and WWII vets sit around, drink cheap beer and talk about their glory days. One issue I see is that maybe there is just too many organiztions fighting for too few vets today. While each organization has it’s own focus based on membership maybe it’s time to just say a vet is a vet and we are all getting a raw deal these days from the VA and from many others too. I think that combining the organizations is a sure way to ensure that any of these organizations continue to offer the services they do to veterans and to the communities they reside in.
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Responses: 66
SFC Ernest Thurston
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No I don't think they should merge. We have more clout with Congress when there are five or six guys siting at the table saying the same thing from different angles then if we just sent one person. Each organization has it's own place at the table. My vets are members of several organizations especially retired vets. It's just like government. The smaller and more local it is, the more responsive it is to the needs of it's citizens/members. Do you want one giant organization that doesn't know you to to make decisions for you. Even though we are all vets we all have different experiences withing our respective branches. A sailor may not know how a soldier or an airman feels about a situation because they don't do the same jobs. Why should we have one mega organization represent us.
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SFC John Lee Washington
SFC John Lee Washington
>1 y
It is called LEADERSHIP
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Nicci Eisenhauer
Nicci Eisenhauer
>1 y
Interesting viewpoint, but 501c3 not-for-profit entities cannot lobby by law. Hence you cannot walk into Congress en masse and get attention and unless you have intensely major hookup... like a VERY expensive lobbying firm (each of whose employees must have a license), your viewpoint is a valid viewpoint with no legal weight or capacity whatsoever... meaning: via your model, you have zero power. And since it costs MEGA money to either BE a lobbying power OR hire one, it's CRUCIAL for Veterans to not only understand what lobbying actually IS, how it is legally DONE, or do not complain when super PACs and corporations (including large defense contractors' lobbyists) wipe the floor with Veterans' intetests (including their employees who are Veterans).
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SGT Craig Northacker
SGT Craig Northacker
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Actually, there are allowances for lobbying within the law - but the amounts are strictly controlled. That was before the recent law change that now allows churches to fund political purpose groups.
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SGT Craig Northacker
SGT Craig Northacker
>1 y
There is also a distinct difference between lobbying and education. Also, people can lie on their returns. Or give shaded information to the accountants preparing them.
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Sgt Frank Rinchich
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No way under any circumstances should they merge, first there are no beer drinking story telling organizations I know of, and I belong to two, VFW and Marine Corps League, we have completely different stances on about everything. I have been in the VFW for a number of years, have over 500 member. to this day I doubt I know 50 vets. and I am the senior vice commander. where as been in the MCL 6 years and from day one I felt like family . and had personal contact with everyone. We work at a completely different way to raise money for charity. I have had marines in the VFW say that the MCL was to gung ho for them, and I disagree with you on there being to few vets, there are thousands of vets to pull from if the organizations would just seek them out and offer them a place they feel comfortable in .you can't just have a vet sign a form to become a member , you have to make sure he is the focal point of your organization. And make that vet feel he is part of something good. and statements like you made even though in a satire way about old age homes and beer drinking and story telling does more damage then good in recruiting vets. ( just a side note, after 8 years in the VFW I have yet to hear a combat story from any vet. Our job to recruiting vets is to welcome them as a vet and let them know they are part of something good. good for them and good for their community.
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Nicci Eisenhauer
Nicci Eisenhauer
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Sgt Frank Rinchich Sir, your service in Veterans support is extremely appreciated and valuable. Your knowledge and experience are flat out INVALUABLE. Have you written any articles on RP or elsewhere about lobbying? I wish more people understood what lobbying is all about and what the VSOs are for and why they should be involved. It's very concerning for the future. Do you have thoughts as to whom is doing the best recruiting and retention and which of the non-branch-specific organizations will survive?
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SFC Wade W.
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The VFW, American Legion and DAV all have charters granted by Congress. It took months and even years to be recognized as non-profit veteran focused groups. They each have there purpose and direct their energies in accordance with their charters. Each organization brings in millions of dollars each year to take care of veterans and their families. BTW your numbers are wrong.bthere are currently around 4 million vets that are out there.
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SFC John Lee Washington
SFC John Lee Washington
>1 y
SFC Wade W. - Please understand that this observation or at least the thought is; we need to consider consolidation of resources and collaboration for the success of these organizations future endeavors. SFC Wade Williams their is always a better use of resources and it is necessary for efficiency in service to our MILITARY more efficiently.
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SFC Wade W.
SFC Wade W.
>1 y
SFC John Lee Washington I am a Life Member of the VFW, Annual Member of the American Legion, Honorary Life Member and Charter Member of the American Legion Riders, Annual Member of the Sons of the American Legion and a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans. My family members are members of several organizations also. I do understand what your premise is but I also know the difficulty in starting these types of organizations. In my cities and communities we are working hard at getting our local VSO's to work together and it is working. As veterans, especially the younger Vets, we need to join and become active in the established VSO's and stop whining about the old boys clubs. Work from the inside to make the VSO's work for you.
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Nicci Eisenhauer
Nicci Eisenhauer
>1 y
SFC Wade W. Not to mention that 501c3 nonprofits CANNOT lobby and the Congressional charters of which you speak hold more power than sheer sizecas a result. You could have 10 million members and be a 501c3 and have to HIRE a lobbying firm. The lobbying entities are 501c4s and our friends who are arguing otherwise haven't learned what lobbying is and don't know VA law and that all generations of Veterans do not get equal benefits and often lobby against each other. It's lack of knowledge and awareness and the lobbying bodies are NOT good at articulating what they do.
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Nicci Eisenhauer
Nicci Eisenhauer
>1 y
SFC Wade W. It would be enormously helpful if someone would explain to the Veterans and active, reserve and Guard components what the VARIED VSOs do that differentiates them from each other. It doesn't make a lot of sense to these folks why there are so many, they don't understand lobbying law, Congressional charters, 501c3 vs 501c4 va 501c19 or local chapters vs national lobbying entities or VA law and varying benefits based on generation, conflicts and even hot zones. This is a whole thesis paper topic.
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