Posted on Dec 16, 2021
MAJ Robert H.
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American Legion and VFW posts are losing members and not getting new ones. I had this discussion with several leaders in both organizations. Older members are dying and new members are not joiners. The older members are often not welcoming either. I think making them family oriented and getting more involved in their community events might cause them to gain more relevance and awareness. This change should increase and gain more members. Thoughts?
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MSgt Steven Holt, NRP
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Edited 12 mo ago
"...The older members are often not welcoming either...." DING! DING! DING!! We have a winner!!!

When you are repeatedly told, "You aren't a REAL veteran because you weren't in the 'Nam" it kinda sours your desire to join. I finally joined the local VFW post (via National membership) but rarely go there as I'm shunned, ignored, and often looked at with open hostility by the older members.
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Lt Col Charlie Brown
Lt Col Charlie Brown
21 d
And the "little lady" attitude I get when I walk in the door doesn't help. I am a female veteran not someone's spouse. Makes me want to slap someone!
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PO1 Utilitiesman
PO1 (Join to see)
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Maj Robert Larkowski -, one of the criteria for joining the VFW is "Service in a war, campaign, or expedition on foreign soil or in hostile waters". Aside from having a campaign medal (GWOT-Service medal doesn't count), there are only 2 items that satisfy that criteria: proof of being a recipient of HFP/IDP or 30 consecutive/60 non-consecutive days in Korea.

Essentially, without a campaign medal, you're "not a veteran of a foreign war".
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SP5 John Fitzgerald
SP5 John Fitzgerald
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This royally pisses me off that a 'Nam veteran would disrespect recent veterans. They should recall their reception in the 60s and 70s and be vigilant not to return the disrespect they experienced. I was a demo man assigned to infantry companies all over the 25th Division and had a hard tour but am in no way a more legitimate vet than my younger brothers in the long green line.
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SN John Dilley
SN John Dilley
15 d
You'd think these Vietnam Vets would know better after the way we got treated when we got home. Come on guys, get your act together. MSgt Holt, Welcome home Brother!!
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SGT Chris Padgett
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Edited 11 mo ago
When I got out the 1st time (1991), I went to the VFW that my grandfather had been a member of years ago. I was told that I had to be in a combat area. I told them I was a Desert Storm vet. I was promptly told that Desert Storm wasn't a real war.
I said "fuck em" and forgot about it.
A couple months later, I happen to be at an event that the local American Legion was sponsoring.
I got to talking to one of the members there, and before I knew it I was a member.
I've been a legion member now for 28 years.
The difference between the two is night and day.
The post I belong to understands that we need to appeal to families and less to veterans only.
We're a family oriented post now, and it's way better than it was before we had the "come to Jesus" discussion and went to family format.
We actively recruit female veterans, and welcome them to our post.
We give a voice to the wives and other family members as to the direction we want to go.
If someone has an idea, we listen. We don't just blow them off.
Our post is an open book and people like that. Having secrets is no way to operate.
The American Legion as a national organization is really promoting this format as well.
A lot of posts are coming around, some better than others.
I've been to VFW Posts for programs, I'm glad I was turned away. I find them to be codger hangouts. Places where old guys drink beer and bitch about things.
If that's your thing, go for it.
The VFW I 1st went to, has sold their building, members have mostly died off and is dying on the vine.
Yet, the American Legion just a few miles down the road will hit record numbers for membership, prospers and is super active within the community.
It all about attitude and the way you treat your members.

*** Shameless Plug Alert***
If you live in the Cincinnati area, and you're a veteran, come visit us at Williamsburg Oh American Legion.
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Cpl Craig Howard
Cpl Craig Howard
2 mo
If you wear the Combat Action Ribbon, or it's equivalent, there should be ZERO discussion.
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SGT Chris Padgett
SGT Chris Padgett
2 mo
Cpl Craig Howard - Army doesn't have that. What I did have was my DD214. That's alright though, that VFW is mostly an afterthought of what it used to be. I'm happy with the American Legion.
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SrA Hilbert Steiner
SrA Hilbert Steiner
2 mo
SGT Chris Padgett - I've heard that from many Veterans.
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CPO Nate S.
CPO Nate S.
20 d
It is indeed unfortunate, but is about propoganda. Some, not all, Vietnam vets still feel the sting of rejection. I took my oath in October 1975. We had just pulled out of Vietnam!

As with any echochamber those who feel disparaged (i.e., ignore, abused, used, etc.) can often set up walls, barriers, to deny entry and often seek to inflict the same pain by extension on others. Is this an excuse? It is NOT! It is an explination.


But we as "younger" veterans (I am 66 as I write this) must inform ourselves with history and ask the wise questions. Such as:


- "So, you think that the jungles of Vietnam were worse than the fighting in Kandahar? What is your evidence those fighting for their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan did not suffer the same issue of insurgents as the Vietkong you faced?"

Reasoning: Just getting them to stop and thing about what they are saying about a fellow veteran without threat will force many to question their beliefs, that is if they are honest with themselves and NOT self-deluted!!!

- the defintion of a "Club" vs an "organization" is also interesting:

Club /kləb/ noun

an association or organization dedicated to a particular interest or activity.
"a photography club"


Organization /or·gan·i·za·tion /ˌôrɡənəˈzāSH(ə)n / noun

1. an organized body of people with a particular purpose, especially a business, society, association, etc.
"a research organization"


- "So, given the fact this 'club' is "organized" for the purpose of promoting good will among other veterans regardless of when they served, I am disappointed that I come here out of respect for your service only to be disrespected for mine in defense of the same nation we both love. Why then am I the subject of your anger when I have been just as willing as you to do what my country asked of me as you did to provide me with my opportunity to serve? Can we at least talk about that in a least hostile way?"

Reasoning: Again, they have been listening to their own echoing words and reinforced biases that it sometimes takes a challenge to get them thinking.


Of course, these are political organizations as well. They have power and don't want to give it up.


Finally, SGT Chris Padgett it is about FAMILY. And he is 100% spot on! Even the VA is taking a more holistic look at the veteran to now include the family (usually as long-term care givers). When he says, "It is all about attitude and the way you treat your members" this sounds like the GOLDEN RULE "Do unto others as you have them do unto you".

I think that the reason some are so negative, is because they have lost their faith in humankind and have tried to act with humanity to only be slapped down and rejected to a point they felt the ONLY to hold onto what little "humanity" they had left was to not allow people in. Sad, but I am afraid true. All we can do is reach out. Imagine if an AL members went to get a VFW member and sponsor them at an event and personally connected to others. How powerful would that be as a statement! Would they be "old codgers", or would they begin to be "reborn" into the human beings they always have been? Kindness............................

Just saying..............
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1SG Dan Capri
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Thats a good question. More family oriented. A service center oriented office environment.
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