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TSgt Information Technology (It)
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I have been a part of the of the VFW for well over a decade, but every post I visit, its seems to be a smoke filled bar with people trying to hang on to something that past them years ago. When I ask about switching, I get told the "scripted speech" of why the post is great. When I ask questions that the speech brings up, I get "umm" answers. While I respect this veterans and enjoy their stories and brotherhood, I have chosen to distance myself from it. I rarely hear from anyone at nationals, districts, or local posts about anything. So to me, my lifetime membership I paid for is helping fund something, to which I am not a part of.

On the younger side, everything now is done online. Websites, Facebook, emails, texts, etc.., are the way to communicate with, to an extent, my generation, and the younger generations. My attempts to bring many posts into a more technology based approach have been met with great resistance, the complaining it costs money (I offered to host, build, and maintain for free), and the overall dissatisfaction that it would not help the current members. To make a point, one local post has a calendar of events on its website from 2009 still active, the sites last update was 2011. Dues are paid by cash, manual card swipe (so much PII and fraud waiting to happen), and the newsletter is about who died, the next meeting, and when the dart/bowling/billiard/etc.. league will start. This does not entice myself or many in the younger generation.

There is a case to point out though, many younger vets have families, working full-time jobs, some serving on active duty, in the reserves and guard, or just do not know about these organizations. I hate to say this, but I am too busy with life, being a father and husband, to spend time drinking beers and reminiscing about days gone by. When I retire, I may, but I have 40 years to go, and then I may still focus on geocaching or woodworking. One last perception is that it's a drinking organization, as bars are common, so is drinking. Not many people that I know want to be a part of a "paid drinking crew," which we can do at home, with friends. There is little to show for community service, little explanation what our dues go too, or communication from anyone when questions are asked. So people tend to look, pass off, and never return. I was once willing to help make the change, but when I was told "you think you are smarter than all of us, you dont know nothing about how all this works and what we need, so stop asking questions and be quiet," I washed my hands of it and have not looked back since.

I will leave with this thought, if veteran organizations are unwilling to change, adapt, and appeal to the younger vets, they too will be left behind, forgotten about, and wither away with time, forgotten about, only to be remembered by history.
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SGT Warren Crutcher
SGT Warren Crutcher
>1 y
You hit nail right on the head. I have experienced the same issues with these so called Veterans Organizations that do nothing but run a bar. They used to be active in the communities and helping Veterans but lately all I see is a bar that they use as a find raiser or Bingo Night. That is definitely not going to attract the Youth. Hell I'm 55 years old and it doesn't attract me either.
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LCDR Sales & Proposals Manager Gas Turbine Products
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Not true of "all" of us...I'm a proud member of American Legion Post 53 and the Scottish-American Military Society.

I will say that being the only guy in the room under 60 makes it "interesting" at times..but honestly, the older fellers seem happy to have fresh meat to pick on..."volunteer" for things...and get a perspective of how things may have changed for better...or for worse, since their day.

That said, I'm probably an exception...not the rule.

Some comments I'd humbly and respectfully offer to recruitment officers for these organizations:

1. Remember that you did your service when you were a younger adult-You've probably matured and learned a great deal since, and so will we (I hope).

2. Like you, we fought in wars few of us had any real control or understanding of, and are eager to get about living life as "former" service members.

3. We're probably broke, in debt over our head, and busy trying to keep (or find) work and raise young children...Its not easy to make events at noon on a weekday or travel to the state capital for District meetings.

4. Things HAVE changed-We served under different circumstances...some, which may sound completely impossible to you.

5. You grew up during a different time...We may agree with you on many things, and may even share your frustration with "recent changes". All the same, we don't take it for granted that what we say won't be used against us or lead to trouble...if the topic of discussion is always controversial, we may be less than comfortable.

6. Just because we're under fifty doesn't mean we can write computer programs, do trigonometry in our head, or offer a qualified opinion on the design aspects of the F-35 (unless we flew it).

7. Finally, just keep in mind that some of you are the age of our fathers...and we respect and value you as such. You're our heroes. Being asked to "join" your ranks is both an honor...and an admission that "those days" we've been trying to hold onto are over. Let us get over trading the crotch-rocket for the "family car"...and we'll be more than happy to judge the High School essay contest ;)
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Col Group Commander
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I applaud the way you wrapped that up. Your suggestions hit the nail on the head. I hope that the readers will take this back to their VSO's and share it. After all, we just need to understand where we are each coming from.
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LCDR Sales & Proposals Manager Gas Turbine Products
LCDR (Join to see)
>1 y
Thank you Sir...It breaks my heart to think that a few "bad apples" have turned so many off of the Legion. Our Post doesn't allow alcohol...and we are very active in the city program. I do get a kick out of being the "pet Squid" in an almost entirely US Army vet Post...Last week, I had to explain the mysteries of Navy rates/ranks to them.
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Lt Col Scott Shuttleworth
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Edited >1 y ago
Have been to a couple and all I saw was old vets (men and women) sitting around so boozed up they barely made it to the restroom before they peed themselves. I know the national lobby for all of these is good for veterans and I might join to give them my money to support those lobbies but I won't be an active member. I know it is their style because they founded the orgs but it isn't mine. No family events either. I spent a lot of time away from my family when I was in and like to spend time with them now and if there were more family events, I might think about it again.

Just not my style. I agree with Sgt Gus Laskaris...seems old fashioned like a Shriners/Elks type vibe.
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CPT Jack Durish
CPT Jack Durish
>1 y
The sins of the few: This is the same argument that the anti-gun crowd uses to damn all gun owners. Our VFW post doesn't have a bar. We are a service organization. We help veterans with their VA claims, visit patients in VA hospitals and hold pizza and bbq parties, collect food and essentials for young families struggling to survive while spouses are deployed, etc. Socially, we get together for breakfast once each week. Still haven't attracted young members even though we have a community college full of them nearby. Seems that all they want are jobs and women. Sorry. Can't help them with that. This is California and the state govt has chased business to greener pastures. And we're not wing-men
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Lt Col Scott Shuttleworth
Lt Col Scott Shuttleworth
>1 y
CPT Jack Durish - I am glad to hear that your orgs are active like that in the community, active with veterans, and that you get together and just fellowship...that is awesome!!! That is what they are supposed to be like. Unfortunately, the ones around here just sit around and drink beer, use bad language, smoke and berate the government without any debate about any goodness and like MSgt DeYoung stated...a lot of them talk about how rough it was in 'Nam and that the current Vets didn't and currently don't have it as bad. Just don't want to be a part of that. The only other part of the VFW is that it only takes combat veterans...that excludes a lot of folks that otherwise would have joined and supported your causes.

I am not damning all the orgs...VFW/American Legion/AMVETS...if that is the way it came across, I apologize. I know there are some good ones, just not in my neck of the woods.
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CPT Jack Durish
CPT Jack Durish
>1 y
Lt Col Scott Shuttleworth - Vietnam Vets did have it harder than those of any other conflict, when they returned home. However, that does not give us the right to denigrate anyone else's sacrifice and I would be the first to remind them of that if they became abusive in my presence. (The same is true of any civilian who abused a Vietnam Vet for his service) I hate bullies. If I have a fault, it is a knee-jerk reflex to bully bullies...
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Lt Col Scott Shuttleworth
Lt Col Scott Shuttleworth
>1 y
Absolutely the Vietnam veterans had it rougher with the American populace than anyone returning from any conflict or war. I wholeheartedly respect those who fought in Vietnam and if ever there was a black eye on our nation, it was during that time when they returned. I remember seeing it on the news...pathetic and embarrassing spot on our nations history. I can't even pretend to imagine what that felt like because I was greeted with cheering and a great welcome home. I have no tolerance of anyone who spoke badly of or still speaks badly of Vietnam soldiers...I have them in my family and we just don't bring it up and go to neutral corners.

However, those are not the conversations I have heard at the orgs I have visited. What I have heard is that the newer group of veterans, even though they have been in combat, don't know what combat really is like it was in 'Nam. I have heard things like we have had it easier when in fact things are just the opposite in some cases. Which it is why I believe a lot of younger vets aren't interested. Combat is combat and it doesn't matter if it was in Panmunjom, Vietnam, Somalia, Anbar province, or Fallujah...if you were there it was tough and none are worse than others.

By the way... I hate bullies and have no tolerance for any of them as well...I pull them off and ask if they want to pick on someone like me versus someone else. That usually shuts them up.
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