Tags: Veterans | aging | VFW | veterans of foreign wars | benefits

VFW Searching for Younger Vets as Membership Tumbles

Image: VFW Searching for Younger Vets as Membership Tumbles

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By    |   Monday, 02 Jan 2017 02:51 PM

Membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars has dropped from 2 million in 1986 to 1.3 million today as the organization searches for ways to bounce back, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Only 15 percent of its members are Iraq and Afghanistan vets and the average age is 68.

"There are still a lot of old members who don't want new members to come in and tell them what to do," Tony Vasquez, spokesman for the Texas VFW, told the paper.

"They give them the wrong message, and younger veterans leave. I go to VFW posts and train them that every veteran needs to be respected."

VFW posts have introduced everything from Wi-Fi to trivia nights, video games, and even smoking bans in an effort to encourage new members to join.

But many VFW members concede they see their posts as bars and hangouts. Still, there are others who say they could be emphasizing charity work or helping vets obtain their benefits.

Army vet Clarence Favorite, 33, admits he had visions of the crotchety grandfather character in TV's "King of the Hill" when he thought about the VFW. But after being encouraged to join, Favorite is now the junior vice commander at a post in San Antonio.

He said he fell in love with the group's ceremonies to honor vets and discovered he had missed the camaraderie of others like him.

Jacob Babich, 32, is currently serving in the Ai Force and head of another post in San Antonio. He acknowledges the VFW will have to target younger veterans.

But he adds: "Me, I like the VFW, because I like talking to old people."

Meanwhile, NPR reported the VFW is now showing up on college campuses in hopes of attracting younger members.

"The VFW is trying to solve a problem," per the NPR report. "Younger vets aren't joining, and even when they do, they're not active."

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Membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars has dropped from 2 million in 1986 to 1.3 million today as the organization searches for ways to bounce back, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
aging, VFW, veterans of foreign wars, benefits
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2017-51-02
Monday, 02 Jan 2017 02:51 PM
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