Taps For The American Legion & VFW?

The Mankato Free Press offers this storyabout declining membership at the Waseca VFW Post #1642. It’s not an uncommon story, either here in Minnesota or elsewhere across the nation. Younger veterans are just are not interested in these organizations, and their membership is aging and declining.  Also, the male-dominated organizations have been slow to make an appeal to female members, even as about 20% of those now serving in the military are women. Of course, some groups like the Waseca Post blame smoking bans for their woes, but the National Commandant of the VFW sees it differently.  As a veteran (and former American Legion member), I think this is too bad. There are a lot of veterans, both young and old, who could use some help and a common voice. 

I suggest the two organizations merge together as a single group that welcomes all veterans, and then make a serious outreach to the veterans of Vietnam, the Gulf Wars and Afganistan, as well as to peacetime warriors like myself.  What do you think?

11 Comments so far

  1. mnblrmkr on April 8th, 2009 @ 9:09 am

    Doesn’t help them that Vietnam Vets set up there own organizations either.

  2. Robert Moffitt (justpbob) on April 8th, 2009 @ 9:12 am

    There are other veterans groups, too. Like this one:

  3. Robert Moffitt (justpbob) on April 8th, 2009 @ 9:35 am

    From the Brainerd Dispatch, another veterans club in trouble:

  4. greg on April 8th, 2009 @ 9:46 am

    Maybe it’s because I’m under 30 and live under a rock, but these organizations’ clubhouses/bars confuse me. Is the general public allowed to go in? We live down the road from an American Legion that advertises burger nights and drink specials, but I’ll be honest that I’m not sure I’m allowed to go inside if I’m not a member.

  5. Robert Moffitt (justpbob) on April 8th, 2009 @ 9:57 am

    I’m glad you asked, Greg. The answer is YES, the general public is welcome at all clubs with bars/restaurants. There is usually a guest book or sign-in sheet near the door. Just put your name on it. You don’t have to be a vertaran, or be a guest of a member to go in.

    In some clubs you need to be "buzzed-in" the door, but don’t let that stop you from ringing the bell/buzzer. As I said, all are welcome.

    To be a member of the American Legion, you just need to be a military veteran like me, or my wife. As its name suggests, the VFW is open only to veterans who served during major armed conflicts (but not necessarily in combat or at the front).

    So feel free to enjoy that beer/burger special at the Legion Hall down the road. You (and your $$) are very welcome there.

  6. David (jacc) on April 8th, 2009 @ 11:33 am

    I too have been confused as to whether the general public is welcome or not. There’s a hopping legion hall near my house on Frost/English in Maplewood that always seems to have a full parking lot and plenty of smokers hovering outside.

    Also, from the food specials and twenty and thirty something crowd hanging out it looks like the type of place that would be very kid friendly.

  7. greg on April 8th, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

    I was talking about this at dinner tonight, and my 55 year-old mom said she always wondered if the public was allowed to go into VFW/American Legions but never bothered to try. I wonder how much of their business model relies on food/liquor sold at these establishments. If it’s significant, perhaps they wouldn’t be in such dire straits if they had a better marketing plan to the general public.

  8. Robert Moffitt (justpbob) on April 9th, 2009 @ 7:46 am

    I think the Legion and VFW posts are better known in small towns and rural areas, where there are fewer dining and drinking options. They also tend to attract a mainly blue-collar clientel (who also are more likely to have family members in the military).

    To your point, yes, they need a better marketing plan. It’s sad that many service clubs seem to be little more than beer/burger joints, at a time when so many veterans could benefit from a strong, locally based organization.

    Greg, you and your mom should go to the Legion together sometime for their dinner special. David, the service clubs are famious for their strong (and cheap!) drinks. Grab one and go keep the smokers company some weekend. Tell them Sp4 Robert Moffitt, 1st Armored Division, sent you!

    Everyone: Please support your local service club. Thanks!

  9. David (jacc) on April 9th, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

    "Grab one and go keep the smokers company some weekend. Tell them Sp4 Robert Moffitt, 1st Armored Division, sent you! "

    Well being a nonsmoker I tend to avoid the second hand smoke whenever possible, but after a stiff drink or two I just may get the smoking troops whipped into a frenzy and ready to do battle with Sp4 Robert Moffitt.

  10. Robert Moffitt (justpbob) on April 9th, 2009 @ 1:45 pm

    Oh noes! I’m doomed! (grin)

  11. Bret (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

    If your a vet. and missing the feeling of being part of a unit, get over to your local post. I waited almost 19 years to join, should have done it sooner.

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