Skip to comments.The VFW's New Wars: Veterans Struggle to Keep Posts Alive ( Video )
Posted on 05/25/2009 5:51:02 AM PDT by kellynla
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The Official Site of the VETERANS of FOREIGN WARS of the UNITED STATES
Ohio’s non-smoking laws which also apply to private clubs are killing the VFW’s in the state.
I suspect Veterans gathering places originated as places to help them cope with the demons who came home from war with them. Then Vietnam stigma forced a lot of vets ‘underground’ in much of the country. And now we trust VA psychologists with the job of convincing our soldiers that they aren’t crazy, that only crazy people would not be bothered (at least somewhat) by what they’d gone through. (I can’t say for sure, but based on the WWII generation, for most I would guess the VFW is a more effective, more pleasant, and cheaper way to address the problem.)
We have the same problem here in Iowa with the American Legion. Also, we have trouble attrating young vets for some reason. They passed that non-smoking law here in the past year. You can smoke in the casino’s though.
Florida’s anti-smoking law has an exception for private organizations like the VFW and American Legion so it has actually helped attract members and increased club attendance in many places.
But the exceptions are constantly under attack by the do-gooders.
Smoking was the number one reason I did not continue my membership. I had far better places to be than siting inside an ashtray.
But there are other, just as important reason the clubs aren't attracting new members. When I was young we head about the 'Generation Gap' and it's back.
What veteran of the Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan wishes to got to a bar where the band is playing 'All your favorites from the 50's 60's and 70's!!'
There are more, but the these illustrate that the problem isn't simple. The smoking issue alone (Even as moot as it is now in Ohio) is a blade cutting both ways. Don't and you chase away smokers, do and the non-smokers don't show up.
Today the only ones able to make the changes aren't so willing to include HipHop, Modern R&B and Metal bands, or a DJ mixing top 40 hits into 'High energy thumping music never stops' versions inside the door because it may alienate the current (however small & shrinking) membership.
To me the VFW was always grubby little alcoholic bars, the American Legion on the other hand was much more normal and better run with better clientele.
My son goes to a couple of VFW’s in the Orlando area- he loves talking with the older vets (he likes the music from the 60,’s and 70’s anyway). He says he has more in common with a vet in his 50’s or 80’s than he does with a lot of the guys he went to school with.
He doesn’t go often- but when he’s having a bad day- that’s where he heads to..
Just my own experience, but... when I came back from VN way back when, the veterans’ clubs were simply — not welcoming. Their attitude was: “we won OUR war.” Well, screw you, too.
I'm sure glad he has that option. It's the very reason these clubs exist in the first place, although it's rarely mentioned. A place to be where everyone 'gets it', whatever the 'it' happens to be depending on personal experience. Everyone there understands, without having to know the exact reasons for a 'bad day' because most have had their own bad days.
It's why figuring out how to get more members is so important. Most think these are simply social clubs for vets, but it's far deeper than that. OTOH, there is a social club component and it's the first reason people first walk in.
“Just my own experience, but... when I came back from VN way back when, the veterans clubs were simply not welcoming.”
Which was my personal experience too. And my father was a POST COMMANDER for both the VFW and the American Legion and he NEVER invited me to either post and/or to join either organization!
I don't “recall” any such thing.
And my father was a V.F.W. post commander.
I agree- it is important for vets to know about and join the VFW. I never even thought of it as a “social club”.
When he was medically retired the VFW was one of the first places he went. He said it was like a breath of fresh, smoke-filled air;) ...received a very warm welcome and mostly- the relief of being with guys- no matter their age-who got it.
“If you recall, the VFW wouldn’t allow Vietnam vets to join.”
Interesting. I am a nam vet and was heavily recruited to join the VFW. I went once and didn’t find much there I enjoyed and never went back, but I still get mailers every month.
“Hey Kelly, in so. California, Covina/West Covina none of the vets I knew when I returned were able to join VFW.
Well, like I said earlier, that’s news to me.
Was there any “reason” given?
That’s the way my father described them too.
He said the VFW was where blue collar vets, without their wives, went to drink beer and listen to the juke box, while the American Legion was more white collar, a place where you could take your wife and family and alcohol was less prominent.
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