Skip to comments.Dwindling Membership is Hurting VFW Posts (Opinions from veterans wanted)
Posted on 11/14/2011 6:13:24 AM PST by TSgt
Even as more troops return home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, local VFW posts do not expect a boost in membership. That lack of interest could hurt those posts financially.
Chuck Hangbers with Post 7670 in Hamilton says unfortunately, returning service men and women tend to shy away from VFW posts. Hangbers says the younger people tend to move on when they return home. He says they focus on getting their lives together. That is leading to fewer members-only about three or four new members a year.
At 7670, Hangbers says there may be forty to sixty people a day---back in the 1980's there may have been up to 80 members a day. Fewer numbers also means fewer dollars to support them. As a result, Hangbers says posts have to cut corners at the canteen where members come in to eat and drink.
Not only is the membership dwindling, he says the economy is preventing members from spending as much money as they used to.
While a dwindling membership and a dragging economy are hurting the post, Hangbers says the post can continue its tradition of providing holiday food baskets to families in need.
What is the opinion of younger veterans regarding the VFW? Are you a member? Why or why not?
What about older veterans and current VFW members. What are you seeing at your post with regard to membership?
I am a veteran... I am not eligable to join...you see, I served under carter, and we are not considered part of the real military....
VFW halls were designed for men born in the 30’s
VFW halls were designed for men born in the 30’s
VFW halls were designed for men born in the 30’s
sorry, for the triple post, I’m posting from a phone.
Ditto. The impression I had and have is a bunch of old guys sitting around smoking and drinking cheap booze in a dark room. No thanks.
I was considering joining in 1975. I walked in with a friend that was amember and the first 2 guys I saw were brothers and sons of the former head of the local draft board. Both of them were healthier than I and both had been classified(surprise, surprise)4F. I asked and found that they were associate members or something. I left and to this day have not set foot in a VFW.
Upon my return from SWA, I joined up as a life member with the big VFW.
However your comment: I didn’t have the time to “hang out” and couldn’t stand the thought of sitting in a smoke filled room.” is my situation as well.
The post has a good member base (Ruskin, FL) but I don’t like having my clothes and hair smell like an ashtray when I leave.
I served my country 20 years, I am ready to move on and let the younger guys have a turn.
Hi, TSgt! No, I’m not a veteran but my son was able to attend a service for fallen VFW veterans last year. Long story short... he wrote a school paper on one of the WWII vets for a class assignment. The VFW really enjoyed the paper and contacted him after the Vet passed away. The numbers are dwindling since many of the WWII and Korean War Vets are passing away. From what I was told, many of the Vietnam Vets didn’t feel “welcomed” by our Country upon their return and didn’t join that type of organization. Newer Vets assume that the VFW is just a group of “old guys” and any of the activities aren’t geared towards younger people. This is a very interesting question and I was able to talk to several members of our local VFW about this issue.
Then there are the methods for conducting meetings that sometimes rival the masons for the ceremony and filler that's involved.
Finally, I think their higher organization, at least in our area, were into meddling and pretending to be a higher headquarters sending missions and emissaries to lower echelons. They clearly believed in the wrong formula, “lower supports higher”, than in its reverse.
1) Returning veterans don’t have the luxury of time to ‘hang out’ in bars like their fathers and grandfathers did.
2) The military has changed the mind set on drinking, it is now frowned upon — Tailhook-itis.
3) The economy is tough and spending time/cash on clubs is not a priority.
4) Older vets gave Vietnam vets a hard time about joining the VFW ( they said they lost the war, it was not a real war like WWII, etc) — which poisoned the well as the kids today’s fathers were of the Vietnam War age.
Most of my family (WWII/Korea generation) belonged to the VFW but now not a single one of the younger generation does.
What y’all talkin’ bout, I think, reflects the wide crack in american (what used to be American) society...it all startted w/the hippies and progressed from there...
That makes two of us.
I served between 1975 and 1981, so of course, my service doesn’t count.
I’m not a vet, but I come from a long line of vets. My mother’s father served in the silent service in WWII. My father’s father was an aircraft mechanic in Korea. Two uncles served USMC in ‘Nam. Two cousin’s served recently in Afghanistan, and I’ve lost 5 very close friends to the war in Iraq.
All of that aside, my impression from the outside looking in is that the VFW is somewhat elitist in their membership, and they are aging rapidly. My airman grandfather said that the VFW’s changed over the last 50 years, and more modern wars/conflicts are seen as lesser than the great wars at the start of the 20th century.
My younger airmen cousins came back from Afghanistan and were more interested in finding jobs and starting families than reminiscing about their time as MPs in Kabul. Seems the old war fighters like to remember their time in the trenches and the younger generations see military service as a necessary lily pad to leapfrog into a job after their 4 years.
Making a career out of the military is no longer really an option for younger generations. I would’ve put in 20 years or more if I’d made it in to the Marines, but my large size and eventual acceptance into college changed my life around.
God bless the men who served in our great wars and those who have served since. Thank you all for your service and dedication to my freedom. Your sacrifice will not be forgotten.
I don’t know if I can be a member. I didn’t serve during wartime - can I join?
Join organizations like the Fleet Reserve Association. FRA gives voice to all current and former enlisted members of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Every enlisted person serving.
Do your drinking at home. Safer and cheaper.
Didn’t the VFW endorse Hairy Reed? Didn’t they stand behind that poser that claimed to have served in Viet Nam?
I also went into a post to check into joining. I’m a 1st Gulf War vet. The ‘Nam vets kept using the word “Cakewalk”, in reference to my service, so I figured “Hell, I could go back to my ex wife, and be treated like this!”
Membership eligibility information here:
That’s about the same for me.
Yeah, I don’t get the “my service was tougher than yours” stuff...
I’m not a member or a veteran but have been in a few as a guest over the years. Overall better clientele than the local watering hole but not much different. In PA they used to be the place to get your gambling fix but with all the new casino options now available all the private clubs are hurting. Fast Eddie Rendell pretty much made the State a gambling monoply.
Up my way every small town has a VFW and an American Legion post with a few having an AMVETS. I suspect these two (and maybe the AMVETS) organizations would be better off merging before they both go under.
Let’s not forget that Veterans of Foreign Wars has a habit of endorsing Democrats like Barbara Boxer and this bizzare situation.
Veterans of Foreign Wars PAC backs Klein over veteran West
The PAC for the nations largest veterans group has has endorsed Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein over Republican challenger and war veteran LTC Allen West.
This endorsement is based on your strong support for veterans, national security & defense, and military personnel issues, says a letter to Klein from Veterans of Foreign Wars PAC Director Salvatore Capirchio.
“I am a veteran... I am not eligable to join...you see, I served under carter, and we are not considered part of the real military....”
Count me as one of those.
I constantly get the solicitations to join, and then look at the groupings to find I’m not eligible. Guess we aren’t as good as the other guys?
Save the money, don’t piss off those who aren’t worthy.
Life is very complicated with numerous commitments. The call to give back is loud from many quarters. Quality leaders of character are hard to find.
An organization has to both advertise and recruit, and have attractions of interest to new members.
After WWII, VFW posts seemed to be mostly drinking clubs. They got a reputation for it. Much less interest in that today.
But today, the VFW needs to make itself valuable to its membership that needs things. Right now, the most immediate thing is “veterans employment networking”. Think “old veterans hiring young veterans.”
This, just by itself, will have young veterans banging on the door. But only if they know about it. And that means advertising in such a way that it gets to them. The VFW needs to connect with military outprocessing, to actually get onto military bases and talk to soldiers who are getting out and are scared because they see no employment prospects.
Once this ball gets rolling, the VFW needs to come up with a reason for them to stay in the organization. This means getting them their veterans benefits, enrolling them in USAA, lots of financial guidance, special deals in housing and automobiles, medical care, health and life insurance, etc.
Jimmy Carter was the first woman President.
It was not a place I'd ever think about taking my girls when they were young, because you would hear some salty language (full disclosure, in a bar setting I think that's fine, and I wouldn't complain about it, I just wouldn't subject my kids to it).
Plus, my wife had no desire to go in because of all the smoke. Can't blame her for that. When I smoked it didn't bother me, but I quit 10 years ago, and after I quit I couldn't stand the smell.
It was basically just a place where you could get a good, cheap lunch or dinner, and a cold, cheap mug of beer or a shot.
But after I quit smoking I went there less and less until I just let my membership expire. But even with all that, I still stayed on an extra 3 or 4 years and never set foot in the door. I just payed my dues so I was eligible play in their golf league.
VFW posts look for boost from
By Kelsey Cano, Staff Writer
10:14 PM Thursday, November 10, 2011
As more troops return to the U.S. in the upcoming months, local Veterans of Foreign Wars posts dont expect to see a surge in business.
About 40,000 American troops stationed in Iraq are to be home by years end, but that wont necessarily lead to higher VFW membership, according to Chuck Hangbers, a former senior commander of VFW Post 7670 in Hamilton.
When they come home, they try to get away from stuff like this, he said. They come back home and have a lot to get settled on. They dont want to talk about nothing when they first get home.
Were struggling like everyone else right now. Were barely keeping the bills paid, but were keeping open so far, Hangbers said.
While the Hamilton and Middletown posts profit from membership fees - $25 a year for a regular membership - donations, fish fries and renting out its facilities, both said their biggest source of revenue is the canteen, where members come in and drink and eat....
Thank you for your service.
Thank you for your service.
in nj...no smoking inside any VFW
No more smoking either in Ohio VFW’s and there’s enough fodder there for another thread.
I was out in ‘82........not eligible, but my brother, who joined the year after me, is eligible....
The nanny statists in my state(MN) banned smoking in bars (and VFWs) so smoking is not an issue.
Other than that, most guys are probably busy working 2 or 3 jobs to pay their taxes. (MN still taxes military benefits for retirees)
Dwindling membership means dwindling participation in Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day parades.
Same old story.
There will always be some folks who dont mind hanging out in a dark smokey place and drinking cheap booze.. and honestly there should be a man cave in communities, where men can be men around other men, salty language, bawdy behavior etc etc.
The problem is that the VFW’s, AMVETS etc are the mancaves of the 1950s. Smoking has gone from everyone does it to few do. Fathers have gone from not as active in their childrens lives, to very active in them (as a general rule). The mancave hasn’t adapted.. whether it be the VFW or AMVETS etc etc.
They endorsed Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein over Republican and war veteran LTC Allen West
Not every WWII vet actually served in combat. In fact, not every WWII vet even left the country. (I guess today they’d be called WWII “ERA” vets.) Yet they were all eligible to join the VFW.
But the VFW wouldn’t accept combat veterans from Viet Nam because it wasn’t a “real” war. Then later, due to dwindling membership, they started to accept Viet Nam vets who had served “in country”. Then they started accepting Viet Nam “ERA” vets.
I’m with you, oh8eleven, I’ll stand with my Viet Nam era and “in country” and combat vets.
However, I still look up to those old men and women from WWII. As I look up to all veterans!
I joined the American Legion in the ‘60 because I had a traveling job and went to a lot of places that did not have bars open to the public. Afterward, even though I stopped traveling, I stayed a member because I thought the AL was a patriotic organization. I dropped my membership during the ‘90 when the American Legion did not chastise Bill Clinton, his family and friends. The VFW and AL have turned into nothing but “Givemee” organizations like NCAAP and I don’t need any.
The biggest reason for the decline is because the draft has been suspended since the ‘60s and overall the quality of the servicemen and women is better, and they are more self sufficient.
I’m a veteran but didn’t serve in a theater of war. I’m welcome as a guest at our VFW but not eligible for membership. I’m Sr Vice Commander of our American Legion post, however. Both our Legion and VFW posts have more senior members than young, but both are doing well. We have 45 members in our Legion post, and have recruited 5 this past year. But only 3 are from recent engagements.
One thing that needs to be done is a strong recruitment program. Posts need to form recruitment committees with personnel enthused about talking to people and inviting them to meetings.
Those who say small, dark, smoky (in violation of the CA law, you GO old guys!), and old guys drinking cheap booze have the right of it.
The problem with exclusivity is that of declining membership.
VFW tended to break the link between the WWII generation and the Vietnam era warriors - and now they have almost no link to the new generation of warriors.
My advice is to try to get younger men who are veterans of foreign wars in there. The problem being that younger men tend to want to drink and carouse where there are young women in evidence.
I am a member of a VFW post and today the majority of members and post officers are Vietnam War veterans as am I. Sadly, the WWII generation is dying off rapidly.
Remember that the Vietnam War lasted ten years and the age of the average Vietnam veteran is now 60 years old.
We offer Iraq and Afghanistan War vets free first year membership to allow them to determine if they want to continue their membership. And by the way, there are no more “smoke filled” rooms in VFW posts.
We have a very active VFW post and the majority of our work is in the community helping any veterans in need and visiting local schools by showing students that there is more to being a hero than playing basketball or being a movie actor.
An important role that the VFW plays is in encouraging students to become aware of our history and the freedoms that they enjoy due to the sacrifices of veterans.
VOICE OF DEMOCRACY