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Have you ever thought to join a Veterans' Organization?


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Since becoming a member on this forum I have read this read with great interest. I am an AMVET Post Commander and am also a life member of the VFW. I have held membership in the American Legion and the DAV as well, but of all I really enjoy the AMVETS.

For those unfamiliar with the AMVETS, they were started as the American Veterans of WWII. They then requested to have their Congressional Charter amended several times to allow first Korean, then Vietnam, and lastly ALL honorably discharged veterans regardless of branch, time of service, or even reserve and national guard service.

I was a Post Quartermaster for my VFW Post here in Michigan, we had a nice little museum and were on track to really turning the place around and getting some veteran services up and running. Then the old guard stepped in and decided they would rather drink, play cards and ignore the greater community and the veterans around them. Votes were gone back on even though it was against VFW by-laws and nothing but fighting ensued. We turned to the State VFW for help and quickly learned that they would rather have dead beat members than those who were actively serving vets ( to be fair, I am saying that they basically wanted to appease everyone at the expense of losing those who were working towards the greater good).

So, we appraoched the State about chartering a new post in the next town over where there were no groups at the time. We were told we would need 25 new members and that all of the existing members would not count for a new charter. As you can imagine this is a difficult task. We approached the American Legion and were told that a post existed but it was in the hands of one man ( a past state commander) and that we could get together and vote him out to re-activate a post... Who wants to start out in a battle?

The AMVETS told us we needed 10 members to start and promptly sent out the pperwork. When we finally chartered, we had an active duty Marine color guard present, all of the AMVET State Officers, a Congressman and his aid for veteran affairs as well as the state AMVET Riders. It was a great ceremony and we felt truly supported. We have been chartered over three years now and have consistently had the support of our state and national organization as well as our community. We have many vets from the current wars a well as a large core group of Vietnam Vets. We also have officers of the post who are Cold War and peacetime vets and it is truly enjoyable. We do not run a bar, but we don't discourage a drink or toast at events. We serve other veterans by having a state service officer available at our post each month. He has literally brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars to a small community by helping vets with their benefits. It just seems like the old sense of cameraderie is there.

I think that the VFW and Legion have lost track of this over the years. I am sure that there are good people and posts out there but I have yet to find one. The monthly magazine is filled with elastic waistband trousers and velcro shoes, as well as other items geared towards one particular group. I was once asked to attend a meeting about declining membership in the VFW for Michigan and it was mentioned that young people did not want to join because of the hats! How out of touch can you be? The AMVETS wear garrison caps and we have no issue with our younger members. Most buy hats at their first meeting as a point of pride, and we don't even require it! I think the issue is centered around information, (many VFW and Legion Posts don't have websites or computers) veterans service issues, and brotherhood. In the VFW you are supposed to be part of a combat organization, instead those who speak the loudest are generally the ones who came from some rear echelon group or never heard a shot fired in anger. I only take exception to this as they are usually the ones who end up putting off prospective members by their own pumped up tales of glory. (Again, I am sure their are good posts). I mentioned to the VFW that perhaps the younger vets were going into the IAVA (Iraq, Afghanistan Veterans Association) because i was free and all donethrough social media. They response I got was that they (IAVA) didn't have any posts... I think the VFW leaders really missed the point and I just sat back down.

I love history and these groups have been around my entire life, as I have already mentioned I belong to some. That being said, I think that the VFW and eventually the American Legion will close their doors because they have by and large lost their way. I will not shed any tears for those who remain as they will hold the blame. I will miss what they initially stood for and how they used to be a true service organization.

I still believe in the legislative power of these groups and think that veterans should join if able. But I think you should look at the group closely, particularly at the post and state level and see where your dues go. Look at the service your group provides and how well they welcome you. If they disparage your service or merely need you as a number, then I would encourage you to go elsewhere, good, active members are at a premium and you will be a needed commodity in some organization. Scott.

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I'd love to join the VFW, however I think the local chapter would just be a lot of my peers since it is a military town. I was an early member of IAVA when they first kicked off, but I deleted all my social networking years ago so don't know my standing anymore

 

And personally, at a VFW full of Vietnam, WWII and Korea vets...I'd keep my mouth shut and just listen to the history around me.

-Brig
GySgt/USMC/0369
RSU-Quantico


"FOR OUR TOMORROWS, THEY GAVE THEIR TODAYS"
RIP
Sgt Jesse 'Jeff Nasty' Balthaser
Sgt John P Huling
Cpl Carlos 'Gilo Monster' Gilorozco
Cpl Stephen C 'Socks' Sockalosky
LCpl Joshua A 'Scottie' Scott
LCpl Jason Lee 'Birdman' Frye
LCpl Nicolas B Morrison
LCpl Jon T Hicks
LCpl Osbrany 'Oz' Montes De Oca
Pvt Lewis T D Calapini
'The SOI 5'

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  • 1 month later...

Interesting topic of discussion. I suppose that my take on the matter is that the experiences in the veteran's groups are what you make of them. It is sad to see how many posters have been poorly used by local chapters of one organization or another, but I would think that hopefully these were aberations from the norm, and that these situations existed only in a certain place and a certain time-- which is now over. It was refreshing to see those with good experiences, which I have had as well. I have joined VFW and American Legion, but like a lot of younger folks with a job and a family, I don't have a lot of time to get deeply involved in these organizations. I do hope to later on, but I have at least joined to help preserve these organizations by being one more dues paying member. I know they help fight for vet's rights, and I would like to see their clout continue.

 

Eventually, though, these orgs will need to change to help attract more of the newer generation of folks. Membership in traditional fraternal organizations, in general, has decreased. My opinion is that the internet has driven a lot of that shift. People join orgs still, but they may be non-traditional orgs like this website, or gamer's guilds, or the like. People are getring there companionship needs met on-line, without having to go to a brick and mortar meeting place, or wearing funny hats. ;)

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Great topic and observations on the culture of these organizations and how younger generations of veterans have evolved socially while the veteran organizations may have not kept up with those dynamics. It seems to me that there are so many veteran organizations, both old and new, that their appeal and power is diluted significantly especially as the number of veterans declines. Many "niche" organizations can not survive as numbers decline. It just seems that if there were a single national organization to represent all veterans (perhaps with branches or committees for special groups), there would be massive political and social power in supporting, promoting, and protecting veteran issues.

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Great topic and observations on the culture of these organizations and how younger generations of veterans have evolved socially while the veteran organizations may have not kept up with those dynamics. It seems to me that there are so many veteran organizations, both old and new, that their appeal and power is diluted significantly especially as the number of veterans declines. Many "niche" organizations can not survive as numbers decline. It just seems that if there were a single national organization to represent all veterans (perhaps with branches or committees for special groups), there would be massive political and social power in supporting, promoting, and protecting veteran issues.

 

A very good observation and I agree that this is a great topic with diverse viewpoints. It really is all about the point of view of the individual veteran... as well as that person's individual experience.

 

An analogy might be made with the mass of Union and Confederate Civil War veterans who joined veteran groups at the end of the Civil War. While there were lots of smaller groups centered around various local units the two big organizations were the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and the United Confederate Veterans (UCV). These two huge veteran organizations had tremendous political and social power until they faded away as the membership died off. The GAR fought for political power and US veteran benefits very successfully. The UCV fought for state benefits for their members and drove state and local politics for many years. As the power of these two organizations faded the veteran's mantle was taken up by other organizations who in turn may fade away,

 

Studying these various organizations is part of the enjoyment of collecting these items for me.

"You can't please everyone so you have got to please yourself." Ricky Nelson

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An analogy might be made with the mass of Union and Confederate Civil War veterans who joined veteran groups at the end of the Civil War...

Almost eerily, that strikes me as being a very apt analogy.

HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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I've found age plays a role as well. A lot of it has to do I think with the change in the family structure. When I was a kid in the pre-stone age, mom stayed home and dad worked. Now, for the most part, both parents work. Hence, less free time for either mom or dad. And to be active in these organizations, it requires time. Our local VFW folded for two reasons, age of the membership, and lack of new members. I was one of the "younger" members, and I'm 62. The younger guys I talked to about doing more were busy with kids, job, etc. and rightfully so. Hence, we ended up closing. I can't join the local VVA post for an odd reason, since I quit smoking, I've become allergic to cigarette smoke, and a lot of the guys are chain smokers! LOL Heck of a reason not to join huh?

 

John

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I'm a Vietnam Vet, and a Life Member of the 1st Cavalry Division Association, the VFW, the US Field Artillery Association, the 30th Field Artillery Regiment Association, and the Italian American War Veterans. I have served on the Board of the 1st Cavalry Division Association, Historian for Life of the 30th FA Association, Current State Commander (OHIO) Italian American War Veterans, Ntional Junior Vice Commander, Italian American War Veterans, and most importantly, Captain of the Color Guard, Italian American War Veterans, Post #1, Lorain, Ohio. Our Veterans deserve a decent Military Funeral, and we try to do the best we can at each service. Most of my Color Guard Team members are in their 80's, and they get out there come rain or shine, hell or high water! To me, it is the most important service that I can personally provide to the vets that go before us. And my Team Members share that point of view. I joined these organizations to serve others.

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Forum Member #1691 since September 2007

Served in the US Army from 1960-80

First Sergeant (Retired)

Vietnam 1967 with 7-15th FA ~ [8"/175mm Gun] First Field Forces

Vietnam 1968 with 1-30th FA ~ [155mm] 1st Cavalry Division [AIRMOBILE]

President & Historian 30th FA Regiment Association ( WWW.HardChargers.Com )

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 30th Field Artillery Regiment in 2018

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I'm a Vietnam Vet, and a Life Member of the 1st Cavalry Division Association, the VFW, the US Field Artillery Association, the 30th Field Artillery Regiment Association, and the Italian American War Veterans. I have served on the Board of the 1st Cavalry Division Association, Historian for Life of the 30th FA Association, Current State Commander (OHIO) Italian American War Veterans, Ntional Junior Vice Commander, Italian American War Veterans, and most importantly, Captain of the Color Guard, Italian American War Veterans, Post #1, Lorain, Ohio. Our Veterans deserve a decent Military Funeral, and we try to do the best we can at each service. Most of my Color Guard Team members are in their 80's, and they get out there come rain or shine, hell or high water! To me, it is the most important service that I can personally provide to the vets that go before us. And my Team Members share that point of view. I joined these organizations to serve others.

 

Well done, sir! Your commitment to those organizations and fellow veterans is admirable.

 

Might I assume, based on the Cav badge on the jacket pocket and your Captaincy of the unit, that you are on the far right of the color guard photo?

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Most of my Color Guard Team members are in their 80's, and they get out there come rain or shine, hell or high water!

 

What a handsome group of gentlemen! You do your fellow citizens proud!

 

Kevin

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I'm a Vietnam Vet, and a Life Member of the 1st Cavalry Division Association, the VFW, the US Field Artillery Association, the 30th Field Artillery Regiment Association, and the Italian American War Veterans. I have served on the Board of the 1st Cavalry Division Association, Historian for Life of the 30th FA Association, Current State Commander (OHIO) Italian American War Veterans, Ntional Junior Vice Commander, Italian American War Veterans, and most importantly, Captain of the Color Guard, Italian American War Veterans, Post #1, Lorain, Ohio. Our Veterans deserve a decent Military Funeral, and we try to do the best we can at each service. Most of my Color Guard Team members are in their 80's, and they get out there come rain or shine, hell or high water! To me, it is the most important service that I can personally provide to the vets that go before us. And my Team Members share that point of view. I joined these organizations to serve others.

 

Great way to serve the vets! Thanks to you and the color guard. I always like to point out that many of the larger organizations like the VFW, American Legion, DAV, Purple Heart, AMVETS etc... have paid service officers. So another way to serve the vets is to get your local post to bring the service officer out monthly to do claims and help order medals and discharge papers. Its great for the vets, community, and sometimes even membership. It also provides service to the vet while they are alive. Scott.

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  • 1 month later...

I joined as a member-at-large Life Member of the VFW after my first tour. I have not found a permanent post yet. At the time I knew at some point I would want to be active in the organization and had the money for a life membership.

Looking for items from the 38th Infantry Regiment

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"Live for something rather than die for nothing."

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My signature says it all...

 

But to answer some of what I read... when I first got out I had a bad taste in my mouth about the military, mainly because of my adolescent inability to be managed! :) I butted heads a few times with individuals that really had no clue, I was a Nuclear MM for just over 8 years. It was sad to see how complete idiots could be advanced because they sucked up to the ones writing their evals and could take a test well. Others that were actually good at their rate got squashed because they were confrontational, yet they were the ones while underway asked to do the midnight maintenance to repair a valve or pump, etc.

 

It took me over a year... then I joined my hometown legion. I did it just to be part of it and not to be an active member. I kept it even when I moved several states away, basically just helped their membership numbers. Then about 10 years later I became a VFW member at large, bought a house and a motorcycle and that's when I learned about the Riders. So I joined them... I quickly got tired of all the dues so I became a Life Member of the VFW, all the while I was not active in it. I focused on the Legion Riders... BECAUSE IT WAS FUN! I got to know everyone at the Legion and it's been a blast! They do countless events helping everyone under the sun and I am proud to say I am part of it.

 

Now for the VFW... I never really wanted to be an active participant only wanted to give back through my membership. I gradually elevated my membership from just a Life to a Gold Legacy Life membership... yea, I realize now that was A LOT of benjamins!!! I transferred to my current Post just because it was No. 2... I am realizing now that I probably should have just remained anonymous because when I went to the first meeting to meet and greet, I got elected to Jr. Vice and learned the Post was having serious problems... yes, all related to the Canteen in one way or another. Now I got bumped after a Commander walked away and we are trying to rebuild it and bring life back to it... not an easy task. The locals want their bar back ( in PA non-veterans can hold Social Memberships ) yet that is not "suppose" to be it's purpose?! But they do not seem to care... this adventure will make or break my involvement with the VFW. If it continues down this road and we are met with hostility when we are only trying to do the right thing... I will revert solely back to the Riders and move my Legacy membership back to member at large.

 

There's my story...

Sr. Vice VFW Post 2, Gold Legacy Life Member

Assistant Director Legion Riders Post 372

Legionnaire Post 371

AMVETS Post 101 Life Member

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Do any of these fine organisations welcome Allied Veterans as members?

 

T-Bone

Yes, kind of - AMVETS but here is the requirement:

If you served as an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen in the armed forces of an allied nation, under hon­or­able con­di­tions, between Sept. 15, 1940 and May 8, 1975, you are also eli­gi­ble, as are wartime mem­bers of the Mer­chant Marine.

Sr. Vice VFW Post 2, Gold Legacy Life Member

Assistant Director Legion Riders Post 372

Legionnaire Post 371

AMVETS Post 101 Life Member

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when i first got out of the army, having served in vietnam, i thought i would go and look in to the vfw. some here know that i was born in canada, emigrated to the US and subsequently got drafted. the vfw wouldn't let me join because i was a "foreigner". i don't remember any of my fellow soldiers in vietnam complaining about that, but i'm old, so my memory is not so good anymore. i did become a US citizen after i was honorably discharged, but i will never go in a vfw hall.

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  • 6 months later...

Do any of these fine organisations welcome Allied Veterans as members?

 

T-Bone

 

T-Bone,

 

The Scottish-American Military Society is for Americans veterans of Scottish descent and any soldier of any of the countries of the British Commonwealth.

 

Mike

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I enjoy membership. I belong to:

 

Sons of the American Revolution

Military Order of Foreign Wars of the United States

Scottish-American Military Society

Centennial Legion of Historic Military Commands

Army-Navy Union

VFW

Pershing Rifles Alumni

Cold War Veterans Association

 

Mike

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

when i first got out of the army, having served in vietnam, i thought i would go and look in to the vfw. some here know that i was born in canada, emigrated to the US and subsequently got drafted. the vfw wouldn't let me join because i was a "foreigner". i don't remember any of my fellow soldiers in vietnam complaining about that, but i'm old, so my memory is not so good anymore. i did become a US citizen after i was honorably discharged, but i will never go in a vfw hall.

 

Kind of ironic, considering about 1/2 of the members of the U.S. 1st Special Service Force ("Devil's Brigade" or "Black Devils") during WW2 were Canadian.

 

I don't blame you one bitFfor being bent out of shape because years ago VFW made a bad call !

 

I'm a life member of VFW, don't participate actively, but do support why our various veterans organization were founded. The spirit in which their various charters were written was not reflected by which some local officials made your decision. If it required a letter on your behalf to a national headquarters, then it shoud have been sent. And if it would have been, I'm confident the right decision would have been made. I'm sorry if someone didn't step up, and advocate for you, because they should have.

 

IMHO you ought to run this up the flagpole with a local chapter again now, years later because it needs to be made right. Not just for yourself, but for your other Canadian-born brothers who maybe ran into the same roadblocks years ago. The rest of us are grateful for the service of our northern brothers, despite what maybe only one individual decided years ago.

 

Thankyou for your service to the United States of America, and I hope that there is a decision in your favor somewhere in the near future.

 

If yours and others time was spent in qualified VFW service of this country, then it is right that it be acknowledged.

 

Irregardless of the outcome, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours !

 

Best regards,

Paul Walker

Klamath Falls, Oregon

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Paul, thanks for the kind words, it's appreciated. when this happened, vietnam vets were not seen in the best light, even by other vets, such as those in the post i mentioned. like many other nam vets, i just decided to blend into the woodwork, and get on with my life. i've been fortunate so far, and now that i'm retired and finally moved out of california, i have time to spend on volunteer stuff, which will undoubtedly be vet related. i have had this discussion with other VFW guys over the years, and several of them have said they recall a citizenship requirement in the past, but they believe it is no longer present. i hope they can garner the members needed from the large number of vets today, but in my case, they don't get a "do over". again, thanks for the support.

 

Ron Hill

199th Light Infantry Brigade

HHC MP's, Vietnam

69-70

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  • 3 weeks later...

Two thoughts about this. During my last tour of active duty, I had a brigadier general as a commander and who I directly worked for. He was pretty vocal about not joining things like the Legion, VFW an the like when you had a club on base. He also preferred that your memberships be in things like the Air Force Association, Air Force Sergeants Association or other professionally-related military organizations. His point was that we had a club on base that needed to be supported and you would feel a greater sense of comradery amongst your kind (meaning service). Over the years, I found that he was right.

 

Each war or conflict seems to result in a new veterans group where the members feel a greater kinship because of the shared experiences. Too often the new guys come to an established veterans post and do not feel a sense of belonging because they aren't really welcomed. This is especially true of more recent veterans who volunteered for service with families already established or college educations behind them.

 

I am a life member of things like the Air Force Association of Canada, AFA, AFSA, Air Force Security Forces Association. I'm also a life member of the Legion and AMVETS. Frankly, I draw very little enjoyment from the veterans organizations, which I've grown to view as a waste of time, and a deeper sense of appreciation with the professional organizations where I had more in common.

 

These days veterans groups are more about the business of running the post bar and less about the comradeship of veterans and the politics can be overwhelming -- and I say that frankly because I'm also a county officer. Therefore, I would suggest that you find the military-related professional organization of your choice first. If you chose to join a vet's group, chose the one that best fits your needs.

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^ Well stated. Yet, there was a time, when...

HONORING FAMILY LtCol Wm Russell (1679-1757) VA Mil; Pvt Zachariah McKay (1714-97) Frederick VA Mil; BrigGen Evan Shelby, Jr (1719-94) VA Mil; Pvt Vincent Hobbs (1722-1808) Wythe VA Mil; Pvt Hugh Alexander (1724-77); Lt John R. Litton (1726-1804); Bvt BrigGen/Col Wm W. Russell (1735-93) 5th VA Rgmt; Lt James Scott (1736-1817); Capt John Murray, Sr (1747-1833); Capt John Sehorn, Sr (1748-1831) VA Mil; Pvt Corbin Lane (1750-1816) Franklin/TN Mil; Cpl Jesse D. Reynolds (1750-1836) 5th VA Rgmt; Capt. Solomon C. Litton (1751-1844); 1Lt Christopher Casey (1754-1840) SC Mil; Pvt Mark Adams (1755-1828); Pvt Randolph White (1755-1831) Bailey's Co. VA Rgmt; Capt. John R. Russell (1758-1838); Pvt Joseph T. Cooley (1767-1826) Fort Hempstead Mil; Pvt Thomas Barron (1776-1863) 1812; Capt. John Baumgardner (1787-1853) VA Mil; Pvt Joel Estep (1828-1864) Co B 5th KY Inf CSA & US; Pvt George B. Bell (1833-1910) Co C 47th IL Inf US; Cpl Daniel H. Barron (1838-1910) Co B 19th TN Rgmt Inf CSA; Capt Richard K. Kaufman (1908-1946) 7th PRG/3rd AF CCU; T-5 Vernon L. Bell (1926-95) 1802nd Spec Rgmt; PO2 Murray J. Heichman (1932-2019) HQSB/MCRD; PFC Jess Long (1934-2017) US Army; PFC Donald W. Johnson (1931-) 43rd ID HQ; A1C Keith W. Bell (1931-2011) 314th TCW; A3C Michael S. Bell (1946-) 3346th CMS; A1C Sam W. Lee (1954-2017) 2d BW; AW3 Keith J. Price (1975-) VP-10; 1Lt Matthew Wm Bell (1985-) 82nd Abn/SOC








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I was actually just talking to my wife about this last night...we have a fairly active VFW post here, but I have no interest in joining it (even with my dad, a Korean War vet, being very involved in the VFW.) I can't tell you if they have GWOT veterans there as I've never gone to a meeting, but at the same time it really doesn't matter...I see it as another drain on my time for little to no return on "investment". I drive ~110 miles round trip to work and typically work from 6 AM to 5:30 PM...couple that with an extra hour + of drive time...by the end of the day I'm exhausted. So to head over to the VFW hall after a long day at work, where the demographic (if I stereotype correctly) tends to be people who are old enough to be my parents and grandparents that I have very little if anything in common with...what's the point? I hate to say "I see nothing in it for me" as it sound selfish...but yeah...I see nothing in it for me.

 

I know that sounds absolutely horrible and nothing aside from downright selfish, but unless the veterans organizations sell themselves better. I work in a very veteran-heavy line of work and I don't know of a single person who is involved in any of the veteran organizations. If they want to survive beyond the current generations, they need to evolve...or they will go the way of their predecessors.

Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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