For years, those of us who donned our country’s uniform were members of the greatest organization in the world, the U.S. Military. Now as Veterans, many of us struggle with an emptiness that gnaws at our guts.
It is understandable that after we separate from our branches of service, we want to enjoy the freedom we fought for, but didn’t have for ourselves. We grow beards, we put on weight, and we quit jobs if we feel like it, because now we can.
But after a while, we begin to pine for the sense of camaraderie that we once knew. We long for the feeling of belonging to a cause that is greater than our individual selves. This is why so many Veterans go back and re-tread back to the ranks. But most of us know that we aren’t meant to go back in, and are left to find other ways to fill the Veteran’s void.
Many Veterans join clubs and organizations in order to connect with fellow Veterans who have been where he have been, experienced what we experienced, and understand our current struggles.
The most popular organizations for Veterans are the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the American Legion, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. All of these organizations promote Veteran fellowship, community outreach and discounts, while providing information to their members.
The VFW is the most exclusive organization, with eligibility requirements that surpass the others. Membership eligibility for the VFW includes: receiving a campaign medal for overseas service, serving 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or receiving hostile fire or imminent danger pay during the military career. Annual Membership starts at $35 per year.
Eligibility requirements for membership in the American Legion are as follows: Current active duty service members in any U.S. Military branch, having served honorably during any of the following wartime periods:
- Aug. 2, 1990 to today (Gulf War / War On Terrorism)
- Dec. 20, 1989 to Jan. 31, 1990 (Panama)
- Aug. 24, 1982 to July 31, 1984 (Lebanon / Grenada)
- Feb. 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975 (Vietnam War)
- June 25, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955 (Korean War)
- Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946 (World War II)
- April 6, 1917 to Nov. 11, 1918 (World War I)
Annual Membership starts at $25 per year
The IAVA is gaining popularity among the latest generation of Veterans, primarily due to their use of media and political activism. To be eligible for IAVA membership, a proof of military service is required.
While this fledgling organization does not have establish posts, there are gatherings around the country advertised through social media, and on the IAVA web site. The IAVA is very active in trying to influence Washington and spurring community activism. There are no dues for IAVA membership.
Veterans who feel a void should consider joining one or all of these organizations. Though we are civilians now, there is no reason that we should miss out on the camaraderie that we had while we served.
Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard & Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. MilitaryConnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit MilitaryConnection.com, the Go to Site.
Military Connection: Filling the Veteran Void: By Joe Silva