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Memberships in Veteran Service Organizations on the Decline

legion

By Debbie Gregory.

There appears to be a lack of interest from younger veterans when it comes to joining legacy groups like the AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion.

Membership is certainly on the decline with the deaths of WWII, Korean and Vietnam veterans, and as their membership ages and declines, these organizations need young bloods to maintain the political clout they have built up, and they need to be able to “pass the torch” in order to maintain the ground they have gained.

According to the VFW and American Legion, only about 15 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who are eligible to join their organizations have done so. Don’t these veterans want to be around other veterans?

Of course they do. So why aren’t veterans from more recent conflicts signing up like their parents and grandparents did?

Perhaps the transitioning servicemembers of the Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/Instagram generation are gravitating towards the groups that they perceive to be a better fit, such as Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Mission Continues, and Team Rubicon.

Let’s face it, when most young people think of these groups, they don’t picture many of their peers being present.

So what should the legacy organizations do to reach out and attract younger veterans? First of all, they can communicate via email, vs. snail mail. They can make sure that they are as welcoming to female veterans as they are to male veterans.

Perhaps an updated look with a few flat screen televisions and a fresh coat of paint is in order. They can host events that will attract the younger crowd; out with the Bingo night and in with college fairs, career days, and veteran service officer Q&As.

“A lot of these kids really don’t know what the VFW is,” said one VFW Commander, Robert Webber.

Webber said VFW members reach out to newer/younger veterans every time there is a function or they are out in public.

“We explain to them that we are a family-oriented group and we try to help them,” Webber said. “We have a service officer that can help them with paperwork and medical problems.”

If veterans’ organizations like the VFW and the American Legion want to survive the next twenty years, they need to prioritize women, present a united front pulling from the entire population of veterans and tackle charitable efforts together.

Perhaps if they all joined forces as one group, they would have enough experienced officers, personnel, and funding to tackle their biggest issues. Nobody would be left out of the discussion and everyone would have the ability to help.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

 

Military Connection: New Truth About “WMDs” in Iraq: By Debbie Gregory

WMDAmericans were led to believe that Iraq’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction” were the driving force for allowing U.S. troops to deploy to Iraq in 2003. When no such weapons were found, there were many who felt that they had been lied to about the existence of these weapons by then-President George W. Bush. Perhaps the American people were lied to, but we may discover that the lies were different than what we thought they were.

For the duration of the Iraq War, from 2003 to 2011 and beyond, both the American military and later the American-trained Iraqi troops have encountered chemical weapons remaining from Saddam Hussein’s rule. An estimated 5,000 chemical warheads, shells and aviation bombs have been recovered. While these may have not been the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” described by President Bush, they absolutely were and are weapons of mass destruction, including mustard and Sarin agents, as well as other chemical and nerve agents.

When found in abandoned stockpiles of munitions throughout Iraq, these weapons were destroyed in order to prevent them falling into the wrong hands. But at least 17 American service members and U.S.-trained Iraqi security force members were exposed to these chemical agents… and told to keep quiet about it.

The reason for any attempted cover-up is not yet known. In fact, it would have made more sense to tell the American public that these weapons were found in order for the Bush administration to save face. But with the revelation of this story, three things become apparent:

1)      There are Iraq War Veterans who may need additional care and treatment due to exposure.

2)      It is likely that there are more stockpiles of weapons still buried in Iraq.

3)      Someone may find these stockpiles and use them.

The question that begs asking is that with the likelihood of more weapons of mass destruction still remaining in Iraq, will the Obama administration use their existence as a reason to send American ground forces back into Iraq?

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: New Truth About “WMDs” in Iraq: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Iraq Vets on Air Strikes: By Debbie Gregory

air strikesPresident Obama has authorized the use of air strikes to assist the Republic of Iraq against the insurgent group that the U.S. government has been calling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

ISIL, also referred to in the media as Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and as The Islamic State, has been determined in its mission to establish a Sunni Islamic state in the lands of Shiite controlled Syria and Iraq. ISIL began land grabbing in Syria in 2013 and in Iraq in 2014. On January 3, 2014, ISIL declared Fallujah an Islamic state, after it had successfully captured the city from the Iraqi Security Forces. All through this year, ISIL’s power, influence and territory has expanded through Iraq. ISIL now controls nearly one third of Syria, and almost half of Iraq.

U.S. air strikes were authorized by the president on August 7th. The attacks, carried out by jets and drones, have attacked ISIL forces, targeting their armored units and vehicles. Along with the attacks from the sky, the U.S. has also been dropping supplies to an estimated 150,000 Iraqi civilians. These civilians have been targeted for elimination by ISIL and trapped in the Sinjar Mountains, where they were under constant attack from ISIL and without food and water.

Many in the American military and Veteran communities support the air strikes, including several members of Congress. Of course, the most outspoken supporters are the Veterans who served in Iraq.

Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) supports the targeted air strikes and the humanitarian air drops, but hopes that the president will consult Congress for a long term solution. Duckworth is a Veteran of the Illinois National Guard, and was one of the first women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duckworth lost both of her legs in 2004 when her Blackhawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq.

“Even though these air strikes were necessary, these actions alone will not end the crisis in Iraq,” Duckworth said. “The long-term solution must be a political solution, not a military one. I encourage President Obama to return to Congress and begin the discussion of the steps we need to take to stabilize Iraq.”

As the Iraqi people still dwell among constant warfare, the members of the U.S. military and the Veterans who have previously fought and bled in Iraq watch and wait to see how effective the air strikes will be, and what the future holds for the American military and Iraq.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and 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: Iraq Vets on Air Strikes:   By Debbie Gregory