VFW post recruiting younger members

By Arnold Wyrick - bio | email

MARION, IL (KFVS) - The Veterans of Foreign Wars organization is facing a new battle, how to keep their posts up and running.

The VFW's saw it's numbers surge into the millions after World War II. But recently those numbers have dropped nationwide to just over 1.5-million members.

And now the organization is changing it's image in an effort to recruit younger veterans.

"The young men and women who are returning from the battlefields are the future of this post and our country. And they're the ones who are going to keep the life in these posts," said MArion VFW Post 1301 Senior Vice-Commander Mike Gunter.

"Those of us who have been around a long time are starting to wear down."

The young recruits know the future of their local VFW posts rest in their hands.

"It's very important without people my age these clubs are going to die," said Marion Post 1301 Quartermaster Zachary Austin.

"It's extremely important to get people my age into these clubs and see what they have to offer. We can help them in so many ways. I know for me coming back from the war this club has helped me tremendously."

Some of the things the Marion VFW POst 1301 is working on to attract those younger veterans is a new WI-FI hookup and some computer oriented events.

"A couple of different party night ideas is a X-Box competition and stuff like that. We're working on getting more  youth oriented activities in this club," said Austin.

The older veterans now realize the post is for all who have served.

"We want the kids to come out here. And I say that in a respectful way because to they are kids. But they're also America's newest generation of heroes. And what people don't understand these kids are all volunteers. We want them to come to the VFW, and we want them to get involved," Gunter said.

So far the recruiting efforts have generated some increase in membership here in Illinois with 8,000 new recruits, and in Missouri, 2,600 new members have joined the VFW in the past year.

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