The Washington Times features an article today entitled Younger veterans bypass VFW, American Legion for service, fitness groups and it features a picture of my little buddy, Kate Hoit with whom I disagree more often than agree, and this is another instance. The article by Jacqueline Klimas reports the age-old stereotype of the Veterans Service organizations (VSOs) as being out-of-touch with modern veterans, that all they are is dingy little clubhouses for aged veterans reliving their glory days stooped over a beer. That younger veterans are flocking to the new veterans organizations;
The new generation of veterans instead is gravitating toward groups organized around activities such as running or volunteering, and groups that allow nonmilitary members to take part as well.
Younger veterans say the traditional organizations differ in many ways from groups that appeal to them, including the types of advocacy they do and their ways of communication — “snail mail” versus email.
Vietnam veterans will recall how the VSOs weren’t exactly welcoming them home from their war either. Now look at who is running the VFW and the American Legion – the Vietnam veterans.
The Times article talks about our friends at Team Rubicon which deploys veterans to crises around the world to lend a helping hand. They talk about the fitness club Team Red, White and Blue, and I encourage veterans to participate in those organizations if that’s your thing. But does your club have legislative directors that represent your interests in government?
A good example of what the old VSOs do for you is when the Obama Administration were going to force service-connected disabled veterans into private insurance – the American Legion and the VFW marched into the Oval Office and demanded that they back off – and they did.
The plans for your future are in debate now in Congress and in the halls of the Pentagon and there are only a few obstacles to them screwing you and the rest of veterans to the wall, and those obstacles are the VFW, the American Legion and the Military Officers Association of America, not Team Rubicon or Team RWB – what gives them the strength that they have in Congress and the White House is their membership numbers and the infrastructure that the VSOs have already established for generations. I doubt your local fitness club will spend much time in front of Congressional committees defending your COLA increase, or make a big deal out of the failures of the Veterans Affairs folks.
In addition, the VSOs represent you individually in your VA claims. The Paralyzed Veterans of America got my disability claim processed without me having to leave my house.
Yeah, if you take a short-term view of your life, the fitness clubs and the other organizations look good, but there will come a time when you’ll need more than fellowship from your club. And this administration is a clear example of why we really need the old VSOs, given that they expect more from veterans while cheating us out of the things we were promised.
I’m a life member of the American Legion, the VFW and the Disabled Veterans of America and it’s like insurance for my future, and the future of all veterans even though I didn’t get much out of it when I joined initially. One day, the younger veterans will be running those VSOs like the Vietnam vets are now running them. But can you imagine how future government leaders will be able to screw you without those VSOs?
Added: A link to our friends at The Burn Pit on the subject
Category: Veterans Issues