Older veterans aim for new VFW post to attract young warriors
Aging veterans step in daily to Veterans of Foreign Wars posts across the country, most for the camaraderie, the conversations and the support they share.
Few among them, however, are the latest generation of warriors despite the efforts of VFWs, American Legion and other veterans’ organizations to attract young veterans. The younger men and women are seen as the ones to carry on the legacy of these veteran service organizations.
Though they likely share the same warrior spirit, many young veterans today find little for their age group at the local posts. Like the military men and women before them, many among the new generation of veterans say they don’t fit in at the posts.
Only a few of those who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan join the VFWs, the American Legions and Disabled American Veterans as they learn about the veterans’ advocacy of those organizations.
So how can more of those young veterans be attracted to the posts? A small group of older veterans is helping to start a new post at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center that will be geared toward those young veterans who have not yet stepped into a VFW or American Legion post.
Maybe they’ll attract the latest generation by starting a new post aimed at the younger veterans, ones that are in college, have jobs or young families with children. They will determine whether they will serve alcoholic beverages, like many posts do, or whether they will have a playground for their children out back. They will decide whether they will hold bingo or have challenging video games, kayaking outings or exercise equipment.
Donn Weaver, special projects coordinator at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center on Merritt Island, said the idea is for a post that fits the lifestyle and the schedules of younger veterans. They want to help the community and they want to stay connected with fellow veterans,
Those who will help to start the new post are meeting periodically as they try to attract 35 members, at least 25 of whom are required by the organization to have never been members of another post.
“Our goal is to kick it off by July,” Weaver said. “We want at least half to be under 30 (years old).”
Chip Hanson, a chaplain at the Veterans Memorial Center, said the center has the space to accommodate the new post and that young veterans can make it what they want.
“No bar, no smoke and no pressure of having to take care of a facility,” he said.