Wednesday, December 29, 2010

American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars should admit Cold War Veterans

I just read an article which stated that in Quincy, MA an American Legion post and a VFW
post are both closing their doors. This should be a wake up call to both organizations at a national level.

Both of these posts cited declining membership as a large part of the decision to close the posts.
Fewer members means less money coming into the post, and of course the expense of running a
post does not diminish simply because you have fewer members.

As the members grow older fewer of them attend meetings, and of course the Grim
Reaper has  claimed more every year. This phenomenon is not limited to these two posts, but it is happening across the nation.

There is a possible solution that would help, a way to bring in more new members; something that has been mentioned many times in the past. Something that much of the general membership does
not, or so it would appear, believe worthy of consideration. 

It would be a bold move. It is one that would require some hard work by the National leadership.
What is the solution? Petition Congress to change their charters to permit the admittance of Cold War Veterans. Those who served in the military from Sept. 1945 through 1991, and brought about
the end of the Soviet Union.

While it is true that many of us are also considered a part of the older generation, we are still
younger than the WWII and/or Korean War veterans that are the majority of your members.

Cold Warriors have long expressed interest in joining either or both of these fine VSO's for many years. Countless numbers of Cold War Veterans have been told they are not eligible
to become members of either one of these outstanding organizations.

We have been told that their charters as mandated by Congress are limited: the Legion to
specified"periods of war", the VFW by the requirement of serving overseas; thus
the "Foreign Wars" nomenclature.

Attempting to attract new members from the younger generation is not very successful.
Today's young men and women as they return home appear to be more concerned, as well
they should be, with trying to get their lives back on track. Families to raise, schooling to
begin or finish and many of the large myriad of challenges facing them.

How many come back to find no work available to them? Or those who have become homeless,
or lost their families. Some get lost in the cracks and never find their way out. Drugs and
alcohol lead more off the beaten path and into self destruction.

Others have not yet gotten to the point of "I want to give back", some may never reach that point.

But there are millions of Cold War Veterans who are now at that stage of their lives. Their
children have been raised and sent off on their own, other problems faced and conquered.
Their lives are settled and they feel the urge to once again become a part of the larger
community. A feeling of wanting to belong, to do something worthwhile; possibly just
to have another veteran to reminisce with. Someone who understands.

There are things that a non-veteran would never understand the close ties and camaraderie
that we shared, brother to brother, sister to sister. A time never to be forgotten, even though
the memories might grow a little dim.

So I say it is time to change the rules. Cold War Veterans want to become members. Admit the
veterans who, just as you, placed their lives on hold to serve our nation. Or sit back and watch
as we find other VSO's that will say yes, we will gladly admit you, and stand by as your
ranks grow smaller each year.

The choice is yours.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Chairman
American Cold War Veterans
"We Remember"

---------------- "And so the greatest of American triumphs... became a peculiarly joyless victory. We had won the Cold War, but there would be no parades." -- Robert M. Gates, 1996