Magazine article VFW Magazine

Looking to the Future

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Looking to the Future

Article excerpt

The 21st century is right around the corner. And the VFW must be prepared to adapt to change.

The future is bright for the venerable VFW. But our optimism must be tempered by realism. The organization faces some major hurdles in the years to come.

If the VFW is to remain a viable institution in American society it will have to take the lead in framing the debate on veterans issues, not simply reacting to threats-real as well as perceived.

It is a fact, whether we like it or not, that the American public has been free of a long-running war for 25 years-for nearly an entire generation. Compulsory military service is no longer a fact of life for young males. This is good news, but it has an obvious downside for the veterans movement.

The average American simply no longer identifies with those in uniform. The direct, emotional connection between the warrior and the society he serves is largely absent among a significant segment of our population.

What this means is that we must work doubly hard to visibly demonstrate our relevance not only to those on active duty and veterans who do not use the VA system, but the general public. Becoming the most vocal proponent of the armed forces is the way to address the first constituency.

Only by winning the allegiance of the Americans now serving overseas can we ensure the organization's long-term future. If that entails taking on an Administration or elements of Congress, which embroils us in controversy, then so be it. The VFW should never apologize for being a forceful advocate of veterans rights. …

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