Magazine article VFW Magazine

VFW at a Historical Juncture

Magazine article VFW Magazine

VFW at a Historical Juncture

Article excerpt

As the VFW's past and future converge, it's time to evaluate where we are headed.

As the February issue shows, the VFW is at the confluence of historical events. On the one hand, we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the war that gave birth to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. On the other, we are at a crossroads regarding the youngest generation of overseas veterans. Persian Gulf War vets (see p. 20) and others who served in expeditionary campaigns are the long-term future of the VFW.

Both the new and old must be recognized equally. The marriage of an organization's heritage with the here and now ensures its prestige is preserved and tomorrow's needs are fulfilled simultaneously.

From the start, remembering the sinking of the USS Maine has been a sacred day on the VFW calendar. Though large-scale annual recognition of Feb. 15, 1898, has long since faded, the centennial commemoration of the Maine rates national attention. If for no other reason, it spotlights VFW's vintage origins.

So proudly proclaim the heritage bequeathed us by our predecessors. As the nation recalls the "Boys of '98," it will set the stage for the VFW's 100th anniversary the following year.

Meanwhile, let's turn our attention to the organization's future. It's a fact: the average age of a typical VFW member is not getting any younger. Vietnam veterans like myself now average 50. And we were once considered the new generation of war veterans. True, there remains a vast, untapped reservoir of eligible veterans. They span three wars-WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

But the pool of eligibles who warrant special focus-both in terms of membership and benefits-are the veterans who served in the Persian Gulf War and the numerous hotspots of the Cold War. …

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