Magazine article VFW Magazine

Membership

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Membership

Article excerpt

An ambitious plan to recruit young, activeduty, Guard and Reserve members is beginning to see results. The Military Initiative Program is adding 5,000 new members a month.

After eight months of "research and development" and a bit of fine-tuning, VFW's most concerted effort to recruit young veterans is coming to fruition.

"It took us a while to find out how this program would work," said Jim Rowoldt, VFW's director of Membership. "But now we're seeing some impressive results."

Given the task of creating, planning and implementing the Membership Initiative Program (MIP) at the 100th National Convention last year, Rowoldt and his-staff began actively processing MIP members April 1, 2000. By June 28, Rowoldt said VFW had added more than 12,000 of them and predicted that by the end of the 2000 membership year that number could reach 14,000.

Rowoldt adds that the goal for the 2000-01 membership year is to sign up 40,000 new MIP members.

Enlisting Peg Support

MIP's basic premise is to offer one-year, no-cost VFW memberships to activeduty, Guard and Reserve troops. The new members are national members-at-large for the first year. For that reason, many Posts were initially reluctant to get involved since they believed there was no reward for recruiting them. Rowoldt says that MIP was changed to make the program more attractive to them.

"We enlisted Post support," he said. "We now give Posts credit for the MIP members they recruit. The Posts can apply that credit toward All-American status."

Rowoldt says that on a MIP member's VFW application form, the Post notes its number and the national Membership Department keeps track for contest purposes. He added that these figures also help the Post's district and Department.

Rowoldt estimates that MIP is "getting a lot of Bosnia and Desert Storm veterans, and even a few Vietnam vets [those still serving in the Reserves]. …

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