As our nation’s veterans grow older, the groups that rely on their membership to continue to help other veterans are finding it difficult to continue their mission.
Not only are the veterans aging and sadly passing away, the younger veterans aren’t joining veterans groups as those from the previous generations did.
“The younger veterans are too busy with their lives, trying to take care of their families and have too many responsibilities to have time to join a veterans group,” said Linda Fitzgerald, of the Avoca Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary.
It’s not that they don’t have any interest in joining veterans group, but making the time is difficult, she explained. The younger generation is looking to make a better life for themselves and their families and that prioritizes their time right now.
“The activities and meetings are on workdays and people just don’t have the time with their work schedules and the groups are not much into change,” Fitzgerald added.
Fitzgerald said if younger veterans would come and join in the activities that the veterans groups put on for the community it would help spread the word and membership could go up. Veterans and the groups they belong to help serve their community and help out veterans’ families with many things. For one, the Avoca VFW holds dinners for the community and regularly visits and offers programs for hospitalized veterans.
Another veterans group that is active in the community is the Greater Pittston AMVETS. Frank Whalen explained the AMVETS Honor Guard goes out to funerals of veterans free of charge. They present the flag to the family, play taps and give a seven-gun salute.
Since current veterans are from different age groups, there is a lack of interaction among them that keeps the word about veterans activities from getting out.
“Maybe getting more schools involved, that could be one way that the word can be spread about the veterans group and have people seek information,” Whalen said.
Richard White, chaplain for the Greater Pittston AMVETS, agreed the younger veterans are too busy and don’t want the responsibility that comes with being in a veterans organization. With people interacting via social media more and more and being consumed by trying to build a better life, there are fewer people joining community groups, he theorized.
“What’s happening in the world today, I believe that is another cause declining members,” White said of the demands on people’s time. “It’s sad because they have no idea what joining can do for their community and for them, as well.”
Those involved with the groups said a way to attract more members is having more activities and trying to get the community more involved with the groups. This could have an impact on how people look at and talk about the veterans groups, which could spark a interest in joining.
Those involved in the groups said they will keep striving to do their best and stay hopeful that the decline in membership will be temporary.
Veterans Day is Saturday, Nov. 11, and several area veterans groups will be holding ceremonies. The community — especially the veterans —are encouraged to attend to honor those who served and to learn more about what the local veterans organizations have to offer. Among the events next weekend are:
Dupont VFW Post 4909 and AMVETS Post 189 will conduct Veterans Day ceremonies at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Dupont VFW, 401 Main St., by the mural.
Also on Saturday, Nov. 11, the Duryea Betterment Committee will host a dedication ceremony of the hometown heroes banners adorning Main Street at 11 a.m. in front of the Duryea Municipal Building, 315 Main St. American Legion Brennan Regan Post 585, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1227 and the Sons of the American Legion Squadron 585 also will participate. Following the dedication ceremony, there will be a procession to the VFW Post, 492 Stephenson St., for a Veterans Day program. A ziti luncheon will follow. The public is invited.