Veteran organizations struggle with dwindling membership. What’s at risk if they can’t recruit fresh talent?

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The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and other members organizations leapt into action when a bill to assist military veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other pollutants while serving stagnated in the Senate.

The PACT Act was enacted by President Biden two weeks later.
However, some veterans are concerned that as veterans service organizations struggle with declining membership levels, their political power may also erode.

American Legion Post 158 Commander Allyson Kropf stated, “If we don’t bring in the younger generation, if we don’t have these folks, then the American Legion doesn’t survive.”

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In Tigard, Oregon, Kropf joined her neighborhood American Legion post last year in search of the companionship she had been missing since leaving the Navy. She is one of the group’s youngest members at 39, but she doesn’t mind that the majority of her friends are in their 70s. Most Fridays, when she sits down at the Legion bar, she discovers a sense of belonging and understanding.

I wish I had been engaged much earlier since it was something I was really missing, she added.

According to Matthew Herndon, director of membership, The American Legion had two genuine heydays. When World War II came to a close in 1946, membership reached an all-time high of more than 3.3 million veterans, and it again did so in the 1990s, according to Herndon.

You are now considering a group with about 2 million members, he continued.

Over the past ten years, the American Legion has lost more than 700,000 members. Similar declines have been observed at the VFW. According to VFW data, membership declined from 1.2 million to slightly over 1 million between 2017 and 2021.