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Readers debate changing VFW's status quo.

September's "Membership" article sparked interest, drawing responses from readers. The article dealt with reforming the structure and practices of the Masons, but many VFW members noted that the changes could be applied to their own organization. Here are some selected comments:

Yes, we can learn from other organizations, if we are willing to accept change. That seems to be the problem: 'We have never done it that way before.' I know that in many cases the new member is going to be turned off after only a couple of meetings. Most VFW Posts are run by the "good old boys," and they are not ready for new, young members and for sure [not] women. Sometimes I think we are our own worst enemy.

--Cal Wells, District 11 Commander

Post 8021 in Westby, Wis.

We sit on our rear ends like old coon dogs as we complain about our membership decline. Unfortunately, I can go look in the mirror and see where the blame should begin. I need to put more effort into convincing the higher-ups that we have a problem, and it must be addressed. The reply at every level of every organization is the same: 'We have done it this way forever and see no reason to change.'

--Robert E. Lee

Post 1361 in Hutchinson, Kan.

To compare VFW to the Masons is comparing apples to oranges. I do not feel our ceremonies and rituals are 'over-elaborate.' I do not feel that we dote on our officers the way the Masons do. Most of our District and state (not to mention Post) officers probably spend significant amounts of money out of their pockets over and above allowances and reimbursements.

--Jim McGurk

Post 456 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

It wasn't until 25 years after retirement that I joined VFW. It always appeared to me that it was simply a hangout for WWII veterans like my father, with whom I would have little in common. I'm a veteran of Korea and Vietnam.

As a walk-in, I joined VFW. I had no one to guide me as to what was required or to encourage me to attend meetings. I felt it should have been like my Army days when a new person would have a sponsor designated who would assist the new person before, during and after arrival. I had need of such a friend in my first days with VFW.

--Harry E. Prebble

Post 1503 in Dale City, Va.

Some of the recent criticism of VFW is justified in being too age 'patterned' and ceremoniously redundant. At 91, I concede that is a deterrent for younger vets to find our organization "age friendly." Some of our ritual proceedings need reformation to less mystic and more conventional performances. We should look at ourselves in a critical manner, including our national leader ship, to see who we really are today and what we want to become the future.

--Harry C. Cooke

Post 4061 in Canon City, Colo.

As a 20% disabled vet (diabetes from Agent Orange), I appreciate VFW's efforts on my behalf. But more veterans would rather learn how to find a job than worry about their possible future use of VA hospitals. I fear the anti-VFW attitude displayed by some of the younger veterans I have met will only result in the ultimate demise and withering away of VFW.

--Richard D. Goulet

Post 3873 in Naperville, Ill.

When we lose patience with each other's opinions and refuse to examine why we each feel as we do, we invite tyranny into our organization.

VFW has got to get away from belittling new recruits by refusing to take seriously any new thoughts about how we operate. We have to grow up and be willing to compromise like mature adults rather than bully the electorate into following the leaders all the time.

--Norman Pickett

Post 9272 in Seminole, Fla.

I'd like to thank all readers who wrote in about last month's "Membership" article concerning the need for change in our organization. I believe it's important to hear our members' opinions on issues that affect VFW. Healthy dialogue on perceived problems and possible solutions is the first step in ensuring our organization remains relevant in the 21st century. I welcome your input.

--Jim Rowoldt

VFW National Headquarters

406 W. 34th Street

Kansas City, M0 64111

(816) 756-3390, ext. 208
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Title Annotation:membership
Publication:VFW Magazine
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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