veterans

The VFW Hall in Hoquiam, Washington.
Joe Mabel/Wikimedia Commons

As part of the American Homefront Project's look at the history and future of America's veterans groups, reporters Jay Price and Patricia Murphy talk with host John Hockenberry on PRI's The Takeaway.

For many veterans of World War II and Vietnam, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts were popular social gathering places to share stories of war experiences. And they were powerful lobbying voices in the political sphere.

But across the nation, participation in these organizations has declined. Veterans groups are making new efforts to recruit younger members.

VFW Post 8469 in Fairfax, Va. is holding pumpkin-carvings and other events to try to become more family-friendly.
Jay Price/WUNC

The leadership of the American Legion and VFW is seeking younger, more diverse members. But they face a challenge changing their public image.


Men pose outside American Legion Post 177 in Venice, California in this undated photo. The post remains in operation today.
University of Southern California, on behalf of the USC Libraries Special Collections

Groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have served former service members for a century. But declining membership threatens to lessen their influence.


At American Legion Post 87 in High Point, N.C., the bar is jumping, even though some of the patrons are almost 70 years old.

"The sad part is, some of the older vets, the World War II, the Korea vets, they're passing on," says Fred Iannone, the post's commander. "The Vietnam veterans so far, we're holding our own."

Veterans organizations, like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, are losing their older members and struggling to attract the younger veterans of more recent wars.

Navy veteran Dick Oliver lives in Westchester, California.
John Ismay/American Homefront Project

To commemorate Veterans Day, the American Homefront Project talks with former service members about their time in the armed forces.

A rendering of the West LA veterans campus as proposed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs would build hundreds of units of temporary and permanent housing for homeless on its West L.A. campus under a draft master plan.

A Theater of War performance at Columbia University in 2011.
Theater of War

Veterans perform tragic Greek plays for audiences of that include military combat veterans.


The U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs discussed ways to kickstart redevelopment of the West Los Angeles veterans campus in Brentwood.

Veterans advocates, protesters, and even President Obama have cited the statistic that 22 veterans a day kill themselves. But the reality is complex, and the number can be misleading.

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