PDA

View Full Version : American Legion: one happy family?



Robert F. Dorr
03-17-2013, 05:21 PM
I wonder what others think about this article, which appeared today in the so-called newspaper of record:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/us/an-aging-american-legion-fights-for-relevancy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

It appears to me that the reporter had a good idea for a story but never quite got around to researching or reporting it.

imnohero
03-17-2013, 08:06 PM
I wonder what others think about this article, which appeared today in the so-called newspaper of record:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/us/an-aging-american-legion-fights-for-relevancy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

It appears to me that the reporter had a good idea for a story but never quite got around to researching or reporting it.

When the American Legion Headquarters spokesman says things like, "[WW2 Veterans] were the greatest generation. But now, the younger veterans need to pick up the gauntlet and continue the tradition.” and with no clear benefit to being a member, it's no wonder younger people don't want to join.

You can only tell people they aren't good enough for so long before you become irrelevant. The same thing is happening to the VFW.

Robert F. Dorr
03-17-2013, 08:36 PM
When the American Legion Headquarters spokesman says things like, "[WW2 Veterans] were the greatest generation. But now, the younger veterans need to pick up the gauntlet and continue the tradition.” and with no clear benefit to being a member, it's no wonder younger people don't want to join.

You can only tell people they aren't good enough for so long before you become irrelevant. The same thing is happening to the VFW.

I asked a World War II B-17 co-pilot how he felt about being called the greatest generation. He's a really smart guy and I expected him to see the condescension. To my surprise he said, "It feels great." Except when commenting on it as I'm doing now, I never use the term.

Re. your comment about the VFW which is almost as geriatric as the Legion, the same thing is happening to all kinds of large organizations. See "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community," by Robert D. Putnam.

http://www.amazon.com/Bowling-Alone-Collapse-American-Community/dp/0743203046

But the Legion is especially out of touch. They've rejected my generation (I'm not eligible to join) and they've turned off younger veterans (who are eligible) in droves. I was disappointed that the New York Times reporter didn't appear to have talked to anyone who is critical of the Legion.

Capt Alfredo
03-17-2013, 08:42 PM
I wonder what others think about this article, which appeared today in the so-called newspaper of record:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/us/an-aging-american-legion-fights-for-relevancy.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

It appears to me that the reporter had a good idea for a story but never quite got around to researching or reporting it.

I just read it and agree with you that there was no "there" there. Could have been a good article, but the lack of analysis was glaring.

Robert F. Dorr
03-17-2013, 08:53 PM
I just read it and agree with you that there was no "there" there. Could have been a good article, but the lack of analysis was glaring.

Sent them a letter to the editor saying as much. Wish others would do the same.

FLAPS
03-17-2013, 09:27 PM
I just checked out three different AL post websites. Each one had a picture gallery of member events, all middle aged people either riding motorcycles with leather vests adorned with veteran flair, or same people sitting around the bar drinking cheap American beer, and of course, wearing Harley shirts, bandanas, etc.

All websites claimed to support community service/events, yet none of that was evident from their photo galleries.

25+ years in uniform and I'm 100% positive AL isn't for me. Oh well.

imnohero
03-17-2013, 10:02 PM
A couple thoughts on the VFW, American Legion, and other such culturally established organizations (e.g. Bowling).

1) The premise that once established such organizations will serve always have a place and serve a purpose is not realistic.
2) The younger generation has established new organizations for themselves that serve the purpose the VFW and AL did when they first started (chiefly legislative representation/lobbying). For example, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

A thought on "The Greatest Generation": I wonder if Brokaw sometimes regrets referencing an entire generation with a single catch phrase, given how it's been taken out of his original context and often misapplied.

DocBones
03-17-2013, 10:10 PM
I am the Sergeant at Arms for the local Marine Corps League Detachment. What I have seen there was and is a portion of the local MCL Dets composition.

There are 50 members, and about 1/3 are from the generation of people that have been a Marine from the 1st Gulf War and up to present members of the United States Marine Corps.

We are currently doing what we can for all members of the USMC, present and past.

What I have seen of the AL can be contrasted highly with what the local MCL Det is currently doing.

While being much larger than the MCL Det out here, there has been a large number of things being closed down, due to the poor leadership of the local AL.

Their bingo thing, for instance. How can anyone that runs a bingo game cause that function to shut down? Time after time, they lose money.

Going to a casino, as part of the fun that they sponsor? Not any more. They were drunk when they arrived at the casino. They were removed from that casino, for being drunk, rude, amongst other things. They have an injunction placed against them, to never return as a group.

On their way to the casino, all of them piled out of the bus, and unzipped and let fly, in full view of the passersby.

This was told to me by the bus driver, in total, who is a very respected person in town.

I could go on and on, but I think that y'all get the point.

At our MCL Det, we have to account for every penny spent, and every penny earned, which is done for the building supplies by one member, and for the bank accounts, the intake, overall, and the output, overall, by the elected auditor.

Not once has the Greatest Generation ever been spoken of, within my hearing.

I always thought that the AL and the VFW was a group of warriors that was consecrated to support of current and past members of the armed forces.

It turns out that the leadership of both are into gathering as much money and paying themselves for jobs that should be done pro quo.

I am not saying that any of this happens everywhere. However, if the local AL and the VFW is any sign of things country wide, I will never join either of these two groups.

It's very disheartening, to watch both of these two service organizations being run by dishonest people. Their members, for the most part, are good members in standing. It takes one rotten apple to spoil the whole bunch, and there are enough bad guys even out here to make people turn away from joining.

It is pretty much sickening to see an organization getting ruined from within. I don't really see anyone trying to turn those two groups around, either.

Thanks for letting me blow off some steam, guys!

USMC0341
03-17-2013, 11:05 PM
I didn't appreciate how the article said that today's veterans "think they are too busy with work and raising a family." That right freaking there is why I won't join again. Excuse me if I think spending time with my family and taking care of them is higher on my list than warming a barstool. Maybe if any of them actually did something for local vets or the community I would at least pay dues and donate some time and money, but that is far from the agenda anymore.

Robert F. Dorr
03-17-2013, 11:12 PM
I didn't appreciate how the article said that today's veterans "think they are too busy with work and raising a family." That right freaking there is why I won't join again. Excuse me if I think spending time with my family and taking care of them is higher on my list than warming a barstool. Maybe if any of them actually did something for local vets or the community I would at least pay dues and donate some time and money, but that is far from the agenda anymore.

That seems to be a widely held perception. Ironically, the American Legion was founded by very young angry men. In another irony, the Legion, with its sexist auxiliaries (the ladies auxiliary, the Sons), was admitting women as principals before women could vote in the United States. Today, the Legion is simply out of touch. As for the article, it only covered a part of the story.

OtisRNeedleman
03-17-2013, 11:21 PM
Could join both. My grandfather did. Have no desire to join either. I don't drink, don't smoke, and have better things to do than sit around smelling farts and listening to the same stories fifty times. I see both organizations surviving, albeit in truncated form.

Greg
03-18-2013, 12:26 AM
"Nonetheless, Mr. Sutton said the legion needed to do a better job of getting the word out that it was there to help veterans with things like filing medical claims and applying for Veterans Affairs loans and G.I. Bill benefits — regardless of whether the post has an actual building or not."

Walk down the hallway containing the offices of the local Veterans Services Offices inside VAMC Wade Park, and one would usually notice three or four veterans sitting outside the office containing the representative for DAV, while the offices of AL, and VFW, have hardly anyone waiting to see those respective VSO's.

Myself, I always visit Walter Dresdan, the DAV rep. He's money!

Nickymaz
03-18-2013, 03:01 AM
I have zero interest in the American Legion. I work and when I get done I need to workout, spend time with my wife and sleep, I don't have the time to sit around sucking down beers at some dingy American Legion hall.

The Legion also serves the role of public service and advocacy for veterans, which are great things. But people my age do that in very different ways. We are much more likely to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project, or join Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America. Young people use the internet and social media to connect more than meeting at a local clubhouse, which is something groups like the Legion miss out on. Because we're moving around so much my friends aren't here, they're stationed all around the globe.

Groups like these are an anachronism, they are the product of a time that's past. Veterans will also get together for support but they will do it in different ways. It's not ending, it's just changing.

Pueblo
03-18-2013, 06:05 AM
But the Legion is especially out of touch. They've rejected my generation (I'm not eligible to join) and they've turned off younger veterans (who are eligible) in droves. I was disappointed that the New York Times reporter didn't appear to have talked to anyone who is critical of the Legion.

Where I'm from it's a drinking club where "Sons of the American Legion" (people who never served but by sheer biological accident were born to someone who does) vastly outnumber actual veterans. It's also an unofficial clubhouse for aspiring Republican politicians.

Robert F. Dorr
03-18-2013, 11:46 AM
Where I'm from it's a drinking club where "Sons of the American Legion" (people who never served but by sheer biological accident were born to someone who does) vastly outnumber actual veterans. It's also an unofficial clubhouse for aspiring Republican politicians.

Yeah. The "Sons." Who'd've thunk that almost a century after admitting women as principals, the Legion would still have an auxiliary where membership is determined by gender? If there is a "Daughters of the American Legion," I don't know about it. They also have a "ladies' auxiliary." That's not the official term but it's the term that is universally used. They seem unaware that women are no longer called ladies or that participation should no longer be decided by gender. This is so, so, so out of touch with America.

They never served? No, the "Sons" never served. But even many of the principals never served very much. In the early 1950s, you could have done a six-month RFA enlistment, pulled duty next door to your mother's house, and be eligible to join this cloistered club. (Talk about sequestration). But if it were the late 1950s instead and if you went to Korea and flew reconnaissance missions against the North Koreans, you would not be eligible to join because, sorry pal, you did it on the wrong dates on the calendar. And, guess what, if you fought in Afghanistan in 2013, you might not be turned on by the hyper-ritualism of Legion meetings or by those ridiculous hats.

BRUWIN
03-18-2013, 01:38 PM
I joined the Legion several months back. I have yet to show up to anything though. I just find myself too busy doing other things. Right now it's baseball season where I'm at and my oldest plays high school and the youngest plays Dizzy Dean...it takes up every night.

JD2780
03-18-2013, 01:50 PM
I joined the Legion several months back. I have yet to show up to anything though. I just find myself too busy doing other things. Right now it's baseball season where I'm at and my oldest plays high school and the youngest plays Dizzy Dean...it takes up every night.

Mine just started coaches pitch. I've been scouring NWF seeing the AL, VFW,and ACA, and have yet to see a reason to join anything.

BRUWIN
03-18-2013, 02:00 PM
Mine just started coaches pitch. I've been scouring NWF seeing the AL, VFW,and ACA, and have yet to see a reason to join anything.

I'm not sure TACPs are eligible for the American Legion. It's really for us warfighters with stories to tell.

sandsjames
03-18-2013, 02:02 PM
I'm a member of the AL. I will attend more once I'm retired.

I find in funny (not "ha ha" funny) that people will constantly bitch that there is no tradition in anything we do while at the same time bitch that organizations are "outdated". The VFW and AL are what they are. For those who aren't into what they do there are several other organizations you can join, if you want to join one, which are more "updated". I, for one, love the old guys sitting around drinking and smoking.

And, by the way, the WWII generation did much more for this country than anyone since. And I bet not one of them complained that the military wouldn't pay for them to get a degree.

JD2780
03-18-2013, 02:03 PM
I'm not sure TACPs are eligible for the American Legion. It's really for us warfighters with stories to tell.

That would explain why my applications keep getting turned down. I'm such a pussy. Shouldve known better. I wonder if the Girl Scouts need troop leaders

JD2780
03-18-2013, 02:07 PM
I'm a member of the AL. I will attend more once I'm retired.

I find in funny (not "ha ha" funny) that people will constantly bitch that there is no tradition in anything we do while at the same time bitch that organizations are "outdated". The VFW and AL are what they are. For those who aren't into what they do there are several other organizations you can join, if you want to join one, which are more "updated". I, for one, love the old guys sitting around drinking and smoking.

And, by the way, the WWII generation did much more for this country than anyone since. And I bet not one of them complained that the military wouldn't pay for them to get a degree.

I bet not one was given TA just to have it taken away.

Also, I enjoy sitting around listening to those guys as well. What I dont like is the attitude that some provide. My generation doesnt know what they went though, or how can a man be the one raising the kids? Tradition is good, however some decent logic needs to be applied as well.

TVANSCOT
03-18-2013, 02:10 PM
I agree, the article was one sided. It was a sales gimmick pro-AL... typical of most media outlets, the article was never going to go into the investigation of why today's vets are not joining.

As far as the "greatest generation" comment, I hate it! It is like calling the Dallas Cowboys "America's team". I call BS on both. Very few of this generation wanted a war, they didn't join the war to defeat a terrible wrongness, it was not a crusade. Isolationism was the name of the game... during WW2... 10 million conscripts and only 6 million volunteers.... I do not take away from the sacrifices these people made, but that generation had its up and downs like ALL other generations.

BRUWIN
03-18-2013, 03:04 PM
That would explain why my applications keep getting turned down. I'm such a pussy. Shouldve known better. I wonder if the Girl Scouts need troop leaders

I can probably get you in up in Navarre...you have to promise you'll behave. We are mostly former Air Commando's and we don't play.

JD2780
03-18-2013, 03:08 PM
I can probably get you in up in Navarre...you have to promise you'll behave. We are mostly former Air Commando's and we don't play.

How long do I have to be a hang around, then prospect? Just kidding. I've driven by there a few times on 98 and almost never see cars in the driveway. Whats up there?

FLAPS
03-18-2013, 03:13 PM
How long do I have to be a hang around, then prospect? Just kidding. I've driven by there a few times on 98 and almost never see cars in the driveway. Whats up there?

A lot of the posts are only open for a couple hours per day.

BRUWIN
03-18-2013, 03:14 PM
How long do I have to be a hang around, then prospect? Just kidding. I've driven by there a few times on 98 and almost never see cars in the driveway. Whats up there?

You're probably thinking of the VFW. The legion is farther up and it's actually a busy place. The smoke will kill you though.

JD2780
03-18-2013, 03:18 PM
You're probably thinking of the VFW. The legion is farther up and it's actually a busy place. The smoke will kill you though.

Maybe, pretty sure if was the ACA though. Who knows. I'll take a closer look tomorrow when I take my drive from Valp to Midway, just to get told I'm doing everything wrong.

Pueblo
03-18-2013, 04:18 PM
I agree, the article was one sided. It was a sales gimmick pro-AL... typical of most media outlets, the article was never going to go into the investigation of why today's vets are not joining.

As far as the "greatest generation" comment, I hate it! It is like calling the Dallas Cowboys "America's team". I call BS on both. Very few of this generation wanted a war, they didn't join the war to defeat a terrible wrongness, it was not a crusade. Isolationism was the name of the game... during WW2... 10 million conscripts and only 6 million volunteers.... I do not take away from the sacrifices these people made, but that generation had its up and downs like ALL other generations.

First, I think the purpose of the article was to highlight the decline in socialization of troops returning home as well as the fissures between two generations that have experienced war. I don't fault the Times for not pointing out very legitimate grievances (to which I myself have alluded) anymore than I fault the AF Times for not mentioning Jill Metzger each time it writes about women in combat.

As for the "Greatest Generation" hoopla, I don't care what they call themselves. What I do resent is when people scoff at Generation X and Y as "soft," "spoiled," "greedy," etc. By my count, when generations before us deployed, they socialized, dated, and married the local women, were permitted to consume alchohol, and worked shorter days. And all in all, our ability to accomplish an abstract mission to the best of our abilities while maintaining status as one of the nation's most trusted institutions is not an easy accomplishment. So I do take pride in my generation and what we've accomplished in spite of the attempts by our predecessors to obstruct it.

FLAPS
03-18-2013, 04:25 PM
TAK is encouraging other MTF members to act against me by selectively misquoting a post I made on his "life thread."