Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm Not a Particularly Good Person

Here it is Veteran's Day and I came across this article talking about OEF/OIF veterans connecting online instead of at the more traditional watering holes of previous generations. I'm a huge fan of vets forming their own support systems around them according to their needs, and - for all of my empathy - I have never humped in a climate or terrain like they've experienced and somewhat doubt that I could have. Good for them leaning on each other just as they did throughout their active service.

Eventually I got down to the part where they write about the American Legion and the VFW losing membership, and I confess to a teensy moment of satisfaction because they weren't there for me when I could have used the help. I've written before that I left the Navy earlier than I might have because the VietNam GI Bill was set to expire at the end of 1989. I wrote to everyone I could think of and spoke to everyone I could reach, but except for the Fleet Reserve Association (which at the time still represented career and retired military members of the sea services) the veterans organizations turned a deaf ear to me.

There was a small degree of altruism to my arguments. I finished my 20 years in time to get my four years, and I was unlikely to be promoted beyond Chief if I'd stayed in for 40 years (I had some issues); however, it bugged me that a guy who came in before January, 1966, in time for seven more years of the VietNam War couldn't do his 20 and get the GI Bill. The Legion and the VFW both pointed out to me that their primary concerns were for the WW II veterans and that their membership was predominantly one-term enlistees anyway, and that was it.

So now they can't attract younger vets... imagine that. I wish them well and, in particular, I wish their members well; but you folks coming out of OEF/OIF are on the right track relying on one another for answers and support for your unique issues. At some point every organization I can think of turns its focus away from its membership and toward perpetuating itself.


Blogger Kay Dennison said...

You are a good person!

We have an active Vietnam Veterams of America here and they worked very hard to build a memorial here -- probably for the very reasons you eschewed the VFW and other organization.

At least today's vet is being treated better than you and your confreres were when they come home. That kind of grates on me because most of the guys/gals who went to 'Nam were drafted yet today's young men and women are in all volunteer armed forces.

War is hell no matter who is or where it is and it behooves us as citizens to so what we van to see that our returning vets are given their propers.

6:50 PM  
Blogger joared said...

I can empathize with your organization frustration. I've encountered the same with my professional organization for reasons I won't try to explain here. There response to my logic and recommendation they needed to think outside the box fell on deaf ears with poor justifications for their position in my estimation.

8:57 PM  

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