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November 12, 2015

Traditional Vets Groups Struggle to Draw Younger Members

Facing steep declines in membership, established veterans organizations such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars are trying new tacks to draw the next generation of former service members, NPR reports.

More than 2,000 Legion and VFW posts have closed nationwide as World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam veterans age and die and Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seek healing and camaraderie with newer, more mission-specific organizations such as disaster-relief charity Team Rubicon and voluntarism group the Mission Continues.

Long woven into the fabric of communities and a national force in securing benefits for returning fighters, the older groups are associated by many young veterans with smoky bars and swapping war stories, according to NPR. Posts such as the Blue and Gray VFW Post 8469 in Fairfax, Va., are boosting their social-media presence and organizing family-centered events to reach out to younger veterans.

Read a Chronicle of Philanthropy article on givnig to veterans groups.