Membership down for veterans groups

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - As veterans across the country celebrate the day that honors their service two service organizations are struggling to bring in new members.

"We are getting some of the new members but we're not getting as many as we'd like," said American Legion Pickett Post 21 Commander Phil Clairday.

"The young veterans that are coming back from the war in Iraq are coming in but they're coming in gradually," said VFW 1991 quarter master adjunct Sidney Mize.

Many older members of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars are dying.

"We're always losing veterans, which is a shame that we've got to lose veterans," said Mize.

And with each loss, membership numbers fall.

"We're about where we've been for the past several years but nationwide and statewide we are below the numbers," said Mize.

"They're busy with their families and their children.  They don't think about serving in the American Legion," said American Legion Pickett Post 21 11st Vice Commander Marvin Jumper.

Most members of both groups are in their mid fifties, sixties and older but say they do have a lot to offer the younger generations.

"We have been there.  We know what they're dealing with on a daily basis especially the one's who are coming back," said Mize.

"We will continue to recruit those members and I believe as time goes on we will recruit a lot of those veterans," said Clairday.

American Legion commander Phil Clairday says Pickett Post 21 has signed up 23 new members.

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