Younger veterans sought for organizations

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NORTH AUGUSTA --- When Veterans Day rolls around, Bob Ramsey enjoys sharing his exploits and those of other soldiers with youngsters such as Emily Mullner.

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Army veteran Bob Shimp (center), of American Legion Post 71 salutes children from North Augusta Elementary School before the Veterans Day program Tuesday afternoon. His veterans group has 400 members, but only 20 members from more recent wars.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Army veteran Bob Shimp (center), of American Legion Post 71 salutes children from North Augusta Elementary School before the Veterans Day program Tuesday afternoon. His veterans group has 400 members, but only 20 members from more recent wars.

The North Augusta Elementary pupil in turn enjoys learning something new.

"It is just interesting to see who saved our country and all," the 10-year-old said after visiting a war memorabilia museum set up at the school by several veterans Tuesday. "We get to learn about the different things they used to do."

The future might not be so enlightening.

Mr. Ramsey, the commander of American Legion Post 71, said he fears organizations such as his might not be able to provide those experiences much longer. He said there's a strong need for younger veterans to become involved if the organizations are to continue presenting such programs.

World War II and Korean War veterans have been the most active at Post 71, and with those members aging and passing away, new recruits are needed to keep the organization growing, said Mr. Ramsey, who is 73 and served two tours in Vietnam.

Post 71 has 442 active members, ranking it among the five largest American Legions in South Carolina, but about 100 are World War II veterans, Mr. Ramsey said.

"We are losing our membership. In fact, since November of last year we have lost more people than we have recruited, all of them being World War II veterans," he said of the 22 deceased members.

Post 63 in Augusta says it can't get younger veterans to join either.

"We're an older post, as most are, and the young people just don't seem to need the comradeship," said William Shirley, a former commander.

Younger recruits are needed to keep Post 71 and other military organizations going strong, Mr. Ramsey said.

"The recent War on Terrorism age is what we need," Mr. Ramsey said.

"We are in dire need of younger members because the World War II types are dying out and the Korean veterans are getting quite old."

Post 71 has only 20 members from recent years, and Post 63 reported less than that out of their nearly 200 members.

Mr. Ramsey said those coming back from war these days aren't as interested in joining.

"They've been separated from their families so much that they want to spend time with their family, young children they've missed in their multiple deployments," he said.

Mr. Shirley, 72, a Vietnam vet, said he read an article once that said military organizations will not be needed in the future and will die out by 2020.

"A lot of the organizations you can see in this area their membership is dying," Mr. Shirley said. "I think the article was pretty much on line.

"(With) the death of World War II veterans and Korean war veterans, as they pass on you don't have the younger members replacing them."

Reach Crystal Garcia at (706) 823-3409 or crystal.garcia@augustachronicle.com.

The National Weather Service is predicting a 90 percent chance of rain for Augusta today. Several events have been canceled:

DOWNTOWN AUGUSTA

- Veterans Day Parade

- Ceremony at All Wars Monument

- Ceremony at Riverwalk Augusta

NORTH AUGUSTA

- Ceremony at Wade Hampton Park, sponsored by American Legion Post 71, is postponed.

Comments (15) Add comment
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Frankie-B
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Frankie-B 11/11/09 - 08:39 am
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God bless these good old

God bless these good old souls. I'm a veteran myself (although it's difficult to consider myself a "retiree" at 37). Our wars were different, with dichotomies in impact on the veterans of a given era. Not to diminish the effect of war on any fine veteran, but the scale of participation, and sadly carnage, experienced between the vets of WWII, Vietnam and Korea and those of Grenada, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Cold War are the primary factor affecting the diminishing memberships in the various Veterans organizations. In simple numbers for America: WWII - 16.1 million served, 416,800 killed; Korea - 1.8 million served, 36,940 killed; Vietnam - 2.5 million served, 58,228 killed. For Iraq roughly a million have served, and about 150,000 in Afghanistan (but likely to rise), with total lost in both creeping towards 5000. One could take heart in these numbers trending down (with the realization we have not gone against a major military power such as China). But with the war impacting fewer and fewer, and today's generation more likely to seek companionship via on-line resources vice a beer at the Legion, I think it likely Veteran's Associations will sadly fade away.

justus4
101
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justus4 11/11/09 - 11:26 am
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In other states, during out
Unpublished

In other states, during out processing, there is a list of Veteran Svc Organizations that newly released soldiers can join. It is coordinated through the on-post Consolidated Processiong Center (CPC) and the state agency which request authorization to be at the out processing center. Creativity is the key, because with two wars going, there will be hundred of thousands of veterans who qualify.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 11/11/09 - 03:02 pm
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Any Veteran who served in a

Any Veteran who served in a combat zone can join the VFW. Any Veteran who served during a time of conflict can join the American Legion. Any Veteran who served can join AMVETS. Problem with these service organizations is that they have always treated themselves like some exclusive club. WWII Vets did not want Vietnam Vets joining because they felt they "lost" the war or that it was not as legitimate as the war they fought. The tone has changed somewhat now that they realize they are a dying breed but it still goes on today with their very conservative political views as organizations right down to the members taking up the bar stools. As a member of the Legion and AMVETS I believe the only political views any of them should hold are ensuring that all Veterans get the health care and benefits they deserve. That's it, but they go way beyond that. It is no surprise that they can not attract younger Veterans. Happy Veterans Day to my fellow Veterans. Peace.

JesusIsComing
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JesusIsComing 11/11/09 - 04:42 pm
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For the most part, these

For the most part, these places are bars - that may appeal to some but not all.

ChipSuhoi
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ChipSuhoi 11/11/09 - 04:45 pm
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Maybe you should visit more

Maybe you should visit more hay-soos.

jack
10
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jack 11/11/09 - 04:59 pm
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n/a

jack
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jack 11/11/09 - 05:03 pm
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I fully agree. I attended an

I fully agree. I attended an American Legion fund raiser and all I saw were mostly Korean and WW II vets with a few Vietnam vets. More current vet membership is needed. Sigraci, your problem with these organizationa is that they are primarily CONSERVATIVES and you are a LEFTIST.

jack
10
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jack 11/11/09 - 05:04 pm
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For the most part, these

For the most part, these places are bars - that may appeal to some but not all.
Posted by JesusIsComing on Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:42 PM....American Legion clubs hav not bar. VFW does, so don't go there. Just showing your ignorance.

ChipSuhoi
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ChipSuhoi 11/11/09 - 05:05 pm
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Depending on the post things

Depending on the post things are going okay. Post 71 is struggling for sure.

ChipSuhoi
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ChipSuhoi 11/11/09 - 05:06 pm
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jack - All of the Legion

jack - All of the Legion Posts on the Georgia side of the river have canteens that serve big boy beverages. Trust me, I've researched this carefully....

Doyougetitnow
4
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Doyougetitnow 11/11/09 - 07:08 pm
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I'm a Legion member (Panama,

I'm a Legion member (Panama, Grenada & Desert Storm). Here's my problem: I have tried repeatedly to change my membership from the one in Stockbridge to the one in Evans, without success. I can't find a phone number to contact the Georgia delegation, not even online. I'm not the partying type & haven't even been to the Evans post, their steak night might get me there eventually.

ChipSuhoi
0
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ChipSuhoi 11/11/09 - 07:25 pm
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Dpupigetit - The transfer is

Dpupigetit - The transfer is easily done at Post 192 (Evans). Also, there is no reason to mention campaigns for Legion membership, it's not a factor. It's completely determined by time frame of service. Your dates certainly qualify. The easiest way is to go to the post and ask for a membership application. If the adjutant is not there just give it to the "canteen keeper". If you have any problems, pop a note in R&R and I'll help you. If you are currently paid up, we can just transfer your current membership. State is really not the best way to go.

ChipSuhoi
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ChipSuhoi 11/11/09 - 07:28 pm
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Just FYI, the Evans Post #192

Just FYI, the Evans Post #192 has a strong contingent of the younger crowd comprised of both military and SAL members. Try it, you'll like it!

corgimom
32499
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corgimom 11/11/09 - 08:12 pm
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I asked my father why he

I asked my father why he didn't join any of those organizations. He told me that after having fought in two wars, the last thing he wanted to do is be reminded of it. He said that fighting in war wasn't the most important event in his life, every minute of it was horrible, and that he, like many veterans, just wanted to get back to normal life and put it behind him.

Boogaloo
1
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Boogaloo 11/11/09 - 08:50 pm
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I don't tend to join

I don't tend to join organizations like church and such. I still communicate with at least one man who I served with in Vietnam. The war was primarily private for me and my buddies. I don't want to socialize and talk so much about it. I can appreciate those who join these organizations but I would rather reflect on my experiences alone or with the persons I served with. Folks who were not there do not have a clue about what you had to endure. I'm not complaining. Where is sneaky pete? Now that fellow had much to endure. Those that have been on the AC for a while know who I am talking about.

Jake
32546
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Jake 11/11/09 - 10:31 pm
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Hey Boogaloo, I have met

Hey Boogaloo, I have met sneakypete. I miss him as well and you are right, he has endured much. A salute to my veteran friends as well. I will never forget the homecoming that KSL and fd1962 provided for me a few years ago. I love you all.

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