Iraq war veteran says some older vets don't like change

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - WAVE 3 investigated why veterans' organizations across the country are losing numbers and found the younger vets aren't joining. This prompted older members to call on younger members to participate. An Iraq war veteran contacted WAVE 3 after the story aired and said it's partly because a lot of the posts don't want to change.

The folks at local AMVETS #9 invited us over on a busy Saturday afternoon filled with football and horse racing. There were veterans of several wars, but few, if any, from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The veterans that are just getting out of the service are not joining up with us," said Joe McMahon who is former Navy.

The Vice Commander has a few theories as to why they aren't joining.

"Personally I think they probably do not know that we exist," said Vice Commander Timothy Sneed.

He also has another theory.

"Unfortunately, I don't think that our newer generation has that same outlook on service and commitment to their community," said Sneed.

WAVE 3 received several emails about this story. One came from 34-year-old Clinton Saul who was a fire fighter with the Kentucky Air National Guard. His last deployment was to Iraq, where he suffered a traumatic brain injury, which is something other veterans understand.

"The fraternity and connection that you can have with other veterans, it can be very very strong," said Saul.

Saul joined belongs to VFW 5710 in Shepherdsville when he was 22. His grandfather and father were also members. Twelve years later, he is still one of the youngest members

"The ones who are resistant to change are the ones who will fail their own institution," said Saul.

Saul wanted to be clear that he is speaking on his own behalf, not the post.

"There's been many times I've felt unwelcome," said Saul. "Why? I'm different. I'm younger. I've got different ideas and different thought processes."

Saul suggested organizations host more family activities, upgrade technology, but mostly be open to new ideas because without new blood veterans' organizations are in jeopardy.

"They lobby in Washington as far as our veterans' benefits and our health care that is not guaranteed at all by the Constitution," said Saul.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs there are more than 22.2 million veterans who live across the country. Kentucky that has more than 331,000 and Indiana has more 482,000. The population is declining, however, with about 600,000 dying every year.

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