GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Several American Legions across West Michigan are reporting a decline in membership.
24 Hour News 8 reached out to a local West Michigan post, Post 311, located on the East Beltline. The post contributes the low numbers to young veterans not joining the American Legion.
Although, the post commander of American Legion 311, Mark Moyer, said numbers began decreasing about 10 years ago. At the time, World War II veterans started passing away at large numbers.
Moyer said there could be a few reasons why the global war on terrorism veterans aren't joining.
One of the reasons being priorities are different when you are younger. These veterans may be more focused on getting a career started or family life at home.
"Looking at it from the side of veterans, personally, when I got out of the service the first thing I did, I didn't want to be around anything military," said Moyer.
There is also a stigma associated with the American Legion that could be turning potential young members away.
"When they see the American Legion, you think of an old guy sitting drinking a beer at a dark bar, and that's not really the case," said Moyer.
Moyer said he knows the younger veterans could gain a lot from joining. For instance, the legion can help veterans get back to college or with funds for a home. Not only does the legion offer logistical help, it offers camaraderie.
"I knew I was missing something, you know, I love my wife, I love my job but I was still missing something. The legion brought that back for me," said Moyer.
American Legion Post 311's 2nd Vice Cmdr. Morgan Barone is in charge of recruitment at the post.
Barone is one of the youngest members at the post. She said the post has started reaching out to local organization and universities in hopes to gain younger veterans.