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American Legion vs VFW, and why should I join?

This is a discussion on American Legion vs VFW, and why should I join? within the Veterans Affairs forums, part of the Armed Services category; So I've been out for about 17 years now I'm guessing. When I did get out, I was probably a bit screwed up in the ...


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Old July 8th, 2016, 06:33 AM   #1
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Question American Legion vs VFW, and why should I join?

So I've been out for about 17 years now I'm guessing. When I did get out, I was probably a bit screwed up in the head, but nothing I couldn't get over with time. Never, from when I got out of contract, to the present, did the thought of the American Legion or the VFW, ever occur to me. In fact, my only dealings with any Veteran organization, was at a local VA office in a community college to fill out the paper work for my GI Bill. So vet organizations in general, are completely foreign to me. I got out, I pressed on, did my own thing, life goes on.

So over this last year, I've been getting stuff in my mail from both the VFW, and the American Legion. After all this time, I wonder how they even got my name. Never got anything from them before. I'm looking it over, but can't really tell the difference between the two. The Pro's and cons, why one or the other, or why bother at all. The only thing I can make heads of is the VFW is for war vets.

When I think VFW, i think WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, GWOT. Interestingly, I apparently meet the requirements to join, because I was stationed in Korea for a year in 94/95. I can't wrap my head around that at all. Yeah Korea wasn't exactly what I would call fun walk in the park, but its not what I personally find as a valid qualification by way of comparison. I don't think I deserve to sit at the same table as vets who served in the above conflicts I mentioned. They must be really hurting for members if they'd let me in based on a remote short tour in the land of the not quite right. Nonetheless, I am curious.

Can anyone in the know fill me in? Thank you.

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Old July 8th, 2016, 07:31 AM   #2
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If you've gone on this long not needing either organization then I would think you need not join. Through active participation with each organization (attending events, social club, various activities) the biggest advantage is networking. Veterans tend to help other veterans. Both organizations have excellent VA resources if you need help filing a claim. If anything, there is a strong sense of camaraderie when you participate. In my area the VFW would edge out The American Legion by the dang club itself. Largest, nicest club on the east coast with breakfast, lunch, and dinner resources and one helluva bar.

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Old July 8th, 2016, 08:03 AM   #3
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Both organizations, are for the veterans. Know several non combat vets, that are members. Their there to help the vet, who needs assistance, fellowship, etc. I say this now, 40 yrs., ago I was snubbed, by a 1 of these organizations, It hurt like h!ll, and offended me hard. I gave everything I had, and served this country, when called. I have never got over that, day, but I've let it go. I watched that, hall dissolve, sell their building. No vets of my era, support. I hate that, no halls in my county, anymore. I agree with Chingon, If you don't need them, then move on. Don't be like myself and, alot of VN vets, carry a grudge. I went on the Honor Flight, last Sept., and it was put on by the VFW, from another county and larger city, with a hall, and members, carrying the torch. Person who heads up the H F, is a VN vet. My wounds have healed, but still have the scars. I support the VFW, American Legion, just not a member. I receive their mailings regularly, and it's no big deal. Their there to help, the VET, Our government, sure not going to

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Old July 8th, 2016, 08:37 AM   #4
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From the VFW:


Eligibility


The fundamental difference between our organization and other veterans organizations, and one in which we take great pride, is our eligibility qualifications.

VFW welcomes all who meet our eligibility criteria. It's through service to this country that all our membership has earned their elite status.

If you have received a campaign medal for overseas service; have served 30 consecutive or 60 non-consecutive days in Korea; or have ever received hostile fire or imminent danger pay, then you're eligible to join our ranks.


When I became a member the VFW sent a brochure with a list of Medals of which I had three, and an application. Later I got a packet with stuff, card and ever since magazines. That was back in 2000 if I remember correctly. I'm a member of The American Legion as well, and AMVETS. I don't really participate in things except hit a few gun raffles/chicken feeds, and now and then hit the bar. If it wasn't for my wife I probably wouldn't be a member of any of them....she keeps renewing the memberships. When new cards come she changes out the ones in my wallet...

The mags are interesting reads for Sunday morning bathroom meditation......

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Old July 8th, 2016, 10:00 AM   #5
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I do not belong to the American Legion but am a life member of the VFW. I probably wouldn't be a member of the VFW if it wasn't for a former squadron member that is an officer in the local VFW that paid for my first year of membership after I returned from Afghanistan. I realized not only how much good the organization does for veterans but how much fun it being a member of the local post is.

Some comments on the OP. Both organizations always need new members and as veterans we need to belong to veteran organizations to speak as one voice to our elected officials as the vast majority of them have never served. Korea is still a dangerous place and the war is technically still ongoing which is why you qualify as a VFW member. Just because North Korea didn't come rolling over the border while you were there doesn't diminish your Korean service; you served as a deterrence and kept Korea and most of the world safe.

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Old July 8th, 2016, 03:52 PM   #6
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I can only speak from my experiences that both organizations are great. If you decide to join either one or both, you will gain valuable knowledge as to what to do and what not to do. I have personally helped Vets with resumes and where to go for job help. This isn't you fathers or grandfather Legion any more. They welcome women Vets also. Just remember that many of us older Vets are having medical problems and you will have to help out with the running of the Posts bar/restaurants and holiday affairs. We have a big chicken cookout every 4th of July and need help putting on this thing. Please help with these great festivities, any questions? Personal message me! Tom from MN

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Old July 8th, 2016, 04:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomdokulil View Post
I can only speak from my experiences that both organizations are great. If you decide to join either one or both, you will gain valuable knowledge as to what to do and what not to do. I have personally helped Vets with resumes and where to go for job help. This isn't you fathers or grandfather Legion any more. They welcome women Vets also. Just remember that many of us older Vets are having medical problems and you will have to help out with the running of the Posts bar/restaurants and holiday affairs. We have a big chicken cookout every 4th of July and need help putting on this thing. Please help with these great festivities, any questions? Personal message me! Tom from MN
I did not serve but my father did and from tomdokulil's post here I do concur.
When my dad retired and moved to Oregon I got his VFW mailings here at his old house and talked him into joining and getting his 'purple heart' help from the VA in Oregon; sent my mom his info and she became a VFW member in Anza, CA and does some cooking for all the guys up there and LOVES IT!
Dad was a '49 Army draftee from East LA and served infrantry in Korea '50/'51... To this day HATES snow and white rice!

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Old July 8th, 2016, 04:21 PM   #8
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Wish I could join my local VFW. All my time overseas was as a contractor. :(

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Old July 8th, 2016, 06:52 PM   #9
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Only a member of Vietnam Vets of America, but I read in their last monthly (or so) that they have opened it up to more current vets (as I assume the pool of VN vets is dwindling away).

Belong of one of largest Kali chapters and it is routinely active in local/county/state affairs (inc legislative)for vets (all, not just VN).

Probably depends on how you feel about stuff - there are other ways.

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Old July 9th, 2016, 04:43 AM   #10
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Another point you might want to consider: At some time in the not too distant future, these wonderful politicians who gave you Veterans benefits: education, health care, home loans, just might want to take them away from you. That's what happened in Minnesota in the 70's when a certain political party tried and almost succeeded to do away with Veterans Preferance. They did manage to "water it down". Moral of the story: Keep a close watch on your Vets Benefits!!!!!!! Tom in MN

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Old July 9th, 2016, 05:19 AM   #11
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Been life member of both organizations for over 40 years and have not attended a meeting of either in 39. I am sure things have changed in that time, but not being a drinker, I stood alone when I did go and watched " idiots" get into inter service rivalry and fist fights after the meetings in the bar areas.
I am sure there are good reasons to join, but in my case I would not do it again.
I find the local barber shop a much more interesting place for sea stories.

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Old July 9th, 2016, 07:17 AM   #12
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When I got out in '83 neither organization would touch me with a 10 foot pole. Four 'combat patrols' on a nuke missile sub didn't meet their qualifications. As far as they were concerned I didn't exist for about 20 years. Early in the 2000's I started getting their mail incessently asking me to join.

Seems they had a problem with members getting old and dying and biting into their income levels.

Coming up on retirement age I don't give a damn for any of them. I muddled through my problems with the help of my wife and no one else.

No second chance at a first impression.

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Old July 9th, 2016, 07:40 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nSquid View Post
When I got out in '83 neither organization would touch me with a 10 foot pole. Four 'combat patrols' on a nuke missile sub didn't meet their qualifications. As far as they were concerned I didn't exist for about 20 years. Early in the 2000's I started getting their mail incessently asking me to join.

Seems they had a problem with members getting old and dying and biting into their income levels.

Coming up on retirement age I don't give a damn for any of them. I muddled through my problems with the help of my wife and no one else.

No second chance at a first impression.
Very well said.
My combat experience was in Viet Nam in the late 60s. I don't think most of the vets in both organizations,at the time, even knew where that was. As you said, the wife helped me too. I was married during my deployment so she knew exactly what was going on in my head. We are coming on our 50th wedding anniversary in August and looking forward to another 50.



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Old July 9th, 2016, 08:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nSquid View Post
When I got out in '83 neither organization would touch me with a 10 foot pole. Four 'combat patrols' on a nuke missile sub didn't meet their qualifications. As far as they were concerned I didn't exist for about 20 years. Early in the 2000's I started getting their mail incessently asking me to join.

Seems they had a problem with members getting old and dying and biting into their income levels.

Coming up on retirement age I don't give a damn for any of them. I muddled through my problems with the help of my wife and no one else.

No second chance at a first impression.
I was to young even with two combat tours to let some young kid into the local Posts... I have had a helping hand from my Artillery Battalion reunions and the men that I severed with to talk through our experience together. This year we are meeting up in Washington D.C. and touring the Vietnam Memorial together.


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Old July 9th, 2016, 08:23 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by tomdokulil View Post
Another point you might want to consider: At some time in the not too distant future, these wonderful politicians who gave you Veterans benefits: education, health care, home loans, just might want to take them away from you. emphasis added
VA won't let me in (Group 8). For me all of your comments mean nothing; those 'benefits' are already gone.

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