VFW Ads Aiming At New Blood

By Maggie Vespa

August 9, 2010 Updated Aug 9, 2010 at 6:40 PM CDT

On every second Monday of every month, the traditions are upheld.

At Peoria's Post 814 of Veterans of Foreign Wars, few more than a dozen of its 128 members gather just as they've done for decades.

Now, they say its those dwindling numbers that have them worried.

"All the members are getting older and if they're not dying off, they're not able to come and attend the meetings anymore," said Post 814 member Alan Harkrader.

So, members say they're starting a new tradition to save the older ones.

For the first time ever, VFW members across Illinois are reaching out, launching an ad campaign through the media and the internet to attract newer younger members.

VFW members say since 2000, membership is down by about 30,000.

They hope this new campaign will bring the next generation forward.

One such candidate is Josey Wenger.

He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2008.

Since then, he says he hasn't been too eager to join much of anything.

"You're just looking for that separation, that breath of fresh air," said Wenger.

And to keep in touch with his fellow comrades, Wenger turns to technology.

"Because of facebook, you're able to check in on them, look at their pictures, write them, and that gives you the comradery that you're kind of looking for," he said.

Not enough, according to the members here, who worry that support they feel so strongly month after month, will soon be no more.

"This is a group of people that have all been in the same place same time doing the same thing for our country, and it's just a way to maintain that comradeship," said Harkrader.

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