Veterans were rightly outraged when they found out the VFW PAC was endorsing Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both which have openly opposed Veterans, Troops, and the Military, and not LTC(ret) West and GySgt(ret) Popaditch, both of whom are running on strong pro-Troop, pro-Veteran, pro-Military positions. The VFW PAC appears to have operated either out of appeasement or laziness, in a manner designed to demonstrate a lack of partisanship, but which produced an incumbent friendly list.
It also endorsed Michelle Bachman & Marsha Blackburn, both of which are strong Consevative Republicans, as well as Reid and Pelosi, who are controversial progressive liberal Democrats. And Viet Nam Veteran Jim Marshall is endorsed. I haven't counted R's & D's yet, but the endorsement list looks to be fairly evenly divided between them. That doesn't mean its right, but it does mean the list is not partisan.
Anyone that has paid the least bit of attention to Veterans Issues and National Defense Issues, know that neither Pelosi nor Reid are friends of Our Troops, nor Our Veterans. When those names popped up on the endorsement list, bells should have gone off that the process was flawed. The actions of the VFW-PAC are inexcusable. The question is how to fix the problem?
Legally and Financially, the VFW-PAC is a seperate organization from the VFW, but let's not kid ourselves, the two are closely related. But the legal seperation also means that there are extra hurdles for the VFW if it finds the PAC out of line with the leadership or the membership. It means that the fix is not as easy as a decree. The VFW leadership has stated their opposition to the actions of the PAC. And more, immediate action is still needed.
The Leadership of the VFW is elected by its membership. There are 2.2 Million members of a brotherhood earned on the field of combat. They don't always agree, but together, they gather over a beer, knowing that the Post is their home, that they are in friendly territory, even when they disagree with their Brothers over NASCAR, NFL, MLB, or politics and religion.
Some would have you believe that the mistakes of that PAC are a reason to destroy 111 years of history, to give away your membership in an age old brotherhood. One Veteran has demanded that the leadership resign and endorsements nullified, if he doesn't get his way. The problem is that he is not the elected leader of the organization, nor has he done anything to fix the problems he sees, but he does have a very loud pulpit and he's making his rounds.
Will this effort to destroy the VFW be effective? His stated plan is to attack their financial base: membership dues, and force the organization to its knees in obedience to his demands. And annual members do in fact result in finances to the National organization, but lifetime memberships do not. Lifetime memberships result in local posts receiving an annual portion back from that original amount paid.
What will happen if his calls for desertion from the VFW are heeded? And his loud voice has already resulted in many written statements that it will be heeded. The number of votes in the organization that agree with his position will be diminished. The strength of those that oppose his positions will be increased. The organization itself will shrink, but it will not die. With 2.2 Million members, the biggest risk to the membership is that the age of its members means more will die off than will burn their membership cards. But his vindicative partisanship is dividing Veterans and hence the Voice of Veterans.
While many Viet Nam era Veterans are online, more are not. They won't even see much less heed the call. Mostly, the potential members lost will never be known. With the attacks on the organization stirring controversy, many younger Veterans who are online, will simply not join, simply not visit their Brothers who came before them in a Post near them. The effects of the attack will be long lasting, but the poison won't kill it for years after the debate itself is lost to the dustbins of history. The same divisiveness towards Viet Nam Veterans damaged this organization enormously decades ago.
Those Viet Nam Veterans are now the leadership of the VFW, holding open the door long enough for Desert Storm, Kosovo, Bosnia, Korea, Iraq, and Afghanistan Veterans to walk through and take their place at the table of Brotherhood. If the calls for abandonment are heeded, more VFW Posts will lock their doors. There is a minimum membership requirement, as well as minimum financial obligation to run a post. It has to be heated, maintained, and staffed. Often it has a mortgage to pay.
As VFW membership ages, as members from WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam die, so too do Posts that have not recruited young members to take the mantle. As these posts die off, so too does the ability of Veterans to welcome home new Veterans.
The VFW must remain non-partisan, for its membership comes from all facets of America, including all political parties. The VFW must retain a focus on the issues effecting Veterans, Troops, and the Military, ignoring the issues that do not, no matter how loud any one or ten of its members, no matter how vocal a few partisans are.
It would be just as wrong for it to oppose a party or all incumbents, as it is for it to endorse near all incumbents. Members of the VFW have other venues to voice their concerns of things unrelated to the VFW. Some would have the organization abandon that non-partisan role, as have other organizations, but that is the wrong answer for an organization born in Battlefield Brotherhood, not party loyalty.
Unfortunately, the call of some has been heeded. Those life members who gave away what was theirs did so to the detriment of their own beliefs, giving sway to their ideological opponents, pushing the organization closer to what they accuse it of, but not to the financial detriment of the organization. Those dues were already paid. They simply gave away their voice in the VFW, Nationally, Regionally, Statewide, and in their Post.
Those that choose to simply not renew annual dues will hurt the organization financially. While they will not have a voice this year, they can become members again next year, if they see the need for their voice.
But hurt most of all, are current Veterans who are not yet members. Those small posts will feel the pinch and those aging Veterans will not be able to travel to further posts to welcome in a new generation. Those posts that close their doors will be lost, perhaps forever, even as the VFW reaches out for ways to find them, for ways to make them feel welcome at the table, to hold on long enough for them to take the mantle of leadership.
By all means, let the leadership of the VFW know your dissatisfaction with the VFW-PAC. Contact numbers, emails, and addresses are listed in the original article on this subject. Demand action to correct the problem, but give the leadership time to address the problem, within the legal constraints on it. Burning your membership card harms no one but your own position and of course the Brotherhood of the VFW in local Posts.
See also: http://thors-spot.blogspot.com/2010/10/update-on-vfw-pac.html
and: http://thors-spot.blogspot.com/2010/10/vfw-pac-and-national-outrage-its.html as a Post Quartermaster speaks out on these issues.