I have been a member of the American Legion for 15 years now. They invite any service member that has at least one day of honorable Military Service during several periods to join their ranks. As a Reserve Soldier, the American Legion welcomed me before I was sent to a Combat zone and provided a source for me to support fellow veterans. You can also join the Legion if a parent or grandparent was a veteran as a sons of the Legion or Auxillary member. The American Legion Riders is a support organization where you can combine Motorcycle riding and veteran’s support activities.
I joined the VFW upon my return from Iraq when I was finally eligible (after 22 Years of Military service). Part of the reason I joined was their visibility in Iraq and upon my return. The VFW was available as needed to support soldier needs for Combat Veterans. Their membership eligibility is much more restrictive as it is only open to combat veterans for full membership. As they state in their webpage “Our common bond is the battlefield, whether it is service in the Persian Gulf, Korea, Kosovo, the war on terrorism or peace-keeping expeditionary campaigns. Your courage and sacrifice have made a difference in preserving and defending world peace.”
To be eligible for membership in AMVETS, you must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, anytime after Sept. 15, 1940. Additionally, unless still serving, your discharge must have been under honorable conditions. I’m not a member of this organization and don’t know much about them other than its difficult to find out what eligibility is on their website.
Anyway, I guess I’m entering this post to be a salesman for the military Veteran’s organizations that exist out there. Much of the work done by these groups is behind the scenes and in support of national agendas that are specified up front for perspective members. They are worth a look if you’re a veteran of any description interested in giving more after leaving the service – regardless of the number of years served. Most Veteran local posts to include mine, do concrete things for local community veteran’s and their families….not just parades, but provide support to Patriot Guards, assist with veteran’s services, Scolorships, place flags on veteran’s graves and assist at Veteran’s homes for the infirmed veterans. These organizations are much more than a local watering hole.
What I’m saying here – if your veteran supporting inclined – join a veteran organization – participate in the camaraderie of veterans and support in a real sense the organization of your choosing that is on the front lines to preserve Veteran services. The worst that can happen is you may have to hear the old timers tell their stories.... for some of us that appreciate Veteran's that is not so bad. The best result would be for you to enjoy participating in active support to our veteran's.