Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) January 31, 2011 – Facing harsh declines in membership, some veterans’ groups are harnessing the power of social networking websites to recruit young members.
As veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam pass away, traditional veteran service organizations such as Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion lose members. However, since most younger veterans have more technology savvy than their older counterparts, the Internet has revealed itself to be a great place to bring them together.The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America group was an early adopter of social networking. Its Facebook group currently has 169,000 supporters – allowing it to reach out to its 80,000 members and their families to build a massive support network.
“Veteran service organizations play an important role in the reintegration of troops into society and the delivery of veteran benefits information,” said James G. Fausone, a veterans lawyer who works for Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC. “The reduction in members is of concern to the survival of veteran service organizations. These groups have to make themselves more relevant to today’s veterans.”
These new Facebook communities provide veterans with similar benefits to what they would receive from a “traditional” service organization. Veterans can connect to others to talk about similar injuries and experiences at all times of the day. Groups can inform young veterans that they are eligible for membership and to dispel common misconceptions about their groups. One spokeswoman for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said that online chatting between veterans has replaced some of the face-to-face conversations that used to occur at local posts.
“The American Legion has about 20,000 Facebook members. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has 169,000 supporters on Facebook. Veterans of Foreign Wars has 64,000 Facebook followers. Connecting by use of social media is just one step in remaining relevant,” Fausone said.
Some veterans groups have also begun to take advantage of Twitter, another popular social networking tool. Veterans of Foreign Wars offers a fact-filled Twitter account at @VFWHQ. The American Legion has a Twitter account (@AmericanLegion) that updates subscribers with current military-related news and tips. One of its latest tweets provided some interactivity: “Fill out a ROAR survey and rate the performance of your VA Regional Office – help us reduce the backlog”.
Still, the number of veterans connected to veteran service organizations through social networking accounts for just a fraction of all veterans – which is unfortunate, for both the veterans and the organizations trying to help them.
Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC
41700 West Six Mile Road, Suite 101
Northville, MI 48168
Toll Free Phone: 800.693.4800