Manchester grad enjoys a “Super” Experience Taking Adams County patriotism to the state capitol John P Sininger Jo Ann Hayslip Harvey U Schrock Eunice G. Burgess Senior Profile: Kaulen St Michael Cox Racing returns to Brushcreek on April 2 Southern Hills Athletic Conference holds Winter Sports Awards ceremony Adams County provides multiple walking venues Adams County parks are tobacco-free Rhoads Memorial 5K Run/Walk is April 9 Peebles Elem. Staff of the Month Floyd E Maddy Raymond A Holt Derrick Poe Spencer E McFarland Mintie F Rogers Roberta Eylar Big Time Wrestling coming to NAHS Carl Tomlin CTC students help with storm clean-up Opening the door for high-tech jobs Jack R Slyger Thomas Stratton Jr Eastern Lady Warriors headed to Final Four Senior Profile: Logan Rogers Southern Hills Athletic Conference names 2016-17 All-Conference Basketball Teams Winchester PD continues assault on drugs Alonso joins Defender staff Sheriff to set up outpost in Manchester Johnson named OEDA Membership Chairperson Sherman E Young Ruth Jackman ‘Kitten Season’ comes to Ohio Manchester Council votes to disband PD Olde Wayside Inn under new management Two overdose on heroin Senior Profile: Ethan Parrett Adams/Brown Youth League holds postseason tourney Three nights of pain Furious rally falls short, Lady Devils again eliminated in Div. III district finals, 45-42 Oscar Moore Barbara J Finnegan Ohio Senate and House honor Miss Ohio USA Michael Eldridge Frances Towner Thelma R Williamson BREAKING NEWS: Manchester council votes to eliminate police department Before all dogs go to heaven Adaptive Bikes delivered in Adams County Adams County Junior Fair Market Hog Identification plans announced for 2017 Local couple takes ownership of two local businesses Jo Hanson to retire after nearly 50 years in banking Sierra Club, hero or villain? Greyhounds, Devils are runners-up in SHAC Tournaments Harold L Purdin Senior Profile: Jacob Wickerham 98-year old author publishes first book Early March storm packs destructive punch Jeeps rally in second half to end the Peebles season How about some post season awards? Thanks for all the great sports coverage PHS Principal hopes to expand students’ world view When spring becomes a promise Greg Lorenz Clay shoots the lights out, shoots down Greyhounds’ season Senior Profile: Savannah McFarland Devils put up a good fight, but fall to Portsmouth in sectional final, 50-43 Second half comeback sends Lady Devils to district finals for third straight year Butts honored by Southeast District Athletic Board North Adams Elementary holds Random Acts of Kindness Week Chester W Eyre BREAKING NEWS: March makes its entrance with force WUES kicks off Right to Read Week with guest readers WUHS students see Aronoff show on the life of Edgar Allan Poe Local high school seniors winners of Wendy’s Heisman Awards The emotions of a senior year Market Hog Clinic scheduled for March 4 Venture Hawks fall to Scioto County Senior Profile : Colton Thornburg Lady Dragons’ season ends with sectional loss to Lynchburg Devils advance in tourney with convincing win over West Union, will face Portsmouth for sectional title Wenstrup selected as Vice Chairman of House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee Adams County 4-H Shooting Sports to hold fund raiser Linda M Howland Nellie B Hayslip Russell E Bailey Gladys M Perdue Commissioners meet in Columbus with DP&L CEO Tom Raga Missing the Dirtrollers The farms that aren’t forgotten Flora Hilderbran Commissioners to meet with DP&L officials New state graduation requirements called a ‘train wreck’ Catching up with Keller Senior Profile: Justin Knechtly Piketon size is too much for Lady Indians, Peebles falls in sectional finals Greyhounds grab Senior Night win Indians finish regular season riding six-game winning streak

The American Legion struggles to remain relevant

From left, Bill Conn, Dean Collins, Marvin Greene, Garry Mitchell, Russell Todd, Jr., and Jerry Naylor look after veterans’ interests in Adams County.
From left, Bill Conn, Dean Collins, Marvin Greene, Garry Mitchell, Russell Todd, Jr., and Jerry Naylor look after veterans’ interests in Adams County.

Local posts fear dwindling membership numbers will force them to close their doors

Photo and story by Patricia Beech –

American Legion posts across the country are struggling to stay afloat as their membership numbers continue to fall. As aging World War II and Korean veterans leave the ranks, new members aren’t stepping up to replace them. Since 2000 the organization has had an 11 percent drop in membership nationwide, and posts in rural areas are being hit especially hard.

Leaders of Adams County’s veterans organizations say they are definitely feeling the crunch of the falling numbers. They fear veterans will lose their political influence if something isn’t done to reverse the trend. According to some in the oprganizations, the younger veterans don’t realize that not being involved means they’re losing their representation in Columbus and Washington.

At a meeting last week Bill Conn, President of the DAV, and several of his fellow veterans discussed steps their organizations could take to attract new members.

“Our military organizations here in the county are in bad shape,” said Conn. “We have to find a way to get people to step forward, sign up, and get involved with their military chapters, if we don’t we’re going to lose them.”

Many of the county organizations have already closed because of poor membership numbers.

“We’ve lost our Am Vets Chapter, and a couple years ago we lost the Legion in Cherry Fork,” said Conn. “The VFW in West Union has until January to get their numbers up or they’ll be history, and the chapters that are left are just hanging on by a thread.”

Even though most of the 23 million veterans nationwide are eligible to join the American Legion, the organization had less than three million members in 2014. Among those who do join, not all choose to be active.

Jerry Naylor, Commander of the Winchester Post says, “We have about 40 members, but only about eight people come to legion meetings, years ago the post would have 40 to 60 members show up at meetings.”

Garry Mitchell of the Peebles Post agreed, “We’re lucky if we have enough to make a quorum.”

Conn says there are over 2,000 eligible veterans in Adams County, and most do not belong to either the American Legion, Am Vets, or the VFW. He and the others agree the lack of members will eventually have a negative effect on all local veterans’ benefits.

“The state does an estimate of how many members are in the county, they look at votes only, so when any kind of bill comes up that has to do with veterans, they only look at the numbers”, says Conn. “These younger veterans don’t realize they’re losing their representation.

Conn and the others say they realize that work and busy family schedules keeps many younger veterans from joining.

“Ball games, television, computers, and technology take up all their time,” says Naylor. However many posts are turning to technology to attract younger veterans who they hope can revive their organizations with their enthusiasm, and recruit new members with their technical skills and familiarity with social media.

Along with serving as a lobbying organization for veterans’ causes, the American Legion posts also promote patriotic programs and mentor young people in their communities. Veteran Dean Collins said he believes membership could be bolstered if the community were made aware of all the good work the Legion does or is willing to do.

“Many people don’t know that we’re even here,” said Collins. “These organizations used to do all kinds of things, but that doesn’t happen anymore, it seems like without exposure, no one knows we’re here.”

Conn and the others say they’re concerned that the Legion’s history and traditions will be lost.

“Who’s going to handle the Veterans program, who’s going to do the Memorial Day services? It’ll be a thing of the past.”

The American Legion was created after World War I to support returning veterans and their families. It saw a substantial growth when soldiers returned from World War II in the 1940’s.

The American Legion is open to all veterans whether they served in times of war or peace.

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