Alex K Miller Ann E Campbell Scott N Atkinson Senior Profile: Tyler Fowler Martin named to All-Tourney Team in North/South Battlefield Classic 200 years on the banks of the Ohio, in a little town called Moscow Edwin P Prince ACRMC Emergency Care Center renamed after Dr. Bruce Ashley Volleyball teams honor young cancer patient MHS honors veterans during pregame Kirker Covered Bridge gets a ‘Brown Goose’ facelift Adams County Heritage Days are Sept. 30-Oct. 1 Lady Devils prevail 1-0 over Peebles on Kickin’ Cancer Night Senior Profile: Patrick Baldwin Michael W Milby James R Grooms Sr. Fall Festival crowns Little Miss and Mister UPDATE: Pike County multiple murder Investigation; redacted autopsy reports released West Union Elementary names August Students of the Month SHAC streak continues for North Adams volleyball West Union volleyball picks up a pair of W’s Animal Shelter booth sees record crowds at Old Timer’s Day Festival Dragons top Manchester in Defender Bowl battle, 28-22 Senior Profile: Kendall Gallowitz Lady Dragons grab early lead in SHAC Tourney, final round is coming Friday Another Old Timer’s Days in the books and successful Run Gio Foundation to hold Oct. 1 benefit in Adams County Betty L Kelley Tom Cross, ACTVB Director, to receive ODNR Cardinal Award Seaman Fall Festival begins Wednesday, runs through Saturday Dragons still lead after two rounds of SHAC Golf, McCarty tops individual leader board Lady Dragons get SHAC win, downing Fayetteville 3-1 Overcoming obstacles, Pennywitt etches his name in MHS record books Dragons take first day lead in SHAC Golf Tourney New drug treatment offers more hope for recovering addicts Ronnie G Nace Lucille Wright Lois M Bixler Time to change those soccer rules Senior Profile: Hannah Grimes ‘Cruising up and down the main drag all night long’ Community effort erects town clock S Bridge to be replaced on Graces Run Road Senior Profile: Brittany Caldwell Lady Dragons break ACCC course record Dragons roll in county gridiron battle Down to last play, Hounds fall in heartbreaker I never won, but those lawn games were special times Donnie Austin Shari R Hiltibran Bentonville hosts 40th Annual Harvest Festival West Union soccer teams sweep Williamsburg, St. Patrick “Rockin” the mats again Senior Profile: Brittany Caldwell Sylvester Mefford Local teens selected to State 4-H Teen Leadership Council Connect with Serpent Mound over Old Timer’s Days Guthrie to speak about pests and diseases in beekeeping Old Timers Days Festival Cornhole Tournament is this week Defender Bowl coming Thursday Bentonville Harvest Festival holds Toddler Pageants 40th Anniversary Bentonville Harvest Festival hosts Baby Show 9/11 Reminds Us That We Are All Americans Lady Dragons are 2016 County Cup winners Bob Birchfield Senior Profile: Ryan Henderson Dragons take JV golf match Another rough night for Greyhounds, Notre Dame rolls to big win Remembering 9/11-15 years later Hughes honored at GABP Concussions and Youth Sports Roberta Newman to retire after more than 46 years at First State Bank Reaching out to the Baton Rouge flood victims Bentonville Harvest Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary Fire it up! Annual Jr. Fair BBQ cooks up another savory fare Lady Indians take down Whiteoak in four sets Senior Profile: Zack Best Greyhounds produce three winners at the 2016 Dragon Run Lady Hounds win in five sets at West Union Teresa Houdeshell Rosa Grooms Roy C Shiveley Mathew R Potts Staggs and Louiso to visit nation’s capital MLSD board members disagree on the merits of drug-testing students Law enforcement will target impaired drivers Labor Day weekend Figgins goal gives Devils a 1-0 win over West Union Lady Devils soccer rolls past West Union 9-1 Senior Profile: Madison Jenkins Boys golf season in full swing in county Winchester Homecoming Festival beats the heat and the storm I learned a lot from Rusty Verona McRoberts Lester Boldman Elsworth Cook Jr Harold L Applegate Governor Kasich honors Defender’s 150th anniversary ACRMC offers Language Interpretation Greyhounds stumble in opener, Green rushing attack leads to big win Notre Dame drops North Adams in straight sets

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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