As a woman Vietnam veteran and past post commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 433 in Sayville, it saddens me to see that the old stereotypes of local veterans service posts such as the VFW and American Legion, are perpetrated by the people quoted in the article, including the national commander of my own organization ["The new war vets," News, Nov. 11].
While the speakers raised the stereotypes in order to dismiss them, I was still saddened to read them. It's true that our membership is aging, but describing us as "old, white, tattooed men" or our posts as places for "old and out of touch veterans who would rather drink in a dimly lit canteen than open their doors to our younger veterans" is insulting and disrespectful.
Our local posts are active and vital members of their communities. We work hard to sponsor events that provide information to local veterans about the benefits available to them; we work closely with community organizations and school districts to educate young people and other residents about the service and sacrifice of veterans; we drive veterans to our posts or visit them at their bedsides, to give them some respite from the institutions in which they live and to let them know they're not forgotten. Perhaps most important, we open our doors to all veterans, regardless of race, gender, religion, age, political persuasion or the presence or absence of tattoos. My post has active members who have served in all our conflicts, from World War II to the present.
Joan Furey, Sayville
I'm tired of references to Veteran of Foreign Wars and American Legion halls as "beer and smoke-filled veterans halls, once safe havens for vets stateside, but now aging relics from another era."
There's no question these organizations face obstacles recruiting our newest veterans, but it's an insult to those who served to imply they're a group of over-60-year-olds hunched over beer at those posts.
Younger veterans, male and female, are facing many of the same challenges we older veterans faced, but with a lot less support from our government. The scandals at the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as unemployment and homelessness among veterans, attest to that.
The VFW and American Legion have advocated for more education, opportunity and health care for our newest generation of veterans.
William G. Walden, Hicksville
Editor's note: The writer is the commander of the Hicksville VFW Post 3211.