The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4760 in Sequim may be in danger of closing its doors due to declining active membership and involvement.
The VFW 4760 is a nonprofit membership organization serving the local veterans of foreign wars. It provides funding to local veterans, donates money to veteran charities and is a resource for veterans to help connect them to services they may need, such as healthcare, financial assistance, rehabilitation and homeless services, and provides scholarships for Sequim High School students.
At Post 4760, Commander Neil Gamroth said it serves 40-60 veterans each month. It has 360 members registered but at its monthly meetings only a couple handfuls of members usually attend.
“At any one time at our meeting we have between 12-18 people who show up out of 360 members,” he said.
“Of that active group of officers that show up at a meeting, there’s four of us who are running the facility right now.”
He said 40-60 veterans receive help each month from the services and resources the VFW provides.
Gamroth said the Post needs about 13 active members to be able to keep the facility running and carry out the responsibilities to meet the bylaws and rules of its charter.
“The post is threatened to shutting down and losing our charter,” Gamroth said.
“The national and state VFW requires that those key officers are in place or that we enough volunteers to do all the stuff that are part of our regulations and bylaws,” he said.
“And if we can’t fulfill the rules and the bylaws then we lose the charter.”
He said the Post’s yearly election of officers meeting is March 13 and it is at that meeting where it will be determined if there is enough people to keep the VFW going.
“It’s a critical meeting” he said.
The VFW website reports that there are about 1.7 million VFW and VFW Auxiliary members and about 6,380 posts worldwide. The VFW dates back to 1899 when it started to fight for veterans, service members and their families.
Gamroth believes the decline in membership has been happening in the last 10-15 years on both a local and national level.
Dave Spiva reported in the “VFW Magazine” February 2018 issue that over the next 25 years, Veterans Affairs expects a 37.5 percent decline in the US veteran population.
VFW Magazine also reported that Gulf War-era veterans became the largest group of living veterans in 2016, accounting for 7.2 million or 45 percent of all veterans.
Gamroth said he believes this data suggests a decline in VFW memberships and a shift in veteran culture with younger Gulf War-era veterans — veterans who served from 1990-present day — making the majority of living veterans who may not seek out the VFW for a sense of connection or community.
He said many younger veterans are more connected to social media and the internet for support and connection rather than a brick and mortar facility and community.
“There’s a gap between the younger generations” he said.
“That communication (social media) substitutes meeting at the bar and talking,” he said. “They have a different outlet.”
He said there are other factors that also may contribute to a decline in membership, such as the fact that to become a VFW member veterans must prove they served in a combat zone in a foreign war.
“That limits the number of veterans (who can join)” he said.
“There’s veterans that continued state side that did not fight in a foreign war.”
Future of the Post
Gamroth said Post 4760 needs more active volunteers to stay open as well as funding.
The VFW is a volunteer organization and none of its current volunteers are paid. Money is raised for the VFW through the proceeds from its bar, membership fees, fundraisers such as dances it holds every Wednesday and Saturdays and by donations.
“It’s important that people understand that monies contributed to the local Post stays with the local veterans,” Gamroth said.
“All of us are volunteers, we take nothing from that.”
Gamroth said there have been a few generous families in Sequim that have provided donations in the past but he encourages anyone that wishes to donate do so by coming to the free dances and putting a donation the charity box or dropping off a check on the second floor of the VFW building at the service office open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, at 169 E. Washington St.
For more information about VFW Post 4760, visit http://vfwpost4760.com/vfw_post or call 360-683-9546.