NY 88th Annual VFW Convention

By Kiersten Mathieu

July 22, 2010 Updated Jun 21, 2007 at 7:08 PM EDT

In a sea of colors, uniforms and badges, you can see how proud these men and women are to have served our country.

But here at Veterans Memorial Arena, the opening ceremonies for the state VFW convention, you don't see veterans from Afghanistan or Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"It's a different situation. I think World War II, Korea, Vietnam. We were all single young men," says NYS VFW Commander Donald Doell.

New York Commander Donald Doell says VFW membership has been declining for years.

As old veterans pass away, new veterans don't have the time.

"They have to come back and take care of their families," says Doell.

Veterans say families and jobs are the main reasons why new members aren't joining the VFW ranks.

"There's a tremendous amount of them that are coming back from all these foreign places and we're trying to capture them but it's extremely difficult," says Gene McSherry of Long Island.

And McSherry says without a strong membership, it makes it tough for the VFW to fight for veterans' health benefits and quality hospitals.

That's why the group is forming a battle strategy.

"To bring our membership back, we're focusing on the family life. We're making the VFW more family oriented," says Lloyd Creeley of Auburn.

By sending care packages and phone cards to service men and women, and helping those families at home while their loved ones are serving our country.

"We're there for them. If they want us, we're there," says Doell.

The New York State VFW has an outreach program for new members called Flags for Soldiers.

Each Flag Day, the group will send American flags to every New York Veteran to thank them for their service.

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