There is no doubt about the power of social media, although this perceived power can be used both ways – positive and otherwise. Traditional veterans groups are among those who are using social media for a positive purpose, as they try to harness its strengths to attract younger veterans.
A feature on the Military Times shared that several veterans groups have turned to Facebook and Twitter, opening up accounts in an attempt to reach out to an estimated 4.3 million veterans who have served in the military since the Gulf War. Some of them have also written blogs, in an effort to turn declining membership levels around.
Declining membership, and its consequent decline in dues, has reportedly resulted in the closure of several social clubs around the country, previously operated by groups such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Membership in traditional veterans groups usually consist of those who served during the Second World War, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. All over America, an estimated 1,650 veterans of these wars pass away everyday.
Still, the more traditional vets groups – those founded before the 90s – are finding it difficult to keep up with the newer groups, such as the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), when it came to the social media game. IAVA spokeswoman Chrissy Stevens shared: “Facebook is the Veterans of Foreign Wars (meeting) hall of the future.” IAVA has around 80,000 veterans members and 169,000 supporters on Facebook. Veterans at local posts now favor online chatting as a means to reconnect, as opposed to face-to-face conversation.