WWII vets age, VFW posts see decline in membership

By KBJR News 1

April 17, 2014 Updated Apr 17, 2014 at 6:54 PM CDT

Hibbing, MN (NNCNOW.com) - As veterans of World War II die, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts across the country are seeing a decline in membership.

Such is the case in Hibbing, where VFW post 8510 recently gave up their building off Highway 169. Post 8510 commander, Les Fuenffinger, says they didn't have enough officers to operate the building.

"We needed to close the doors and start shutting down the bar and the restaurant," said Fuenffinger.

Lack of officers is behind another change for 8510; they don't have the required eight officers needed to keep their charter.

Fuenffinger says the post is considering surrendering their charter and transferring members to post 1221, also in Hibbing.

"I think we're both kind of looking forward to it," said Fuenffinger of the possible transfer, "There's been two VFW posts in the town of Hibbing for quite a long time."

Post 8510 isn't the only group to see a decline in membership. According to the Minnesota VFW, in the last five years the number of posts across the state has dropped from approximately 250 to 231.

"It's not a decline in membership across the state, it's a decline in membership across the nation," said State VFW Commander Frank Presfield, "Not only the VFW, but all military veterans associations are declining."

Presfield says that he thinks many younger veterans aren't joining the VFW because they serve repeated tours of duty overseas and are focused on other priorities when they return home.

Larry Pocrnich, commander of post 1221, says he thinks younger veterans, faced with a busier lifestyle, don't have time to commit to organizations like the VFW.

"People only got a little bit of time," Pocrnich said, "They split it between family and the kids, and like I said, there's very little time for organizations."

Post 8510 will vote on whether to surrender their charter and join post 1221 at a meeting to be held at 6 p.m. April 23 at the Hibbing Memorial Building. All members are encouraged to attend.