Friday, December 15, 2017

Female veterans eager to encourage local support as VFW members

August 23, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, News

“We had 2,500 new female members last year,” said Matthew Claussen, national membership director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “Prior to that, we never worried about demographics. Women have been allowed to be members only since 1978, when it was voted on at the national convention. It wasn’t really encouraged until recent years, but we started a new campaign a couple years ago called She Serves. Compared to years past, the trend is increasing.”

In 2004, Debbie Arntson became the first woman inducted into Zanesville’s 1058. She served as a sergeant and military police in the Army Reserves from March to November 2003 in Iraq.

“When I was over there, one of the guys I served with was a member of the VFW in Wisconsin, and they paid for our first year of dues and then to be transferred over to our local VFWs,” Arntson said. “It was something they offered to the soldiers when the came back. It feels good to be the first female member on the ‘men’s side.'”

“No one ever applied for membership,” said local quartermaster Tom Coen about female involvement. “We have no problem with women becoming members. They served their country, and they’ve got the right to be here just as much as we (men) do. We’d like to have other women, and we encourage any woman to join.”

Don Campbell, local membership coordinator, said with membership decreasing as veterans pass away, the organization remains on the lookout for “a few good men” and women.

“We have about 550 members now,” he said. “We’re always looking for new members. We don’t care if they’re men or women. The veterans are getting older, but we’re always trying to get the word out and actively recruit members.”

In many veterans’ eyes, their status knows no gender limits…”

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