In the post 13-year Iraq and Afghanistan War world, thousands of young soldiers are returning home to the US.
“Our population of young veterans is growing and our population of women veterans is growing,” says Brigadier General James Campbell.
But the 94th VFW Convention in Bangor is a sea of gray and white.
“I’m the youngest person in my post by 15 to 20 years,” says Chris Robison.
Chris Robison came back from Iraq in 2004.
“It’s a big transition moving from all that structure to virtually nothing.”
And while his story is common among vets– at the VFW he’s practically an anomaly. The problem isn’t a secret.
“It’s very difficult to get them engaged in joining the American legion VFW particularly when they’ve had 5 and 6 deployments over a ten year period,” explains Maine Governor, Paul LePage.
Maine has the second highest percentage of veterans in the country.
“We have people who are WWII veterans but we also again have people in their 20’s who are veterans,” says Campbell.
And dealing with the changing needs of soldiers is– and will be– a challenge.
“For young people the issues are very different the healthcare issues are different, they have employment requirements, schooling,” explains Campbell.
Robison says the VFW should make it clear to younger soldiers what they really do.
“Make them aware that the VFW Lobby’s and you know on your behalf to get more programs for veterans.”
And many, just aren’t ready to talk about the war.
“They already have a family they’re not full time military, when they come back they want to go home to their kids and families,” says LePage.