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VFW drives recruitment with education | Community Spirit

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VFW drives recruitment with education
VFW drives recruitment with education

Like VFW posts nationwide, the Boyd Hilton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7062 is facing an aging membership and is facing challenges in recruiting new, younger members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now, the post has a new incentive to attract newcomers: higher education.

On Saturday, March 5, 2011, at 1 p.m., the Altamont Post will hold a membership drive to present its newly-signed education partnership with Excelsior College in Albany. The agreement provides reduced tuition for Post members and their spouses who are interested in degree completion and career advancement.  Veterans who bring their military and civilian transcripts will be offered a free academic evaluation by an Excelsior College representative.

In addition to Excelsior, other organizations and agencies servings will be in attendance.

“We are trying to broaden the stroke of our brush and include younger veterans who are living right here our own community,” said Post Commander Dennis Cyr in a prepared statement.  “Education is another way to help us recruit younger members, close the generation gap, and keep our post alive for future veterans and their families.”

The VFW Post 7062 has 174 members, and almost as many auxiliary members. Even if a new VFW member is not presently seeking education, a spouse might want to take advantage of the opportunity.

In addition to its degree programs, Excelsior also offers professional development courses and training through its Center for Professional Development (CPD). The CPD is increasingly popular with veterans and their family members.

By providing an education incentive to veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Altamont Post will be encouraging education at a time when the national unemployment rate among recent veterans is 10 percent (as of November 2010). The partnership with the VFW is similar to those Excelsior has established with corporations and nonprofit organizations across the country.

Cyr said VFW organizations everywhere want to reach out to younger veterans of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but those vets sometimes want to disconnect from the military for a time.  

The VFW partnership came about because Judy Reed, Excelsior’s director of veteran services and outreach, is an auxiliary member of the Post.

“We’d like to see VFW veterans and spouses get involved with the Excelsior programs by taking a class, completing a degree, or gaining professional development that might help them in the job market,” said Judy. “And this is a good, timely way for the College to express support for these veterans’ service to their country.”

She said she hopes the Altamont partnership might serve as a model for a broader, statewide VFW partnership.

Post 7062 has a motivated and energetic membership that provides camaraderie and assistance to veterans in need. The organization supports charities and local patriotic endeavors, helps veterans to access VA benefits, and supports an Honor Guard to represent the VFW at parades and veterans’ funerals.  

Excelsior College representatives will be available at the March 5 event to discuss Excelsior programs, veteran benefits, career services and professional development options.

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