Will Gambling really save our Veterans’ Clubs?
A recent article from the Daily Herald reports about some thinking that gambling machines will save our veterans’ clubs in this State of Illinois and a few of us don’t. We think that its membership that will ultimately save these clubs but, as I am sure you have guessed by now, I have an extension of why membership is the key and why it is falling off.
According to the Daily Herald, “Some veterans groups think video gambling might be the key to fixing finances hurt by membership declines. But some say the wait to add video gambling machines in their clubs can be long. Bill Geary is corporate secretary of Wauconda American Legion Post 911 in the Chicago suburb. He said the addition of video gambling machines in February 2013 has meant the difference between losing money and making money. Mike Stojak of American Legion Post 673 in Huntley tells the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights that his club spent two years applying to the state before finally getting machines in February. He says the legion post is now making money. But Chuck Slack of the VFW post in Carpentersville says what the clubs really need is new members.
Now while I must agree with Chuck Slack of Carpentersville VFW and I do think that gambling machines can help with the finances of the club, my take on why it may be dying out are the services or lack of services those veterans clubs are now offering veterans. Before it was about going out to a place where you could relax, have a few drinks and having those around you actually know what you are talking about when you talk and more importantly being able to completely understand. Now drinking is less important to veterans because they can do it at home and not have to worry about getting pulled over and going to jail for driving while intoxicated or DWIs. To get them in, the clubs need to offer something other than like-minded people who share the experience of serving.
Veterans’ Clubs need to offer help in finding and locating jobs and I mean have a list of accomplishments where they can actually show that their members did find and do have jobs. They need to have a place where veterans can speak to others who may be able to help them navigate their re-entry into the civilian world because only a veteran would know how difficult it can be. They should offer some dispute resolution classes so that veterans can get their issues resolved without feeling that violence is the only answer. They need to set up some type of system where maybe a portion of the dues paid by veterans to join and remain is set aside to help ease the journey of their families if that veteran is called to heavenly duty. These are just a few things that would probably greatly improve their membership numbers and keep them high. Relying on just those gambling machines only mean that while the club maybe making money there, their reason for existing is quickly losing its appeal. Just my opinion, I could be wrong and if so ME CULPA.