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Decline In Veteran Program Membership

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MANKATO , MINN. -

When Maria Bauer came back from serving in Kuwait she says she was missing something. Bauer says, "Camaraderie like there's a different type of camaraderie to have in the army."

She found it back home with the American Legion. Bauer says, "It's like hanging out with them again and all of you back together again."

Now in school, she says she doesn't see many vets her age in the organization. Bauer says, "Everyone just kind of thinks legions are for the older veterans."

Almost all veteran organizations have seen a decline in membership in the past 10 years. Hallet says, "The biggest thing locally you need to get hold of new prospects."

Tom Hallet says a lot of vets say they're too busy and plan on joining later in life. But he says, the next time many of them have a military presence in their life is when it ends. Hallet says, "It seems to me that once they're out for a while they don't come back."

He says funeral services are just a small part of what the American Legion does. Hallet says, "We're a group of people that are trying to help the community, the best way we can and support our military image."

But Hallet says once vets join, they become lifetime members. Bauer says, "Why get out of it when they're just like me and I'm just like them, why stop."