Dwindling membership forces Perry County VFW merger, post commander talks how to keep VFWs afloat

MILLERSTOWN, PERRY COUNTY, Pa. -- With membership dwindling, a VFW post consolidation takes place in part of Perry County.

The Millerstown VFW merges with the William H. Saylor Post 34 in Newport.

That takes the total number of chartered VFW’S in Perry County down to 5, four with canteens and one without.

The William H. Saylor Post 34 in Newport will gain 21 new regular members with the completion of this merger, but members say the VFW is about much more than  numbers.

The flags have been taken down outside the Millerstown VFW as the long time Perry County post merges with the Post 34.

"You know, members getting older, dying off, the World War Two veterans, and that was your big era: World War I and World War II and Korea," said James Snyder, Newport's Post Commander.

The Newport post commander says besides the lack of young veterans, VFW’S can close when the VFW mission is forgotten.

"That's where some of the VFW’S have actually lost membership because that's all they see is the drinking -- they have to be more community involved," he said.

The Newport VFW has been recognized by the state for their recruitment, membership steadily rising as the post has modernized.

"The changes have paid off with the new addition, new bathrooms, the parking out here, and that's the things you really got to look to put improvements into your VFW. You got to show people that you care," Snyder explained.

The Millerstown VFW didn't have auxiliary or social members. Paired with the passing of many older veterans and business choices, that's why it's believed to have closed. However, Millerstown is just a ten minute drive from the Newport VFW, which those 21 members will now call home.

"We all knew each other, so it's not like their losing their family. Their family is still here," said Snyder.

Post 34 will receive word from national headquarters within a month's time if the merger is approved, and they hope to recruit even more members as family members and friends talk about the new VFW.