Knoxville (WVLT) - The Veterans of Foreign Wars have played an important role in the nation's history.
But now, the membership, like the nation is growing much older and more members are needed.
The VFW works to help veterans and their families. But as many older vets pass on, the VFW is having to work harder to pass the torch on to the younger generation serving in the very different conflicts of the day.
Friday's Veterans' Day Parade helps bring a sense of pride and thank you toward for the nations vets, even for some Vietnam vets who did not get a warm welcome more than thirty years ago.
"I had my parade today. It may be 40 years late but it's still my parade." But that hasn't stopped Dan Fritz in his service to his country and dedication to vets. As the Senior Vice Commander of the Knoxville Post, Fritz knows how important the VFW is to vets.
"The VFW does a very good job of getting their benefits and helping them meet their healthcare needs." But with an aging group, Fritz says they need new blood. "We're actively involved in trying to recruit our younger people because that's the future of not only the VFW but our country."
John Coffey is 39 and has been a member for three years. Fritz spent time in the afternoon telling seniors about the VFW and it's that giving back that attracted Coffey to the VFW.
"It makes you feel good being involved in things in the community," he says.
But both say recruitment is tough and that you have to use some good peer pressure letting people like Coffey do the work.
"The best way to be involved with their community is something with a common interest or common background, people that are veterans," Coffey explains.
So people like Fritz can pass the torch.
"I've been telling my stories for forty years so it's time for me to shut up and let these young kids tell their stories."
Fritz encourages any veteran interested in helping other vets to be a part of the organization.
He says all a person needs to do is drop by the VFW Post on Fourth Avenue and the only thing you need to bring are your discharge papers.