So Joe Rock goes to see the local VFW, or Veterans of Foreign Wars. Only as soon as he walks in, he’s confronted by the Guardians of the Gate– namely, the gamut of World War Two and Vietnam veterans that make up the bulk of the population there.
It makes sense that the largest groups of veterans would come from these two conflicts; after all they drew large percentages of the population, since both wars were populated by a lot of draftees. The Vietnam War also dragged on for many years; although we didn’t know it at the time the Iraq War would come close to matching it, and the Afghanistan war would go well beyond the time frame of what had once been America’s longest war. Joe is visiting the VFW in the year 2007, and so the huge influx of Iraq and Afghanistan vets hadn’t yet been fully felt– the wars in both fronts had just barely lasted as long as World War Two had, and the number of troops that served had not even come close to World War Two’s population of veterans.
When I went to the VFW post in my home town, it was full of these prior service populations. Very few of us from the “Global War on Terror” era were there, and the reception ranged from indifferent to uninterested. The “old guard” guys probably had not seen a large influx of new members, since most of our foreign military action overseas in the years since Vietnam were not as large in scale. I have to admit, if I was a member of a group, and I was comfortable in that group, knowing that a large influx of strangers was due to arrive at any moment and possibly bring changes might cause me to be a bit on the defensive.