WEST VIRGINIA (WOWK) – As people continue to stay distant and avoid gatherings due to COVID-19, organizations who help those who served our county are struggling.

Both the West Virginia VFW and American Legion say that the pandemic has hurt their number of new members and patrons at their posts across the state.

Empty seats, and fewer members are showing up for meetings at American Legion Post-16 in Huntington. Post commanders attribute the lack of interest to age, and the ongoing pandemic.

“World War 2 Veterans are in their 90s now… and even the Vietnam era, my era, are in their mid-70s.. So we’re an older crowd, we’re not getting as many as the desert storm people that I wish we would.” said, Fred Buchanan, Chairman of the Board at Post 16 in Huntington.

West Virginia Veterans of Foreign Wars Quartermaster Kevin Light says they are having the same problem. “Membership has been down because we haven’t been able to recruit like we normally do. Of course our membership is older.. They’re more susceptible to catching the Covid, and we have lost some members and some officers in the organization unfortunately.”

Now, both organizations are encouraging young veterans to get involved. “Your membership is a voice to that organization and it’s very important because we’re really the only ones frighting for what we really deserve.” said, Light.

Buchanan adds that these programs are vital for those who served, and are currently serving.. and they will continue throughout the pandemic. “We have to.. for veterans benefits, and veterans issues we HAVE to keep it going.”

Light added that Governor Jim Justice did help their organization out by giving each post five thousand dollar grants to help pay for utlilites.