VFW: Chick Magnet

Sometimes it’s good to open junk mail.

The VFW has a new outreach organization exclusively for women. “She Serves” is a simple, yet brilliant recruiting tool targeting an underserved population. 

Though female veterans seem to have long been ignored in the veteran service organization world, one must wonder if a gender-exclusive campaign is justified. The VFW seems to think so and public affairs director Jerry Newberry could not be more enthused about the program.

“She Serves gives women a place specifically for them to connect and communicate. It helps with issues unique to women,” explained Newberry. Unless you are talking certain medical issues (childbirth in a combat zone?), we are unclear what items are so unique to women in military service, especially in 2008. An unscientific review of Internet “chat” groups for female servicemembers, for example, has turned up the mother load of depressing gripe sessions. Some seem to use these groups as a replacement for the therapist they really need. But we digress.

She Serves is about membership in the VFW, an organization with an aging cadre. Newberry says that’s clear in the mail campaign. VFW membership seemed to be downplayed in the letter, though Newberry disagreed. We wondered, does a 28-year-old Britney Spears wannabe want to join a bunch of older stodgy white boys (OK, maybe she does) or a hip clique of combat-hardened chicks. We’d pick door number two!

“Club Chick” skews young. Probably the under-35 crowd. The push on the MySpace.com and Facebook.com, associations were one clue, though the VFW admittedly as no control over these sites.

The requirements are the same as for the VFW: honorable service in a conflict zone. If you were stuck in the U.S. during the Cold War, well, the application seems to take whatever info you input, not that we’d ever advocate misinformation. (One VFW headquarters representative confessed they do not track quite a bit of the information, including conflict area. We’re not so sure about that, though the irony makes for a good story.)

For the $35 membership fee, you get a subscription to th VFW magazine and discounts on Dell computers and Sprint cell phone service, for example. Members also receive “personal assistance securing government benefits and entitlements for veterans.” No Ginsu knives, but not bad.

It will be interesting if other veteran organizations begin to target underserved populations. A tweak here and there can customize the VFW effort to target the hot group du jour.  

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