LIMA — In honor of Veterans Day, the latest episode of Boom XYZ — a Lima News podcast — featured four veterans from different generations speaking on how technology, society and service clubs have adapted to the changing needs of past and current American wars.
The trend of decreasing numbers of veterans served as the central theme of the discussion. Due to today’s military relying heavily on technology, the four men explained how each generation since World War II has seen less and less percentage of Americans serving in the armed forces.
“In my generation, I can count on one hand the people in our area that served in the post-9/11 era overseas,” Chad Cupples, an Iraq War veteran, said. In comparison, Fred Rodabaugh and Dennis Morrison, two Vietnam War veterans, saw roughly half of the male graduates of their high school class serving overseas.
Part of the reason for that trend, Cupples explained, is United States air power. Thanks to development of smart bombs, drones and other aerial weaponry, the number of infantrymen required to run campaigns have diminished, and today, there are less boots on the ground.
That trend, however, has shifted many aspects of a veteran’s experience when they return home.
One such example is how service clubs like the American Legion and VFW are dealing with the trend. As many World War II veterans die due to old age, Vietnam War and Korean War veterans have since stepped up to lead service clubs, and now they have to work harder to bring in new members, Rodabaugh said. A shift in the necessary requirements to join service clubs has helped some in that regard, Morrison said.
But while membership has been on the decline, service clubs still provide a place for veterans to talk about their experiences among those that may better understand due to similar experiences.
“We all went through basic training, we all went through AIT (Advanced Individual Training) training,” Morrison said.
Due to the horrors of war, Rodabaugh said some veterans may not always feel comfortable telling their stories, but even so, telling stories and talking about their experiences can help veterans work through what they may have seen.
“Some of it brings back a lot of memories, and there’s things that my family doesn’t even knows,” Cupples said. “But we can talk about it amongst each other if we have similar experiences. Even then, it’s good to get that stuff out.”
“It’s much easier for them to talk about the relationship and the friends they made,” Rodabaugh said.
Bob Town, a Korean War veteran, said he likes to tell the good stories — those he made while on holiday in Asian cities.
“That’s the more fun part of it. You want to forget the rest of it,” Town said. “There’s some good times and some bad times. I prefer to remember the good times.”
“I think we want to make sure that the younger generation realizes what we gave up and our ancestors before us gave up to protect our country for the freedom they have. That’s what (Veterans Day) is all about,” Morrison said.
Boom XYZ can be heard at limaohio.com, or on your favorite podcast streaming service.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.