AUBURN — American Legion, William J. Rogers Post 153, will discuss membership fees increase at the General Membership meeting, set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16.

According to Paul Bernard, Post 153 commander, the issue was discussed and voted on at the June American Legion Convention. It was voted on to increase dues that are sent to the Department of Maine by $3. This increase will go into effect in 2015. This was needed to help support the department with increases due to their yearly operating costs, according to Bernard.

“The issue is being compounded by declining membership in veterans groups in Maine, and across the country, as World War II veterans die,” said John Hargreaves, commander of the American Legion Department of Maine.

Maine’s American Legion has lost about 8,000 members over the last 20 years. For the organization, that means $100,000 less coming in every year in membership dues, Hargreaves said. Membership at Maine’s Veterans of Foreign Wars posts has declined by more than 10,000 over the last 20 years, said Thomas Lussier, the organization’s chief of staff.

That means that fewer dollars are going into programs the clubs have supported for decades, like the Special Olympics, and fewer employees in posts that help veterans.

The Legion has had to cut two officers who assist veterans with their benefits at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs regional office in Togus, Hargreaves said.

“Claims are taking longer for us to get processed… we’re not able to process as many claims. So (veterans) either make some attempt to file those claims on their own or they don’t file them in some cases,” Hargreaves said.

“We are in hopes of more members becoming involved in post and community activities and programs,” said Bernard

For additional information call the post at 782-1118 or email comments to the commander at [email protected]

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