As a strong, independent woman and 8 year veteran of the Army Reserves who served a tour in Iraq, Kate Hoit took on a new frontier of estrogen evangelism: attempting to join the VFW. When she asked for an application at her local VFW chapter, they offered her a (gasp!) military spouse application. She was outraged. Couldn’t they see how tough she was, and how she had shaken the establishment paradigm by
grifting serving her country in a time of war? These out-of-touch sexist patriarchal old white men clearly need to check their privilege.
But the outrage is, as always, wholly fabricated. In her own words as reported by the Washington Times, ““I’m not going to go the VFW or the [American] Legion and drink and smoke cigarettes,” she said. “I want to be out in my community.” So which is it, Kate? Are these big, bad Vietnam vets keeping women down by assuming that a female might be a military spouse when you gave them no reason to believe otherwise, or did you never want to join their club in the first place? The answer is both – her only goal here was to stomp her feet and throw a temper tantrum.
Her shit fit did its job and drew attention, and the article brings up some good things happening for young veterans today in the way of veteran organizations like Team Rubicon with a focus on community service and disaster relief. With veterans committing suicide at terrible rates, it’s good to have programs and institutions that can bring them back to society in a productive way, but throwing long standing veteran service organizations (VSOs) under the bus in the name of social justice is at best misguided and at worst an expensive price to pay for a cheap attention grabbing social media headline.
Traditional VSOs like the VFW, Legion, and Disabled Veterans of America do a lot to lobby for soldiers and veterans, and while Team Rubicon is growing in numbers and social capital, it doesn’t have the political influence of the established organizations. That political influence, while problematic bureaucratically and with rent-seeking behavior, has shed a lot of light on problems faced by service members such as PTSD, veteran homelessness, marriage issues, etc. that continue to plague the military and veteran populations. VSOs are the most outspoken in reforming and improving VA care. Women veterans like Hoit would destroy the value of these groups for no reason other than to get their faces on the internet.