The American Legion's national organization is merely an extension of the individual members who guide it. National resolutions spring from the ideas of volunteer Legionnaires working through their local posts, districts and departments. National commissions, committees and officers then see to it that those resolutions reflect the organization's values, and that they are effectively promoted and put to work across the country.
In 2011, this meant direct Amercian Legion financial support for military families struggling through hard times. It meant comfort items for troops recovering from war wounds in military hospitals. The national organization participated in more than 100 veteran job fairs, worked with Congress to pass 13 veteran-friendly bills, awarded dozens of college scholarships, and ran baseball tournaments, oratorical contests and air-rifle championships. The Legion developed a new online membership-management program, a multimedia toolkit to help members spread the word about the organization, and much more.
By design, The American Legion is a wide-ranging network. Its 55 departments are organized by some 14,000 community posts and more than 2.4 million individual members. They don't always agree, but they all share the common bond of wartime experience, love of country and a passion to serve others. This network is, in fact, the national organization.
Nearly all of The American Legion's work at the national level can be indexed according to four pillars of service:
Nearly everything else at the national level – such as membership, communications, merchandising, training, finance, archives and legal support – exists to support the four pillars. For instance, The American Legion's voice on veterans benefits, defense and the economy resonates in Washington because it is backed by more than 2.4 million members, their values, families and communities. Membership-management tools are therefore essential, as are communication channels and leadership training. There is great strength in numbers, knowledge and leadership.
The following report offers a snapshot of the many ways in which the national organization fulfilled its role in 2011, providing direct support and advocacy for American Legion members and values, as well as programs and services to increase membership, to provide quality training and to communicate.