Denise Rohan, chairman of the Legion’s National Membership & Post Activities Committee, officially announced the organization's five-year membership plan at the first session of Spring Meetings. (Photo by Eldon Lindsay)

Five-year membership plan announced

The American Legion National Executive Committee passed Resolution 64 during the 2012 Fall Meetings, charging the Legion’s Internal Affairs Commission and Membership & Post Activities Committee to establish a five-year strategic plan to help the organization reach a record in total membership by 2019, the Legion’s centennial. That five-year strategic plan for sustained membership growth was laid out today during Spring Meetings by Denise Rohan, chairman of the Legion’s National Membership & Post Activities Committee.

“We want to encourage all members, all members all the way down to the post level, to be a part of this plan,” Rohan said. “It needs to be a grass-roots effort. We have to tell The American Legion story to our nation’s military and emphasize to them that they are veterans, even though they are still wearing the uniform. They are eligible to be members of The American Legion.”

Each Legion department will be expected to draft a comprehensive plan for membership growth that can be utilized at all Legion levels and submit it to the membership committee prior to June 14. Then, during the National Membership Workshop, from Aug. 2-4, each newly elected department commander will discuss how his or her respective department is going to implement the five-year membership plan. The 2013-2014 elected national commander and national vice commanders will receive an update during the 2013 Fall Meetings on how each department is succeeding on its path to membership growth.

Each department will adhere to the following five strategies and tactics when developing a membership plan:

1. Brand awareness

  • Create and promote a tagline that best describes the Legion.
  • Develop a comprehensive marketing plan to increase clarity of brand awareness of the Legion as the premiere veterans service organization.
  • Encourage new corporate partnerships with veteran friendly organizations that have the same values as the Legion, all in an effort to increase the benefits of being a member.

2. Communication

  • Develop a media relations team within each department. 
  • Communicate the Legion’s story to the nation’s military components, with emphasis on eligibility.
  • Collect all members’ email addresses to disseminate information on any calls to action.
  • Increase public service announcements in local media channels.
  • Increase presence in social media.

3. Training, education and leadership development

4. Post creation, development and revitalization

5. Membership recruiting and retention

  • Establish membership teams at all levels; retention must be the first priority.
  • Develop and implement a strategy for transferring members from the department headquarters’ post into traditional posts.
  • Evaluate current reward and incentive programs at all levels and make recommendations for change if necessary.
  • Develop a working relationship with military senior leaders to offer an opportunity to join the Legion to all eligible members of the active military, National Guard and reserve. “Don’t just walk in the door and start recruiting,” Rohan said. “Walk in the doors and find out how we can help them and once they see what we are doing, they will want to join.”
  • Make all new members feel welcome.
  • Offer participants in the Legion programs, and their families, the opportunity to support such programs through membership in The American Legion family, if eligible.

Overall, “we need to improve our community awareness,” Rohan said. “We need our community to know that we are not just a bar — that we are about service to our veterans, their families and our communities. We need to be seen as service first, and we must always be aware of our image.

“We need to continue to work with our Auxiliary and Sons of The American Legion (members) to welcome them into our complete American Legion Family. And with their help, we will welcome our veterans and their families into this great organization.”


  1. As a Vietnam era Vet, I am proud that at a time it was difficult to be in uniform w/o being attacked by civilians, I would do it all over again. Hopefully, the returning vets will continue to be treated with respect and welcomed home with open arms.
  3. I hope the legion hasn’t forgotten the small communities in this 5 year plan. As I am from one of these small towns in the Midwest, our towns are ravaged and few business left for our veterans to work in therefore they are understandably leaving in droves to larger towns to support themselves. What is left is struggling posts where WWII, Korea and Older Vietnam vets make up the membership. As the numbers of these vets dwindle there are few new members in these smaller communities to keep the post going. Most communities have lost the physical Legion post and have lost the place where vets can gather and do what they do best “WORK TOGETHER”. So as you move forward please don’t forget about us the small towns that represent most of the posts. These posts that don’t have the resources and manpower for the grand mission of revitalization. Don’t forget that we are important also and need the help of National, Department, and District leadership not just the rhetoric. Robert Dean - Commander - Post 118 Logan Iowa
  4. I am a Vietnam Veteran I served My country for 13 years. I am proud that I was able to do my part.
  5. I am a lifetime member of the DAV and am in the elevn month program for life membership in the VFW, how come you all dont have life memberships?
  6. Reference the growth of LEAD program. I would think if this was entered as Computer Based Training (like the ALEI), many more members would have the time to complete these.
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