American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger gives his opening remarks to the National Executive Committee during 2014 Spring Meetings in Indianapolis. (Photo by Lucas Carter/The American Legion)

Commander assigns membership homework

On the heels of The American Legion calling for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger emphasized why the Legion's strong voice is heard on Capitol Hill — its membership.

“We captured the media’s interest this week, not just because of what we are saying and the righteousness of our cause. We captured it because of our size,” said Dellinger to National Executive Committee members during Spring Meetings on May 7 in Indianapolis. “Without membership, we wouldn’t have the resources to organize town hall meetings for people to discuss issues that they may be having with the VA, or form committees to examine the best treatments for traumatic brain injuries or post traumatic stress. Without our membership base, there wouldn’t be an American Legion and America would be much worse off.”

The American Legion is aiming for an all-time membership high by its centennial in 2019 and has tasked each department with forming a strategic membership plan to achieve that goal. Dellinger stressed to the NECmen that to achieve a successful culture of growth, it’s going to take every Legionnaire at all levels to “do everything we can to renew those who haven’t renewed, bring back those who have lapsed, and ask those who have never been a member to join today.”

To get them started on boosting membership, Dellinger gave the NECmen a homework assignment — everyone received four non-renewed members from their respective department to contact by tomorrow morning before the start of Day 2 of NEC Spring Meetings. The homework assignment extends beyond tomorrow as Dellinger also tasked the NECmen with calling one non-renewal every week for the 2013-2014 membership year.

“We can do this,” Dellinger said. “If we don’t do this ourselves, we can’t expect anyone else (at the post, district or department level) to do it. Membership is the responsibility of everybody.”

The American Legion’s current membership enrollment window of 24 years is the longest in the organization’s 95-year history. But just after World War II, the Legion had about one million more members than it currently has.

“The American Legion is strong because we have more than 2.3 million members,” Dellinger said. “However, 2.3 million is not as strong as 2.5 million. And 2.5 million is not as strong as 3 million. Please, make the calls and recruit every eligible veteran that you can. Together, we can meet our 2019 membership goal and become larger and stronger than ever before.”


  1. My greatest fear is that the VA hospital issue will fade. All others major issues have waned under the care of this administration...legislative and executive. We as members of the largest veterans organization need to make sure this VA issue does not die. We have a responsibility to our fellow Veterans to make sure this gets fixed. We must call or write our legislators, the white house and the media to make sure this important issue does not fade from the headlines until its fixed. It's our responsibility to help our fellow veterans anyway we can. That's our pledge as members of the American Legion
  2. Cowboyup, you are speaking for a great number of veterans. The VA has consistently denied proper coverage to veterans from it's earliest existence. I have had experience with the VA and am here to tell you this is not a Shenseke issue, this is a VA issue which has been allowed to fester beneath the surface. Boehner can do all the crying on capital hill that he wants to. You and I are paying for his first class medical care, the hypocrite does not need to rely on a VA that places them in a queue hoping he/she will die before having been served. Here's a Kleenex, Boehner, use it to wipe your arce.
  3. So totally essential to implement assertive, well articulated pressures NOW . I would hope that my fellow Legion Members will agree with me, that for the most part, We have a highly dis functional Congress that has long demonstrated its gross deficiencies, and it's collective inability to get things done . Suffice to say, that I am delighted to see the sound leadership, and direction of our organization being lead by competent National Leadership. These fine folk recognize that WE are The collective Voice AND Vote of the Unified American Legion Two and a half Million Strong. Moreover, that we will not accept the kinds of poor judgement and enrollment issues demonstrated at certain Veteran Affairs institutions. I must say however, this is NOT the case in all VA Sites. I am a 100% VA Disabled Veteran being served by the Metro Portland, Oregon / Vancouver, Wa. Veteran Affairs Medical and services personnel, and have been dealing with these wonderful caring people for several decades. Most certainly long enough to speak with decades of first hand experience . MY V.A. Team here are, please be clear about this: are the All FIRST TEAM of the VA Medicine and Services Teams in place to clean up the aftermath of endless warring. May we assert sufficient pressures to see ALL VA s like mine my brother and sisters of the American Legion!
  4. Howdy Cecil, well looks like your doing well. However, others like me don't get that kind of care. Now, I do get great care from another dept. within the Tucson VA. However, next month I have do go outside the VA system to get a Cancer Screening that should had been done almost 2 years ago. I am a member of American Legion and they are my POA's. However, my current A.L. Rep has lied to me and has now told me I should look for another POA to help me. What a cheap washout excuse. He has now made me feel hopeless, and no one will be there to help me. OIF Veteran, and this is what I'm suppose to look forward to? I should have died in Combat had I known this was what it was going to be like.
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