The measure of American Legion impact

As the VA scandal widened in recent months, The American Legion was all over the news. Because we are the nation’s largest advocacy group for veterans, our perspective and counsel are sought by the media and government officials alike.

But this reputation wasn’t built overnight. For nearly a century, the Legion has amassed its strength one veteran at a time. We command attention not just because of our message and the correctness of our cause, but because of our size. Without our membership of 2.3 million, our opinion would carry far less weight – and that’s not all.

Without a strong membership, programs such as Boys State and American Legion Baseball – which enhance the lives of thousands of young people each year – would disappear. Without a strong membership, the Legion wouldn’t be able to organize town hall meetings, survey VA medical centers, sponsor job fairs or help veterans start businesses. Without a strong membership, the Legion wouldn’t have the funds to assist wounded warriors, children of U.S. servicemembers killed on active duty and victims of natural disasters.

In short, The American Legion – and by extension, America – depend on wartime veterans uniting in great numbers under our banner.

Every so often, I read an article in the newspaper or online in which a local post laments that The American Legion is dying. That may be true in some places, but did you know that there are more Legion posts in the United States than Starbucks? We also outnumber McDonald’s.

The American Legion I know helped end last year’s federal government shutdown. Clips from our press conferences aired on news channels, along with stories of veterans denied access to their memorials and fearing loss of benefits. The White House, Congress and the American people wanted to know what the Legion had to say about the issue.

Now we face an even more disgraceful government failure, as reports of inadequate or inaccessible care at VA medical centers shock the public. Throughout, VA officials have been slow to respond to our questions, making it clear they’d like this negative attention to go away.

Sorry, but The American Legion will not look the other way. Again, our numbers make the difference. Elected leaders in Washington and the national media can’t ignore our collective voice. Still, we could be larger and more influential. A membership of 2.3 million is not as strong as 2.5 million, and 2.5 million is not as strong as 3 million. Just after World War II, we had 1 million more members than we have today.

Our military may be smaller, but there’s still a vast pool of eligible veterans to recruit. The Legion’s current membership window began Aug. 2, 1990. That’s nearly 24 years – by far the longest eligibility period in Legion history.

We have a great past. We have a great future. I know the naysayers are wrong. I believe in this organization, and I believe in you. So please make some calls, and ask your fellow Legionnaires to do the same, to personally recruit every eligible veteran you can. Our impact today and our ability to serve in the future all depend on membership.


    By Richard Eckert Sr. American Legion Post 42, Ocean Springs, Ms.
    This past weekend we celebrated the 4th of July, two hundred and thirty-eight years of freedom .
    Many of us displayed our American flag and some communities placed flags in their neighborhood.
    Our National American Legion Commander , Daniel M. Dellinger who testified before congress on
    the VA scandal had this to say about the impact of the Legion. He said, '' We are the nation's largest
    advocacy group for veterans. Our membership totals 2.3 million and supports programs such as Boys
    State and American Legion baseball ''. Having myself just returned from a trip in the Northwest U.S.
    I was informed that Starbucks started in Seattle , Washington and has thousands of stores. The
    American Legion has more Posts in the United States than Starbucks and McDonald's has stores.
    Commander Dellinger goes on to say,'' Without a strong membership the Legion would not be able to
    organize town halls, survey VA medical centers, sponsor job fairs or help veterans start businesses.
    Without a strong membership , the Legion wouldn't have the funds to assist wounded warriors,children
    of U.S. Service Members killed on active duty and victims of natural disasters''.
    Recently Post 42 presented a flag to Mayor Moran of Ocean Springs to be displayed at Emile Ladnier
    Monument in front of the Mary O'Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education 1600 Government
    Street , Ocean Springs. Ms. by Post 42 Commander Marvin Anglin
    Legion Post 42 of Ocean Springs , Ms. , numbers 130 plus and continues to grow. We meet each third
    Monday , of the month at 6:30 PM at the Senior Citizen's Center on Washington Ave. Our next
    meeting will be Monday, July 21 , come out and help preserve our eroding freedoms.
    (Eckert is Post Historian and media representative for Post 42 Ocean Springs

  2. Dear Commander,
    I have been impressed with you and the messages you have put out to the USA vets.I need to pass this on about a program I left due to the way I was treated with no respect,this bunch of non-professional people i have ever dealt with.The in-house PTSD program at the VAMC-Dublin,Ga. Thank You for your work.

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