Students tackle lofty assignments

Membership remained at the forefront on Day 2 of Legion National College as American Legion National Adjutant Daniel S. Wheeler discussed the importance of retaining and adding members for the ongoing success of the organization.

"If The American Legion would disappear, it would make a real difference in our country for our veterans, for our children and youth and for all the programs that we have that reach out to veterans, hospitals and volunteers," Wheeler said. "I just want you to bear in mind that you’re here because you’re leaders in your departments, and a leader has to inspire people to go where they might not want to go, but once they get there, they’re glad they did it. That’s what you’re going to have to do. Every veteran out there deserves an opportunity to become a member of The American Legion where we help veterans process their claims, take care of wounded warriors, take care of youth through our programs such as Oratorical Contest and Legion Baseball, and testify before Congress on issues facing veterans.

"I sincerely believe that as we go into the 100th birthday National Convention in Indianapolis in 2019, we can have an all-time (membership) high."

After hearing presentations from the Legion’s Americanism and Membership Divisions, the Legion College students received their second assignment — to write a resolution on any aspect of The American Legion. Library Director Howard Trace assisted the class with this assignment by giving a thorough presentation on the resolution writing process.

All policies, positions and actions of the Legion are driven by resolutions, and Trace emphasized this point to the class from a statement given by Past National Commander Ray G. Smith. "Without the resolution process, our organization would not have the guidance in developing programs, allocating funds to help veterans or targeting Congress with issues that affect you, me and the rest of this great country of ours," Smith said.

Trace stressed to the group that before writing a resolution, one must first see if the subject matter falls under the Legion’s Constitution and Bylaws or Four Pillars; if a resolution on the subject matter currently exists; and if the subject matter is a local issue only, which would cause the resolution to be reviewed at the post level and not national.

Trace encouraged the class to reference the Legion’s Digital Archive, which houses resolutions submitted over the past 10 years. Past approved resolutions provide a good review on the proper use of verbiage and grammar for the two main parts of a resolution: the preamble and resolve clause. The preamble ("whereas" clause) is the statement of fact, while the resolve clause gives a solution to the issue or action that is needed to be taken.

The five small groups will present and defend their resolutions during the mock district convention on Nov. 1.

Today, during Day 3 of Legion College, the small groups prepared for two additional assignments — a preliminary strategic plan intended to revitalize their fictitious posts and a 20-minute presentation covering a Legion program or position — that will be presented Wednesday morning.

One group is planning to simplify the Legion’s Public Relations ToolKit by presenting quick, effective tips to help posts increase awareness locally for membership recruitment. Mark Sutton of Michigan is using tips he learned during the recent National Convention in Indianapolis. During convention, a reporter from a local newspaper spoke on how Legion posts can get noticed by newspaper editors and other media.

"The reporter told us to use pictures and videos because they want to see the human side of things," Sutton said. "And the key to making a compelling story is to make it local and unique and show how it affects the community. When emailing newspaper staff, target the feature or news editor, make the subject line compelling and place the press release in the body of the email and not as an attachment. Additionally, make local news personalities your Twitter or Facebook friends, so they can stay updated on what is happening within your post."

Groups will present their post revitalization plans and 20-minute presentations Wednesday morning before touring the John H. Geiger Operations Center and Emblem Sales.