Janice Gravely is a 2022 National American Legion College graduate. She shares her experience about what she learned during the program.
From Dec. 10-16, I attended the National American Legion College (NALC) in Indianapolis. And what an intense experience.
I applied to attend the NALC after several instructors at our New York State American Legion College (NYSALC) suggested that I consider applying. Fifty percent of our NYSALC instructors are NALC graduates so it was humbling that they would encourage me to attend this phenomenal course. From the moment we walked into the class on Saturday until our departure that Friday, the intensity level was high. I thought the NALC would be an extension of what we learned at NYSALC, but it was so much more.
Our state level training educated us about the processes within the Legion Family and the numerous opportunities within each Legion Family component. The national level expounded on why these processes are important while including the impact our activities provide at the local, state and national level.
My NALC group was the Fantastic District 4. District Four consisted of an amazing group of teammates who gelled in a relative short period. There were a few controversial moments during the week, but we did not miss a beat in meeting our class requirements. We even developed a project that we agreed to push through our respective states. We also developed a share drive to highlight best practices, continue discussions, and to address opportunities to promote growth across our states.
Throughout the week, there are several things I enjoyed the most from being a member of District Four and the 2022 NALC cohort.
First, the comfort that many of my teammates felt in sharing information and pictures related to their home lives beyond their posts. This made the experience more than just a school, but a building of potential lifelong relationships.
Second, the speed in which we have become an extended family. We incorporated a buddy check through our group site where everyone let the group know when they arrived home safely. Everyone has began caring beyond just the classroom experience.
Last, I enjoyed being exposed to various experiences, opportunities and highlights that my peers in other districts shared. My rucksack is full of fabulous ideas and knowledge. Our ability to share across states and districts is vital to enlighten and energize posts everywhere. One idea I would like to implement at our post is sponsoring a post-level Training Tuesday. Instead of asking our Legion Family to sit at a computer for hours, we can meet at the post and watch the training on a big screen TV while having a few snacks. It would afford members the opportunity to ask questions if they did not understand something. I am placing a sign-up roster to determine the level of interest we have. In my opinion, knowledge is the ultimate power in increasing participation, mutual understanding and synchronization of efforts across all Legion Family members.
If you are thinking about applying to attend the National Legion College, I would recommend that you consider the following before applying:
- Don’t apply because you feel you want to be in a higher position in the Legion;
- Don’t apply if you think this is a week-long vacation (far from it);
- Don’t apply if you plan to elevate yourself by constantly patting yourself on the back and highlighting how great you are (Everyone at the college has a pedigree that warrants their attendance. There is no I in team.);
- Don’t apply if you want to make the process into a big joke- there is a way to have fun without marginalizing the process;
- Do apply if someone who has attended recommends that you consider attending (they understand the requirements and their support indicates they feel you will gain the insight to better the organization);
- Do apply if you have a desire to understand at all levels what right looks like versus relying on “Tribal Wisdoms”;
- Do apply if you are willing to commit to long days and nights to meet the course requirements and support your teammates.
The National American Legion College is not for the faint of heart – it consists of long hours, varying personalities and lots of information. I am so appreciative that my leadership had the faith and trust in me to represent our state. Now it’s time to get to work supporting our Legion business. For God and Country.
Dr. Janice M. Gravely, PhD.