Take action with membership

Only six American Legion departments are ahead in membership compared to where they were last year at this time. That’s not the direction I want to go with membership. That’s not the direction we need to go.

I know recruiting is difficult; I know it’s hard. But I know that you want to be on a winning team, and we’ve got to turn membership around. And with the holiday season upon us, we can’t put membership aside if we want to be ahead of where we were last year.

Edgar Johnson, the 2013 and 2015 National Recruiter of the Year and an eight-time Gold Brigader, has recruited 1,900 new members into the Legion in four years. When approaching a prospective new member, Johnson talks about the camaraderie the Legion provides. "If you were to get out of the Army right now and go back home, who would you be able to talk to when you’ve been away for three years," said Johnson, a member of Post 333 in Columbus, Ga. "It’s hard to talk to a civilian. When you’ve been in the military, you can talk to one another. I don’t care where you go, your nationality, your race, whatever. You’re able to talk with fellow veterans about anything you’ve done in the military. A lot of guys hear that, start to shake their head, and then they start to fill the (membership) application out.

"I tell them, ‘By being a (member), you’re helping other veterans who have served before you and veterans who have served (after) you. A lot of times, it’s easy to sign them up after that."

You can also increase membership by giving it as a gift this holiday season. Thank a deployed servicemember in your community by purchasing an American Legion membership for him or her. It’s an easy way to show young veterans that they are part of the Legion Family.

We need to shoot for the stars with membership, and I need your help. We need to do it for the organization; we need to do it as we approach our 100th anniversary. We’ve got to stop talking, and we’ve got to start acting.