In early November, I had the privilege to address the American Legion National Legion College Class of 2019. I asked them to deliver a message to their community upon returning home from National Headquarters in Indianapolis. And it’s the same message I want all of you to deliver: The American Legion is just as important and just as visible as we were 100 years ago. We are still the most valuable veterans organization to America’s veterans.
And we, as Legionnaires, are cementing the foundation for America through The American Legion’s Americanism programs such as Boys State, Legion Baseball, Oratorical Contest and more. The teaching, training, education and mentoring that we do for America’s youth are developing the future leaders of this country. We are deciding where the future of this organization is going. We are part of the future. We will be shaping the programs and policies of this organization for decades to come.
I hope you’re up to the task.
The shaping of The American Legion’s future is achieved through mentorship and leadership. American Legion College Chancellor and Past National Commander David Rehbein shared with the class what a leader is – “As a leader you have to be honest. You have to be confident. You have to be inspirational. You have to be visionary … you have to see the future and have a vision of what that future is.”
The success to becoming an effective leader is through mentorship. Rehbein shared what to look for in a mentor within The American Legion.
A mentor has to be someone who:
- Is familiar with the challenges you face;
- Is confident that you can overcome those challenges and have the initiative to take on those challenges;
- Gives advice and not commands (this goes for yourself as a mentor);
- You can confide in;
- You can trust; and
- Is working for your good and not using you to further their own career.
Mentorship is essential to the success and future of The American Legion. My leadership philosophy is that a leader provides direction that the group is going to take. And creates the excitement and enthusiasm to move in that direction.
Will you be the leader that I think you can be? Set the course and make it happen.