After my election as national commander at the 101st national convention in Indianapolis last August, I was optimistic about the 2019-2020 membership year. I set a goal of a 90 percent retention rate and a recruiting goal of 100,000 new members.
With the passage of The LEGION Act in July 2019 and the dedication, commitment and participation of so many posts, departments and individual Legionnaires, I believed these were achievable goals. Nationally, we have surpassed the retention goal but fell short in the new member gains. This year, we will be just over 60,000 new members. But earlier this year the world changed. The American Legion changed when COVID-19 took center stage.
Like the Marines say, adapt and overcome.
We responded to the national emergency like the patriotic servants that we are. We dedicated ourselves to helping others.
I am proud of the Buddy Checks, food and supply distributions, blood drives and fundraising efforts that our American Legion Family members have undertaken in communities across the United States and overseas. When the history of the COVID-19 pandemic is written, the American Legion Family will be able to look back with pride.
But right now, let’s look ahead.
We can use our response to the COVID-19 emergency as part of our story. The story of why veterans should belong to The American Legion. The story of what The American Legion does for veterans, their communities, their departments and their nation.
The American Legion is about service. And we are about patriotism.
The most important message that we have to remember is that we need every Legionnaire to be a recruiter. Remember, I’m extremely proud of your efforts and with everyone’s help and participation I believe The American Legion is, and can continue to be, a growing, dynamic, effective organization with our best days still ahead.