Publicity is 'cheapest way for recruitment'

Daniel R. Olsen Eagan American Legion Post 594 in Eagan, Minn., was about to close its doors in 2016 due to a decline in membership and active participation.  But together, past Post 594 Commander John Flynn and current Commander Wayne Beierman helped save the post by turning around membership – from 77 members to now 410. 

“It’s about active recruiting, being relevant in the community and letting people know (that we are relevant) by publicizing what we do,” Beierman said. “Every community can’t do what we have done, but every community can do the publicity. If you do something put it in the paper so people can see it. No matter how big or small it is, if you can get it in the paper with a headline, it helps with recruiting.”

Post 594 does not have a post home; members meet in a banquet room at a local bowling alley. But they publicize in the local newspaper all that they do for their community. Examples include:

• Holding two flag retirement ceremonies a year with Boy Scouts.

• Reading the book “F is for Flag” to first graders and donating copies of the book to classrooms.

• Donating flags to the City of Eagan.

• Recognizing veterans on their birthdays and for their military service.

• Conducting a 9/11 ceremony.

• Recognizing graduating high school seniors who sign up for the military.

• Paying membership dues for veterans at a veterans home in Hastings, along with hosting cookouts there, decorating for the holidays and playing games with the veterans.

• Hosting a blood drive the Friday before Memorial Day where the post achieves about 150 percent of its goal. 

• Feeding breakfast to families once a month at a nearby Fisher House. 

 • Providing certificates of appreciation to local businesses and community leaders such as first responders and teachers.

• Providing an unserviceable flag drop off box to Sam’s Club. 

“If you use the four pillars as your reason for being in the community, it’s easy to talk about The American Legion,” Beierman said. “We get our name out there in the newspaper – the cheapest way for recruitment. People see us in the paper and know we’re relevant in the community. It’s also helped us in fundraising because they see what the do. 

“We publicize virtually everything we do.”