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OCTOBER 20, 2011 REPORT from Page 1


retention rate is a lot better.” Wong said Shinseki and he discussed


ways Legion posts around college campuses can off er support to student veterans as well. It was a busy week in Indianapolis, as


the NEC passed 50 resolutions, ranging from such topics as the federal budget to troop support and regulations on for-profi t schools. T e resolution that received the most attention, No. 1, called on Congress and the White House to halt eff orts to reduce the national defense budget from its current level. When the resolution was presented,


Past National Commander and Past National Adjutant Robert W. Spanogle made an impassioned plea for support of the resolution. “Our men and women in the military


are the best-equipped, the best-trained in the world,” he said. “If our World War II generation was the best and the greatest generation, then the men and women of today - their grandsons and grand- daughters - are in my opinion equal to that description. “T e American Legion has insisted ...


that they have the best equipment, the best weapons, the best choppers, the best of everything. T e best for the best.” Spanogle said when T e American


Legion was founded in 1919, it was done so with the assumption there wouldn't be any future world wars. “T e American Legion, in (its founders') view, was an organization born to die,” he said. “T ey could not comprehend another world war. T ey called it peace through preparedness. But we know the history.” Spanogle went on to list times in U.S.


history when the country was ill-pre- pared for a war, such as World War II and following the Korean War. “We've seen what we have seen before,” Spanogle said. “T e war in Iraq is coming to a close. T ere's much talk about leaving Afghanistan. ‘Let's demobilize. Let’s cut


PUBLIC RELATIONS Tools for Legion “communicators”


The National American Legion Press Association can help get the word out to your post members, and beyond. By Laura Edwards


e An active Legion post is a valuable asset to getting


members to join the post and stay there. But equally valuable are open and active lines of communication between the post, its members, and all levels of T e American Legion Family. T e National American Legion Press Association


(NALPA), founded in 1923, seeks to promote those lines of communication, mainly through post newsletters and websites. T ese serve the dual purpose of letting members know about what both the post and the national organization is doing; and letting the national organization, as well as local and national media, know what the post is doing. NALPA’s membership includes over 1,000 members of the Legion, the Auxiliary, the Sons, the Riders and other affi liated groups, who serve their posts as everything from editors to public-relations offi cers to business managers. Mike Duggan has been NALPA’s executive director


since 2007, and has been active since 2001. When he began leading NALPA, it had about 1,200 members, of


s


which about 800 were active. It fell to about


600 active members, but the number is “coming up a little


bit now,” he says, to 700 and climbing. Duggan’s pitch is that NALPA’s members are the


“communicators” of the Legion, and adds, “T e whole organization depends on communication ... if you


communicate, you generally have success.” Christine Hayward is a member of Post 18 in


Portsmouth, R.I., and has been editor of the post’s newsletter (the Flying InFormation) since its inception in May 2004, as well as webmistress of the post’s website since its inception in 2007. A past NALPA award winner, she off ers that “our award-winning formula for the newsletter is 1/3 coverage of past events, 1/3 coverage of what’s happening right now, and 1/3 promotion of future events.” T e website holds a high priority, as well – she comments that “all of us


still seem to struggle a bit with getting information out in a timely fashion, which is why websites and email are so important.” Of the more than 850 recipients of the Flying InFormation, only 200 get it by mail. T e rest – as well as the large number of forwarded or “pass-along” readers – receive it electronically. Legion Public Relations Commission Chairman Bob


Morrill says that the PR staff at National Headquarters helps NALPA put its own bulletins together and maintains its database, in what Morrill describes as a “close working relationship.” Like Hayward, he sees the importance of online communications into the future: “It’s very vital that we use these new tools. PR makes a great eff ort.” Morrill encourages any member of the Legion


Family with an interest in communications to get involved in getting the word out, because “the Legion and NALPA stands ready to assist.”


To learn more about NALPA: nalpa.org


the DoD budget.’ We have already cut the DoD budget, but Congress wants to cut more. “T at means no research and develop-


ment. No next generation of liſt , close air support, IED protection vehicles and personal protection/body armor. T is also means no upgrades to tanks, planes and drones. All the tools that we have given our fi ghting men and women that give them the edge in this War on Terror will be gone. “By reducing the DoD budget, a


massive reduction in force, less battal- ions, less air wings, less ships, less everything. All of this simultaneously taking place while we’re being told the world is a safer place. You and I don't think so. We know so. We have seen it up close. We are veterans.” Spanogle said now is not the time


for a reduction in force; the resolution reinforces that sentiment, stating, “T e American Legion encourages Congress and the Administration to cease all eff orts to reduce the defense budget from its current level.” “If the federal government is


looking to cut spending, they can start by eliminating the $16 muffi ns, the $76-per-person lunches and the $121 million that the Justice Department recently paid to conduct conferences at elite hotels,” Wong said. “America must never send our military in harm's way without giving our service people the resources that they need to succeed. “I believe we should hold the line.


If that's the line in the sand, so be it. Make it happen.” Wong said the sacrifi ces made by indi-


viduals serving in the military deserve an exception to the cost-cutting axe. “Our government seems to forget that


TRICARE and military retirement pay are benefi ts available only to those who have given decades of their lives in service to their country,” Wong said. “Many who received these benefi ts have completed multiple tours in combat


Members of the NEC listen to reports during the Fall Meetings in Indianapolis. James V. Carroll


zones and all have indicated a willingness to die for their country if called upon ... “Yet T e New York Times recently


called military retirement benefi ts ‘Another Big Social Welfare System.’ Do you believe that? Well, I have news for T e New York Times. T ese benefi ts are available to everyone. “All you have to do is visit your local


military recruiter, spend a few months being yelled at by some drill sergeants ... oh, by the way, possibly lose a few limbs or suff er traumatic brain injury, just so you can participate in our social welfare system.” Also during the Fall Meetings:


 Wong told the National Executive


Committee that his primary fundraising eff orts will focus on the Child Welfare Foundation. “T at's a great program, and we need to make sure we support that,” he said. “T at's one of my projects. T e other is (T e American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund). It's for the future. It's to take care of those heroes that gave their lives to protect us. It's our turn to take care of their children."”


 National Economic Commission


Chairman Harold Barnett announced that the Legion will sponsor a national credentialing summit early next year. T e summit will bring together key stakeholders to identify ways to improve credentialing opportunities for transitioning servicemembers


and veterans. 


Ret. Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, senior


vice president of USAA, presented Wong with a check for $1.24 million to help American Legion programs. USAA, the Legion's preferred provider of fi nancial assistance, donates funds for the organi- zation's programs when they join USAA and purchase insurance or banking products. USAA Bank also contributes to American Legion programs with every new American Legion USAA Rewards World MasterCard account opened and each time Legionnaires make eligible


purchases with the card. 


More than $13,000 was raised for the


National Emergency Fund and more than $6,400 for T e American Legion Legacy Scholarship Fund during the NEC meetings.


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