When Paul Espinoza is trying to recruit a young veteran into The American Legion, he’ll often go the extra mile of covering the first year’s membership dues.
“That’s just my instinct,” says Espinoza, who served as New Mexico’s department commander from 2013 to 2015. “When I see they really want to be involved in the Legion, I’ll fork it out if I can.” Other times, he’ll encourage a Legion post to pick up the dues.
An Army veteran, Espinoza meets a lot of younger veterans by helping organize an annual job fair at Post 13 in Albuquerque. This year’s event attracted hundreds of people, including many post-9/11 veterans. “Half of them didn’t know what The American Legion was, and once we explained, they wanted to be in,” he says.
Espinoza knows the benefits of the Legion’s work firsthand – for example, the GI Bill helped put him through college. He’s also proud of what New Mexico Legionnaires do for local communities, including providing coats and food for homeless veterans, scholarships for students and other services.
“Being a part of the Legion means a lot to me,” Espinoza says. “They gave so much to me and my family.”
Branch of Service: Army (1983-1986), Army National Guard (1986-2005)
Military Job: Air defense, transportation
Rank: Staff sergeant
American Legion Post: Post 13, Albuquerque
Years in the Legion:12
- Alternate National Executive Committeeman
- National vice commander (2016-2017)
- National Security Council (2013-2016)
- National Foreign Relations Council (2011‑2013)
- Department centennial chairman (2016-present)
- Department membership chairman (2015‑2016)
- Department commander (2013-2015)
- Department vice commander (2011-2013)
- Post commander (2011-2013)