Operation Outreach is a Department of Defense initiative meant to "reconnect" our country with its military. DoD's Office of the Assistant Director for Public Affairs sent a letter in 2000 to all major commands informing them of this Total Force outreach program, which includes active-duty, National Guard and reserve components.

The initiative continues and is open to any and all veterans groups and patriotic organizations. Most notably, The American Legion developed and sustained a large program called Reconnect / Operation Outreach.

Operation Outreach establishes stronger ties between the armed forces and U.S. communities, and an opportunity for the Legion to showcase its many programs and services, including the Family Support Network, service officers corps, the Gulf War Task Force and Temporary Financial Assistance.

While the Legion's National Headquarters has led several Reconnect visits at major military installations, the program's success depends largely on participating American Legion posts throughout the country. Operation Outreach visits at larger installations are important for public relations, but the best measure of success is the amount and quality of visits to the thousands of local active military recruiters, National Guard armories and reserve component installations. These local military men and women and their families are citizen-soldiers who often live far from larger, more established military support networks.

Access Granted along with the Operation Outreach DVD is a great tool to solidify the Legion's relationships with the "total force" and can be used in presentations to all sizes of groups.

In 2001, the Membership & Post Activities Committee authorized and required the National Awards Points Program staff to begin tracking local American Legion post and district Reconnect efforts, awarding up to 5k to departments for any contact between military members and the Legion. Department commanders and the department membership chairmen can earn up to $1,000 by accumulating points through the awards program. Any departments that do not report their posts' and districts' Reconnect efforts are strongly encouraged to do so.

Operation Outreach's success depends upon local Legion posts' participation. With your help, we can continue to educate Legion departments, districts, counties and posts about the needs of U.S. servicemembers and their families.